ACMA members and leaders gather for the fifth Infrastructure Day in Washington, D.C
ARLINGTON, VA (February 18, 2020) – On February 12-13, 2020, nearly 50 composite manufacturing business owners and leaders assembled at the American Composites Manufacturers Association‘s (ACMA) fifth annual Infrastructure Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C to advocate for the increased use of composites and advanced materials in upcoming infrastructure legislation.
“The nation’s aging infrastructure is top of mind in Washington and around the country. The nation’s leaders have noted America needs more than a trillion dollars’ worth of investment to rehabilitate bridges, water systems, dams and the electric grid. Composites are uniquely poised to provide real-world solutions to meet this demand,” said ACMA President Tom Dobbins. “ACMA’s membership is actively engaged with Members of Congress and other government officials to advocate for our industry and lobby for the IMAGINE Act and legislation to launch a standards and research program at NIST.”
On the 12th, the event started with a half-day of programming to educate attendees about the current political landscape and review pro-composites legislation that could benefit composites like the IMAGINE Act that would authorize $650 million fund that can be used by asset owners (states, cities) for innovative highway and water infrastructure construction. Additionally, the NIST Composites Standards Act could inject $11 million of research to model composites durability.
Day one continued with ACMA’s President Tom Dobbins, who provided an overview of the organization’s recent legislative advocacy accomplishments for the composites industry, including advancements for new standards for FRP utility pole crossarms, new building codes, and R&D. The Alpine Group’s Mike Henry provided an overview of the political landscape during election season, and he detailed how to navigate the political landscape during this time to get business done in Washington. He reiterated that the upcoming election could impact the legislative cycle and highlighted the critical window of time that the composites industry must maximize to lobby for key legislation that will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the entire industry. Afterward, attendees went to Capitol Hill for meetings with Congressional leaders and ended the day with a dinner discussion featuring Senator Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Chairwoman, Subcommitee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
On the 13th, the event resumed with more congressional meetings throughout the morning. The event concluded in the afternoon with an in-depth panel discussion featuring participants from the US Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Highway Administration, and the Associated General Contractors. The panelists analyzed several political and legislative developments tied to infrastructure investment and spending.
Lee Forsgren, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water at the EPA provided an overview of how the agency efforts to finance new infrastructure projects such as plans for new clean, safe water systems. He highlighted numerous opportunities for companies to tap into funding for current and upcoming drinking water and safe water infrastructure initiatives. Hari Kalla, Associate Administrator for Infrastructure at the Federal Highway Administration similarly outlined the Administration’s research efforts and opportunities to collaborate on technology deployment.
“Our infrastructure is inadequate…state DOTs are struggling to maintain the systems,” added Ed Mortimer, Vice President of Transportation and Infrastructure at the US Chamber of Commerce. He emphasized the need for all parties to pursue environmentally sound decisions using innovation and technology to modernize infrastructure, and he urged the audience of composite business leaders to make their voices heard in Washington.
Mortimer added, “Our lawmakers don’t have the political courage to come up with funding solutions because here we are…” The Chamber proposes a four point plan that 1. adjust the fuel tax; 2. encourage more private investment; 3. accelerates project deliver; promotes workforce development. Mortimer concluded that a broad infrastructure plan is needed that goes beyond transportation, and includes waste water, rural broadband, pipelines, and such a plan should “be more beneficial to the environment than the current infrastructure.”
Brian Deery from Associated General Contractors followed with an overview of the Trump administration and Congress’ efforts over the last 4 years to promote new infrastructure legislation. Deery mentioned that several key developments were a “good omen” that infrastructure will be a priority, including the passage of a new bipartisan spending package that provides $287B in infrastructure spending over the next five years. Also, the President’s recent budget proposal includes an infrastructure plan that includes $800B for infrastructure over the next ten years. Despite this movement, Deery added that composite manufacturing business leaders and owners should be “cautiously optimistic,” that everyone is talking about infrastructure and so far the industry has seen “a lot of smoke…now we’re looking for the fire.”
The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) is the world’s largest trade group representing over 3,000 companies in the composites industry in North America alone. ACMA is recognized as the premier provider of composites industry educational resources through its CAMX conference and trade show, conferences, and Certified Composites Technician (CCT®) program. It is a timely source of business intelligence and analysis for the composites industry through Composites Manufacturing magazine, website and newsletters. It serves its members and the industry by providing strong, proactive leadership in growing the composites market and technical, legislative and regulatory affairs. Visit acmanet.org.