U.S. Representatives Greg Stanton (D-AZ-09) and Troy Balderson (R-OH-12) have introduced the Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act bill, citing its potential “to foster local access to stone, sand and gravel essential to construction and public works projects.” The legislation calls for the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group of federal, state, tribal and local stakeholders to study the use of aggregates and recommend policies ensuring continued access to such materials.
“To build the infrastructure we need to support our growing population, we have to consider where our building materials are coming from and how we get them to construction sites,” Rep. Stanton noted upon introducing the bill last month. “Arizona has been a leader in innovative policies to address this challenge—and now we’re taking those lessons to the federal level.”
National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association President and CEO Michael Johnson calls the introduction of ROCKS “a powerful testament to the value and importance of crushed stone, sand and gravel in the betterment of our communities. The Act will serve to bring efficiencies between the construction of much-needed public works projects with access to raw materials … Shorter transportation distance from the resource to the project will mean less truck traffic on the roads; reduced emissions; and, more affordable costs for the projects themselves.”
The ROCKS Act (H.R. 5117) has been referred to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
|NSSGA supported the ROCKS bill in a mid-November, online campaign timed with its final 2019 gathering of members and government affairs staff on Capitol Hill.|
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY ADOPTS LEAN MANAGEMENT
Changes sweeping the Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump Administration range from implementing lean management systems and creating an Office of Continuous Improvement to harmonizing regional office activities and reforming science advisory committees to ensure integrity.
EPA cites the measures in a proposal to streamline and modernize Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) review of permits. Officials aim to facilitate speedy processing of permit disputes through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a hearing before the Board, or more timely judicial review. The former is structured to promote faster resolution of issues and more creative, satisfying and enduring solutions. The proposal provides parties challenging EPA permits with options to resolve their disputes, including ADR or a traditional appeal before Board. If parties do not unanimously agree on the path forward, a permit becomes final and can be challenged in federal court without going through additional agency administrative channels.
EPA also proposes new deadlines for EAB action and other provisions to promote internal efficiency; 12-year terms for Board judges in lieu of current indefinite terms; a new process to identify which EAB opinions are considered precedential; and, a new mechanism by which the agency administrator can issue a dispositive legal interpretation in any matter pending before the EAB.
“Under President Trump’s leadership, we have made the Agency more accountable to the public and with this proposal we are continuing to build on that success,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.