By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory and legal issues, ARTBA
The Trump administration this week took several key regulatory actions that impact the transportation construction industry. These include:
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule strengthening transparency in regulatory science. It sets peer review standards for studies used to justify new regulations and also ensures these documents are available for public review. The studies covered by the new rule are used to create many types of regulations impacting the transportation construction industry, including regulations under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
- ARTBA submitted comments to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) supporting the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) delegation program in Alaska. NEPA delegation has been shown to reduce unnecessary delay for transportation projects while maintaining environmental safeguards in participating states.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced regulations easing its enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Under the new rules, only actions “directed at migratory birds, their nests or their eggs” that result in injury or death will be considered violations. The change protects firms from being liable for accidental bird injuries and deaths during the normal course of construction. The clarification will help reduce transportation construction project delays by preventing unnecessary MBTA penalties when there was no intent to kill or injure protected birds. ARTBA supported the new rule in March 2020 comments, noting it will provide “needed clarity and reasonableness in enforcement of the MBTA.”
- Internal Revenue Service published guidance on the tax deductibility of expenses paid for with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The guidance reflects changes to the PPP that ARTBA advocated for in December 2020.
- Small Business Administration (SBA) also published a series of guidance documents relating to the PPP. In addition to the aforementioned tax deductibility issue, the SBA guidance also covers the eligibility of 501 (c)(6) organizations for PPP loans, the ability of businesses to qualify for a “second draw” PPP loan and guidance for minority, women, underserved and veteran-owned businesses.