Advocacy News – June 3, 2021
The balance between private property rights and local control is a delicate dance that can lead to contentious battles in the Michigan Legislature. Yesterday, the Senate fast-tracked legislation that narrowly squeezed its way out of committee and off the floor, to get to the House. SB 429, SB 430 and SB 431 passed with a 19-17 bipartisan vote. The legislation preempts local governments from regulating sand and gravel (commonly referred to as aggregate) mining and shifts all permitting authority to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).
The Michigan Chamber is strongly supportive of this legislative initiative and is a leading voice in getting the changes outlined in these bills enacted.
For years now, the aggregate mining industry has seen a dramatic increase in local governments denying permits to access natural resources on private property for no substantive reason. Small, rural township boards simply do not want mining within their borders or have unfounded, unrealistic and nonscience based environmental concerns. When “local control” becomes “local prohibition,” a severe violation or private property rights occurs.
The current system of aggregate mining permitting is broken as activist local governments impose a patchwork of regulatory and legal hurdles preventing the activity before it can even start. A state-wide, uniform permitting process, carried out by professional regulators at EGLE, will break the log jam and hopefully restore sensibility.
As permits continue to be denied near Michigan’s major aggregate markets, and existing mines strain under demand and diminishing reserves, material must be hauled from longer distances to job sites. Each time the distance aggregates must be hauled doubles, the cost of transporting the materials doubles—or more.
Michigan needs these resources to fix our debilitating infrastructure. Hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funded road projects are being wasted as aggregate becomes scarcer. While investing in our infrastructure is important, we must also control costs to spread taxpayer’s money as far as possible.
The Michigan Chamber, along with labor unions and other business groups, is leading the charge to ensure mining remains a strong industry creating thousands of good paying jobs. All other extractive industries are regulated by EGLE, aggregates should be no difference.
Promoting jobs, protecting private property rights and fixing our roads is why the Michigan Chamber supports SB 429-31.
For more information on this issue, please contact Dan Papineau at email@example.com
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