The latest on highway funding, WOTUS and more

By |  May 4, 2016
Hal Williford

Hal Williford

Hal Williford, president of Memphis Stone & Gravel Co. and chairman of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) offered an update on areas of interest to the association at the recent Young Leaders Meeting in Austin, Texas.

Highway funding: Although the five-year, $305-billion FAST Act is a victory of sorts for the aggregates industry, more advocacy work must be done in this area to guarantee more consistent federal funding for transportation infrastructure, according to Williford.

“It’s hard to build a new section of highway that’s going to take three years to build if you only have six months of funding,” he says. “We need to tell Congress we need a steady stream of money. We’re borrowing from other programs.”

Williford, like many transportation advocates, is a proponent of a federal gas tax increase that would provide additional funds for the Highway Trust Fund. He realizes this is an unlikely path toward new funding, but he’s optimistic about actions individual states have taken to address their transportation infrastructure needs.

“I don’t think we’ll ever pass a new gas tax on the federal level,” Williford says. “But we finally have gotten our state legislatures to listen to us. They realize the federal well has run dry.”

WOTUS (Waters of the United States): The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s attempt to expand federal jurisdiction of waters remains a major concern and a priority of NSSGA, according to Williford.

“NSSGA is fighting this tooth and nail,” he says. “They’ve engaged with an agency to explain how this is going to affect the industry. They’ve also filed a lawsuit against WOTUS. Between permitting issues and overregulation like this, these are areas [Young Leaders] are going to face the rest of your careers. It’s just the world we live in today.”

MSHA and OSHA issues: The association is currently attempting to address the consistency of Mine Safety & Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors. MSHA’s pattern of violations is another area of interest to NSSGA, as is the Occupational Safety & Health Administration‘s (OSHA) rule on the permissible exposure limit of crystalline silica, which Williford refers to as “NSSGA’s newest lawsuit.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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