GC3 Sustainable Chemistry Alliance Delivers Major Policy Wins
Last month, at the close of the 116th Congress, two major policy priorities of the GC3 Sustainable Chemistry Alliance were signed into law, culminating several years of focused advocacy, coalition-building and creative strategy.
Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act Finally Becomes Law
On Friday, January 1, 2021, some 16 years after it was first introduced, the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act was enacted as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (read more). With the Senate vote to override the president's earlier veto of the defense legislation, the sustainable chemistry measure which had been carefully tucked into the larger bill, finally became law.
In 2018, after many years of effort to pass the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act, with varying degrees of progress through the legislative process, the GC3 established the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance. With a specific focus on policy to enable sustainable chemistry innovation, the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act was set as our top priority.
But how to accomplish what had not been done after more than a decade of effort? We began by assessing prior efforts. In general, the bills introduced over the years had been seen largely as science and technology or “green” plays; important but not necessarily areas that attracted broad bipartisan support across the Congress.
We developed a different playbook. We intentionally cultivated a broad and deep coalition of interested stakeholders, including trade associations, NGOs and others and built a methodical, persistent approach to enacting the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act in the 116th Congress.
We focused on the growing mainstream economic role of sustainable chemistry. We did not take sides on any particular chemical debates nor engage in regulatory matters so that we were not seen by any legislators or other stakeholders as opposed to interests they might represent.
We built a very broad business coalition that spanned chemicals, biotechnology, consumer and commercial products and manufacturing trade associations to lobby the bill together, sign letters of support and participate in Congressional staff briefings. We reached out to the most influential environmental groups on chemical issues to make sure they understood the benefits of the bill. We collaborated with leading academics in sustainable/green chemistry in helping educate Congress. This holistic approach allowed virtually every member of Congress to see that they had constituents who supported the bill.
We were relentlessly bipartisan in our outreach. And we worked hard, holding hundreds of meetings with House and Senate staff on the key committees, the personal office staff of the Congressional members of those committees and other influential Members. We also built strong relationships with the relevant agencies and connected with the White House to demonstrate broad business community support for the bill. As the bill was negotiated in the House and the Senate we responded to staff when they needed suggestions or additional information, and we did shuttle diplomacy between the two bodies. And through this process we made the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act law.
$5M in Sustainable Chemistry Spending in DOE Advanced Manufacturing Budget
The GC3 Sustainable Chemistry Alliance also saw significant success on another front, with the inclusion of our budget request in the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) appropriations. We had worked to direct $5 million toward spending on sustainable chemistry in next year’s AMO budget, and that provision was included in the FY 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed by the president on December 27, 2020.
The work on this appropriations request began in 2019 when we met with multiple federal agencies to understand their work in sustainable chemistry and determine where focused spending could enhance existing efforts. In DOE’s AMO, we found a range of related programming and an enthusiastic team interested in the opportunities sustainable chemistry offered for manufacturing across all sectors.
We developed an advocacy strategy to add specific spending direction to the reports accompanying the DOE appropriations bills, and set to work. Like the Sustainable Chemistry R&D Act result, this successful outcome was the result of months of comprehensive, bipartisan lobbying that brought together multiple stakeholders in support of specific appropriations language in both the House and Senate.
At the same time, we worked closely with DOE to develop a greater understanding of the role sustainable chemistry can play in manufacturing. Based on our appropriations language included in early versions of the spending bills, the DOE AMO hosted a stakeholder engagement workshop that included more than 25 GC3 member to examine sustainable chemistry R&D priorities for the coming year. We expect the report to be issued in the next six weeks, setting us up to accomplish some exciting things on the advocacy front in 2021.
If you are interested in joining the Alliance Steering Committee in 2021 and becoming an active part of an effective, collaborative advocacy group working directly on sustainable chemistry policy, please contact Michele Jalbert.