WASHINGTON – (RealEstateRama) — The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources discussed the importance of domestically sourced raw materials for the upcoming infrastructure package.
“Aggregates such as crushed stone, sand, and gravel are the literal foundation of many of our infrastructure projects,” Subcommittee Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said. “Expedited permitting regimes for infrastructure projects will have little to no effect if the mines that supply materials to those projects do not share the same accelerated process.”
Nigel Steward, Managing Director of Copper and Diamond Operations at Rio Tinto, talked about the arduous permitting process in the U.S., which takes an average of 7 to 10 years.
“The U.S. has one of the longest permitting processes in the world for mining projects,” Steward stated. “By comparison, permitting in Australia and Canada, which have similar environmental standards and practices as the U.S., takes between two and three years.”
More than the prolonged permitting timeline, Ward Nye Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Martin Marietta added that mining projects are subject to further delays from litigious-happy special interest groups.
“Ultimately, not only does this excessive regulation cost time, money and jobs, but critically, it often puts the fate of vital infrastructure projects in the hands of special interest groups and their handpicked courts, instead of Congress and state governments,” Nye said.
The economic benefits extend far beyond the aggregates themselves, mining supports countless other industries and small businesses. Not to mention, domestically sourced raw materials keep project costs down – a gift for American taxpayers’ wallets.
“[T]o meet the demand that will result from a sustained and substantial infrastructure investment plan, a robust mining sector is necessary. One cannot happen without the other,” Michael Brennan, Senior Vice President of the Associated Equipment Distributors, stated. “Everyone from construction equipment distributors to restaurant employees to auto mechanics suffer when there’s a significant downturn in an important industry.”
Putting today’s regulatory regime in perspective, Mr. Nye posed a rhetorical question: “Could [the Hoover Dam] be built today?”
It is critical for Congress to pair infrastructure investments with regulatory reforms, including targeting permitting inefficiencies and red tape holding back the foundation of infrastructure projects – aggregates.
Members were quick to note that reforming the permitting process does not unravel existing environmental safeguards at both the federal and state level.
Click here to view full witness testimony.