Outlook® Conference 2022 included the debut of the “Geosynthetics Morning”—a new opportunity to explore the intersection of markets and include professionals in geosynthetics for a morning of specific education. 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. The inclusion of this morning presented a new opportunity to expand the reach, increase attendance and enhance the overall conference experience. This year’s conference was held at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., and attracted dozens of key industry leaders and several prominent speakers.
Return to Washington
In May, GMA held the 2022 Spring Lobby Day, meetings which focused on the implementation of the IIJA. While not fully back to pre-pandemic normal visitation procedures on Capitol Hill, Whitmer & Worrall were able to arrange 15 face-to-face meetings in congressional offices for Lobby Day attendees to interact with members of Congress. GMA also hosted a lunchtime reception at the Capital City Club where two congressmen made a special effort to join us for extended conversations around the IIJA provisions.
Just prior to the Spring Lobby Day, members met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) group in charge of the Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) program to open the lines of communication and education on the use of geosynthetics in the CCR work. During the Executive Council meeting, participants spent many hours preparing for Lobby Day by analyzing the IIJA’s $1.2 trillion provisions, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed 180-day hold for clarity, and the definition of the “Buy America” clauses, and determining 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.
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.