One of the most valuable and tangible benefits of ARTBA membership is found in the association’s aggressive legal advocacy program.
From the halls of Congress to the halls of justice, ARTBA regularly takes action to defend transportation design and construction industry market interests when threatened by dubious regulation or litigation.
Since 1993, ARTBA has invested more than $1 million in environmental litigation on the industry’s behalf. And the return on that investment?
ARTBA’s legal advocacy has allowed nearly $52 billion in approved, yet challenged, U.S. transportation projects and plans to move forward.
Among ARTBA’s most notable legal victories on the industry’s behalf:
- Preventing no-growth groups from using the Clean Air Act’s transportation conformity process to delay or stop state and local highway projects.
- Successfully challenging EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers attempts to unlawfully expand federal wetlands jurisdiction. By limiting the jurisdiction of these agencies, ARTBA has helped to allow numerous construction projects to proceed without unnecessary federal intervention.
- Obtaining the first-ever federal court decision in 2000 which prevented the Sierra Club and its allies from challenging a regional transportation plan under the “citizen’s suit” provision of the Clean Air Act. The provision had been used routinely to file cases blocking highway projects across the country. It had also allowed them to collect attorney’s fees if successful. These fees were then used to fund additional anti-road litigation.
- Beating back a proposed injunction to stop dozens of road projects in California, setting potential legal precedent for other similar cases across the nation.
- Creating legal pressure that sped up a court settlement in Atlanta, Ga., allowing dozens of highway projects to move forward.
- Setting legal precedent guaranteeing construction industry associations a legal right to a seat at the table in environmentally-based litigation seeking to stop regional, state or local transportation plans.
CURRENT ADVOCACY EFFORTS
EPA “Waters of the U.S.” Rule
ARTBA and 11 other industry associations July 2 sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleging the agency disregarded important administrative law requirements and exceeded its jurisdiction when it released a rule defining “waters of the United States.” The rule would require additional burdensome permitting requirements and likely be also used as a litigation tool by project opponents, both of which would result in delays to key transportation improvements and ultimately cost taxpayers more money, according to ARTBA. In fighting in the rule in the legislative and regulatory arenas for nearly a decade, ARTBA has repeatedly warned EPA that roadside ditches play an important role in the public health and safety of the nation by dispersing water, and they should not be regulated like wetlands. The new rule, however, did not categorically exempt roadside ditches from federal jurisdiction. Instead, the EPA set forth a myriad of qualifications for a ditch to be exempt from permitting requirements. Such a piecemeal approach, ARTBA noted when the rule was released in May, creates confusion and delays.
Illinois DBE Lawsuit
ARTBA filed a “friend of the court” brief June 20 with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in the case of Dunnet Bay Construction Company v. Gary Hanning. At issue is a lower court ruling dismissing Dunnet Bay’s claim that the state of Illinois improperly administered the federal DBE program in a manner which undermined the DBE programs’ goals and caused the program to be administered as an unconstitutional, quota-based system. ARTBA stressed that if, allowed to stand, the lower court’s holding would effectively eliminate the ability of contractors to challenge misapplication of the DBE program as well as cause otherwise proper bids on transportation construction projects to be rejected.
Virginia P3 Lawsuit
EPA Clean Water Act Point Source Lawsuit
EPA Wetlands Jurisdiction Supreme Court Lawsuit
Clean Water Act Navigability Supreme Court Lawsuit
ARTBA is the only organization in the United States that exclusively focuses legal activities on helping ensure that approved state, regional and local transportation plans and projects move forward expeditiously.
It monitors and becomes involved in environmental and business issues that have the potential to impact the planning, design and/or construction of transportation infrastructure projects.
ARTBA recognizes successful legal advocacy and education must be implemented in a variety of ways. Its effectiveness on behalf of the transportation design and construction industry derives from a comprehensive, five-part program:
- First, when appropriate, ARTBA initiates litigation as a party plaintiff, taking on difficult cases that others might be reluctant to file or that no single organization or business could fight alone, head-to-head against government agencies and/or well-funded project opponents.
- Second, ARTBA issues “amicus curiae” briefs to present compelling legal arguments and policy perspectives that often surpass the argumentation that lawyers for the involved parties are able to provide. ARTBA “friend-of-the-court” brief serves as a valuable tool in persuading courts about the integrity of the transportation planning and approval process and the resulting safety, mobility and economic benefits that come from highway and bridge improvement projects.
- Third, ARTBA files detailed issue briefs and public comments with federal and state regulatory agencies on environmental and business-related issues that might adversely impact transportation development. ARTBA ensures that a reasoned voice is heard on behalf of transportation development proponents.
- Fourth, ARTBA features a media outreach program to ensure that the views of transportation advocates are accurately portrayed in the general, business and construction media.
- Fifth, ARTBA conducts seminars and produces reports and publications to keep its members, the legal community and the media informed of litigation and regulatory developments that impact transportation development in the United States.
Support ARTBA’s Legal Advocacy Efforts
ARTBA relies on the financial support from transportation design and construction industry firms, industry executives, corporations, civic and business groups, chambers of commerce, associations and any other entities that support transportation development. Contact Nick Goldstein for more information on how to make a donation.