For four decades, ACMA has been the voice, advocate and protector for the composites industry. In those 40 years there have been times of great political tension, and we certainly find ourselves in that environment again. However, with ACMA’s member and staff resources and support, we are poised to navigate the current political landscape with finesse and in a way that provides a positive outcome for the composites industry. In 2019, there are several key issues to solve that require ACMA and the industry to be a part of the conversation. ACMA brings solutions rather than problems, and we stand prepared to work with both political parties. Let’s explore these key issues further.
Infrastructure has been a focus for ACMA’s congressional advocacy program for the last few years and that will accelerate even more in 2019. After successfully working with leaders in Congress to introduce the IMAGINE Act – seminal legislation to drastically expand the use of innovative materials in American infrastructure – ACMA must aggressively generate support for the legislation so it can be integrated into a broader infrastructure stimulus package. To help us do this, we have two key tools at our disposal: a coalition of associations and companies from across the broader material industry committed to advancing IMAGINE and, most importantly, our dedicated members that consistently engage their congressional representatives in Washington on composites industry issues. The more members of Congress who co-sponsor any bill, the greater the likelihood of success. We have our marching orders to keep pushing this legislation and will do so at the Infrastructure Fly-In in February.
IMAGINE seeks to create a broader paradigm shift, moving away from traditional methods toward innovation and long-term thinking. This can change the outlook for composites, but other barriers remain in the market. One of those barriers is standards. The composites industry has invested significantly in standards development for years, but compared to traditional materials we are a long way off.
ACMA has the attention of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Congress on this issue. In 2018, ACMA members Shane Weyant of Creative Pultrusions and Hota GangaRao of West Virginia University testified on the value a composites program at NIST could bring to infrastructure resiliency and national competitiveness. Working with our allies in Congress, ACMA secured the introduction of legislation to provide $11 million for NIST to conduct research for composites standards development. In 2019, we need to get the legislation over the finish line and the program underway.