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.
In August 2017, ARTBA urged a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling blocking Maryland’s Purple Line light rail project.
The 16-mile Purple Line between Bethesda and New Carrolton is one of the nation’s largest P3 transit projects. The project has been mired in litigation since 2014 by anti-growth opponents.
In August 2016, a lower court halted construction saying the Federal Transit Administration failed to consider declining ridership on the Washington, D.C. Metro system. Both the federal government and the state of Maryland appealed the decision contending that there was no obligation under NEPA to consider ridership on the Metro system.
In an amicus brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, ARTBA said the lower court ruling could have negative impacts and set bad precedents on the environment and the ability of other states to move forward on P3s.
On March 24, 2016, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new regulations to significantly tighten the existing federal standard for allowable worker exposure to crystalline silica dust. Work zone safety is a top industry and ARTBA priority. And that is why, on behalf of its membership, ARTBA engaged in litigation to stop implementation of this unwarranted regulatory action that the association believes has the potential to increase overall safety risks to transportation construction workers.
ARTBA has been active in the crystalline silica issue for almost 20 years on its own and as a member of the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC). The association’s biggest concern with the OSHA standard is that it would divert significant resources—human and financial—away from activities aimed at mitigating, if not eliminating, documented, serious hazards to our workers’ health and safety such as runovers and backovers and work zone intrusions.
Here are the facts about the crystalline silica issue that ARTBA has repeatedly presented to OSHA in written regulatory comments and testimony:
- The new rule is based on outdated health data. In setting the new standard, OSHA has relied on studies from as early as the 1930s. More recent data clearly shows silica exposure has been dramatically reduced. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), deaths due to silicosis have declined 93 percent over the past 39 years.
- The new rule is based on faulty economic data. OSHA estimates the rule will cost the construction industry $659 million per year. An ARTBA co-sponsored, independent economic analysis of the proposed standard, conducted by Environomics, Inc. for the CISC shows the new standard will cost the construction industry nearly $2.2 billionper year.
- The new rule may be doing more harm than goodby requiring workers to wear respirators in hot environments, potentially exposing them to otherwise avoidable heat stroke and stress.
- The new rule sets air sampling requirements that are unworkable in our industry, requiring time consuming sampling and testing procedures that will yield virtually meaningless results, since, by the time the results are known, the “workplace” location and conditions tested will have moved and/or changed.
Despite ARTBA’s numerous attempts to have these concerns addressed by OSHA during the rulemaking process, they have been ignored in the final rule. By helping take the matter to a federal court, ARTBA aims to have the rule struck down.
11/18/16 – Opening Brief of ARTBA and Industry Allies
ARTBA and 11 other associations sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) July 2, 2015, 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 also be 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.
In fighting in the rule in the legislative and regulatory arenas for nearly a decade, ARTBA has consistently 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 2015, creates confusion and delays. The case is pending.