By Lauren Schapker, vice president of legislative affairs, ARTBA

The House Committee on Energy & Commerce (E&C) Jan. 8 released a framework for climate legislation to establish a “Buy Clean” program targeted at establishing performance targets for industrial products, like construction materials.

The bill, called the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act, would target greenhouse gas emissions in industrial manufacturing by requiring construction materials purchased using taxpayer dollars, like those used in highway or bridge projects, be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet emissions requirements.  The program would steadily put reduction requirements in place and aims to promote the development and use of low-carbon materials.

Acknowledging that the manufacture of many construction materials is energy intensive, the framework notes that forthcoming provisions in the legislation would address the need to ensure these domestic industries remain globally competitive, rather than cede the market to international competitors that can easily be imported.

Other components of the framework would require EPA to develop models for states to implement emissions reduction plans and would create a National Climate Bank.

The framework is unlikely to be enacted in an election year, as it was developed by Democrats with little input from Republicans.  However, E&C members are seeking feedback and continued stakeholder engagement as the proposal develops. ARTBA staff will remain engaged as the CLEAN Future Act’s development progresses to ensure the transportation construction industry’s interests are protected.