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AMPP Champions Corrosion Control on Capitol Hill

Photos courtesy of AMPP

As the global authority in materials protection and performance, the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP) hosted its annual Advocacy Day on May 15–16, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (recap).

Each year, this event marks a significant opportunity for corrosion control and protective coatings professionals to influence legislation while promoting sustainable practices within critical infrastructure sectors.

Featured U.S. Legislation

This year, AMPP Advocacy Day put a spotlight on advancing the organization’s legislative agenda. This agenda includes major U.S. legislation, such as the Bridge Corrosion Prevention and Repair Act (H.R. 4064/S.1932) and the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (H.R. 1477/S.722).

Additionally, AMPP’s representatives emphasized supporting the Department of Defense’s Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight and the expansion of the Congressional Corrosion Prevention Caucus.

“Advocacy is the lifeblood of change in our industry,” said Alan Thomas, CEO of AMPP. “By bringing together our members and voices in Washington, we transcend the conventional boundaries of our work. We’re not just advocating for the present. We are shaping the future of corrosion control and coatings protection, and ensuring safer, longer-lasting infrastructure for generations.”

Benefits to Attendees and Industry

The 2024 event brought together diverse attendees — including industry veterans, policymakers, and emerging professionals — all united to drive progress in corrosion prevention.

As part of numerous activities, attendees took part in specialized networking and knowledge exchange sessions; engaged directly with lawmakers; and utilized a shared platform for promoting international best practices in corrosion control.

Roundtable Interview

In a roundtable interview featuring representatives from AMPP’s member leadership and staff, Kimberly-Joy Harris, Elaine Bowman, and Tim Gonzalez shared their perspectives on the event and its importance to the association.

Read on for a partial Q&A transcript, and check out the full podcast below.

Q: Can you give us some background as to your career journeys?

Harris: I’m a 30-plus-year [association] member, as well as an industry professional. For most of my career, I’ve served in a leadership role, overseeing integrity and corrosion programs that are related to coatings, internal corrosion, and external corrosion… working on database and technology development.

I’m very engaged in the industry, and I recently received an unexpected Lifetime Achievement Award [from an AMPP chapter] that I’m so thankful and blessed to have received.

Bowman: I’m a past president of NACE International, so that’s one of the highlights of my corrosion career. Like Kimberly, I’m also a 30-plus-year member of AMPP and previously NACE. I’ve served on many committees and boards.

From a career standpoint, I spent those 30 years in specialty chemicals as they apply to pipelines for internal corrosion. That would be my area of corrosion expertise.

My interest in the legislative day is because I am also the chair of the CORROSION and COATINGS PAC [political action committee] for AMPP.

Gonzalez: I have nearly 20 years of experience in industry associations, working in different aspects from certification, standards, development, marketing, business development,… and now as director of Corporate Outreach and Advocacy at AMPP.

I’m really proud to be part of AMPP and working alongside these industry professionals like Elaine and Kimberly-Joy. With Advocacy Day, it’s really an opportunity for AMPP and its members to come together and showcase what we do best. It really helps to educate our elected officials and Congress… on how important our work is. It impacts infrastructure and assets, not just here domestically in the United States but globally as well.

Q: How does advocating at the government level affect our industry?

Harris: I’ve been participating in Advocacy Day for close to 10 years. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that in this country — and it’s probably rare around the world — we do have an opportunity to sit down with Congress and Senate staff and discuss, for example, infrastructure. I also discuss things involved in my community. Being involved gives us that opportunity to speak about what we do and how we impact the environment, and quality of life through corrosion prevention.

As an owner-operator, and working in a leadership role for a major oil and gas company, I work directly with regulations. I work directly with the technical training aspects, certifications, R&D [research and development], and I share that with individuals that are new into the industry… and even some that have been around for a little while.

So, this really gives us a chance to share that information with not only our local representatives… but I also try to venture out and speak to those representing states that are not my home state, particularly because our pipeline systems flow through their respective states and communities.

