Access to Aggregates
NSSGA encourages Congress to support polices that examines the use of aggregates and institutes federal guidance to guarantee continued access to this essential resource.
RELIABLE ACCESS TO MARKETS IS ESSENTIAL TO ADDRESSING SUPPLY WOES
The aggregates industry encourages Congress and the administration to work on finding common-sense solutions that will bolster our supply chain. The aggregates industry produces and ships 2.5 billion tons of material each year to the market and has faced new challenges, like cost increases and shipping delays. Our materials will be used to build the infrastructure improvements funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law to reduce congestion at ports, roads, airports and rail lines. While we are proud to help complete this work, we also support polices like enacting meaningful reforms that will promote a more affordable and more dependable freight rail system while strengthening the economy.
Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act
As communities plan and develop roads, bridges, housing and other types of public works projects to grow the economy and help them recover from this current crisis, NSSGA encourages Congress to support polices that examines the use of aggregates and institutes federal guidance to guarantee continued access to this essential resource. NSSGA strongly supports the work of Congress to include Section 11526 that establishes a working group to examine and produce policies that ensure our nation has sustainable access to aggregates resources. This provision is similar to bipartisan legislation, Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act that has been 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 taken key actions to institute policies that ensure proper planning is being done to maintain sustainable aggregates supplies, it is imperative the federal government also be involved in this planning. This will reduce material costs and improve environmental outcomes as the industry works to source materials needed to build the infrastructure funded under IIJA. NSSGA looks forward to being engaged with FHWA and being an active participant in the working group established under Section 11526.
Access to Construction Materials on Federal Lands
It is crucial for communities located near federal lands to access the key 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 aggregates operations responsibly supply these construction materials. Additional legislative or regulatory hurdles including enacting withdrawal proposals would significantly increase the cost of public works projects, resulting from the need to import the stone, sand and gravel required to develop and repair infrastructure and buildings. This unnecessarily increases costs and uncertainty as the nation confronts the pandemic and subsequent economic challenges.
Efficient Transport of Materials
More than any other mode of transportation, the aggregates industry depends on trucking to transport materials and supplies. Since most materials are hauled short distances between aggregates facilities and project sites, trucks are a necessary mode of transportation. NSSGA supports the recent implementation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) modernization to our current Hours-of-Service (HOS) standards for truck operators. The changes will have positive long-term impacts on the safety and efficiency of this vital mode of transportation while maintaining control of their schedule. NSSGA supports these HOS mandates. NSSGA opposes any efforts to increase truck insurance minimums. Arbitrary insurance increases will not improve the safety of our nation’s transportation network or of its users — it would only saddle operators with unnecessary costs.
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” (i.e., asphalt binder) from the new Buy America requirements. It is imperative that OMB and all agencies follow the statute while implementing IIJA to ensure these critical inputs and resources can be efficiently sourced. Should Congress deliberate further changes to federal sourcing requirements, it is imperative that additional mandates are not imposed on these specifically excluded materials and inputs that cannot be sourced onshore.