The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set more stringent new air-quality standards for sulfur dioxide (SO2). In a final regulation announced on June 3, EPA is jettisoning the current standard, which is 140 parts per billion over 24 hours, in favor of a one-hour, 75-ppb level. The estimated cost to fully implement the new standard by 2020 is $1.5 billion, EPA says. The agency says the new one-hour standard will protect public health by reducing exposure to high short-term concentrations of SO2, which is commonly emitted from powerplants and industrial facilities. EPA also is revising ambient-air monitoring requirements for SO?.
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.