On Sept. 13, NSSGA submitted comments on behalf of the aggregates industry in support of three EPA proposals that should modernize the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
NSSGA commented in support of clarifying numerous definitional changes, using economic studies in rulemaking, and following the same criteria when listing and delisting species. NSSGA previously commented that unoccupied areas should not be considered the critical habitat of a species, and the proposed changes reflect this suggestion. NSSGA also supports programmatic changes to the consultation process, since aggregates operators have faced unreasonable delays on projects stemming from bureaucratic inefficiencies.
The ESA affects land use at aggregates operations. Citing public input, such as input NSSGA offered in November 2017 and earlier, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposed changes to regulations and implementation of the ESA. The FWS also recently reverted an Obama administration environmental mitigation policy back to longstanding policy, which NSSGA had requested in comments. This change rolls back the open-ended “net conservation gain” requirement to the “no net loss” of habitat.
“With these changes, Fish and Wildlife Services is working to streamline regulations, add clarity and make compliance with the Endangered Species Act less problematic for aggregates operators,” said Emily Coyner, NSSGA’s senior director of environmental policy. “Our members work hard to protect the environment and endangered species and welcome changes that reduce delays for permitting operations and vital infrastructure projects.”