WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Rep. Greg Stanton and Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, introduced a bipartisan bill to foster local access to 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 federal, state, tribal and local 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 are coming from and how we get them to construction sites. Arizona has been a leader in innovative policies to address this challenge—and now we’re taking those lessons to the federal level.”
Arizona’s rapid population growth has created pressure on aggregates producers to 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.
In response, the Arizona State Legislature in 2011 approved the Arizona Aggregate Protection Act, which requires that general plans identify nearby aggregates, and that planners develop policies to preserve these aggregates for future use by avoiding incompatible land uses.
Locally-produced aggregates yield benefits in addition to lower costs for suppliers and buyers. They 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.
“Today’s introduction of the ROCKS Act is a powerful testament to the value and importance of crushed stone, sand and gravel in the betterment of our communities. I applaud Congressmen Greg Stanton and Troy Balderson for their leadership in authoring the bill,” said National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association President and CEO Michael W. Johnson in a press release. “The ROCKS Act will serve to bring efficiencies between the construction of much-needed public works projects with the access to raw materials necessary to build and revive the roads, bridges and infrastructure projects in our nation’s communities.”
“Satisfying the competing interests and diverse opinions of your community makes land use planning especially challenging, and we recognize that adding a requirement to address aggregate resources does not make planning any easier. But, take a moment to consider the political and financial implications of not protecting these valuable resources,” said Arizona Rock Products Association Board Member Eric Mears. “This is a critical discussion that must take place and many thanks to Congressman Stanton for taking this critical first step.”
Stanton and Balderson’s bill dictates that the working group will:
- Study the use of aggregates resources in federally funded transportation and construction 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 measures the federal government, state, tribal and local transportation and planning agencies may take to preserve currently identified aggregates resources for future development.
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.