Groups discuss both sides of legislation that would give state control of aggregate mining permits
UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - The future of who approves and oversees aggregate mining pits could be changing in Michigan.
We first told you last week about proposals that could make more road construction material available but the legislation would remove local control.
Currently, local municipalities decide where aggregate pits can be. A set of three bills would make the State Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) in charge of approving permits.
Business Representative Dan Kroll with Operating Engineers Local 324 says the legislation would allow more pits to open in communities that need them.
“It is to lower the cost of road building, so we have access to this material,” Kroll said. “Some of the pits, you know, they run out and you just need new location’s closer locations. It is going to save money and it is going to be fewer trucks on the road when you have shorter hall distances. It is a win-win all the way around.”
EGLE would also enforce standards on environmental safety and public health. An environmental advocacy group says EGLE’s guidelines for oversight in these bills are difficult to enforce.
“The problem with these bills is twofold: number one residents do deserve local control over what is going on in their backyards and that’s where local governments are meant to function,” Clean Water Action Legislative and Policy Director Sean McBrearty said. “Number two. If you are going to have state standards, they should be strong and enforceable state standards, not this weak system that is being put up in the aggregate bills”
McBrearty says his group believes these bills should not be a priority for lawmakers.
“Everybody deserves clean air and clean drinking water, and this legislation moves us backward from that point,” McBrearty said. “We see it really is a distraction from getting the things done that the people of Michigan elected this legislature to do.”
Kroll says these measures should be a focus for lawmakers because they make sure construction crews don’t need to ship aggregate from other areas.
“When you have to truck this aggregate for long distances and sometimes from other states, it just costs taxpayers more money,” Kroll said. “It also slows the work down causes more inconvenience and of time and rerouting traffic. At the end of the day it’s fewer roads.”
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