Access to Aggregates
Title 9 of IIJA includes a broad expansion of Buy America requirements to federally funded infrastructure projects. Section 70917 clearly excludes “cement and cementitious materials, aggregates such as stone, sand, or gravel, or aggregate binding agents or additives” and the mixes where these products are used, like concrete and asphalt. OMB, all federal agencies and state DoT’s must follow the statute, while implementing IIJA to ensure these critical inputs and resources can be efficiently sourced. Should Congress consider further changes to federal sourcing requirements, they must not impose additional mandates on these specifically excluded materials and inputs that cannot be sourced onshore. If the exclusions are not followed, then many areas of the country will not be able to build Infrastructure.
Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act
NSSGA strongly supported the inclusion of Section 11526 in IIJA, which establishes a working group to examine and produce policies that ensure our nation has sustainable access to aggregate resources. This provision was similar to the bipartisan legislation, Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act, which was championed by Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ), Rep. Troy Balderson (OH), Sen. Mark Kelly (AZ) and Sen. Rob Portman (OH). While states like Arizona and Minnesota have acted to institute policies that ensure proper planning to maintain sustainable aggregate supplies, the federal government must also be involved in this planning. This will reduce construction costs and improve environmental outcomes, as the industry works to source materials needed to build the infrastructure funded under IIJA. NSSGA looks forward to working with FHWA, as they form the working group established under Section 11526. Read this one-pager on the working group.
Rail Service Reform
The aggregates and industrial sand industries support common-sense solutions that will bolster our supply chain and rail networks, which are currently failing these industries. We support the reforms being examined by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that would increase competition (particularly to smaller, rural, and underserved communities) and transparency to improve rail service. We support legislative efforts in Congress to reauthorize the STB, giving the agency the tools needed to level the playing field between shippers and carrier.
Access to Construction Materials on Federal Lands
It is crucial for communities located near federal lands to access the resources necessary for building roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, homes, and businesses. NSSGA has long opposed efforts to withdraw or impede mining rights on federal lands, where aggregate and industrial sand operations responsibly supply these construction materials. Additional legislative or regulatory hurdles, including enacting withdrawal proposals, would significantly increase the cost of public works projects by creating the need to import the stone, sand and gravel required to develop and repair infrastructure and buildings. This unnecessarily increases costs and uncertainty, while the nation confronts economic challenges and inflation.
Pro-growth trading policies are important to aggregates and industrial sand producers, along with the manufacturers and businesses that supply them. NSSGA supports new trade agreements, such as USMCA, that restores predictability to North American trade markets and limits disruptions to the construction equipment supply chain. Such trade agreements allow for more efficient product delivery and reduced costs for equipment purchasers. We look forward to partnering with Congress to enact additional agreements that will level the playing field for our nation, leading to stronger economic growth and create good-paying jobs. NSSGA supports Congressional efforts to re-establish the ability of the Executive Branch to negotiate trade agreements through “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority.