Congress Enacts New Transportation Law, ICPI Hails Inclusion of Permeable Pavers Provision
After months of end-game wrangling among both Houses of Congress, both political parties, and the White House, Congress has passed the first new Transportation construction bill in years, beating a June 30 deadline.
The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) succeeded in lobbying Congress to include first-ever permeable pavements provisions that were conceived by ICPI and offered for consideration on Capitol Hill.
In doing so, ICPI has created new law, and established that permeable pavements are now a technology for use under the auspices of the U.S. Transportation Department. Passage of the new law culminates a 15-month comprehensive strategy of intensive, highly targeted lobbying by ICPI to use the Transportation Bill as a vehicle to promote pavers in federal transportation policy.
Many in Washington, DC assumed incorrectly that the Transportation Bill would fail to pass prior to the 2012 elections due to partisan bickering. However, ICPI's judgment reached the opposite conclusion -- that the Transportation Bill had a high likelihood of being the only major bill to pass in this environment. Thus, the Transportation Bill became ICPI’s prime target and area of concentration. “Early last year, ICPI’s leadership calculated that the Transportation Bill would become the only “Jobs Bill” to gain bipartisan support in this election cycle,” said Randy Pence, ICPI’s Government Relations Counsel. “Sometime on 2012, it would gain momentum and then become the vehicle for other popular issues needed for the election. We saw plenty of partisan posturing along the way, but in the end, ICPI’s leadership had the correct political analysis.”
After developing the legislative proposal with the input of its members, ICPI worked very closely with certain key Members of Congress to develop their appreciation for the public policy benefits of pavers.
In particular, ICPI cultivated the assistance of Cong. John Mica (R-FL), and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) with meetings on Capitol Hill, and technical briefings off the Hill. In the case of Senator Vitter, ICPI hosted a paver demonstration in his home state of Louisiana.
In a timely and coordinated grassroots lobbying effort, ICPI members made constituent calls to Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to broaden Senate support to the Vitter effort.
ICPI included substantial use of grassroots lobbying, Legislative Alerts, site visits and political activity in support of the lobbying effort. In all cases, ICPI’s actions were focused on achieving specific tactical objectives on the pathway toward final passage with the permeable pavements provisions.
ICPI was able to improve its chances by persuading both the House and the Senate to include the identical permeable pavements language in each of their respective bills, a procedural tactic that greatly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.
ICPI’s goal is to establish itself formally as a transportation industry stakeholder in the view of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), create a legislative framework to vastly expand the reach and impact of ICPI research into paver applications in the lucrative transportation markets.
ICPI’s lobbying work on the Transportation Bill is a core component of ICPI’s overall mission to expand the use of pavers in North America. From a strategic perspective, ICPI seeks to invoke the immense authority, influence and resources of the U.S. Federal Government to infuse pavers into federal policy as deeply as possible.
The permeable pavements provision will grant the U.S. Secretary of Transportation authority to conduct work specifically on permeable pavements such as pavers. This is the first instance in which permeable pavements have been specifically added to the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.
Further, the permeable pavements language adds concerns such as stormwater runoff and flood control to the Secretary’s values to address at USDOT. Pavers provide major advantages in mitigating stormwater runoff and flood mitigation.
ICPI will make efforts to work closely with USDOT in developing an implementation plan to promote the use of pavers in transportation applications.
The permeable pavements language will authorize and task the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to conduct research and technology transfer activities using permeable pavements, take advantage of the benefits of permeable pavements that reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality, and restores construction areas to original hydrology using terms offered by ICPI and which tend to target permeable benefits.
Placing most of the emphasis on technology transfer, the language will enlist U.S. DOT to help disseminate the fruits of ICPI’s ambitious research and development activities, overcoming pervasive barriers to adoption that are inhibiting more widespread use of permeable pavements.
ICPI would like to thank all the Members of Congress, and the members of ICPI who assisted in passing the permeable pavements provisions into law.