LATEST NEWS

U.S. EPA Concludes Pollution Through Groundwater Does Not Require a Federal Discharge Permit

Suggests improvements based on contractor feedback

On April 15, AGC formally supported and offered substantive feedback in response to a new definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The current proposal provides greater clarity than the 2015 WOTUS Rule (undergoing legal challenges and repeal): it better identifies federal waters, respects states’ primary role in pollution prevention, and balances major case law from the last couple of decades.

In its comments, AGC urges the agencies to further refine newly proposed definitions or points of specific interest to the construction  industry.  Specifically, AGC calls on the agencies to exclude ditches that are part of a community’s public infrastructure from regulation as a federally jurisdictional water.  AGC also seeks a full exclusion for stormwater control features, a standard methodology(ies) for distinguishing between ephemeral versus intermittent waters, limits on the timeline and extent of documentation for historical inquiries, more examples of how the exclusions would work in the field, as well as greater clarity on how the proposal would treat flood controls.

The agencies will now take several months to review and respond to public comments on the proposal and prepare a final version of the rule.  AGC expects them to release a final rule towards the end of the year; however, the first quarter in 2020 is also a possibility.  The agencies have been very deliberative during the “repeal and replace” process and the timelines often are extended as a result.  In the interim, AGC will continue to be involved as the proposal moves through completion and as Congress looks to address WOTUS.  AGC continues to track legal challenges to the 2015 WOTUS Rule that are moving through the courts at the district level.  However, a formal repeal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule by the agencies is imminent.

For more information, please contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org.

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Rep. Mike Kelly Visits AGC Member Jobsite in Pennsylvania

On Thursday, April 25, AGC of America in partnership with the Master Builders’ Association of Western Pennsylvania, Constructors Association of Western Pennsylvania and P.J. Dick, Inc. hosted Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) for a tour of a vertical construction project in Erie, Pennsylvania.  While touring the site, construction officials, AGC staff, and Rep. Kelly discussed the need for Congress to address the workforce shortage in the construction industry and pass a long-term infrastructure bill.  Rep. Kelly is the lead co-sponsor of AGC-supported legislation to create a new category of Private Activity Bonds (PABs) for the construction or rehabilitation of public buildings and AGC thanked him for his support.  Additionally, Rep. Kelly serves on the Committee on Ways and Means, and he discussed the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the Pennsylvania economy.

If your company is interested in hosting a member of Congress for a job site tour please contact Jenni Traver at jennifer.traver@agc.org.

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Congress Takes Notice of Change Orders Delays

AGC-Backed Bill Encourages Transparency and Fairness

On April 18, Reps. Marc Veasey (D-Tex.) and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) introduced an AGC-backed bill—H.R. 2344—that would require a federal construction contracting agency to pay at least 50 percent of the actual (incurred or committed) cost percent of the cost of the unilateral change order which would lessen the negative impacts from unilateral change orders directed by the government.

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AGC on the Jobsite in Virginia

Pushes Congress to Address Workforce Needs

On April 22, AGC of America in partnership with AGC of Virginia and R.E. Lee & Son Inc. hosted Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA) for a tour of a construction project in Charlottesville, VA. The tour took place at the more than 5,000 square foot addition that R.E. Lee & Son, Inc., is building for ReadyKids, a local non-profit for early childhood development. While touring the site, construction officials and Rep. Riggleman discussed the need for Congress to address the workforce shortage in the construction industry and pass a long-term infrastructure bill. They noted that a January 2019 AGC of America survey of Virginia construction contractors found that 92 percent of those contractors are having a hard time filling some or all positions. To see the full press release from the visit click here.

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AGC Comments on FAA Drone Rules

On April 15, AGC of America submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on two regulatory proposals dealing with the use of drones. AGC supported FAA’s proposal to lift its ban on the nighttime operation of drones and to allow flights over people with appropriately categorized drones. AGC’s comments pointed out that operators should be able to rely on the manufacturer’s certifications about the drone’s compliance with the FAA standards and not have to independently verify them. AGC also suggested that flights over construction sites that have limited access should have a special waiver because construction workers are generally informed of potential flyovers and spotters can be used to ensure that operations are carried out safely.

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Work Zone Awareness Week to Highlight Worker Protection

Take AGC’s Work Zone Survey
April 8-12 was “Drive Like You Work Here” week for the 2019 National Work Zone Awareness campaign. For this campaign, on Tuesday, April 9, AGC participated in the national kick-off week with the reconstruction of Washington, D.C.’s South Capitol Street bridge as a backdrop. FHWA Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson and DDOT’s Director Jeff Marootian participated in the event which included a testimonial from Lyndsay Sutton whose father, a construction worker, was struck and killed by a vehicle in 2011. AGC chapters, member firms, state DOTs, and other construction associations also participated in the annual awareness campaign by hosting a variety of events nationwide. AGC of America continuously surveys members about work zone safety issues and utilizes the results to emphasize the importance of driving safely through work zones to protect workers and motorists. Take the 2019 Highway Work Zone Safety Survey.
This was the 19th year of the Work Zone Awareness Week, and while there has been a steady increase in fatalities in work zones over the past four years, construction worker fatalities in work zones have steadily decreased from a high of 133 in 2012 down to 105 in 2017. Any fatality is one too many, and this improvement reflects the additional efforts contractors have taken to protect their workers.
For more information, please contact Brian Deery at deeryb@agc.org.

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U.S. EPA Concludes Pollution Through Groundwater Does Not Require a Federal Discharge Permit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on an interpretive statement published April 15, concluding that “releases of pollutants to groundwater are categorically excluded from Clean Water Act’s permitting requirements because Congress explicitly left regulation of discharges to groundwater to the states and to EPA under other statutory authorities.” The full interpretive statement is online. EPA had requested comment on the issue previously; AGC solicited input from members and submitted comments challenging EPA’s consideration of using the CWA permit program to regulate discharges to groundwater eventually making their way to a jurisdictional surface water. AGC strongly maintains that the CWA’s point source program does not regulate releases that reach “Waters of the U.S.” via groundwater. AGC will engage with the agency and industry partners on whether additional clarity is needed. EPA has recognized that it may need to modify its statement in the future, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear a groundwater “hydrologic connection theory” case. Click here for more information.
For more information, contact Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org

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AGC Supports Proposed WOTUS Definition

On April 15, AGC formally supported and offered substantive feedback in response to a new definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The current proposal provides greater clarity than the 2015 WOTUS Rule (undergoing legal challenges and repeal): it better identifies federal waters, respects states’ primary role in pollution prevention, and balances major case law from the last couple of decades.

In its comments, AGC urges the agencies to further refine newly proposed definitions or points of specific interest to the construction  industry.  Specifically, AGC calls on the agencies to exclude ditches that are part of a community’s public infrastructure from regulation as a federally jurisdictional water.  AGC also seeks a full exclusion for stormwater control features, a standard methodology(ies) for distinguishing between ephemeral versus intermittent waters, limits on the timeline and extent of documentation for historical inquiries, more examples of how the exclusions would work in the field, as well as greater clarity on how the proposal would treat flood controls.

The agencies will now take several months to review and respond to public comments on the proposal and prepare a final version of the rule.  AGC expects them to release a final rule towards the end of the year; however, the first quarter in 2020 is also a possibility.  The agencies have been very deliberative during the “repeal and replace” process and the timelines often are extended as a result.  In the interim, AGC will continue to be involved as the proposal moves through completion and as Congress looks to address WOTUS.  AGC continues to track legal challenges to the 2015 WOTUS Rule that are moving through the courts at the district level.  However, a formal repeal of the 2015 WOTUS Rule by the agencies is imminent.

For more information, please contact Melinda Tomaino at tomainom@agc.org.

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AGC-Backed DERA Authorization Bill Voted Out of Senate Committee

Would Annually Provide $100M in Grants for Diesel Retrofits

On April 10, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted overwhelmingly to advance a bipartisan AGC-backed bill to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act (DERA) program. The bill would provide $100 million annually through fiscal year 2024 for grants and rebates to states and localities to upgrade or replace older diesel engines, including off-road construction equipment. AGC chapters – working with AGC of America – have won millions in federal funds to support AGC members’ voluntary retrofit projects, in addition to leveraging millions more in matching and in-kind contributions to help their members afford the high cost of reducing emissions from construction equipment.

AGC will continue to work with Congress and the administration to ensure they recognize the importance of the DERA program and they provide greater financial assistance to the many equipment owner who seek a fair and effective way to reduce emissions from existing fleets of off-road equipment.

For more information, contact Sean O’Neill at oneills@agc.org.

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AGC’s Utility Infrastructure Division Presents Underground Safety and Damage Prevention Program

The AGC’s Utility Infrastructure Division (UID) unveiled its white paper addressing underground utility safety and damage prevention during AGC’s Annual Convention on April 3. The white paper lays out key elements of an effective excavation safety program that when included in an overall safety package will help keep facility damages to a minimum and maintain a record of the circumstances surrounding a damage; particularly, which party in the 811 process is liable for a damage. The program is based on Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Best Practices and AGC’s expertise and resources.

The program will also help deal with the practice of aggressive billing by facility owner/operators (O/O’s). Aggressive billing is when O/O’s and their collection agents file a claim against contractors for damaging their facilities whether the excavators is at fault or not.  These claims are often filed years after a damage has occurred and the contractor has no record of the event and/or if it happened at all.

For more information, contact Allen Gray at allen.gray@agc.org or (703) 837-5321.

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