Government affairs, infrastructure spending and planning have been the watchwords for the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) this spring. In April GMA hosted three morning geosynthetics sessions as part of the annual Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) Outlook Conference, the premier leadership event for industries represented by IFAI’s 13 divisions. This year’s conference was held at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., which has hosted 23 U.S. presidents over the years. While a commander-in-chief did not attend the conference, the event attracted dozens of key industry leaders and several prominent speakers. The geosynthetics sessions included talks with Dave Bauer of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, Jay Hansen of the National Asphalt Pavement Association and Carolyn Slaughter of the American Public Power Association. Topics ranged from environmental policies affecting public power, including updates on disposal of coal combustion residuals, to the effects of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on the transportation sector and how funding from the law will be appropriated by Congress.
In May GMA held the 2022 spring Lobby Day in Washington, D.C., meetings which focused on the implementation of the IIJA. While we had hoped to be back to normal visitation procedures on Capitol Hill, meetings between Lobby Day attendees and members of Congress took place in a variety of formats—face-to-face in congressional offices, virtual meetings or a lunchtime reception—to meet the comfort level of lawmakers. In preparation for Lobby Day, participants spent many hours analyzing the $1.2 trillion IIJA’s provisions to determine which parts of the law offer the most opportunity for the geosynthetics industry and GMA members. Conversations focused on several key areas, including the Centers of Excellence for the study of sustainability and resilience, new funding mechanisms for local projects, resiliency and protective features funding under the National Highway Performance Program (authorized under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015), and the IIJA’s “Buy America” provisions.
While spring Lobby Day is in the books, GMA’s government affairs work continues. The association expects a busy second half of 2022. There will be more to do on implementation of funding from the IIJA, as well as advocacy work on upcoming major legislation concerning water resources and disaster response. GMA is also expanding efforts to build even stronger working relationships with the executive branch at federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
GMA has lots of exciting work to do, and the association needs the help of the geosynthetics industry to continue to achieve GMA’s advocacy goals. Contact GMA executive director Fred C. Chuck at email@example.com to learn more.