November 3, 2009
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
Martin Marietta’s president testifies before Congress
Ward Nye, Martin Marietta Materials president and COO, testified on behalf of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. According to the NSSGA, he was there to present the aggregates industry’s perspective on the ARRA and to discuss its impact on the industry.
Nye testified that despite a 27-percent decrease in aggregate production in the first half of 2009 compared with the first half of 2008, there was evidence suggesting the stimulus funds had helped the market. However, he added that some state and local governments are experiencing tax shortfalls and have slashed their transportation budgets, which may void any positive results the aggregates industry might see from the stimulus since bridges and roads account for approximately 40 percent of the industry’s market.
A survey conducted by the NSSGA prior to Nye’s appearance before Congress revealed some interesting facts — more than 90 percent of respondents said they had not seen a noticeable increase in sales over the last three months; 71 percent said they do not expect an increase in orders in the fourth quarter of 2009; and half of those surveyed said they did not think 2010 would bring an increase in sales.
The survey also asked if passage of a well-funded, six-year transportation authorization bill would improve the outlook of their business. A strong 93 percent said it would have a positive impact, while 90 percent thought a series of extensions would harm their business.
Based on the survey and other responses, Nye commented that “jobs have been retained, but few jobs have been created in our industry due to the stimulus bill. Further, while sales have declined, without the stimulus it would have been worse. Finally, and I cannot underscore this point enough, without a six-year transportation bill providing predictable future funding, things will get worse.”
Nye referenced a joint letter to the president and Congress from four major national associations — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Automobile Association, the American Trucking Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers. The letter underscored a message from the U.S. Geological Survey stating that the nation’s infrastructure built during the 1950s and 1960s has deteriorated and needs to be repaired and rebuilt to meet the increased needs of the growing population. Nye said the aggregates industry was ready to deliver the materials necessary for that maintenance and development.
In his closing statement, Nye stressed that “the aggregates industry believes any momentum generated by the ARRA will be lost if Congress fails to act, sooner rather than later, on a well-funded, multi-year surface transportation authorization bill. An 18-month extension of the law just kicks the can down the road, so to speak. Our transportation infrastructure is the foundation of America’s economic stability and growth and has fostered its global competitiveness. Congress needs to make our nation’s transportation infrastructure a priority, and we must work together to build the transportation network of the 21st Century.”
House passes extension, but no rescission
To prevent a shutdown of government offices on Sept. 30, Congress approved a one-month continuing resolution (CR) to fund government programs with no approved FY 2010 spending bill, which includes the surface transportation and transit programs.
According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s eDigest & Washington Watch newsletter, the House had passed a three-month extension of the highway programs on Sept. 23, but it did not include a repeal of the $8.7 billion rescission of contract authority required under SAFETEA-LU. On Sept. 30, Senate Environment and Public Works committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and senior committee Republican Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) proposed a three-month extension of SAFETEA-LU with a repeal of the rescission. They proposed paying for the rescission using unspent funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Several senators objected, prohibiting action on the extension.
The CR cuts highway funding to about $30 billion for 2010, compared to $42 billion under the three-month extension. Senate and House transportation leaders say they will continue working to restore rescission losses and mitigate the impact on state highway programs, but according to the newsletter, talk seems to have cooled since some states are hit harder than others and restoring the lost funds would create losers and winners among the states.
EPA issues final greenhouse gases rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued the Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. The rule requires large emitters of heat-trapping emissions to begin collecting greenhouse gas (GHG) data under a new reporting system. According to the EPA, the new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and guide development of policies and programs to reduce emissions. The data will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and help identify cost-effective ways to reduce emissions in the future.
According to the NSSGA, the following items are especially important to the aggregates industry:
Neighbors tour Luck Stone quarry
Luck Stone opened the doors of its Ashburn, Va., quarry to local residents on Saturday, Oct. 10. The community open house gave quarry neighbors a chance to see what goes on in the quarry and, hopefully, will help the company get approval for its expansion plans.
According to Leesburg Today, the quarry offered tours of the plant, as well as food, music, and children’s activities that included a chance to climb aboard the quarry’s mining and crushing equipment. Company representatives provided information about the quarry’s mining operations, the products made from the rocks, and the steps taken to limit the impact of blasting and other operations on the surrounding community.
Luck Stone operates two quarries at the Leesburg plant, plus another on the west side of Goose Creek. The company is asking for county approval to expand its operations further west on land that would provide 80 years worth of material.