What the Trump victory means for the aggregate industry

By |  November 11, 2016
Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson

Donald Trump pulled off a surprising upset for the presidency earlier this week, and Americans are now processing the impact a Trump administration will have on their everyday lives.

Representatives of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) – like a number of organizations representing U.S. businesses – had a positive response to Trump’s victory. As Mike Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA put it: “If you’re an NSSGA member and are concerned about the issues we’ve been active on with our advocacy, [Tuesday] night was a very good night for you.”

Aggregate producers have a lot to absorb as they look toward the next four years, but Johnson offers some clarity on the road ahead for the industry in this interview with Pit & Quarry:

P&Q: What impact will a Trump administration have on the aggregate industry?

MJ: Throughout the campaign, President-elect Trump promised to invest $1 trillion in our country’s aging infrastructure. Should campaign promises become real policy, the aggregates industry has an opportunity to spur national economic growth by rebuilding our surface transportation system, our ports and airports.

Trump stated many times in the past year that he wants to halt any regulations not mandated by Congress to allow business to increase their workforce, expand their businesses and invest in their communities. He has called the EPA’s (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s) Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule unlawful and unconstitutional and promised to repeal it as president.

We would hope that a Trump administration would be receptive to industry input as regulations are being created, so that we can offer common sense and real world perspective to agencies.

For example, despite the fact that silica-related illnesses have dropped dramatically the past four decades, a rule from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) this year reduced the workplace exposure limit by half, from 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight-hour work shift. Evidence demonstrates that there are no additional health benefits to the reduction; that labs cannot accurately test to that minute amount; and that compliance with the existing standard fully protects workers.

Yet, NSSGA was forced to use legal actions to combat a final rule because OSHA did not listen to years of public comments from the association and aggregates operations. It would be our hope that these agencies would work more closely with industry when it comes to creating new regulations.

Along these lines, 2015 was the safest year for aggregates operations in history. Yet, MSHA proposed a rule on workplace examinations and admitted that the agency “is unable to quantify the benefits from this proposed rulemaking.” Again, our hope is that a Trump administration would repeal unnecessary regulations and allow businesses to hire people for good-paying jobs and further [investment] in their communities.

P&Q: What can aggregate producers expect of their federal government now that the executive and legislative branches are in Republican control?

MJ: Combined with the support of a Republican majority in the House and Senate, it could be easier to stop poorly developed regulations and laws and prevent others from ultimately driving up the cost of aggregates for taxpayers.

While the president-elect has voiced support for increased infrastructure spending, leaders in the House and Senate have said that it is not one of their top priorities. So we will need advocates from aggregates producers, equipment manufacturers and service providers to educate their members of Congress on the value of a sustainable, long-term solution for infrastructure spending and the Highway Trust Fund.

P&Q: Anything else you’d like to add related to Election Day outcomes as it pertains to our industry?

MJ: I cannot say enough how proud we are of the people in our industry who made their voices heard throughout the election. Thousands of people took advantage of NSSGA advocacy resources, participated in “Get out the Vote” programs or led voter registration drives. We encourage everyone at aggregates operations to keep building their relationships with members of Congress, so that the executive and legislative branches enact laws that allow our businesses to expand and America to invest in its infrastructure.

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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