Opportunities in Infrastructure
Over the past few years, ACMA advocacy has led to provisions in the Water Resources Development Act and Highway Bill (the surface transportation authorizing legislation) to study the performance of composites among other innovative materials in bridges and water infrastructure. Building off of these successes, and noting the strong bipartisan push to move comprehensive infrastructure legislation during the 115th Congress, ACMA is currently working with partners from key House and Senate offices to develop and advance broader and substantive legislation to advance the use of composites in this market. This effort comes on the heels of testimony by Shane Weyant, CEO of ACMA member Creative Pultrusions, to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the ways composites can improve American infrastructure.
Specifically, ACMA seeks reforms to existing grant, loan and other infrastructure financing programs that would provide additional support to project applications that use composites. In addition, the proposal would direct additional dollars and resources to advance research and development of innovative material solutions at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, the Technology and Innovation Deployment Program and the Center for Accelerated Innovation.
Further, ACMA and our congressional partners seek the creation of two new programs – one for bridges and another for water treatment facilities – that would provide substantial grant money to municipalities using composites and other innovative materials in new projects. These programs would be operated out of the Federal Highway Administration and EPA respectively. The idea is that these programs would create incentives for municipalities to design new projects with composites and ultimately create business opportunities for ACMA members manufacturing into these markets. In addition, ACMA is seeking authorization and appropriations for the effort on composites standards development currently being initiated at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Among the many items on the congressional to-do list is comprehensive energy legislation. Energy packages are generally broad in scope, covering everything from energy production and delivery to energy efficiency. ACMA seeks to leverage forthcoming energy legislation for two key issues – hardening the grid with composite utility structures and expanding federal research on composites recycling.
The proposed energy bill from the House of Representatives during the 114th Congress contained language directing utilities to increase deployment of high-performance utility structures, like composite poles and crossarms, as part of their resiliency planning efforts. ACMA is working with our congressional allies to assure the same provision is picked up in the next iteration of the legislation.