Inside208

Gravel Mining Bills Introduced & Moving Quickly

Posted on May 13, 2021 by Dene Westbrook

Just introduced legislation dealing with the regulatory structure of sand and gravel mining up for a hearing in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure committee today at 11:00 a.m. Contact committee members and your state Senator to voice opposition!

Senate bills 429, 430 and 431 seek to take away the already very limited ability local government has to regulate aggregate mining operations, and puts the permitting process solely in the hands of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). This one-size-fits-all approach is another attempt by the aggregate industry to bulldoze communities and silence concerned residents living near existing or proposed mining operations.

The legislation is being touted as protecting the environment and providing for local input, but in reality SB 429 creates a new statewide program lacking true regulatory review and seeks to remove as much oversight from the aggregate industry as possible. Local units of government would have no input on where mining operations are located, nor have any ability to mitigate negative impacts to nearby residents, schools, or businesses. There would be no ability to negotiate and enforce hours of operation, truck hauling routes, dust mitigation measures, or other steps to protect those most impacted by mining operations.

Those closest to the people, locally elected officials, are best suited to address local issues when they arise. Every community is different, and what works in one place doesn’t necessarily work everywhere. If the industry can demonstrate there is a shortage of aggregate in a particular area of the state than a targeted approach, which includes working with local municipalities, can be deployed to find a solution. Michigan has long been recognized as a top producer of sand and gravel, so while supporters are saying this legislation is needed to fix the damn roads, in reality it’s a free pass for the aggregate industry to continue to put profit over people and export much of the product being mined.

Contact the bill sponsors, members of the Senate Transportation Committee, and your local senator to voice your opposition. The League’s input was not sought on this legislation, and these bills do not include recommendations previously provided from workgroup meetings held last year.

Even if your community doesn’t currently have sand and gravel mining operations, or there’s no issues with current operators in your area, this legislation is yet another swipe at the ability for your municipality to make decisions based on what’s best for your community and the health, safety and welfare of your residents. It also sets a dangerous precedent for future special interest to seek one-sided legislation to override local zoning authority.

Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee:

Send/copy written opposition to the committee clerk, Heather Dorbeck and ask to have it included in the official committee hearing record.

Find your State Senator at https://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html

Bill sponsors:

Previous blogs on this issue can be found here, here, and here.

Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues.  She can be reached at jrigterink@mml.org or 517-908-0305.

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