Rep. Greg Stanton and Rep. Troy Balderson of Ohio reintroduced their bipartisan bill to make it easier for growing communities to access aggregates resources—the stone, sand and gravel products essential to all construction and public works projects.
The Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act would require the Secretary of Transportation to establish a working group of state, local, and tribal officials, and relevant industry stakeholders to study the use of aggregates and recommend practices and policies to ensure continued access to this important resource.
“Arizona is a state that has had to be smart about managing its aggregates resources,” said Stanton. “To build the infrastructure we need to support our growing population, we have to consider where our building materials come from and how we move them to construction sites. Arizona has been a leader in innovative policies to address this challenge—and now we’re applying those lessons at the federal level.”
Arizona’s rapid population growth has created pressure on aggregates producers to quickly and effectively supply the materials needed to develop infrastructure quickly and on a large scale. Some areas of Arizona are experiencing shortages of permitted resources, which forces producers to transport aggregates from remote quarries—resulting in higher transportation costs as well as a cost on our environment.
Not only are locally-produced aggregates more affordable for suppliers and buyers, but they also require less fuel for transport, cause less traffic congestion and fewer traffic accidents, reduce road wear, lower air emissions, and create a smaller carbon footprint compared to imported aggregates.
“Ohio’s land is rich with the raw materials used in building and construction projects,” said Balderson. “Encouraging the use of these aggregates like sand and stone in local projects benefits both sides: the buyer is able to more efficiently obtain the materials through reduced transportation time and costs, and the supplier’s business growth benefits the local economy and jobs market.”
Stanton continues to use his position as the only Arizona member to serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to advocate for smart, sustainable infrastructure investments and practices at the federal level. An Arizona state law similar to the ROCKS Act, passed in 2011, requires that general plans identify nearby aggregates, and that planners develop policies to preserve these aggregates for future use.
“While Arizona has taken steps to study and ensure aggregates sustainability, the ROCKS Act would further establish a working group of federal, state and local stakeholders to examine the use of aggregates and institute federal guidelines to ensure continued access to this critical resource. Planners in many areas around the country have clearly not recognized the importance of locally mined aggregates. In Arizona, aggregates are an essential part of projects that people really care about including being a constituent in ready mixed concrete and asphalt that goes into the state and local infrastructure that is critical to our communities. Establishing a framework and new requirements for decision makers and community leaders to responsibly address one of the most critical elements affecting the viability of future development; the availability of affordable construction material. ARPA thanks Congressman Greg Stanton for his tremendous leadership to advance the ROCKS Act in Congress,” said Steve Trussell, President of the Arizona Rock Products Association.
“The 400 members of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association applaud Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ) and Rep. Troy Balderson (OH) for introducing the Rebuilding Our Communities by Keeping Aggregates Sustainable (ROCKS) Act. Their leadership to advance this bipartisan legislation, that promotes sustainable access to needed construction materials, will improve the lives of all Americans,” said Michele Stanley, NSSGA Vice President of Government and Regulatory Affairs. “Aggregates are the second most utilized product in the world and are the bedrock in the creation of buildings, roads, airports and bridges. They are indispensable in developing the infrastructure needed to access to clean water, deliver reliable energy and advance environmental stewardship. It is imperative that all communities have access to these essential resources as we work together to improve our outdated infrastructure. Sustainable, local access to aggregate materials improves construction costs, extends taxpayer dollars, reduces congestion and leads to better environmental outcomes.”
Stanton and Balderson’s bill directs the working group to:
- Study the use of aggregates resources in federally funded transportation projects and how the proximity of aggregates resources impacts cost and the environment;
- Examine how state, tribal and local transportation and planning agencies may consider aggregates resources when developing projects;
- Identify any challenges for transportation project sponsors about access and proximity to these resources.
Background on the Arizona Aggregates Industry:
- Arizona’s aggregate mining industry employs approximately 6,275 people directly and another 9,450 indirectly for a total of 15,725 workers and has an estimated direct and indirect impact on the Arizona economy of $3 billion.
- Each Rocks Products industry worker supports an additional 2.3 Arizona jobs.