U.S. Reps Hanna and Edwards introduce Clean Construction Act of 2011
Bill purported to make the air cleaner, boost employment, and support a construction industry hit hard by the recession.
U.S. Representatives Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) introduced a bipartisan bill on Oct. 6 that they say will improve air quality around infrastructure projects by making it easier and more cost-effective to upgrade construction equipment to meet diesel soot emissions standards.
The legislation will help states reduce pollution within their borders and beyond, and will create jobs in the environmental technology industry, according to Hanna and Edwards.
Under the “Clean Construction Act of 2011,” contractors working on federal transportation infrastructure projects in regions of the country that are not in compliance with federal air quality standards will be allowed to use a portion of the budget to reduce pollution from their older diesel-powered equipment. The bill aims to achieve a priority set in the last surface transportation authorization by expanding access to federal dollars under existing transportation programs for diesel engine upgrades. Diesel fuel powers most heavy machinery and vehicles used on construction sites.
“This process will help the construction industry increase its commitment to ensuring its equipment has a limited impact on the environment,” said Hanna, who is the vice chairman of the Highway and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. “This bill will spur tremendous strides in making cleaner machinery by allowing for improvements to be made to existing and – often older – equipment that still has a useful life. Through a competitive, market-based approach, we will utilize the latest and most effective technologies to improve our existing heavy-duty equipment.”
“The Clean Construction Act is a tremendous opportunity to help the construction industry improve air quality and create jobs,” said Edwards in a written statement. “Our legislation brings together the federal government, American businesses, and environmental groups to pair green technology with our nation’s infrastructure projects. The bill will make the air cleaner for all Americans, boost employment related to pollution control, and support a construction industry hit hardest by the recession.”
In a letter from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Clean Air Task Force (CATF) to the senators, the organizations note that “diesel engines are the workhorse of our economy; diesel powers nearly all of the heavy-duty vehicles and equipment that are required to build and repair our roads, bridges, hospitals, and schools.”
AGC and CATF say the senator’s proposed legislation “provides a targeted approach to reducing particulate matter emissions from construction machines that will be used in the areas of the country that are struggling to meet federal air quality standards.”
The organizations also note in the letter that emissions from older equipment can be reduced by up to 85 percent with the installation of cost-effective technology, and that newly manufactured diesel-powered vehicles and equipment are continually becoming cleaner.
“While new diesel engines will include innovative clean diesel technology that achieves near-zero particulate matter emissions, fleet turnover of equipment without that modern technology will take many years,” AGC and CATF wrote. “Utilizing cleaner diesel engines in transportation projects is a winning proposition.”
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