Washington

Urge Congress to Stop New WOTUS Rules

As early as Tuesday, May 12, House lawmakers may consider H.R. 1732, the “Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015.” This important legislation would stop an EPA rule from using the Clean Water Act to undermine private property rights and economic development - with little or no benefit to the environment.

Released jointly by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, the rule would greatly expand the scope of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) subject to federal regulation, threaten the cement manufacturing industry, and stifle infrastructure investment across the nation. Many U.S. industries, including the cement industry, have urged EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and instead work with state and local officials and stakeholders to develop an approach that respects the will of Congress and Supreme Court direction.

Urge Congress to take action on this harmful proposal. A special “Take Action” function on the PCA website makes it easy: with a three-click process, you can send an electronic letter to your House lawmaker urging a vote in favor of H.R. 1732.

Contact Bryan Brendle

Member News

Ash Grove Cement Company Honored by Wildlife Council

Ash Grove Cement Company recently received awards from the Wildlife Habitat Council for activities at two plants. The Midlothian, Texas, cement plant was granted Corporate Lands for Learning certification for its wildlife habitat that offers experiential learning opportunities to youth, the community, and wildlife professionals. The Foreman, Arkansas, facility received Wildlife at Work recertification for its efforts to create, conserve, and restore wildlife habitats working jointly with management, employees, and members of the community.

“We are honored to receive these certifications which recognize our commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Mike Hrizuk, Ash Grove Cement Company senior vice president – manufacturing. “We are proud of our plants’ investment of time and resources in conservation and congratulate them on their outstanding achievements.”

Resiliency

Resilient Communities Start with Building Codes

building safety monthBuilding Safety Month is a public awareness campaign offered each May to help families and businesses understand what it takes to build safe and sustainable structures.

As the Week Two sponsor of Building Safety Month, PCA offers several resources which support the theme, "Bounce Back from Disaster - Build to Code," including:

  • Educational articles, Resilient Communities Start with More Durable Buildings, and Preparing for the True Impact of Natural Disasters. 
  • A blog in the May 4 Huffington Post which says communities should enhance their building code by adopting amendments to the latest edition of the national model building codes to ensure their homes, businesses, and communities are appropriately protected for local needs and exposure to disaster.
  • A video series with comparative information on cast-in-place, concrete block masonry, insulated concrete forms, and precast is available on the PCA YouTube channel. PCA, FLASH, and FEMA developed the video series.
  • A Building Safety Month web page with a link to additional activities.

Contact Steve Szoke

Infrastructure

PCA/ACPA Submit Comments on National Performance Management Measures

PCA and American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) last week provided comments on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, entitled National Performance Management Measures: Assessing Pavement Condition. The proposed measure would allow state departments of transportation (DOTs) to carry out the National Highway Performance Program, currently under federal oversight, and to assess the condition of pavements and bridges.

PCA and ACPA included several changes to the proposed measure:

  • A request to include a fourth pavement definition. The proposed rule only defines three pavement types – asphalt pavements, jointed concrete pavements, and continuously reinforced concrete pavement. PCA and ACPA requested that a definition of composite pavement also be included.
  • The baseline for performance measure should take into account improvements made between performance periods.
  • FHWA should clarify how performance measures will be incorporated into efficient investments. Industry comments suggested incorporating life-cycle cost analysis contained in the FHWA’s proposed Asset Management Plan rule.

Contact Collin Long

Codes & Standards

PCA Comments on FEMA Floodplain Management Guidelines

Last week, PCA submitted comments on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) proposed guidance document on flood plain standards, Revised Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 11988, Floodplain Management.

PCA comments addressed three significant deficiencies of the guidelines. First, most federal buildings have design service lives in excess of 75 years. With sea level rise predictions estimated to be in excess of 5 feet in the next 100 years, the proposed design for a freeboard of 2 feet above the 100-year flood elevation is insufficient. The freeboard is the vertical distance between the flood elevation and the bottom of the first habitable floor of a building. The guidelines use historical information for 100-year base flood elevation. PCA recommended using future sea levels predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Additionally, the guidelines place prohibitions on development in prime real estate within floodplains whereas building to American Society of Civil Engineers Flood Resistant Design Construction Standards (ASCE 24) could be suitable alternatives with a proper freeboard. ASCE 24 specifically includes concrete and masonry as two of the four materials permissible below the flood elevation and freeboard. Finally, the guidelines are currently limited to buildings. PCA comments point out that access to these federal facilities may be jeopardized if the infrastructure is also not designed to be flood resistant.

Contact Steve Szoke

Regional News

Colorado Concrete Day at the Capitol a Big Success

CO 6th Concrete Day at the CapitolNearly 500 attendees, including half of Colorado’s state legislature, turned out April 24 for Colorado’s sixth annual “Concrete Day at the Capitol,” as declared through a proclamation by Governor John Hickenlooper.

Twelve senators and 38 representatives, exactly half of Colorado’s 100 legislators, attended the event with their staffs. Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia and Dick Kaufman, chairman, Colorado Commission on Higher Education, also stopped by.

The day included  an outdoor barbeque, grilled on site, to recognize the hard work of the Colorado Legislature and their staffs. The luncheon provided an opportunity for 29 concrete and eight cement industry representatives to visit with lawmakers regarding the importance of the concrete industry to Colorado’s economy.

“The weather for the 6th annual event was absolutely perfect,” said Don Clem, executive director of PCA Rocky Mountain and PCA Northwest Region. “We were very pleased with our member turnout, which ensured an informative experience for lawmakers. Several representatives commented that the concrete industry puts on the best luncheon of the year!”

PCA Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Colorado/Wyoming Chapter of the American Concrete Paving Association, and the American Concrete Pipe Association sponsored the event.

Contact Don Clem