Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler welcomed the aggregates industry to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25 during NSSGA’s Legislative and Policy Forum. Wheeler provided updates on regulatory reform and other EPA priorities, including improving the permitting process, cost-benefit analysis and transparency in regulatory science.
“Sound science must be the foundation of everything we do at the EPA,” Wheeler said. “Americans deserve to know the science guiding EPA decisions that may impact their lives, especially when it’s funded with taxpayer dollars.”
Steven Bradbury, general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), said the agency’s top three priorities are safety, helping to construct the country’s infrastructure and paving the way for new technologies in transportation.
“The economic potential and the freedom potential that the United States has is enabled through strong infrastructure and our transportation systems. This includes the roads, runways and railroad beds that you help build through the materials you supply,” Bradbury told the more than 300 people in the audience.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, shared updates on the subcommittee’s work. The group is committed to dealing with issues related to health and safety at aggregates operations and efforts to promote and reform workforce training. “You are doing what it takes to grow the American economy,” he said. Byrne said he was looking forward to working closely with MSHA Administrator David Zatezalo and other agency leaders on safety and compliance assistance.
Byrne was joined by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Western Caucus, who discussed the policy goals of the caucus as they relate to natural resources and water infrastructure. “You can be pro-natural resources and pro-environment,” said Daines.
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), received NSSGA’s 2018 Rock Star Award for his diligent work to invest in our railways, ports, waterways, aviation network, waterways and America’s infrastructure.
“America needs to invest more in infrastructure,” Shuster said. “We need to look at innovative ways to move it forward, making sure we’re innovating on the permitting process, making sure that these roads are built … And we can’t do it without your help. You folks have to be here, you have to be engaged.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), ranking member of the T&I committee, said that meeting face-to-face with lawmakers helps reinforce the need for better infrastructure. “We’ve got to get back to being No. 1, when our transportation systems were the envy of the world. We can do that again, and you’re going to be a key part of that.”
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in conjunction with NSSGA, recognized Wisconsin Proppants Operations with the 2018 NIOSH Mine Safety and Health Technology Innovations Award in the stone, sand and gravel sector.
NSSGA also presented several industry awards on Sept. 25.
Honey Island Sand & Gravel, a LafargeHolcim company in Pearl River, La., received the Platinum Environmental Excellence Award.
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.
Lake Wales, a Cemex operation in Polk County, Fla., received a Two Stars of Excellence Award this year for receiving two Gold awards over a five-year period.
Specialty Granules was also recognized for having each of its operations earn a Community Relations, Safety and Environmental Excellence Award in 2018, including the Gold, Silver and Bronze levels.
Gold Environmental Award winners were recognized during the event for their efforts going above and beyond technical, environmental and regulatory requirements to be stewards of the environment.