Vice President of Land and Quarry Operations at Granite Construction Co. and National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) member Gary W. Johnson testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works. He highlighted the industry’s key issues, such as: infrastructure implementation challenges; permitting reform; Buy Clean initiatives; and the current situation with rail service.
Throughout his testimony, Johnson discussed the essential role that aggregates play in communities across the country. He shared how the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) positively impacted the entire industry.
“As our country faces economic headwinds and an uncertain future, IIJA funding is laying the groundwork to keep the aggregates and materials industry moving forward to build more resilient, sustainable communities and stronger transportation networks,” said Johnson. “The certainty provided by IIJA, through the five-year reauthorization of our surface transportation programs allow companies like Granite to better plan and make robust investments in our people, plants and equipment.”
Johnson was the only aggregates industry representative among the five witnesses. Drawing from his first-hand perspective, he spoke on the need to effectively implement the IIJA, as passed by Congress, and urged the need for clear permitting regulations.
“Our industry needs regulatory certainty to plan, build and operate our facilities that supply essential building materials,” said Johnson. “The rapid enactment of policies included in IIJA like “one federal decision” would be of great help, as it will streamline bureaucratic review and reduce infrastructure permitting timelines from seven years to two years.”
In the end, he also emphasized how the industry is leading the way in creating sustainable materials to reach long-term emission goals.
“For example, in 2021 we replaced 1.5 million gallons of petroleum diesel with renewable diesel blends resulting in 40-50% reduction in life cycle GHG emissions,” said Johnson. “We applaud the provisions in the IIJA and IRA that provide incentives to encourage innovative, technological advancements and ask these grant opportunities come online as soon as possible, with industry involvement, so we can deploy more sustainable building materials.”
Through opportunities such as this hearing, NSSGA informs policymakers about the aggregates industry, building relationships that will provide long-term success for the industry and our nation’s miners. Its members operate 9,000 quarries, employ more than 100,000 people and source 2.6 billion tons of aggregates each year to sustain our modern way of life and build our nation’s communities, the association said.