NRCA warns proposed new EPA rules could endanger construction

August 11, 2010

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) expressed serious concern about an "endangerment finding" issued Dec. 7 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because of the ruling's expected effects on construction projects throughout the U.S.

The EPA's finding—that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public's health and welfare—was issued in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that the EPA has the authority and obligation to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA apparently is planning to issue new regulations on mobile sources of greenhouse gas emissions (principally motor vehicles) and stationary sources (primarily buildings). According to the EPA's announcement, only stationary sources that are responsible for a minimum of 25,000 tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be regulated. Estimates are that this would involve about 13,000 facilities in the U.S., including coal and other power plants. However, it is unclear whether the 25,000 threshold will hold up under legal challenge, and lower thresholds (current regulations are based on 250 tons) could pose enormous regulatory burdens to building owners and developers.

"We're concerned new proposed rules expected to be issued by the EPA in accordance with the finding would give the agency unprecedented powers," says NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good. "And even if the 25,000-ton threshold withstands legal challenges, it starts the U.S. on a path where construction activity becomes increasingly subject to bureaucratic approvals. The EPA has suggested pre-permit assessments of greenhouse gas emissions for significant new construction projects; imagine what that will mean for shopping center developers or even local school boards."

Existing EPA rules concerning greenhouse gas emissions are complicated enough. Existing facilities that contemplate "major modifications" that produce a "significant increase" in air pollution must get a permit. That type of language produces litigation, and litigation abounds in the pollution arena.

"The new proposed rules will lead, with 100 percent certainty, to new layers of construction-related litigation at exactly the time when the commercial construction marketplace is in distress," Good says.

More details are expected from the EPA soon. NRCA will be preparing extensive comments for the record and will be working with other similarly affected trade associations.

Founded in 1886, NRCA is one of the construction industry's most respected trade associations and the voice and leading authority in the roofing industry for information, education, technology and advocacy. It represents all segments of the roofing industry, including contractors; manufacturers; distributors; architects; consultants; engineers; building owners; and city, state and government agencies. NRCA's mission is to inform and assist the roofing industry, act as its principal advocate and help members in serving their customers. NRCA continually strives to enhance every aspect of the roofing industry. For information about NRCA and its services and offerings, visit www.nrca.net.

The EPA's finding—that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions endanger the public's health and welfare—was issued in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that the EPA has the authority and obligation to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA apparently is planning to issue new regulations on mobile sources of greenhouse gas emissions (principally motor vehicles) and stationary sources (primarily buildings). According to the EPA's announcement, only stationary sources that are responsible for a minimum of 25,000 tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be regulated. Estimates are that this would involve about 13,000 facilities in the U.S., including coal and other power plants. However, it is unclear whether the 25,000 threshold will hold up under legal challenge, and lower thresholds (current regulations are based on 250 tons) could pose enormous regulatory burdens to building owners and developers.

"We're concerned new proposed rules expected to be issued by the EPA in accordance with the finding would give the agency unprecedented powers," says NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good. "And even if the 25,000-ton threshold withstands legal challenges, it starts the U.S. on a path where construction activity becomes increasingly subject to bureaucratic approvals. The EPA has suggested pre-permit assessments of greenhouse gas emissions for significant new construction projects; imagine what that will mean for shopping center developers or even local school boards."

Existing EPA rules concerning greenhouse gas emissions are complicated enough. Existing facilities that contemplate "major modifications" that produce a "significant increase" in air pollution must get a permit. That type of language produces litigation, and litigation abounds in the pollution arena.

"The new proposed rules will lead, with 100 percent certainty, to new layers of construction-related litigation at exactly the time when the commercial construction marketplace is in distress," Good says.

More details are expected from the EPA soon. NRCA will be preparing extensive comments for the record and will be working with other similarly affected trade associations.

Founded in 1886, NRCA is one of the construction industry's most respected trade associations and the voice and leading authority in the roofing industry for information, education, technology and advocacy. It represents all segments of the roofing industry, including contractors; manufacturers; distributors; architects; consultants; engineers; building owners; and city, state and government agencies. NRCA's mission is to inform and assist the roofing industry, act as its principal advocate and help members in serving their customers. NRCA continually strives to enhance every aspect of the roofing industry. For information about NRCA and its services and offerings, visit www.nrca.net.

         
 

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