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Bipartisan legislation introduced last week by Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, seeks to help local manufacturers and producers by holding the state accountable for both its environmental regulations and for its out-of-state purchases of construction materials.
“We have some of the cleanest, greenest manufacturing standards in the nation,” said Maycumber, who serves as the assistant Republican on the House Environment Committee. “Yet the state continues to buy steel and concrete from places like China, which have notoriously dirty production and manufacturing standards. Why is that? Is it because it’s cheaper to ship concrete and steel thousands of miles to our state rather than buy them from local manufacturers? If that’s the case, we need to know why.”
Maycumber’s concerns escalated after committee testimony revealed the state was constructing a new building with concrete and steel from China even though the building site was located just blocks away from one of the nation’s greenest concrete-producing plants.
“We cannot lecture in-state companies on carbon emissions and green energy on one hand, while buying loads of it from out-of-state manufacturers with the other,” said Maycumber.
Maycumber’s bill, House Bill 2194, requires certain reporting measures for publicly constructed buildings over 5,000 square feet that use out-of-state materials, including:
“In the past decade, the state has forced in-state manufacturers to get green,” said Maycumber. “They’ve spent millions of dollars in researching and developing new technologies, upgrading facilities and buying carbon offsets. And the state then ‘rewards’ our in-state businesses by purchasing from out-of-state? I have a hard time reconciling this with the many businesses that have folded or left the state because of increased or onerous environmental regulations. In my district, we have aluminum, pulp and paper and potentially silicon manufacturing that has been – and continues to be – greatly impacted by the state’s environmental policies. We need to level the playing field.”
Maycumber said committee testimony revealed out-of-state construction materials may have a carbon footprint over a thousand times worse than locally sourced materials.
“Our state is a leader – an innovator – in clean water recycling, storm water regulation and clean energy usage,” said Maycumber. “If the state is truly concerned with our carbon footprint, we should be utilizing the greenest products and manufacturing processes out there instead of buying from China, India or Turkey.
“We’ve suspected that our environmental regulations make it nearly impossible to compete with companies from out of state; my bill will show exactly why, where and how we’re lacking,” said Maycumber. “Before we can fix the problem, we have to clearly identify it and have information in place to affect the change we need to keep and attract more family-wage jobs to our region.”
Maycumber’s bill was referred to the House Capital Budget Committee for further consideration.
The 105-day 2017 regular session is scheduled to end April 23.