There’s an important and complicated “behind the scenes” story that makes ACMA’s composites advocacy successes possible. This story starts with our industry; comprised of primarily smaller entrepreneurial companies making products like rebar for bridge decks, pollution control scrubbers, corrosion-resistant storage tanks for gas stations, lightweight automotive, truck and mass-transit components, and ballistic panels. We also employ over 250,000 people in communities all across the U.S., our industry makes a great impression on members of Congress and federal policymakers.

If you’ve been following the recent ACMA newsletters you know our advocacy program has scored some notable successes.

In December 2011 Congress ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for a peer review of the 2011 listing of styrene in the Report on Carcinogens (RoC) as a result of ACMA’s efforts in coordination with its styrene industry partners. The NAS peer review, projected to finish in 2014, will serve as the basis for a repeal of the RoC styrene listing.

We’ve also worked with key House committees to support a March 22 roundtable as well as an April 25 formal hearing on the lack of good science and resulting adverse impacts associated with federal risk assessment programs like the RoC. At each event, ACMA members provided testimony, which helped focus the attention of both policymakers and media on the need for risk assessment reform.

In a field with much larger industries and betterfunded associations, the composites industry has taken the lead in the developing and lobbying for legislation that ensures fundamental and lasting reform of federal risk assessment science. Our draft legislation, currently being reviewed by Congressional offices, sets clear standards based on long-standing NAS recommendations for quality scientific inference, independent peer review and transparent administrative oversight.

The composites industry also had a major hand in introducing the surface transportation (highway) authorization bills into the House and Senate to include requirements for lifecycle costing. Traditionally, states use federal money to build bridges and other infrastructure by awarding jobs to the lowest-installed-cost bidder. This results in low up-front cost construction of steel-reinforced bridges and bridge decks that soon need expensive maintenance or replacement, especially in coastal or northern areas where the structures are exposed to salt. A life-cycle cost requirement will favor corrosion resistant material like composites in uses such as rebar and bridge girders.

When the inherent benefits of composite materials are combined with the willing participation of so many industry members in our advocacy programs, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish in Washington.