By Lucie Passus
GMA wrapped up the first of two 2014 visits to Washington, D.C., March 4 – 5. This federal government relations program continues to attract GMA members and its allies, who met with their respective elected officials to focus on three key legislative and regulatory items currently of importance to the industry.
- Previously, GMA sought and was successful in getting select Members of Congress to include language in the House Bill for the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) that would encourage, but not mandate, that the U.S. Corps of Engineer consider the use of geosynthetic materials in its projects.
With the WRRDA bill still in conference committee (i.e., versions from both the Senate and House bills are being reconciled), GMA’s message during the March 5 congressional meetings was simple: Help protect and support the geosynthetic language that appears in the House version of WRRDA (i.e., Sec. 132 Resilient Construction and Use of Innovative Materials).
- With the recent coal ash spill on the Dan River in North Carolina, GMA members continued to impart to Congress the importance of encouraging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize rulings on coal ash and its handling. From a GMA industry perspective, there should be a stipulation that all coal ash containment ponds be lined in a manner similar to landfills (regardless of whether the EPA rules that coal ash is a nonhazardous or hazardous waste).
- GMA members advocated that Congress pass a long-term and well-funded Transportation Bill. Since so much geosynthetics business is directly with state departments of transportation (DOTs)—recipients of federal funds to support new or ongoing transportation infrastructure projects—it is important for GMA to communicate its support of a transportation bill.
No Capitol Hill visit is complete without the continued relationship-building between GMA members and their elected officials. Especially important is recognizing and thanking each of the congressional offices who have supported and continue to support GMA’s federal initiatives.
GMA continues to make inroads with its State and Local Government Relations Program:
Pennsylvania—Despite a February winter storm hitting the Northeast, members of the GMA Executive Council had a successful meeting with PennDOT Secretary of Transportation Barry Schoch and Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Scott Christie in Harrisburg. GMA was invited to provide comments on the Pennsylvania specifications on geosynthetics. Pennsylvania is the only state that requires a geotextile thickness layer that is different than required by other states. This becomes an additional cost to geosynthetics manufacturers, in addition to the Pennsylvania coffers. A work group is currently reviewing the specifications and will be providing recommendations to PennDOT.
Texas—GMA is working closely with the Texas DOT to finalize a plan to bring geosynthetics coursework to specific TxDOT employees. Look for an update in a future column regarding this positive educational expansion for the use of geosynthetics materials.
North Carolina—Next up on GMA’s list of state DOTs to visit is North Carolina.
Growing the industry
IECA—GMA was well-represented at the annual International Erosion Control Association’s Environmental Connection (EC 2014) conference in Nashville, Tenn., Feb. 25–28. GMA—and its umbrella organization, the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI)—is excited to partner with the IECA for the 2015 Geosynthetics conference in Portland, Ore. There was plenty of enthusiasm at the EC-’14 event when attendees learned of this joint trade show and conference in Portland Feb. 15–18, 2015.
Geosynthetic Materials Association
GMA is dedicated to our members’ success.
GMA actively identifies, assesses, analyzes and acts upon market growth opportunities and issues that affect its member companies. The activities of the association are proactive in nature and center on five areas:
- Engineering support
- Business development
- Government relations
- Geosynthetics industry recognition