During my first year as a division supervisor, managing the Geosynthetic Materials Association, GMA has seen an increase in activity. GMA has been able to capitalize on its strong presence on Capitol Hill, by encouraging Congress to pass a long-term highway bill that included meaningful geosynthetic language. GMA has made significant efforts to cultivate relationships with federal departments such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Department of Commerce.
While the work in Washington, D.C., is important, GMA has not lost sight of the fact that geosynthetic products are consumed at the state and local levels too. GMA has relaunched its state and local lobbying efforts by visiting state DOTs in North Carolina, Florida, New York, and Louisiana. The state and local lobbying program is aimed at educating state officials about benefits of our member’s products. We also offer each state support in the form of specification reviews and educational seminars. GMA recognizes that building strong partnerships across the country is vital to the success of our association and the long-term growth of the geosynthetics industry.
GMA recognizes that building strong partnerships across the country is vital to the success of our association and the long-term growth of the geosynthetics industry.
GMA activities report coming soon
As a result of the increased volume of GMA activities, we will be distributing a bimonthly activities report to all GMA members via email. The reports will be aimed at keeping members and their employees up-to-date on our association activities. The reports will include updates on focus group activity (geotextile, geogrid, erosion control, distribution, and environmental), state and federal government relations programs, industry trade shows, announcements about upcoming GMA activities and much more. It is my hope that this report will help keep all members informed of GMA activities and encourage member participation. For more information about receiving this report, please email me at GMAnews@ifai.com.
WRRDA 2014 implementation update
In 2014, GMA worked with Congress to help push for the passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which also included geosynthetic language. Since then, Congress has been monitoring the bill’s implementation to ensure that WRRDA dollars are being spent wisely and on time.
During a hearing held June 5, 2015 to discuss the one-year progress report on WRRDA implementation, members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, found that the Army Corps of Engineers had issued less than 40% of the implementation guidance, much of which was to carry out nontechnical sections of the law. During this committee hearing, members also cited the fact that the Corps maintains about 25,000 miles of channels for commercial navigation and operates 236 locks, employs 23,000 civilian and military personnel. They also noted that flood damage reduction projects paid for by WRRDA prevent roughly $48.5 billion in flood damage and every dollar the Corps spends results in a $7.92 return on investment.
It is apparent from this hearing that WRRDA dollars have a real impact on the country’s infrastructure and are a good return on investment for the American taxpayers. It is unfortunate that these dollars are not being spent in a timely manner. Implementing 100% of WRRDA will prevent infrastructure damage caused by storms and inevitably save lives lost during natural disasters.
With less than a year to go before WRRDA 2014 expires, GMA and others industries affected by the spending in this bill, need to encourage Congress to push the Corps to spend WRRDA dollars in an efficient and timely manner. During a recent conference call with Whitmer and Worrall—our government relations partner in Washington, D.C.—GMA’s executive council discussed the new 2016 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and our strategy for encouraging Congress to impose firm deadlines on the Corps for projects funded by WRDA 2016 and for the inclusion of more in environmental and safety provisions. GMA intends to continue to monitor this bill’s progress and keep members updated on the actions Congress is taking to extend WRDA past 2016.
For more information and to put this issue into context, go to the June 5, 2015, U.S. House Hearing Summary.
GMA Lobby Day April 26-27
GMA’s biannual lobbying visits are a great way for all GMA members to participate in our government relations program. During our last round of visits in October 2015, GMA members met with 29 congressional offices and successfully spread a positive message about the cost saving and structural benefits of our members’ products. GMA member companies are truly doing their part to build a stronger American infrastructure and these meetings help GMA take its message directly to Congress and they spread the message to key congressional committees and their constituents back home.
Register for GMA’s Spring 2016 Lobby Day.