The Build It Michigan Strong labor and business coalition congratulated the Michigan Senate on its bipartisan passage of Senate Bill 429, the new EGLE-based aggregates permitting plan sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich.
“Rebuilding local roads and bridges has never been a bigger issue, yet local NIMBY fever has never been more of a roadblock to accessing the aggregates necessary to complete the job,” said Doug Needham, executive director, Michigan Aggregates Association. “We congratulate the Michigan Senate for passing bipartisan reforms that will unlock access to aggregates in a way that protects our environment, keeps workers on the job and stops needless government waste of our tax dollars.”
“We are very encouraged to see Governor Whitmer and the legislature working toward a solution that ensures we have the aggregate materials necessary to fix our roads, while stopping government waste, protecting the environment and ensuring public input,” said coalition member James Holcomb, senior executive vice president and general counsel at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
After multiple hearings, SB 429 and its companion bills were passed by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure by a vote of 7-0 (with two abstentions). The package then passed the full Senate with bipartisan support, including six Democrats voting “yes.” The bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Ananich’s bill represents a new direction in the effort to increase access to the sand and gravel the state needs to efficiently rebuild its roads. The plan will create a modernized, uniform statewide permitting process for aggregate mining inside the well-regarded Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. This will treat aggregate mining in a similar fashion to other extractive industries already under EGLE’s purview, protect our environment, ensure local input and stop government waste.
The bipartisan plan is necessary because countless aggregate mining permits are being endlessly delayed or denied under the current broken system, at great cost to Michigan taxpayers.
While Michigan is undertaking the most expensive road building effort in its history, the sand and gravel necessary to make concrete and asphalt is being hauled to job sites from longer distances due to local denials – wasting tax dollars before any actual road work can be started.
The new plan in SB 429 will:
- Place aggregate permitting at EGLE with other extractive industries such as copper, iron ore, sand dunes and oil and gas.
- Include local government and citizen input.
- Ensure that environmental experts review aggregate mining permits.
- Create a single, uniform process for both permit applications and appeals.
- Break the statewide stalemate over new aggregate mining permits, allowing for new aggregate sourcing closer to the major markets where most road projects are located.
- Stop wasting millions of tax dollars to transport aggregates from longer and longer distances due to constant permit denials, just as Michigan is spending more road construction money than at any time in its history.
The Build It Michigan Strong Coalition includes 11 major labor and business groups that support SB 429:
- Operating Engineers 324.
- Michigan Teamsters.
- Michigan Laborers.
- Michigan Manufacturers Association.
- Asphalt Pavement Association of Michigan.
- Homebuilders Association of Michigan.
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
- Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association.
- Michigan Aggregates Association.
- Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
- Michigan Concrete Association.