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EPA prepares to shed contentious Waters of the U.S. interpretation

Construction and business interests welcomed a late-2018 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army proposal for a clear, understandable, and implementable definition of “Waters of the United States,” clarifying federal authority under the Clean Water Act. Unlike a 2015 definition that drew sharp criticism from construction materials producers and their customers, the new proposal a) contains straightforward wording that results in significant cost savings; b) protects the nation’s navigable waters; helps sustain economic growth; and, c) reduces barriers to business development.

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Travelers Cos. heeds state’s call for foundations repair fund participation

A $5 million fund from Hartford-based Travelers Cos. will assist Connecticut customers whose homes exhibit concrete deterioration associated with expansion attributed to pyrrhotite, an iron sulfide-bearing compound identified in aggregate from a Willington, Conn. quarry. The voluntary Travelers Benefit Program offers up to $25,000 and $10,000, respectively, to current and past policyholders whose repair costs exceed awards from the recently launched Connecticut Foundations Solutions Indemnity Company (CFSIC).

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Florida, Michigan policies merit construction stakeholder attention

The Sunshine State topped the Associated Builders & Contractors 2018 Merit Shop Scorecard, vaulting from ninth position the prior year on the strength of its free enterprise and open-competition approach to the construction sector, increased career and technical education opportunities, and job growth rates. Michigan saw the biggest year-over-year improvement, rocketing from 24th to seventh after the repeal of its prevailing wage law, which will result in greater competition and lower costs for construction projects.

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Multiemployer pension reform carries into new Congress

Although a late-2018 deadline passed without a formal proposal, members of the U.S. Senate Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans vowed to continue pursuing a solution to the funding crisis engulfing organized labor retirement systems. In a joint statement, co-chairs Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and his retiring colleague, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), noted:

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Engine manufacturers take note as EPA revisits NOx emissions threshold

Through its just-announced Cleaner Trucks Initiative (CTI), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aims to further decrease nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from on-highway heavy-duty trucks and update a current engine exhaust standard in an early-2020 rulemaking. Set in 2001, the standard culminated in 2010 with a 0.2-gram brake-horsepower-hour NOx threshold for which engine manufacturers deployed selective catalytic reduction (SCR) equipment and urea-based diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). SCR injects DEF into the engine exhaust stream; the ensuing chemical reaction converts NOx into nitrogen, water vapor and traces of carbon dioxide.

Read more: Engine manufacturers take note as EPA revisits NOx emissions threshold