Years-long fight over gravel mining permits resumes
Mining companies that produce gravel, sand and other aggregate have been pushing for years for a law that changes who approves permits for their operations.
Now, they're trying again.
New legislation introduced Wednesday would require Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to issue gravel and sand mining permits. Townships currently have that authority.
Gravel mining companies say townships are too frequently denying the permits. Doug Needham, head of the Michigan Aggregates Association, said that increases travel distance for trucks hauling aggregate, as well as emissions and costs.
"When aggregate mining is permitted closer to major projects, trucking costs are reduced. That money goes back into construction improvements," he said.
But the Michigan Township Association's Judy Allan said townships approve the overwhelming majority of permit applications, with reasonable restrictions on things like noise and hours of operation.
"The communities work with the operator," she said, "And this takes that completely out of the process."
Allan said the bills would mean township residents have almost no say in where and how gravel mining is done.
Construction unions and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce support the bills.
Environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Clean Water Action oppose the bills.