The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconsider its proposal to radically expand the scope of federal authority over water and land uses across the U.S. Aggregates producers argued that the policy change is unjustifiable and the cost to the American taxpayer and industry would far outweigh any benefit.
“At a time when Americans are concerned about our crumbling infrastructure, it is unbelievable that the EPA seeks to make an unwarranted rule change that dramatically impacts the cost of aggregates and the products that they go into – like highways, roads and bridges. Ultimately, these increased costs are borne by the taxpayers yet there is little, if any, benefit from the rule,” said NSSGA Chairman Paul Detwiler III of New Enterprise Stone & Lime, New Enterprise, Pa.
In its final comments on the rule submitted yesterday, NSSGA said that the federal government’s attempt to seek authority over areas that have little or no connection to flowing streams and rivers is confusing and unnecessary.
NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson said, “The proposed rule is so sweeping that vast areas of the American landscape, including areas that are dry most of the year, would come under the agencies’ new authority. Expanding the definition of a ‘navigable’ waterway to include dry stream beds and areas that may not even be wet simply makes no sense.”
Johnson said that EPA’s analysis shows that the rule expands federal jurisdiction from 3.5 million river and stream miles to well over 8 million miles.
“EPA’s proposed ‘Waters of the U.S.’ rule is pure and simple regulatory overreach that is not supported by the law, judicial precedence or science,” Johnson said.
NSSGA is not alone in this fight. The U.S. Small Business Administration, state and local governments and other trade associations representing a broad swath of industries and interests are asking for the rule to be withdrawn. The association comments specifically focused on the impact on small business, as 70 percent of the association’s members meet that criteria.
“The proposed rule may force small aggregates companies to delay or even drop plans to expand in areas where reserves are located. That could have a major ripple effect on the ability of these operators to meet the needs of their customers, potentially affecting many programs such as highways, home building, flood control and environmental restoration. Many of these operators provide materials for rural areas, thus affecting other small businesses such as farmers and ranchers,” the submission stated.