OIA Notes from the Hill: August 2021

By Rich Harper August 27, 2021

Rich Harper Speaks at Outdoor Retailer

Capitol Hill is usually quiet in August with members of Congress back in their home states, but this year it has been anything but that. While our industry was convening in Denver for the Outdoor Retailer Summer show, the U.S. Senate was working feverishly to negotiate terms of $1 trillion infrastructure legislation. That plan passed the Senate with 67 votes. The upcoming wide-ranging and ambitious $3.5 trillion spending proposal would include more forward leaning climate change funding as well as potential major boosts in funding for programs important to OIA, including: 

  • Urban Parks (ORLP) 
  • Every Kid Outdoors 
  • Renewable Energy  — Clean Electricity Payment Program (CEPP) ; Electric Vehicle infrastructure 
  • Natural Climate Solutions and Resilience — Civilian Climate Corps ; Growing Climate Solutions Act ; Wildfire prevention, forest and drought management 

 
Those key provisions will help create a thriving planet, thriving communities, and thriving outdoor businesses. 

I am proud to say that OIA had a seat at the table — literally — to ensure our policy priorities were included in this administration’s agenda. We were invited to the table because of the continued engagement and involvement we’ve had with the Biden administration and key players in Congress. 

Lise Aangeenbrug Met with President Biden and Vice President Harris 

Image Courtesy of The White House

On July 22, OIA Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug and a small group of labor and industry leaders met with President Biden and Vice President Harris to discuss their support of the infrastructure plan. Lise also had the opportunity to advocate for several additional provisions that are critical to the outdoor industry, including combatting climate change, promoting equity, expanding access to parks and trails, implementing the Civilian Climate Corps, and supporting American businesses. Many of these key provisions are included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill or are being seriously considered in the upcoming second infrastructure legislation. 

 Receiving an invitation to that important discussion is not only an honor, but also an important reflection of the Biden administration’s recognition of the importance of our industry. Our member companies and staff have significantly raised our industry’s profile among key decision makers in Washington, D.C. by demonstrating our reach, influence, and commitment to policy change.  

 OIA leadership Met with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland 

In early August, 12 representatives from OIA Leadership companies held a virtual meeting with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to discuss ways in which the outdoor industry can work with and support the Department of the Interior’s efforts. We discussed the industry’s support for conservation efforts like Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful (which aims to conserve 30 percent of land and ocean by 2030); restoring Bears Ears National Monument in Utah; ensuring that all Americans have access to the outdoors; and other opportunities to promote the outdoor recreation economy and its role in post-pandemic economic growth. 

 Support for 30×30, American Jobs Plan, and Other Outdoor Legislation 

Our members and staff have also moved the needle on several other priorities in 2021. OIA members have stepped up to support impactful climate legislation by signing letters in support for the America the Beautiful plan, and the American Jobs Plan, which included significant funding for clean energy, natural climate solutions, and a clean electricity standard.  

In addition to high-level meetings between industry leaders and top administration brass, our policy team and partners meet regularly with stakeholders on Capitol Hill. We’ve met with more than 50 members of Congress and/or their staff this year to communicate our policy priorities and to offer our industry’s support of existing and prospective legislation.  

In fact, OIA has issued statements of support for several other outdoor industry priorities, including the Parks, Jobs, & Equity Act, the Growing Climate Solutions Act, and the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act. We’ve also urged lawmakers and government officials in a new op-ed to continue active implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act and subsequent restoration and revitalization projects.   

Walking the Walk for Businesses Taking Climate Action 

In June, the OIA Climate Action Corps showcased what industry companies are already doing to reduce their impact on the climate when we published the Corps’ first annual Impact Report to demonstrate the group’s collective progress. At the same time, the Corps announced its unprecedented goal to make the outdoor industry climate positive by 2030. It’s an aspiration backed by a clear roadmap, and it puts the outdoor industry in a strong position to urge Congress and the administration to incentivize other industries to define similar goals and advance climate-positive legislation that matches the efforts of the outdoor industry. 

Strike While the Iron is Hot 

We’ve recently learned the U.S. House of Representatives has reached agreement to consider the bipartisan infrastructure plan, likely in September, which the Senate passed with significant bipartisan support earlier this month. This bill contains many provisions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and enhance our nation’s parks and trails, along with updates to the core infrastructure that helps transport products and connects people with the outdoors. The outdoor industry has been a central part of policy negotiations, and we’re pleased to see the bill continue to move through the legislative process.   

 The next step is the more complicated budget reconciliation process to pass a $3.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, which will begin when Congress returns from its August recess. Budget reconciliation is a complicated legislative tool that allows the Congress to pass significant legislation by a simple majority. The Biden administration and Democratic party leadership have indicated the budget reconciliation bill will be a vehicle for significant climate legislation, which will greatly impact our industry. As the bill begins to take shape and lawmakers debate the legislation, it’s more important than ever for outdoor companies to have a seat at the table and make their voices heard.  

 We’re facing a unique moment in climate legislation, and we want to make sure our industry can make the most of it. That’s why we’re hosting a webinar on September 15 titled, “Budget Reconciliation, Climate, and You: As Outdoor Climate Policy Priorities Take Center Stage, Your Business Voice Matters.” We will be explaining the ins and outs of budget reconciliation, what’s included in the bill and why it matters, and we’ll discuss what your business and consumers can do to advocate for these priorities.  

 You can sign up for the webinar here to learn about how to leverage your business voice to help enact meaningful climate policy.  

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