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Diesel Fuel Update

PumpsMarch 4, 2011 – With unrest in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East, gasoline and diesel fuel prices are heading North at an alarming rate. You will see Rock Products increase its reporting on diesel fuel prices during this crisis, as diesel plays a critical role on the expense side of the ledger for aggregates producers. The average price of on-highway diesel fuel in the United States is now $3.716 per gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is up approximately 14 cents from a week ago, and 84 cents from last year. The national high is on the West Coast, with diesel at $3.964 per gallon; and the low is in the Gulf Coast states, with diesel at $3.656 per gallon. The national estimate for off-highway diesel fuel is $3.19 per gallon. It doesn't look like it is headed down soon, either.

Cut the Extension Cord

highwayconstructionMarch 1, 2010 – The federal surface transportation program is set to expire on March 4. You know what that means: another extension! We've only been passing these temporary extensions since 2009. In order to avoid a funding lapse of the highway program, on Feb. 16, the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee unanimously approved the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 662), which would extend the federal highway and transit programs through the end of fiscal year 2011 (Sept. 30). The extra time is needed for Congress to complete work on a new, multi-year authorization law. The House is expected to vote on final passage for H.R. 662 tomorrow with the Senate following the House’s lead shortly thereafter. Uncertainty surrounding federal surface transportation programs has a severe negative effect on the more than one million jobs supported by the construction industry. It's time to cut the extension cord. We need a real bill NOW! Click here to send a note urging your lawmakers to support the bill.

Cement Production in 2010 Lowest in 27 Years

usgsFebruary 21, 2011 – USGS reported its final cement statistics for 2010, and the numbers are awful. In 2010, about 61 million tons of portland cement and 1.8 million tons of masonry cement were produced at 102 plants in 36 States. Cement also was produced at two plants in Puerto Rico. Overall production was the lowest since 1982 and reflected continued plant closures and indefinite idlings. Although the rate of decline abated significantly, sales volumes in 2010 were the lowest in 27 years and were nearly 59 million tons or 45 percent  below the record level of 2005. The overall value of sales was about $6.5 billion. Most of the cement was used to make concrete, worth at least $35 billion. About 73 percent of cement sales went to ready-mixed concrete producers, 12 percent to concrete product manufacturers, 10 percent to contractors (mainly road paving), 2 percent to building materials dealers, and 3 percent to other users. In descending order, Texas, California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Michigan were the six leading cement-producing states and accounted for about 50 percent of U.S. production. I think everyone would admit that this report is another reason to look forward, because there isn't a heck of a lot to look back upon.

A $336 Billion Question

obama1February 16, 2011 – President Obama's initial budget for transportation, on first glance, makes your eyes pop. According to an analysis by The National Stone Sand and Gravel Association, the president is requesting $70.5 billion for highways and bridges for FY ‘12, a $29 billion increase over the FY ‘10 enacted funding level. Also, $27.65 billion of that increase is in "Up-Front" funding, intended to jump-start job creation and progress on highway and bridge projects. This number represents the first year of a six-year $336 billion proposal to rebuild America’s infrastructure and comes with several sweeping changes in transportation policy. But once you get past the excitement of a $336 billion, six-year transportation reauthorization, that's where the questions start. How do we pay for it?

Read more: A $336 Billion Question

Exclusive: 2010 Production to Be Higher Than First Estimated

usgsFebruary 14, 2011 – Final 2010 stone-production numbers will not officially be released until next month, but Jason Willett, crushed stone commodity specialist for USGS, estimates for Rock Products that in 2010, aggregates production (crushed stone plus sand and gravel) will total approximately 1.977 billion metric tons. That is higher than the previous 2010 estimate of 1.910 billion metric tons released last month as part of the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, but lower than the estimated 2.01 billion metric tons produced in 2009. Estimated crushed stone production for 2010 will come in at approximately 1.177 billion metric tons, higher than the 1.150 billion metric tons estimated for the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, and 0.56 percent higher than the estimated 1.170 billion metric tons reported for 2009. Estimated construction sand and gravel production for 2010 will come in at approximately 800 million metric tons, higher than the 760 million metric tons estimated for the 2011 USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries, but 4.77 percent lower than the estimated 840 million metric tons reported for 2009.