The permitting process needs drastic overhaul if US infrastructure is to be built, said Ward Nye, chairman, Martin Marietta addressing members of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
“If this country can find a way to invest in [infrastructure], we will put people to work, we will increase our global competitiveness and we will have our country in a much better long-term position economically than it is today,” said Nye.
He testified on behalf of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association at the hearing about the importance of aggregates for infrastructure projects and the negative impact of excessive regulation on efforts to fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
He stressed the importance of streamlining the permitting process with concurrent approvals and reasonable deadlines for all involved. It is all too common for state-level projects, like the Herbert C Bonner Bridge in North Carolina, to face road blocks that delay critical infrastructure. Nye said that the bridge is expected to go in service in 2018, after lawsuits from environmental groups caused a near 30-year delay and $95 million in extra costs to the state.
Even the Hoover Dam, considered to be our country’s greatest infrastructure project, could have faced a litany of delays and opposition if it were to be built today, he said.
Members of the committee agreed with Nye that the process simply takes too long. “Aggregates such as crushed stone, sand, and gravel are the literal foundation of many of our infrastructure projects,” said chairman Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
“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.”
Nye emphasized that the aggregates industry is essential to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. “We support thoughtful regulation that preserves our natural resources, protects our environment, ensures the safety of our employees and neighbors and furthers the American dream,” he said.
“We are opposed, however, to overreaching regulation that puts our infrastructure needs at the mercy of activists that oppose progress and whose interests are wholly inconsistent with growing our economy, creating new jobs and remedying our aging infrastructure.”