New EPA Rules Will Require Contractors to Spend Another Billion Dollars Each Year Just to Protect the Earth from Dirt
Costs Conceded to be Double Benefits
Early in 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a series of new measures intended to protect the environment from the release of muddy water from construction jobsites. Embedded in this rigid “one-size-fits-all” proposal are a series of costly controls that contractors will need to implement simply to reduce the dirt – regular, clean dirt – in the rain water and any melting snow that runs across their jobsites. Climate, soil, topography and a host of other variables are all irrelevant. These new requirements will affect all construction firms everywhere because state stormwater programs also have to meet with EPA’s approval.
EPA included these costly new controls in its proposal to revise the construction general permit – even as it admits it has no idea whether the technology it is forcing onto contractors will actually filter enough dirt out of the water. Even if a contractor implements all of the new controls, but for some reason, the water is still too muddy, the contractor can be fined $37,500 per “violation.” In addition, the contractor can be forced to add and then filter chemicals out of every drop of water that threatens to leave the site. Compounding the confusion and potential cost of compliance, the agency has yet to set its standard for how much dirt it thinks should be in that water runoff.
If the contractor finds that the water running across its jobsite does not meet whatever standard EPA ultimately sets, the contractor will also have to post that fact on the Internet, for the entire world to see, within 24 hours. With this information in hand, and/or the results of any tests they may run on their own, any “interested citizen” can then file a lawsuit, perhaps hoping to bring the construction project to a halt.