By Mark S. Kuhar
The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) staff met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) April 7 on their recently proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Rule, which, if enacted as-is, would allow the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to regulate geographically isolated water bodies and wetlands.
NSSGA and other organizations expressed concern over the substantial jurisdictional increase this rule would grant EPA, the lack of clarity that would lead to delays in permitting, and other problems for businesses. NSSGA has met with EPA numerous times on this topic, and will continue to represent the industry as this rule moves toward completion.
At the request of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, NSSGA also briefed their Environmental Committee on the rule April 8.
The proposed rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, which will start the 90-day comment period. NSSGA will submit comments on the rule on behalf of the aggregates industry and will join members of the Waters Advocacy Coalition in submitting general analysis.
An independent group of scientists reviewing the Draft Connectivity Report has issued a draft report of its review of EPA’s science used to underpin the rule. The panel raises some issues that NSSGA agrees with, such as EPA’s lack of transparency and technical conclusions, and the relative significance of surface water connections. However, the suggestion that EPA considers surface water connections to deep aquifer systems raises concerns, and conflicts with the draft rule stating groundwater is excluded from jurisdiction.
EPA has vowed to include the Science Advisory Board’s considerations in the final rule. NSSGA continues to meet weekly with members of Congress to share the aggregates industries’ concerns with this rule. Additionally, NSSGA is coordinating an advocacy effort of the Waters Advocacy Coalition specifically focusing on educating Democrat senators on the wide-reaching impact of EPA’s proposed rule.
NSSGA continues to meet weekly with members of Congress to share the aggregates industries’ concerns with this rule.
April 22 marked the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, an annual occasion on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
“Earth Day is the most powerful force the environmental movement has ever known,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “Millions of people will be permanently recruited into the environmental movement, joining the more than a billion people who already use this day to focus on the urgent need to stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change, live more eco-friendly lives and protect their children’s futures.”
In observance, NSSGA President and CEO Mike Johnson said, “On Earth Day 2014 it is important to note that progress has been made in the effort to clean our air and water so that our children will inherit a cleaner and safer world for future generations. But our efforts must continue.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Trends, between 1980 and 2012, the gross domestic product increased 133 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 92 percent, energy consumption increased 27 percent and the U.S. population grew by 38 percent. During the same time period, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 67 percent. Additionally, from 1990 to 2008, emissions of air toxics declined by approximately 62 percent.
Johnson continued, “Sustainability is not just an idea, but the way the aggregates industry does business. NSSGA members invest heavily to protect their communities’ air and water, as well as voluntarily engaging in creating wildlife habitats and conserving water and energy. Our materials not only go into roads, bridges and airports but are also integral parts of cleaning air and water for our communities. NSSGA members have spent the past several decades working to protect the environment, and plan to spend the next improving on our past successes.”