By Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press
When Michigan gravel companies wanting to open or expand a mine are opposed by neighbors objecting to the noise and dust, they point to a 2016 consultant’s study, commissioned by the Michigan Department of Transportation, that says the state is running out of gravel to rebuild its busted roads.
But in fact, the Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA) — the lobbying organization for the sand and gravel industry, which is pushing for legislation that would severely restrict the ability of local governments to deny permits for new or expanded gravel mines — was behind the study, records show.
The group recommended the consultant MDOT hired, set out the scope of work and how to price the study, and even spelled out the expected findings, according to emails and other records obtained under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act and provided to the Free Press. The group also had a role in initiating the study, which an MDOT official repeatedly described in emails as a report “the Director commissioned after talking with the Michigan Aggregate(s) Association.”