By Bryan Gee
As we move into 2021, I hope all of you are finding renewed optimism for your businesses and your personal lives, and that you remain healthy or are regaining your health as we look forward to the waning of the pandemic. The Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) continues our many efforts to advance the technology in the geosynthetic field and the use of that technology, and we are planning for a busy year.
With the opening of the 117th U.S. Congress in January, we continued our efforts to promote the use of geosynthetics to improve our transportation infrastructure and protect our water resources. I think it’s important to emphasize that through all the years GMA has conducted lobbying visits in our nation’s capital and in state capitals, we have never asked for a governmental mandate for the use of geosynthetics. Instead, we have emphasized the benefits that our technologies offer, and we have advocated for legislative language and regulatory policies to allow those benefits to be captured for the betterment of society. This is a key factor in our positive reputation with legislators and regulators: When we meet with them, our question is “How can we help?” instead of “What can you do for us?”
This approach has paid many dividends for our industry over the years, and as our nation looks to address the many challenges ahead, we will continue to look for new ways to advance our interests by advancing the interests of society. A particular emphasis in 2021 will be looking for other organizations whose goals align with ours, so we can magnify our efforts and achieve even more. We invite you to join GMA to help us meet our objectives, or to increase your involvement if you are already a member. I am confident you will find the experience both beneficial and personally rewarding.
By Fred C. Chuck
Two major events occurred or will occur during this pandemic winter season for GMA. In November, 28 members participated in a virtual Lobby Day. Meetings were held via Microsoft Teams with 19 congressional offices covering all sectors of the United States. Seven of the meetings included the senator or representative in attendance. During the conversations, GMA members discussed support for a long-lasting and well-funded transportation infrastructure package, including reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Additionally, the congressional offices were reminded that GMA has been and continues to be supportive of the coal combustion residual (CCR) rulings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the program’s funding levels in the 2021 Senate–Interior Appropriations bill. During these conversations, GMA promoted the establishment of a program for nontraditional infrastructure methods and materials, including geosynthetics, to be included in the University Transportation Center’s (UTC) funding in the 2021 FAST Act reauthorization.
In February, GMA hosts the Geosynthetics Virtual Conference 2021 in conjunction with the International Erosion Control Association (IECA). As this is the first virtual conference that GMA has hosted, we will post reviews, results and comments in our next report. While the conference was originally scheduled for a live event in Kansas City, Mo., the COVID-19 conditions forced a change to a virtual event. The Kansas City event has been rescheduled for 2023 and will again be co-located with IECA. Look for details in future issues.