Strong 2019 foundation is key to 2020 success

By |  December 8, 2019
Headshot: Michael W. Johnson, NSSGA


Throughout 2019, one can see that aggregate companies everywhere took strides to invest in the future in different – but significant – ways.

Dozens of operations brought lawmakers into their operations, and many met with them in Washington, to build support for policies that allow the industry to succeed. National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) staff and members worked continuously to address overly burdensome regulations.

Members began to plan a new three-year strategic plan for the association that will further position us as an even stronger voice for the industry.

As 2019 comes to an end, the aggregate industry and NSSGA members can feel optimistic about continued success in 2020.

Year in review

Photo by Pit & Quarry staff.

Photo by Pit & Quarry staff.

NSSGA’s years-long effort with the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government reached an important milestone with the official withdrawal of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule in September 2019.

NSSGA’s continued litigation helped stem the tide of the applicability of the 2015 rule in parts of the U.S., and member companies and association staff regularly provided detailed comments on the replacement WOTUS rule and assisted members and state organizations with their comments to provide support to the administration for a reasonable rule that excludes pits, quarries, water treatment systems, most ditches, dry areas and isolated waters.

These changes will save members up to $4 million for developing a new operation, and this effort is a clear example of the challenges we can overcome with member support.

On the legislative front, NSSGA and members worked with congressional committee staff and members of Congress – on both sides of the aisle – to ensure robust funding and important priorities that support our industry are included in bills.

In fact, NSSGA worked with Reps. Greg Stanton (R-Arizona) and Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) on their introduction of the Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act.

This legislation would help to improve the sustainability of the country’s aggregate supply. In many areas, communities have failed to recognize the importance of locally available aggregate resources and purposefully or inadvertently prohibited quarry development or allowed community development to overlay or encroach upon valuable aggregate deposits.

Eliminating access to this important construction material strains government infrastructure budgets with unnecessary costs and has negative environmental impacts. This bill establishes a working group of federal, state and local stakeholders to examine the use of aggregate and institute a federal policy to ensure continued access to this critical resource.

NSSGA also worked to support funding for our nation’s infrastructure. A Senate-approved Transportation, Housing & Urban Development bill has $46.4 billion for highways plus $2.7 billion in discretionary appropriations for highway infrastructure programs.

We continue to work diligently through various means on building support for a sustainable investment in our nation’s infrastructure so member companies can supply the essential materials needed to rebuild our roads, highways, bridges, waterways and public works projects.

Looking to 2020

This year provided a strong foundation of legislative and regulatory successes on which we will build for 2020.

As our advocacy efforts continue to grow stronger, I am certain that members of the House and Senate will appreciate the breadth and value our industry brings to the economy and the importance of our positions. The importance of resolving meaningful, sustainable infrastructure investment will remain.

Congress must find a workable solution.

The Highway Trust Fund becomes insolvent in 2020, and we know members of Congress are prone to act when faced with imminent deadlines. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon), chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, continues to be a strong advocate for fixing the fund and making sure America’s highways and byways are safer and more efficient. Our economic growth relies on a working transportation network to grow and support communities throughout the country.

As we continue to make the case with members of Congress and highlight the impact of our industry, we can make progress toward our goal of a serious investment in our surface transportation network, aviation system, ports and waterways and public works.

Michael W. Johnson is president and CEO of NSSGA.

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