Hundreds of people from aggregates operations all around the country are gathered in Washington, D.C., for The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) Legislative & Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting. Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), were two of several lawmakers who met with attendees during the second day of professional development, networking and meetings with members of Congress.
Huizenga, who has a background in the aggregates industry, said that D.C. office visits are critical to building relationships with your member of Congress, but don’t forget to invite them to your operations. “You may only get 15 minutes with a member, and we can have a million things going on at once. But if you invite us to your operations, you can get an hour of undivided attention,” he said.
“Trucks and cars are more efficient today, but we still base our infrastructure funding on a fuel tax. It’s like funding healthcare by taxing cigarettes and gambling,” he said. “What I hope is that we don’t lose an opportunity on infrastructure funding because we’ve got to give businesses time to ramp up and get ready to build. If it wasn’t for our operations, literally, America would not be built.”
Huizenga also highlighted that complying with the many regulations on quarries is a huge issue for the industry. “There are some estimates that $5 billion is spent each year in construction alone. We have got to create an environment of success. An environment where government can come in and help businesses get what they need,” he said.
Gibbs, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that it should not take 15 years for a company to complete a survey for a permit when the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave our country’s infrastructure a failing grade.
“There are lots of examples of regulations that started out well-intentioned, but over time the bureaucracy gets a hold of them and they change. With WOTUS, it got to the point where someone would need a permit to build a fence if they were within a regulated area. It was a massive corrosion of private property rights,” he said. “Now the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA are supposed to be working with the states and industry and hopefully a new rule comes back that works. Then the next step would be to codify it into law so future administrations can’t alter it.”
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in conjunction with NSSGA, recognized Granite Mountain Quarries and Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel Company with the 2017 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award in the stone, sand and gravel sector.
The multi-operation company won for its innovative application of a health and wellness program for workers and spouses. The company instituted the program after noting the health of many of their workers was troubling and affecting the workers’ fitness for duty, potentially setting up dangerous conditions on the job.
“This comprehensive, incentivized wellness program is a holistic approach that helps workers show up to work feeling well and able to concentrate on their jobs, and also live healthy lives off the clock,” said NIOSH Associate Director for Mining Dr. Jessica Kogel. “This is a wonderful example of tackling a big problem with a smart intervention, and it’s been a win-win for both the company and the employees.”
The National Stars of Excellence Awards are earned by operations that accumulate multiple Gold Awards in Safety, Environmental and Community Relations Excellence over a five-year period.
Center Hill Mine, a Cemex operation in Center Hill, Fla., received an Environmental Excellence award as well as a Stars of Excellence award for earning multiple Gold Awards in Safety, Environmental and Community Relations Excellence over a five-year period.
LafargeHolcim’s Empire Sand & Gravel operation in Eagan, Mich.; Vulcan Materials Company’s Gurley Quarry in Gurley, Ala.; Martin Marietta’s Central Rock Quarry in Charlotte, N.C., and Mill Creek Limestone in Mill Creek, Okla.; and Hanson Aggregates’ Thaddus Carr Dredge operation in Coraopolis, Pa., also received Environmental Excellence Gold Awards for going above and beyond technical, environmental and regulatory requirements to be stewards of the environment.
NSSGA members headed off to 185 meetings on Capitol Hill to conclude the event.