Associated Equipment Distributors

Equipment Dealers Oppose 'Buy America' Clause for FHWA Clean-Air Program

On Sept. 8, AED submitted comments forcefully objecting to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) proposed expansion of Buy America requirements to vehicles, equipment, and retrofits funded through the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Improvements (CMAQ).

The association supports a level playing field for all distributors and has consistently objected to federal proposals that would discriminate against dealers based on which brands of equipment they sell.

AED says Buy America rules drive up project costs, lead to unnecessary delays and administrative burdens for contractors and suppliers, and are impractical given global sourcing of equipment and components. AED participated in dissuading Congress from expanding Buy America requirements to construction equipment used on projects during the drafting of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.

Among other things, AED said in its comments to the FHWA that the proposal would institutionalize discrimination against some American companies to the benefit of others, cause market distortions, and potentially deny CMAQ participants access to the newest, cleanest, most efficient technology.

AED also questioned the FHWA’s legal authority to mandate Buy America for CMAQ. “The proposal is ultra vires [Latin phrase whose standard legal translation and substitute is 'beyond power'] and we urge FHWA to abandon it,” AED said. The association called on FHWA to issue a supplemental notice explaining the legal basis for the program expansion before moving forward.

Although the comment period has officially closed, as of the time of this writing, FHWA generally reviews and considers comments submitted late. To view the docket and weigh in yourself, go to:!docketDetail;D=FHWA-2013-0041.