A new president, a new administration, and a new Congress; just a few factors playing into the craziness of 2017. This year started off at a fast and furious pace as President Trump identified federal programs and priorities for his new administration. With a slew of executive orders and agency directives on federal funding, this year was quickly diverted to educating policymakers on and making sure that ASSE International and IAPMO priorities were protected and not lost in the shuffle. Additionally, IAPMO’s State work expanded benefiting IAPMO members, and more foreign governments sought out IAPMO’s help to meet their growing water challenges.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense® program, a long-time IAPMO-supported federal program, was near the top of the new administration’s programs headed toward the chopping block. While many inside DC’s Beltway assumed all federal programs would be examined by the new administration, no one expected a proposed immediate abolishment of numerous programs just weeks after President Trump was sworn into office. In meetings and discussions with White House officials and congressional leadership, we learned that the WaterSense program was not proposed for elimination based on the merit of the program or its impact, but rather simply because it was a quick, easy target to eliminate and save federal dollars.
With strength, passion and drive (adjectives synonymous with the plumbing industry), The IAPMO Group was proud to join forces with other key stakeholders to show and voice the importance of WaterSense to the industry and to our communities. In a matter of months, literally hundreds of meetings were held with policymakers. A key meeting occurred when we met with Congressman Ken Calvert, the chair of the powerful appropriations subcommittee responsible for EPA’s funding, and found him very supportive of our work and of the WaterSense program. In the convening weeks, more meetings were held, conferences calls convened, and lobbying-days organized to build a sure foundation of support for the WaterSense program. The result of this effort was the official appropriations report from Chairman Calvert’s subcommittee that, in no uncertain terms, “rejects the elimination of the WaterSense Program.” More work is needed to solidify this resounding support of WaterSense, but this is a very good sign for its longevity.
We continue to support all IAPMO business units and members—whether they face regulatory burdens, restrictive laws, or simply navigating the murky bureaucratic waters of governments. One of these efforts proving fruitful has been the recently-unveiled state policy strategy of ASSE International. Working with ASSE Government Affairs Committee members and leadership, we identified states and jurisdictions that are critical for ASSE members and growth.
We continue to chair the High-Performance Buildings Coalition with rapid growth, direction and ever-increasing membership. Over the summer, we convened yet another High-Performance Buildings Week on Capitol Hill. This year, we saw incredible turnout with strong support from many members of congress. Identifying policy priorities for the industry, which is turn get introduced by our nation’s top policymakers into the national dialogue, has been an added benefit to our sector.
While domestically policy work has been busy, internationally we continue to see growing support by foreign governments in need of The IAPMO Group’s expertise. Early in the year, we had important meetings with officials in the Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to discuss several key initiatives to benefit the industry. There are serious water issues confronting the Middle East, but these governments recognize the value that The IAPMO Group brings.
August, a normally slow month in Washington, was incredibly busy for Government Affairs. Christopher Lindsay, IAPMO’s director of government affairs, spoke at the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Vietnam. These meetings included high-level dialogues with vital building and construction ministries. While Christopher was speaking at APEC, I spoke at a Department of Energy conference focusing on building and construction efficiency.
Overall, 2017 has been wildly successful! With the continued engagement and support of each of you, this success will continue to benefit ASSE International, IAPMO, and its members many years to come!