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GMA Government Relations Update

News | May 5, 2011 | By:

Notes from Conference Call – 5.4.11

Martin Whitmer & Rudy Barry (Whitmer & Worrall)
Jimmy Kemp (Kemp Partners)

1) Transportation Update:
Transportation Reauthorization Bill Status
GMA Separation & Interlayer Study
Congressional Progress (Martin Whitmer / Rudy Barry)

  • Currently GMA has 14 Letters of Support directed toward House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) leadership for the Geosynthetic Separation and Interlayer Study. We are working to get two additional letters from constituents of Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R–2nd Tenn.), Chairman of Highways & Transit Subcommittee. We have made great progress on the House side, and will also have additional GMA congressional champions weigh in with the House T&I Committee when the time is right.
  • A working draft of the bill is currently working its way through the House. GMA is beginning to target Senate champions on the Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW).
  • Timing of the bill: The Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011, extended programs through the end of fiscal year 2011 and was signed into law on March 4, 2011. The new working draft of the transportation reauthorization bill is currently making its way through the House. The bill needs to have serious momentum by Labor Day for likelihood of passing in the 112th Congress.

2) Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Update:
WRDA bill status – Progress related to Senate policy language strategy (Jimmy Kemp)

  • GMA has been working extensively with Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.) and his Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee staff. We have supplied Sen. Barasso’s staff with GMA’s legislative language and Wyoming constituent information – per their request.
  • The Senate EPW Committee has imposed a June 6 deadline for any WRDA project requests from members of Congress.
  • GMA Member companies and lobbying team will meet with the Senate EPW Committee in early May.

GMA WRDA Language:
The committee is aware that the use of geosynthetic materials has expanded into nearly all areas of civil, geotechnical, environmental, coastal, and hydraulic engineering. As such, the use of geosynthetic materials in water resource projects is of interest to Congress as we look to increase efficiency, performance and lifespans of infrastructure. The committee encourages the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation to pursue the potential for geosynthetic technologies and applications in water resource and related projects.

3) EPA / Coal Ash Regulation Update:
Regulation enactment update – Status of H.R. 1391
Martin Whitmer/Jimmy Kemp/Rudy Barry)

  • Late 2011 (early 2012 possible) ruling expected. EPA is sifting through 100,000+ comments and continuing to work with congressional, industry, and environmental groups working to exert their influence on the regulation. The EPA is trying to determine if coal ash will be classified as solid waste or hazardous waste. Both designations would require geosynthetics liner systems.
  • Work to date: GMA submitted two formal comments to the EPA through; attended eight public hearings throughout the country and submitted physical comments at those hearings as well. GMA successfully worked to get a letter from a bipartisan group of Congress reps urging the EPA to consider mandating the use of geosynthetics at coal ash sites.
  • Recent legislation: On April 6, 2011, Rep. David McKinley (R-1st W.Va.) introduced H.R. 1391, to “prohibit the EPA from regulating coal combustion byproducts as hazardous waste under Subtitle C of the Solid Waste Disposal Act, and for other purposes.” The bill immediately had 33 co-sponsors. We spoke to senior legislative staff in the House related to this bill. Their take was that this bill is a political statement in opposition to the EPA categorizing coal ash as a hazardous waste—and also a serious piece of legislation—but only in the House of Representatives. If the bill was to pass the House, there would be a small chance of it passing in the Senate. The introduction of this bill does highlight that this issue is still very important to Members of Congress and their constituents as the EPA considers regulation.

4) Future Washington, D.C. visit in September 2011:
Continue support in the House/Senate related to Transportation Reauthorization Bill. By September, we will have a good idea of the progress of this bill. A WRDA bill update/strategy progress will take place as well. Please look for an announcement of the dates of the next Lobby Day.

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