Influencing What Happens on Capitol Hill – How Much Power Do You Really Have?

By Zolaikha Strong, Vice President of Government Affairs, NHA

The waterpower industry, led by the National Hydropower Association (NHA), continues to work closely with the 117th Congress to recognize hydropower as a climate solution. Specific items NHA is requesting to be placed in upcoming legislation include:

  • Funding to retrofit, rehabilitate, and remove dams in the next infrastructure package
  • Providing tax incentives to spur investments in dam safety, environmental improvements, pumped storage, and transmission grid flexibility
  • Securing long-term extensions of the production tax credit and investment tax credit to encourage new development at existing dams, additional capacity at existing hydropower facilities, and marine energy technology deployments

These elements  – if enacted – will positively affect the day-to-day work of individuals working in the waterpower industry. And, no matter what your job is in the waterpower industry, you have a vested interest in getting the industry’s message across to your elected official.

And, it’s amazing how much influence you actually have.

Why It Matters

A recent survey conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation stated that congressional staffers overwhelmingly agreed that “direct constituent interactions have more influence on lawmakers’ decisions than other advocacy strategies.”

In each iteration of the survey, greater than 90 percent of staffers who participated said that a visit from a constituent would have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided legislator.

Grassroots advocacy is critically important in reaching Congressional lawmakers and have them understand the impact this has on your industry. Those conversations will lead to results. For instance, prior to coming to NHA, I advanced the Clean Energy Initiative for the Copper Alliance, advocating to policy makers the importance of copper in clean energy infrastructure.  In 2020 as energy legislation hitched on the Omnibus, our conversations with legislators working on energy issues came to fruition. In the energy provisions, there was language focusing on rare earth minerals, like copper, and identifying them as “critical” due to their need in electrical infrastructure and their vulnerable supply chain.

What’s Next?

For many, the idea of influencing his/her elected officials sound appealing, but to make the idea a reality, support is needed to actually move forward.

Recognizing this, the National Hydropower Association (NHA) is providing a special free outreach and advocacy service to all companies in the waterpower industry. The service includes training on how to approach your elected officials.

The training takes place in the form of a 1-hour webinar called “How to Lobby during a Pandemic.” The webinar, occurring on Tuesday, April 13, features policy and Capitol Hill professionals who will provide an overview of the new Congress, discuss the role of key committees, and the power of leadership positions.  Former Congressional staffers will offer “Do’s and Don’ts” for meetings and calls with Senators and Representatives and their staffs.

In addition to the webinar, NHA is setting up virtual meetings for any industry member with their Congressional delegation very simple. NHA contractor Rebecca Blood is currently working to schedule meetings with representatives of individual companies and their Congressional delegations during the weeks of April 19 and May 3. NHA will do all the work for you — arrange and facilitate virtual meetings for specific companies/organizations with their Congressional representatives in both the House and Senate and/or their staff. An NHA staff member will attend the meeting with you and lead you through the process.

All you have to do is contact Rebecca Blood – email at: rkbhydro@gmail.com or call 202-539-6995 — to confirm you want to “make your voice heard.” Rebecca will  work with you immediately.

Bottom Line?

Congressional legislators and their staff need to hear from industry.

Industry requests do matter.