The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public webcast on June 22 to outline its guidelines for the implementation of the Buy American provision in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Among the key takeaways were the following points:
• Substantial Transformation. The EPA has made it official that their guideline for “made in the United States” for manufactured goods requires “substantial transformation” in the U.S. from the component parts. To help utilities determine whether or not a good has been substantially transformed, the EPA provided a series of questions (slides 27–29).
• Responsibility. The EPA clearly has placed responsibility for compliance on the “assistance recipient” (the utility). “As a condition of accepting funding from the state, the recipient has accepted the responsibility of ensuring compliance.” They also stated “let the buyer beware” when it comes to Buy American compliance.
• NAFTA & Other International Treaties. The EPA reinforced its earlier stated position that for the vast majority of cases, NAFTA does not apply to water utilities and therefore is not an excuse for not buying American-made goods.
• Enforcement. Along with putting the onus on the utility, the EPA also talked about how serious false statements can be regarding Buy American compliance. They outlined that the Office of the Inspector General will be very diligent about pursuing cases of fraud (slides 65–71).
The presentation and link to webcast slides are posted to the Neptune website at www.neptunetg.com/buyamerican.cfm?id=3282.