It’s a very unique and rare opportunity. In a lot of countries, I don’t think the constituents have a chance to really sit down in the office of [government] staff and our representatives. So, this is very impactful, and it gives us a voice. It also gives us a chance to speak further into the training and material selection aspects of what we do for infrastructure and such.

I’ve also been very encouraged by the staff. Believe it or not, they do their homework. So, when we arrived and we spoke, they asked some very pointed questions back. The whole experience is very engaging, and you realize that we’re not there in vain. There’s truly a purpose.

At the end of the day, it is a very rewarding experience, and we have so much fun.

Q: What’s the best way to prepare?

Bowman: First of all, our staff sends out a packet of material that is very comprehensive, so you should read that. I also go to the [AMPP] public affairs and advocacy web page. It’s important to read and understand all the different pieces of legislation and where they are right now, and whether they’re in the House or Senate. You want to be familiar when you go into those offices.

For me, I want to know what committees they’re on, so that I can touch on things that are hot buttons for them. I want to ensure that whether it’s them or their staff that I’m speaking to, it’s something they’re interested in… and it’s going to help them remember who we are.

For example, the congressman in my area is on the transportation committee, and it happens to be pipelines. That’s very good for us, but I also know those are things that he’s going to be very interested in.

Q: What are the challenges when it comes to advocating for our industry and actually getting that message out? How can someone overcome those?

Bowman: That’s a really good question because corrosion is not one of those really soft topics, like hunger, that we can all relate to. It’s not a topic that’s easy for someone to understand.

So, I like to give them real-life examples. Pretty much everyone in Washington is familiar with Flint, Mich. They’re going to understand what happened to the children there, and they’re going to understand the causes to people. In other words, what could corrosion cause to you or your neighbor?

I like to use the example of the Arlington Memorial Bridge. Everybody in Washington knows the historic nature of that bridge, and they know the issues when it was closed down. Whether they know it was caused by corrosion or not, you can remind them that it was.

With internal pipeline corrosion, Kimberly and I know that very well. But perhaps the staff people we’re talking to don’t, so we need to get it down to an example they understand.

Q: Tim, can you speak to the importance of the Bridge Corrosion Prevention and Repair Act?

Gonzalez: So, this was introduced to both the House and Senate in the latter part of last year. This legislation is incredibly significant because it’s really all about ensuring the safety of our bridges. It’s really vital for all of our communities across this country.

We use bridges on a daily basis. Take, for example, the Fern Hollow Bridge in Pittsburgh. The impact of corrosion on bridge safety was very evident there.

Corrosion can seriously impact the integrity of our bridges, and it’s posing risks to families and everybody else. The transportation of our assets and equipment, those go through bridges every day, and that has a huge impact on what we’re doing as a country. This legislation focuses on protecting and making sure that individuals working on these bridges are qualified professionals… to ensure that corrosion prevention work is being done and carried out correctly.

So, we’re advocating not just for safer bridges and resilient infrastructure but for a safer environment in a better industry. Everybody should be interested. It doesn’t matter if you’re all about bridge corrosion or from AMPP. Anybody should be all about making sure that our bridges are safe to ride on.

Q: Tim, can you address the Workforce Act?

Gonzalez: The Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act is really like a shot in the arm for our industry talent. It’s really helping to increase that workforce… so that individuals can have better jobs and be permitted to work on different assets around the globe. It’s not just here domestically in the United States.

It’s really about permitting certain expenses associated with obtaining certifications and licensing to be treated as a qualified expense… under a 529 tax-savings account. Typically, your 529 account has been used for college education. But this workforce act would allow individuals to go out and seek licensing and certification and utilize funds that are in that account.

This would be crucial to help close gaps in our workforce, and it’s really helping to encourage individuals to go out and seek training… and seek different certifications that will help jumpstart their career path  — and hopefully in corrosion management. This is something that is important to us and to the economy of the United States, because it helps grow our workforce.

Comments from these panelists were made on the AMPP Interview Series. To hear the complete episode, listen below.

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