By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory affairs & assistant general counsel, ARTBA

States need more flexibility to meet federal Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements in the wake of “exceptional events” such as wildfires, hurricanes or tornados, ARTBA has told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In a Feb. 3 letter response to the EPA’s recent revisions to how the agency treats such circumstances, ARTBA noted “exceptional events are public health and safety issues before they become clean air issues.”  The association explained that natural disasters and other unforeseen scenarios could place the impacted state in non-compliance with the CAA. In turn, federal highway funds could be withheld from areas that don’t meet CAA standards, jeopardizing the work of transportation construction firms.

ARTBA stated it would be “punitive and unreasonable” to find a community out of compliance with the CAA due to an unforeseen “exceptional event.” States should be given the time and flexibility necessary to recover from such events before dealing with CAA monitoring requirements.

Read ARTBA’s comments.