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Wildlife Habitat Council Honors Aggregates Producers

Vulcan Materials Co. has been awarded the prestigious Conservation Education Award at the Wildlife Habitat Council's (WHC) 26th Annual Symposium, Celebrating Corporate Conservation. Vulcan was recognized for its outstanding national legacy in the pursuit of excellence in wildlife habitat conservation education and outreach.


“It is a tremendous honor for our company, and for our employees, to be recognized for our commitment to environmental education and sustainability. Many of our sites are located in and around areas with limited habitat for wildlife. By preserving portions of our land and establishing designated habitat areas, we provide sanctuaries for many plant and animal species,” said Tom Hill, president and CEO of Vulcan Materials Co.

The Conservation Education Award recognizes a corporation which has a history of striving for excellence in conservation education and outreach. The award honors an organization for its combined efforts in providing educational experiences and opportunities for personal contact with the natural world, benefiting both employees and the surrounding community. Nominees for the Conservation Education Award are selected from member corporations that submit applications for Corporate Lands for Learning certification or re-certification in a given year.

Margaret O'Gorman, president of the Wildlife Habitat Council, said in making the announcement, “We applaud Vulcan Materials for its outstanding commitment to establishing site-based education programs, linked soundly to habitat enhancement projects. This award is not for one specific program at one specific site. But rather, it honors the entire company for its collective efforts in providing quality and accessible education experiences and opportunities in the communities where Vulcan operates throughout the country.”

In addition to receiving the Conservation Education Award at the Wildlife Habitat Council Symposium, Vulcan's Liberty Quarry (South Carolina) was also a finalist for the Upland Wildlife Management Award, and was a Duck's Unlimited 2014 Wings Over Wetlands finalist. Liberty High School, one of Vulcan's 286 partners in education, won the Wildlife Habitat Council's Community Partner of the Year Award for its work with Liberty Quarry.

Nine conservation projects at Lafarge North America sites across the United States were certified or recertified this year by the WHC. Six of these projects fall under WHC’s Wildlife at Work program, which oversees voluntary efforts that go beyond regulatory requirements to restore and conserve wildlife habitats on corporate-owned land. The remaining three projects operate under WHC’s Corporate Lands for Learning certification, which goes a step further by opening up corporate lands to the local community for educational use.

“WHC has been an invaluable partner in helping us fulfill our environmental sustainability goals over the years,” said Craig Campbell, vice president of environment, for Lafarge U.S. “These programs validate our sites’ commitment to operate as integrated, non-disruptive members of the surrounding ecosystem, which is one of the values we hold as stewards of the land. Our commitment to this value and ability to share lessons learned with local students and community groups is a unique opportunity to foster a sustainable cycle of environmental consciousness with long-lasting positive impacts.”

Since 2008, Lafarge has been working with WHC to restore and preserve habitats where they operate through projects that promote the diversity of native plants and animals. The Lafarge programs certified under WHC’s Corporate Lands for Learning also serve as hands-on outdoor classrooms for local schools and community groups.

Examples of these conservation initiatives include planting trees and shrubs to enhance habitats, establishing gardens that attract essential pollinators, mounting bird houses, building brush piles to provide cover for animals, and building and maintaining water supplies. Within Lafarge’s U.S. businesses, we support migratory birds and ecosystems from New Orleans to Upper Michigan and a significant portion of the Northeast U.S.

WHC works with businesses to translate corporate sustainability goals and objectives into measurable real-world action that address a habitat’s most pressing needs. By building collaboration among corporations, other conservation organizations, government agencies and local residents, WHC conservation programs strive to build healthy ecosystems and connected communities. With the addition of these certified and recertified projects, Lafarge and WHC now operate a total of 25 programs in 10 states across the U.S.

