Government Affairs

EPA: Coal Ash Will Not Be Regulated as “Hazardous” Waste

December 19 (Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ruled that the agency will not regulate recycled coal ash (including fly ash) as a “hazardous” waste, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) and other news sources.

The announcement followed seven years of advocacy aimed at convincing EPA that a “hazardous” designation for coal ash would do more harm than good. ACPA was among the transportation, construction, and materials organizations that urged the agency not to classify the material as hazardous. ACPA asked the EPA to regulate fly ash (coal combustion products) under subtitle D of RCRA (rather than Subtitle C), and this is ultimately what the EPA granted.

Background ACPA filed multiple sets of comments with EPA, stating and reinforcing the overarching benefits of coal ash, an essential material used in secondary cementitious materials and ternary mixes. Coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power generation, is recycled and used in transportation construction projects, improving project life spans and reducing material costs.

In 2007, EPA announced it was considering regulating coal ash as a hazardous waste. Since that time, a number of organizations, including ACPA, have opposed a “hazardous” label for fly ash and other forms of coal ash.

In 2011, ARTBA’s Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) released a study that concluded the cost to build highways, streets & roads, airport pavements, and bridges would increase by an estimated $104.6 billion over the next 20 years if fly ash were no longer available as a transportation construction building material.

Looking Ahead It should be noted that EPA did issue new regulations on how coal ash is stored, but this should not have a great impact on the transportation construction industry. In a statement released today, ARTBA announced it will be thoroughly analyzing EPA’s decision and the accompanying proposed rule to ensure there are no “hidden” detrimental impacts on the beneficial use of recycled coal ash.

Additional Information For additional information about the rule, please follow this link: http://www2.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule/. For more information about fly ash, follow this link: http://www2.epa.gov/coalash/.

TCC Urges Congress to Enact Surface Transportation Bill Quickly

The 31-member organization Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC), of which ACPA is a member, is urging Congress to find a way to pay for and pass, a new long-term surface transportation measure as soon as possible.

On the cusp of the new fiscal year, which begins tomorrow, TCC officials cautioned failure to act will lead to another self-imposed funding crisis that will undermine vital road, highway and transit repairs.

Coalition officials noted that in July, despite overall partisan gridlock, Congress overwhelmingly extended authorization for the surface transportation program and enacted a temporary funding patch for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The patch ensures federal highway, bridge, and transit investments will continue through next May.  Still, it was the fifth time in the past seven years Congress took that approach, requiring nearly $65 billion in supplemental funding to avoid significant cuts to transportation investments.

On average, the HTF provides 52 percent of the funding for highway and bridge capital investments made by the nation’s state transportation departments each year, they added.

“Congress needs to ‘keep the horse before the cart’ and address the trust fund’s long-term revenue problem as was done in the 1997 and 2004 tax bills. Then it can develop and properly fund a six-year program bill early in 2015,” TCC Co-chair Pete Ruane, president and CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, says. “And ‘status-quo’ funding levels would simply perpetuate worsening traffic congestion and the inadequate physical condition of the nation’s highway and transit network.”

The latest Congressional Budget Office projections indicate Congress will need to identify an additional $7 billion just to preserve highway and transit funding for the last four months of fiscal year 2015. Federal data also show maintaining current program funding beyond 2015 will require an average of $16 billion in additional revenues each year. That is the revenue equivalent of a 10-cent increase in the federal gas tax, coalition officials note.

Briefing Presents Ways to Maximize Transportation Project Funding

ACPA attended a formal briefing today on Capitol Hill to hear a report on ways agencies/owners can maximize transportation project funding.

The briefing was based on a report prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Eno Center for Transportation (Eno).  Panelists included the Hon. Gregory G. Nadeau, Acting Administrator, Federal Highway Administration; Christopher Stone, PE, F.NSPE, F.ASCE LEED AP, President, Clark Nexsen; Beth Osborne, Vice President, Transportation for America; and serving as moderator, Joshua Schank, President & CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation.  

One of the key findings of the report is that despite the majority of industry practitioners’ agreement that the full cost of a project—including long-term operation and maintenance—should be considered in decision-making, only 48 percent said their agencies could effectively predict future costs.  

According to the report’s survey of industry decision-makers, operation and maintenance costs are pressing concerns. Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA) considers the costs associated with a project and can help inform which projects are selected, to ensure the best use of funding.

 

 Seated (L-R) are Christopher Stone, Beth Osborne, the Hon. Gregory G. Nadeau, and Joshua Schank,.

Seated (L-R) are Christopher Stone, Beth Osborne, the Hon. Gregory G. Nadeau, and Joshua Schank,.

“Maximizing the Value of Investment Using Life Cycle Cost Analysis” finds that although current funding federal and state funding for transportation projects is stagnant, most transportation funding is currently invested without considering long-term operating costs. To improve decision making, the report gives nine policy recommendations on how to implement Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), a process which ensures that total costs related to an asset, including the cost to operate the infrastructure in the future, are accounted for completely. 

“We appreciate the work ASCE and Eno have done through this report.  In broad strokes, this report reinforces our industry’s posture on LCCA as a means to make better informed decisions about our pavement investment choices,” Wathne said, adding, “Ultimately, the most important consideration is ensuring American taxpayers and road users are getting full value for their investment of highway dollars.”  

To view the full report, follow this link: https://enotrans.r.worldssl.net/wp-content/uploads/wpsc/downloadables/LCCA.pdf/.

ACPA PAC Plan Advances to Board of Directors

multi-level plan to generate contributions for the American Concrete Pavement Association PAC (ACPA PAC) is now advancing to the ACPA Board of Directors for consideration. 

Proposed by ACPA Legislative Issues Task Force (LITF) Chairman Peter Deem in June, the goal of the plan is to provide a simple means of generating ACPA Logo-RGBcontributions to our federal PAC, which is used primarily to support the re-election of the transportation leaders, authorizers, and appropriators—in other words, the people in Congress who control federal funding for highways and airports.   The ultimate goal is to find long-lasting solutions to solve the Highway Trust Fund issue, as well as to obtain long-term funding for highway and airport construction, rehabilitation, and preservation.

 Members of the ACPA LITF had the opportunity to review the four elements of the plan, which included.

  • A concept piece that explains the multi-level plan;
  • A letter explaining the multi-level plan (prepared over LITF Chairman Peter Deem’s signature);
  • A PAC solicitation form.  (This is required by the Federal Election Commission); and
  • A credit/debit card authorization form.

At press time, more than 25% of the LITF had voted unanimously in favor of the proposal, which will now be sent to the ACPA Board of Directors this week for consideration. 

ACPA Opposes Proposed Highway Bill Devolution Legislation

Standing firmly in support of “robust, long-term” federal funding for surface transportation, ACPA and 16 other groups sent a letter to Congress opposing highway funding “devolution” proposals, including the recently proposed “Transportation Empowerment Act” (TEA).

The letter expressed the need for passage of a surface transportation bill before expiration of funding for the program in May 2015. Further, it stated that devolution proposals are “ill-conceived, noting that by stripping away most federal funding for surface transportation projects, this legislation would virtually eliminate the federal government’s constitutionally mandated role in promoting interstate commerce.” 

The letter also expressed concerns about the legislation’s intent to reduce funding for the federal-aid highway program by more than 80 percent by 2019–from $45 billion to less than $8 billion–with no consideration of the impact on state and local governments or private industry.  

The other groups formally signing onto the letter to oppose the legislation included associations representing the transportation-construction industry and road users, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.   To view a copy of the letter, click here.

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