CalCIMA Member Discusses Effective IIJA Implementation at EPW Hearing
Note: This testimony was coordinated by the National Stone Sand and Gravel Association. CalCIMA thanks NSSGA for their coordination and efforts to secure this testimony and tirelessly represent the construction materials and aggregate industry in Washington D.C.
SACRAMENTO, CA –Vice President of land & quarry operations at Granite Construction and NSSGA and CalCIMA member Gary W. Johnson testified today in front of the U.S. Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works. He highlighted the industry's key issues, such as: Infrastructure implementation challenges; permitting reform; Buy Clean initiatives; and the current situation with rail service. In addition, he spoke about the importance of recycling efforts and the need for government at all levels--local, state and federal to enable more recycling of roads.
Throughout his testimony, Johnson discussed the essential role that aggregates play in communities across the country. He shared how the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) positively impacted the entire industry.
“As our country faces economic headwinds and an uncertain future, IIJA funding is laying the groundwork to keep the aggregates and materials industry moving forward to build more resilient, sustainable communities and stronger transportation networks,” said Johnson. “The certainty provided by IIJA, through the five-year reauthorization of our surface transportation programs, allows companies like Granite to better plan and make robust investments in our people, plants and equipment."
Johnson was the only construction materials representative among the five witnesses. Drawing from his first-hand perspective, he spoke on the need to effectively implement the IIJA, as passed by Congress, and urged the need for clear permitting regulations. He also found the opportunity to thank the Senators for efforts on “the ROCKS Act” and quarry permitting highlighting the importance of permitting local sources of aggregates to controlling costs and environmental impacts.
“Our industry needs regulatory certainty to plan, build and operate our facilities that supply essential building materials,” said Johnson. “The rapid enactment of policies included in IIJA like “one federal decision” would be of great help, as it will streamline bureaucratic review and reduce infrastructure permitting timelines from seven years to two years.”
He opened his testimony emphasizing the specific accomplishments and leadership of Granite, but he also emphasized how the industry is leading the way in creating sustainable materials to reach long-term emission goals and the critical importance of federal grants to support such activities being available in a timely fashion.
“For example, in 2021 we replaced 1.5 million gallons of petroleum diesel with renewable diesel blends resulting in 40-50 percent reduction in life cycle GHG emissions,” said Johnson. “We applaud the provisions in the IIJA and IRA that provide incentives to encourage innovative, technological advancements and ask these grant opportunities come online as soon as possible, with industry involvement, so we can deploy more sustainable building materials.”
Relative to the Buy America provisions in federal law, Johnson clarified:
“The legislation is clear. Aggregates, cement and asphalt binders are exempt from the legislation. This is important to areas that must import these materials from outside the US like cement in Northern California to keep pace with infrastructure construction demands,”
“It was good to see the acknowledgement by the Senate Panel that investments in IIJA and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) need to get to the street in bids in a timely manner, the additional regulatory burden that federal agencies and the administration are now inserting, after the fact, are only serving to slow down investments in critical infrastructure and micromanage local and state governments ability to use it where it is most needed: said Robert Dugan, President and CEO of CalCIMA.
Through opportunities such as this hearing, NSSGA informs policymakers about the aggregates industry, building relationships that will provide long-term success for the industry and our nation's miners. Our members operate 9,000 quarries, employ over 100,000 people and source 2.6 billion tons of aggregates each year to sustain our modern way of life and build our nation's communities.
The California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (CalCIMA) is the statewide voice of the construction and industrial materials industry. CalCIMA members operate over 500 local production facilities throughout the state, producing aggregate, concrete, cement, asphalt, essential minerals, and precast concrete including recycled materials. The members produce the materials that build our state's infrastructure, including public roads, rail, and water projects; homes, schools and hospitals; assist in growing crops and feeding livestock; and play a key role in manufacturing consumer products as well, including roofing, paint, low-energy light bulbs, and battery technology for electric cars and windmills.