WHC-Certified or Recertified Projects for 2014:

  • Alpena Plant and Paxton Quarry, Alpena, Mich.
  • Ravena Plant, Ravena, N.Y.
  • Whitehall Cement Plant, Whitehall, Pa
  • Lordstown Construction Recovery, Warren, Ohio
  • Honey Island Aggregates, Pearl River, La.
  • Muskegon Terminal, Muskegon, Mich.
  • Sun City Aggregates, Sun City, Ariz.

Environmental Briefs

The Obama administration announced the first federal regulations for disposal of fly-ash from power plants in an attempt to shield the environment from the toxic substance, however it will not define fly-ash a "hazardous material."

The new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets structural integrity standards for all existing and new disposal sites to reduce the chances that they will leak or break. It also requires that new fly-ash ponds be lined and not located in sensitive areas like wetlands and earthquake zones.

Existing ash ponds will be subject to new inspection and monitoring standards in an attempt to prevent leaks into groundwater and catastrophic spills, and restrictions to reduce air pollution from ash sites.

“Today’s rule is a smart, very large step forward,” EPA head Gina McCarthy told reporters. “It will help prevent pollution of our air and water, protect our families’ health and provide industry with commonsense, consistent and clear national standards for coal ash disposal.”

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) said that EPA's decision not to regulate fly-ash as a hazardous material will save American taxpayers $105 billion over the next 20 years. That, research by the association’s foundation found, would be the additional cost to build roads, bridges and airport runways if fly-ash, widely recycled as a pavement mix additive, was not available as a building material.

ARTBA has been actively engaged in the regulatory and legislative debate in Washington over fly-ash since 2007 and applauded the decision as a “win-win” for both the taxpayer and the environment.

The association notes the U.S. transportation construction sector is one of the most prolific recyclers in the world. In addition to recycling over 8 million tons of fly-ash annually as a pavement additive, road base or structural embankment fill, 70 million tons of asphalt pavement are also reclaimed and recycled as new pavement product.

EPA released its 2015 regulatory agenda Nov. 25. The agency is on track to finalize several major rules. The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) is following the Waters of the U.S. Rule, which EPA is expected to finalize in April 2015.

Ken Kopocis, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, said that the agency wants to finalize the Clean Water Act jurisdictional rule by the summer of 2015, at the latest. He noted that the agency has received 400,000 comments on the proposed rule. NSSGA submitted comments, and is pleased to have received copies of comments filed by more than 12 states and more than 200 individual NSSGA company members.

Other rules on the EPA agenda include greenhouse gas emissions standards for existing power plants; the second phase of fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks – model year 2018 and beyond; the rule addressing the national ambient air quality standards for ozone; and the 2015 renewable fuel standards.

The House of Representatives passed legislation that included a 45-percent increase in the diesel fuel tax charged to barge operators (from 20 cents to 29 cents) that supports the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. This increase is expected to raise $260 million over 10 years. The Senate will consider both bills as part of a single package. The inland waterway barge industry that pays the tax pushed for the increase and helped smooth the way for its inclusion.

This shows that Congress is willing to increase transportation-related taxes when there are strong, consistent calls for action, NSSGA said.

EPA has begun to develop a new Integrated Science Assessment for the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards (PM NAAQS), the first step in its five-year review process, according to a Dec. 3 Federal Register notice. The notice calls for new studies and sets the opening workshop to begin the evaluation of recent studies for Feb. 9-11. The agency is behind in its mandatory five-year review period for updating the NAAQS. The agency’s process includes evaluating the research since the previous review, performing a risk assessment and recommending either retaining the current standard or changing (reducing) the existing standard for both fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and coarse particulate matter (PM10).

Producers will recall that EPA considered reducing the PM10 standard by half during its last review, but concerted efforts by NSSGA and industry partners resulted in no change to the standard. A significant reduction of the PM10 standard would result in production limits at many aggregate operations. “NSSGA will continue to advocate for a reasonable regulatory limits, based on sound science,” said Pam Whitted, NSSGA’s senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs.