April and May are always busy months for the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA). Construction season is gearing up and the association is preparing to kick off its spring government relations activities. This year was no exception. GMA conducted its third state visit of the fiscal year by traveling to Wyoming; members attended key environmental and infrastructure meetings in Washington, D.C.; and our executive council held its second meeting of the calendar year. All these activities are member led and funded; without the generous support of our member companies and employees of those companies, GMA would not be able to achieve its mission and support the industry.
GMA completes its 20th state visit in Wyoming
The Geosynthetic Materials Association began its state and local government program in 2012 with a visit to Ohio. Since that time, members of our executive council have visited states from coast-to-coast and even as far away as Alaska. State visits provide our members with a unique opportunity to engage state engineers, regulatory agencies and lawmakers to educate them on best practices pertaining to geosynthetic uses in applications such as containment and transportation. Following these visits, GMA focus groups have had opportunities to provide input on multiple state specifications pertaining to environmental, erosion control, geotextile and geogrid applications.
In April 2019 a delegation of eight GMA member companies visited Wyoming to discuss opportunities for increased adoption of geosynthetic products and a review of the current geosynthetic usage in the state. Topics included road building, coal ash containment facilities and farming applications. GMA members met with the governors’ offices, departments of transportation and environmental quality, and many other key groups. GMA members answered questions related to best practices for a wide array of geosynthetic products and state specifications, and learned from state leaders about geotechnical challenges facing Wyoming. GMA focus groups plan to follow up to provide technical guidance and education opportunities.
Infrastructure and the environment in D.C.
GMA members and industry leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., during the week of May 20 to advocate for greater consideration of geosynthetic products used in environmental and transportation applications.
GMA’s environmental focus group leaders—led by representatives from Owens Corning, Raven Industries, HUESKER Inc., Tensar International Corp., and Engineered Polymer Technologies—kicked off the week by meeting with associations from the energy sector and officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Key topics of conversation during these meetings were subtitle D of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, liner performance, coal combustion residuals (CCR) impoundments and municipal solid waste landfills. GMA’s environmental focus group will be starting work on these issues. If you are interested in participating in these conversations, please reach out to me to discuss.
The association’s spring Lobby Day kicked off on the evening of May 21, with a three-hour meeting of GMA’s executive council to discuss the association’s priorities for the coming fiscal year, some of which include passage of the Innovative Materials for America’s Growth and Infrastructure Newly Expanded (IMAGINE) Act, industry-led marketing efforts, state and local outreach, and education initiatives. A listing of executive council members can be found by visiting www.gmanow.com.
On May 22, GMA conducted 29 meetings on Capitol Hill, 19 with offices of members of the House of Representatives and 10 with offices of members of the United States Senate. The prospect of a $2 trillion infrastructure package was top of mind during all morning meetings, but the mood soured in the afternoon when word spread that an infrastructure meeting between President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi imploded, effectively dooming the prospects of a bill in the near future. That said, there is a silver lining; members of Congress and their staffs were quick to point to the good work being done at the state level to fund new investment in infrastructure, and the majority of offices seemed very focused on renewing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2020, to shore up the Highway Trust Fund. Through the tireless efforts of our member advocates, GMA continues to position itself well to take advantage of legislation that can fund growth in our industry and increase the adoption of geosynthetic products.
Thank you, Andy Durham
Second vice chair of the GMA executive council, Andy Durham, recently became president of Suncoast Geosystems Inc. in Tallahassee, Fla. As a result of taking on this exciting new role, Durham informed me he would have to conclude his term on the council. Durham has been an invaluable member of the GMA executive council since joining the group in 2016 as Owens Corning’s representative. In addition to serving as GMA’s second vice chair, Durham served as the chair of the association’s environmental focus group and leader of our education task force. Durham helped strengthen GMA’s relationship with state and federal regulatory agencies and helped expand GMA’s webinar program by developing partnerships with external groups and state agencies. On behalf of GMA, I would like to say thank you to Durham for his time on the council and his commitment to GMA’s mission. We all wish him the best of luck.