The new standards and related rules require California's construction contractors to retrofit, repower or replace their exiting fleets of off-road diesel equipment at a cost expected to reach $13 billion.

The Associated General Contractors of America announced it will continue to oppose California's effort to set new standards for the exhaust from existing fleets of off-road diesel equipment.

"This is a tragic example of what can happen when government regulators turn a blind eye to the economic and technical obstacles to their admittedly worthy goals," said AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr in the group’s statement. "AGC members share California's interest in protecting the environment, but they equally appreciate the need to maintain and improve the state's infrastructure," he added. AGC believes this standard could “cripple the construction industry,” and put everything from roads and bridges to schools, hospitals and other facilities at risk.

California is the only state that the Clean Air Act permits to set its own engine exhaust standards. The debate over its off-road diesel equipment began in 2005, when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced plans to impose more stringent standards on the exhaust from such equipment. CARB completed its work on those standards in April of this year.

The standards and related rules require in 2009 that owners of off-road diesel equipment should label and report on their equipment, and to start limiting the equipment's idling time, and their purchases of older equipment. The cost of these actions is expected to reach $13 billion, says the AGC. 

The latest development in the standard came May 16 when the state's Office of Administrative Law completed its review of the standards, and announced its approval of them. However, the state cannot enforce the new standards until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also reviews and approves.

Fifteen other states have already adopted one or more of California's other emission standards, and several have already expressed an interest in the latest one.

"This is far from over, but it does have national implications, and that is precisely why AGC of America will see this matter through to its final conclusion," Sandherr also stated.