A team of nine Michigan electric co-op representatives spent May 5-7 in Washington, D.C., at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Legislative Conference. Team members included Ken Swope, Dave Allen and Bob Hance (Midwest); Rachel Johnson (Cherryland); Brian Burns (Presque Isle); Nancy Gardner-Platt and Tom Harrell (Alger Delta); Kim Molitor (Wolverine), and Craig Borr (MECA).
They lobbied the Michigan Congressional Delegation on several issues, including the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill, Electrify Africa Act, Rural Broadband, and the Endangered Species Act. Besides meeting with a number of Congressional staff, they met with Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Crystal Falls) and had an extensive meeting with House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp.
At the NRECA conference, keynotes Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) discussed how energy and rural issues are playing out in Congress and offered insights on how electric co-op leaders can make a difference. Discussion on updating the Endangered Species Act so that procedures, costs and species recovery are more transparent; seeking adequate time for comment on upcoming greenhouse gas regulations; and demanding greater oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency so its policies are consistent and follow established practices was also held. Participants were also urged to thank members of Congress for backing the legislation to safeguard the co-op pension plan that passed in March.
Over 2,500 participants from co-ops nationwide rallied at the conference, and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), told them he believes Congress can move away from its squabbles and come together on the principles of his “Make It in America” economic competitiveness plan, which calls for a national manufacturing strategy, improving workforce training, and promoting technologies and energy, which all require affordable, reliable electricity.
“This meeting is about what we can do to make sure this so-called ‘do-nothing’ Congress does more, and does it for our members,” added Kirk Johnson, NRECA senior vice president of government relations.