August 1, 2012
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Maricopa County air-quality officials told Sun City activists there is little the agency can do to block the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community from opening a new sand and gravel mine along the Agua Fria River. The Arizona Republic reports that the activists have been vocal since the tribe released plans to mine a 240-acre county island that straddles the Agua Fria between Youngtown and El Mirage. No timeline has been released, but the tribe says it wants to be prepared for when the sand and gravel market picks back up. The permitting manager for the county told activists that, if the applicant can comply with regulations, the agency is required to issue a permit. The activist group, led by Youngtown Mayor Mike LeVault, has hired an environmental attorney to fight the mine. “We’re going to do everything we can to delay and derail this project,” Levault told the newspaper. Steve Trussell, executive director of the Arizona Rock Products Association, noted that there is great demand for materials, and materials in the Agua Fria are a “world class resource.” He also underscored the tribe’s record for responsible mining.
In a recent column, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters lamented the condition of the state’s infrastructure and its spending priorities. “While the bullet train debate rages in the Capitol and in the media, everyone is ignoring a far more pressing transportation issue — the deterioration of highways and roads that most Californians use every day and that were once considered to be the finest such network in the world,” he wrote. A report issued by the California Transportation Commission said the state needs to spend $538.1 billion over the next decade, but can count on less than half that amount. “It’s a negative factor in California’s economic competitiveness, and it’s a headache for millions of motorists,” he wrote of the road system that ranks as worst in the nation for congestion and second worst for pavement conditions. “Why do we tolerate it?” he asked.
Fairmount Materials’ Wedron Silica sand operation earned the Community Relations Award from the Illinois Association of Aggregate Producers (IAAP) for its outstanding community involvement in the region. According to IAAP, Wedron’s employees took part in regular activities that represent the company’s sustainable development mission of people, planet, and prosperity. “We are grateful to be part of such a great community, so we give back to the residents and organizations in the Wedron area whenever we can,” said Becky Andrews, Illinois Regional Sustainable Development Coordinator for Fairmount Materials. “The entire team at the Wedron facility makes giving back an everyday priority.”
An agreement between the city of Westbrook and Pike Industries allowing the company to blast was partially rejected by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. According to the Portland Press Herald, the decision calls into question whether the company can continue to operate at the site until the legal matters are resolved. The arguments center on a consent agreement between Pike, the city, and a neighboring business. Two other businesses appealed the consent agreement. The opinion noted that the city had the authority to enter into a consent agreement that declared Pike’s property grandfathered, but said it could not enforce the “performance standard” placed on its operation unless they were adopted in a contract zone or the city’s zoning ordinances. The agreement was sent back to business court.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forestry Division ran a gravel-crushing project at Pillager Pit in Cass County to produce material for upgrading the Pillsbury State Forest Road. “This project is the first step in an investment that will improve the future quality, longevity, and safety of the road,” said Paul Lundgren, Backus area forest supervisor, in a DNR press release. “This investment will also improve state forest accessibility, which benefits citizens and local economies.” During the crushing process and subsequent pit rehabilitation, the site was signed and closed to all public use and access to ensure public and construction worker safety. The project includes reclamation specifications such as proper sloping of the pit perimeter, and mulching and seeding of the impacted areas.
The Cuomo administration is considering allowing hydraulic fracturing in portions of Broome, Chenango, Steuben, and Tioga counties, The New York Times quoted a senior official at the state Department of Environmental Conservation as saying. The region, which borders Pennsylvania, is considered most likely to yield significant quantities of natural gas in the state. The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which is seeking to lease land for drilling, has persuaded dozens of towns to pass resolutions supporting drilling. A coalition of scientists, physicians, environmentalists, and elected officials has gathered more than 2,300 signatures on a letter to Gov. Cuomo opposing plans for any project to allow shale gas development.
Following the construction of apartments at the State University of New York Canton, a Stockholm sand provider is suing a general contractor for not paying for more than $60,000 of material. According to the Watertown Daily Times, the owner of Stockholm Sand and Gravel filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court against Grasse River LLC and Northland Associates. The owner says the monies owed stem from a July 2010 agreement to provide material used in the construction of the Grasse River Housing Project.
In mid-June, councilors put on hold a vote concerning a rezoning application that would allow Martin Marietta Materials to expand its North Raleigh quarry. According to Raleighpublicrecord.org, the planning commission previously approved the rezoning application, which would allow the company to use the bulk of a 97-acre parcel as a storage area, with eight acres being used to expand mining operations. Neighbors from a nearby subdivision oppose the expansion. A vote was expected at an upcoming meeting.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is pushing regional planning agencies to spend more on highway projects rather than carry over funds from year to year. The Canton Repository reports that ODOT Director Jerry Wray said organizations shouldn’t hold back money intended to fix the state’s aging roads. ODOT is proposing a requirement that they spend 75 percent of their federal transportation funding by 2016 or risk it going to the state. ODOT estimates 17 planning agencies had unspent funds totaling nearly $170 million during the last fiscal year and have spent less than 14 percent of their federal dollars in the last four years.
Despite a year-old report from Gov. Corbett’s advisory panel on transportation, the debate on transportation is stuck in neutral, said the Patriot-News editorial board. The state has more than 4,800 structurally deficient bridges, more than any other state, they wrote. In addition, more than 9,000 miles of state roads need repaving or more significant work. “That’s more than enough mileage to drive coast-to-coast and back if all those roads were laid out together, but it would be a bumpy ride,” they said. With projected gaps in requisite funding growing from $3.5 billion now to $7.2 billion in a decade, a new solution for infrastructure funding is needed, they concluded.
Seeking to expand its operation near the Henrico-Goochland line, Luck Stone has filed for a special permit to expand operations near its site, as well as a special-use permit for its development. According to nbc12.com, Ben Thompson, a land-use development specialist with the company, said the land will be used to create a berm to prevent noise in the nearby neighborhood. While some smaller equipment would be on the site, Thompson told the news outlet that the additional area will not be used for mining.
Wisconsin regulators are seeking civil penalties against Minnesota-based mine operators for two large sand spills. “It’s a whole new world,” Deb Dix, enforcement officer for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said when referring both cases to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for civil action. The two sand spills were among the first in the fledgling hydro-fracking industry to spark regulatory action. According to the Star Tribune, approximately 60 sand mines and 38 processing facilities have opened in western Wisconsin, while many more are in development in southeast Minnesota.
A permit application was filed for a sand and gravel mine in Chippewa County, Chippewa.com reports. The application represents the 11th planned or existing operation in the county, but is not for a frac sand mine. Two parcels make up the proposed 10-acre site, with one of the landowners, Raymond Michels, filing for the permit. The permit request specifies sand and gravel mining with residential development as the post-mining land use. The permit also notes the property would be mined sequentially and reclaimed in progressive stages.
Alberta-based Burnco is one of the first companies in Canada to undergo a harmonized federal and provincial environmental review for a proposed aggregate mine near Squamish, B.C. The Journal of Commerce reports that the company is in the pre-application phase and is preparing a draft Application Information Requirement. Burnco plans to develop a sand and gravel mine in the McNab Valley near Howe Sound. The $60 million project involves construction of a site office, communication building, and worker facilities, as well as upgrades to a dock, boat launch, marine barge dock, fueling facility, and heavy equipment shop. If approved, the operation is expected to produce 1 million to 1.6 million tons per year for the next 20 to 30 years.