Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt welcomed the aggregates industry to Washington, D.C., during The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) Legislative & Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting. Both remarked on the burden of overregulation facing businesses in the country.
“Let’s say you have a stream that includes trout and salmon, and there’s dam upstream and irrigation downstream. To get permits, you have to address the salmon with the Commerce Department, the trout with Fish and Wildlife, the dam is regulated by the Army Corps of Engineers and the irrigation is regulated by the Bureau of Reclamation,” Secretary Zinke said. “It’s never too late to look at what we’re doing and do it better.”
“If I didn’t think that it could be done, I wouldn’t be the Secretary,” he said. “We have good people and we have great plans and great assets. We need to put them together and allow industry to innovate, think out of the box and get the job done. That’s not too much to ask for a great country like ours.”
Pruitt said that establishing consistency with regulations is his top priority.
“Regulatory reform does not mean a dearth of regulations. It means that we are going to go about things consistently, and regulations are intended to make things regular. The greatest impediment to economic growth has been regulatory uncertainty. If agencies change the rules of engagement over and over, that affects the economy and businesses substantially,” he said. “At the end of the day, farmers, ranchers, businesses, community groups and states all care about the water they drink and air they breathe.”
Addressing the controversial Waters of the United States rule, he said that no longer would a puddle be considered a Water of the U.S. “What’s coming next is a replacement definition that matches the intent of the Clean Water Act using objective criteria so we know where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.”
Pruitt also said he would like to see the time it takes to get a permit reduced to six months.
NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson welcomed the messages from Pruitt and Secretary Zinke. “The people who work in quarries around the country are eager for consistency and simplicity when it comes to regulations. We thank Administrator Pruitt and Secretary Zinke for their efforts to streamline a complicated regulatory process and allow our country to rebuild its aging infrastructure.”