April and May were very active months for the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA). Our membership coordinated an educational opportunity in the state of New York, made a lobbying trip to Wisconsin and supported Infrastructure Week by advocating for geosynthetics in the nation’s capitol.
GMA heads to Wisconsin
On Apr. 9, 2018, members of the GMA executive council and its lobbying firm visited Madison, Wis., to advocate on behalf of the geosynthetics industry. GMA met with members of the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association (WTBA), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Wisconsin DNR), the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the office of Gov. Scott Walker. In addition to meeting with key players in charge of the state’s infrastructure, members of GMA also met with engineering students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
During the meetings with the WTBA and Gov. Walker’s senior policy advisors, GMA members discussed funding for state projects such as the expansion of Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Chicago, as well as upgrades to Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, both in preparation for the planned Foxconn Technologies Group multibillion-dollar investment in a factory in Mount Pleasant, Wis., south of Milwaukee. Geosynthetics will undoubtably be used in these projects, and members stressed the cost savings and environmentally friendly attributes of a range of geosynthetic products.
GMA’s meetings with the Wisconsin DNR and WisDOT were also productive. GMA discussed state specifications, regulations and the product approval processes of the agencies. Both agencies expressed a desire to have GMA provide industry-leading educational opportunities and asked GMA to help facilitate conversations with neighboring states to share best practices and knowledge about the use of geosynthetic products.
GMA capped off the visit with a presentation to the Geological Engineering Student Chapter at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Bryan Gee of Tensar spoke to the students, and he and a group of other GMA members participated in a question-and-answer discussion after Gee’s presentation that focused on geosynthetic product categories and a range of applications.
“We lack education about geosynthetics in class, so it was great for our members to be exposed to another opportunity they could pursue with their degree[s] after graduation,” Erin Zimmerman and Zoe Kanavas, copresidents of the student group, said in a thank-you note sent after the presentation.
GMA is committed to education, and our members seek opportunities to connect with students, to teach them about the benefits of incorporating geosynthetics into projects and to inform them of postgraduation job prospects in the geosynthetics industry.
George Koerner leads second GMA Waste Containment System Design Seminar
On Apr. 17–18, 2018, GMA hosted the second Waste Containment System Design Seminar in Syracuse, N.Y. Dr. George Koerner of the Geosynthetics Institute (GSI) led the seminar. Koerner was joined by Robert Phaneuf of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Abigail Gilson-Beck of TRI/Environmental Inc. Key topics of discussion were new state regulations, landfill design for double composite liner systems, maximizing airspace, stability analysis, subsurface exothermic events and electrical leak location. This intensive event drew 72 attendees and was a fantastic opportunity for leaders in the geosynthetics industry to share their expansive knowledge with the waste containment industry in New York.
A special thank-you goes out to our event sponsors and program coordinators. Without the following companies and individuals, events like this would not be possible:
- Andy Durham and Colton Poort, Owens Corning
- Adam Maskal, Solmax/GSE
- Don Diguilio, AGRU America Inc.
- Cory McDowell, Barton & Loguidice
- Jim Goddard, ASTM Committee D35 on Geosynthetics
- L. David Suits, LDS Geosynthetic Consulting Services
- Jessica Kivijärvi, GMA
GMA hosts its spring Lobby Day during Infrastructure Week
Infrastructure Week, designated by a nonprofit organization, was May 14–21, 2018, and it was a perfect time for GMA members to visit Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the geosynthetics industry. On May 16–17, 2018, GMA members gathered in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the industry and inform Congress on the innovative and transformative materials that our members manufacture and distribute. Discussions during our meetings centered on the pending renewal of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that was recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Prior water resource bills have included language supporting the use of geosynthetics and referenced research programs for innovative materials. The FAA reauthorization bill includes an amendment offered by Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Tennessee calling on the FAA administrator to consider geosynthetic materials. Amendment No. 48 states that:
The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration will encourage the use of durable, resilient, and sustainable materials, including the use of geosynthetic materials and other innovative technologies in carrying out the activities of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Thank-you to the 35 attendees and 14 member companies (AGRU America Inc., CQA Solutions Ltd., Dalco Nonwovens, Engineered Polymer Technologies, Strata Systems Inc., Hanes Geo Components, HUESKER Inc., Maccaferri Inc., Owens Corning, Propex GeoSolutions, Solmax/GSE, TenCate Geosynthetics, Tensar and Thrace-LINQ Inc.) that supported our spring Lobby Day. Congress and President Donald Trump have made infrastructure a priority, and GMA’s dedication to its government relations program should yield success for the industry across multiple sectors, as an infrastructure bill or bills progress through Congress and make their way to the president’s desk.