NAHB Sues Over Equipment Exhaust Air Pollution Rule
NAHB has filed suit against a Central California air pollution control district challenging the legality of a rule regulating emissions from the tailpipes of construction equipment and motor vehicles involved in residential construction.
The “Indirect Source Rule” (ISR) that is being disputed would add thousands of dollars to the cost of building a new home. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
In NAHB v. San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, home builders are arguing that the ISR is pre-empted by the federal Clean Air Act, and that the district ignored necessary procedures before adopting it.
Under the Clean Air Act, only states, not local air districts, have the authority to regulate indirect sources of air pollution.
Triggered by any new development of more than 50 homes, the ISR would require builders to hire consultants to calculate possible emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), at a cost of thousands of dollars; mitigate them; and then pay a $1,772 fee per home to address emissions that cannot be mitigated on-site.
"If the expense resulted in cleaner air, it might be worth it," noted NAHB President Brian Catalde. "But unlike some areas, the San Joaquin Valley has already met its maximum emission targets for particles. And it will certainly be ironic when home buyers are forced to purchase less expensive new homes outside the air district and commute back into the area, bringing even more tailpipe emissions with them."
The ISR requires builders to prepare an Air Impact Assessment application detailing their site plans and designs for the project, quantifying the emissions and identifying on-site measures that will be employed to mitigate them.
Mitigation could include retrofitting equipment, using alternative fuels or incorporating wider sidewalks.
"It is a complicated, burdensome and expensive program," Catalde said. "The Clean Air Act requires that rules be effective and produce quantifiable benefits, but the ISR does not accomplish either goal."
While more than 50% of households nationwide are able to afford a median-priced single-family detached home, less than 20% of the households in the San Joaquin Valley can, he added.
"The ISR is regulation for the sake of regulation, with no demonstrable air quality benefits, and it will make it more expensive to build and buy homes," Catalde said.
For more information, e-mail Calli Schmidt at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.