What does President Obama’s State of the Union address mean for the corrosion industry?

2014-01-30

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama addressed the American people and Congress in his fifth State of the Union Address. He outlined his policy goals and vision for 2014. In his speech, he declared that “2014 will be a year of Action.” The President said, “America does not stand still. And neither will I.”

During his 65-minute speech, President Obama laid out his agenda for the coming year. Among other things, he pressed Congress to reform the federal tax code and to utilize savings from this effort “to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, and unclogging our commutes.” He added that in “today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure.”

Additionally, the President urged Congress to finalize and pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which funds the nation’s waterways and ports, and the Surface Transportation Reauthorization (aka, the Highway Bill) which funds the nation’s roads and bridges. He said, “We’ll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing the transportation and waterways bills this summer.” The President added, “That can happen.”

WRRDA and the Highway Bill are extremely important to the modernization and improvement of our nation’s infrastructure. These pieces of legislation authorize funding for infrastructure projects throughout the country and lay the foundation for a stronger American transportation system. As corrosion professionals, we understand how badly America’s infrastructure needs improvement. We see it every day.

In its 2013 Report Card on Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated America’s overall infrastructure a D+. The report card estimated that $3.6 trillion in investment is needed by 2020 to improve our overall system. Needless to say, this is a massive challenge, and one that requires our attention.

One of the leading causes for deterioration of American infrastructure is
corrosion. Corrosion is a potentially catastrophic issue that affects almost every part of our daily lives. In addition to threatening the environment and public safety, unmitigated corrosion costs the U.S. economy over $500 billion each year or roughly 3.1% of our GDP. The good news is that if we have proper-control plans and utilize qualified professionals, corrosion is a largely preventable issue. NACE members have shown that.

Throughout our history, NACE has developed reliable standards that have been utilized by numerous industries, state governments, U.S. federal agencies, and governments throughout the world. We have trained thousands of corrosion professionals and have the most trusted and trial-tested corrosion curriculums in the country. Our members demonstrate their value on a daily basis.

While Congress considers WRRDA and the Highway bill, they must ensure that infrastructure projects are protected from the effects of corrosion. Every day, we are working on behalf of NACE members to bring this message to Congress. Corrosion isn’t a partisan issue. It affects Democrats and Republicans equally.

Lawmakers are currently negotiating WRRDA. Because of our work, WRRDA includes language emphasizing the need for proper coatings, cathodic protection systems, and qualified personnel. WRRDA passed the House of Representatives in 2013 and is expected to be signed into law in the next few months.

In 2014, we will work with policymakers as they draft a new Highway Bill, to fund the nation’s roads and bridges. It is essential that the Highway Bill includes language – much like WRRDA - that emphasizes the need for proper coatings, cathodic protection systems, and qualified personnel. Given our success in WRRDA, we are optimistic that we’ll be able to include similar language in the Highway Bill.

The good news is that there is growing consensus in Congress to pass WRRDA and the Highway Bill. WRRDA hasn’t been authorized since 2007 and the highway bill expires at the end of this year. Policymakers understand the importance infrastructure plays in their local economies, districts, and states – especially in an Election Year.

As President Obama noted on Tuesday, 2014 will be a year of action. As Congress moves forward on these issues, NACE will continue working on your behalf to protect and advance the corrosion industry. Quite simply, corrosion is an issue that can’t be ignored any longer.

If you’d like to learn more about NACE government relations activities or help bring our message to Congress, please contact NACE’s Manager of Government Relations – Adam Christopher.

Houston, Texas USA | Phone: +1 281-228-6223 or +1 800-797-6223 | Fax: +1 281-228-6300 |

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