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Sustainable Relations: Materials & Lawmakers

This article appears in the Summer 2024 print edition of NAPA Quarterly. Subscribe here.
heather dylla addresses
By Ty Johnson
NAPA Editorial Director

NAPA members are pounding the pavement in Washington, D.C.

That shoe-leather advocacy is helping the trade association keep pace with the sudden lurches and fits of activity from federal agencies and within the halls of Congress and how they affect the asphalt pavement industry.

As the asphalt pavement industry’s sole voice on Capitol Hill, NAPA has regularly supported its members as they testify in hearings and generally inform lawmakers and their staff on how the nation’s most recycled product is manufactured and placed across the country.

walbec vice president brian

Now, changing tides in federal policy have led to an enhanced working relationship with agencies and aides in the capital, because NAPA Vice President for Government Affairs Nile Elam says: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

It’s all part of NAPA’s reimagined approach to asphalt advocacy for a new Congress, which increasingly features many legislators who have never voted on a highway funding bill.

On Feb. 15, Walbec Vice President Brian Enders participated in a panel titled Buy America Provisions: Stakeholder Perspectives before the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

nile elam and haskell

Enders explained how the extension of an exemption from the 1980s had safeguarded road construction in areas where aggregates are not plentiful and must be imported to manufacture asphalt pavement, but the House members used the opportunity to pepper the panel with questions on a variety of topics related to infrastructure policy.

Rep. Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA) asked Enders what the industry’s main focus was.

“The biggest priority for the asphalt pavement industry is sustainable funding,” Enders said. “The funding we have now created over 1,300 projects in the state of Wisconsin predominantly where we work. But there are many more on the shelf and sustainable funding is something that could lead us to do those.”

Elam said having Enders speak during the hearing was a boon for the industry.

“Having Brian testify was a huge win for NAPA and not only highlighting the pervasiveness of our product with roadway construction, but educating a slew of representatives, many of whom were not here for IIJA and will be holding the pen on the next highway bill in 2026,” Elam said. “”It is hard to believe we are already past the halfway point of IIJA, so the focus needs to pivot on the next highway bill with our allies in Congress – knowing the scope, related policies and scale of federal funding is critical as we keep up the momentum from IIJA and get our next reauthorization packaged passed.”

napa vice president for government

It was Enders’ first time in Washington, D.C., and while he says he stays peripherally informed on federal policy, he welcomed the support from NAPA as he workshopped his opening testimony and talking points. He received a brief lesson in civics and the intersections of industry and policy for two weeks leading up to the hearing.

He noted that NAPA’s steadfast focus on potential future regulations and legislation allows him and other members to focus on their day jobs while still receiving insider knowledge from across Congress and federal agencies.

Enders said discussing the Buy America policies and the industry’s preference for long-term, sustainable federal highway funding during the hearing gave him his “15 minutes of fame,” and led to a lot of new contacts on LinkedIn.

“It’s neat to be able to get exposure to what NAPA is doing on any given day,” he said, explaining that his “peek behind the curtain,” gave him a new appreciation for the amount of effort NAPA puts into its advocacy and lobbying efforts. “I get to see a world I’m not used to seeing.”

Construction Partners, Inc. Vice President of Sustainability & Innovation Heather Dylla made two trips to D.C. in the first quarter of 2024, both times to share her insights on a bill being considered in Congress, the Concrete and Asphalt Innovation Act of 2023 (CAIA).

Dylla was the sole representative of the asphalt pavement industry on the Feb. 21 panel organized by ClearPath, which centered on reducing the carbon footprint of construction materials like asphalt and concrete. The panelists described the ways their industries are tackling decarbonization for the gathered congressional staff and stakeholders.

Dylla highlighted the 94 percent market share of the highway pavement surface market that asphalt pavement enjoys, as well as efforts to increase the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) beyond the 90 million tons annually reported. She explained how RAP usage keeps materials out of landfills while maximizing taxpayer investment and reducing the need for virgin raw materials for asphalt mix manufacturing.

Dylla returned to the Hill on March 12 for a second briefing on CAIA, this time in a closed-door meeting with members of the U.S. Senate’s Climate Solutions Caucus. Dylla spoke before Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mike Braun (R-IN), the co-chairs of the caucus, as well as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Department of Energy Undersecretary of Infrastructure David Crane.

“It was really nice to have a seat at the table, and to have these conversations on how we can work together between government and industry and collaborate toward a lowcarbon society,” Dylla said after the closed door meeting.

Elam said discussions on Capitol Hill will continue to include topics like sustainability. “As policies continue to evolve, it is clear environmental policy will always have a presence in a lot of major packages, including ones addressing construction materials,” Elam said. “NAPA continues to work on advancing reasonable and pragmatic bills that compliment the great work asphalt producers are already achieving – CAIA is a good start but our work continues to ensure it’s complementary to NAPA’s net-zero carbon goals and industry objectives.”


When the 118th U.S. Congress was seated on Jan. 3, 2023, it included 74 new members of the House of Representatives, and seven new senators. Those new additions mean even fewer members have experience voting on critical highway funding bills, especially since many incumbents who voted on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in November 2021 have since retired from Congress.

Educating lawmakers and their staff on the importance of infrastructure funding is part of the job for NAPA Vice President for Government Affairs Nile Elam, but demographic shifts among staffers and elected officials has made that more of a challenge in recent years.

With that in mind, NAPA has reorganized its approach to lobbying, bringing on a new internal hire in Government Affairs Director MItch Baldwin and working with two new consultants on Capitol Hill: Paul Sass and Chris McCannell.


Mitch Baldwin joined NAPA in January 2024 after a sevenyear career working for the State of Maryland where he held multiple positions while learning about the asphalt pavement industry and other transportation-related issues. A leader on topics ranging from work zone safety to road funding bills, Baldwin brings a pragmatic approach to government affairs work that emphasizes how projects like highway funding can be best accomplished through cooperation.

“Mitch brings a wealth of knowledge from a State DOT’s perspective on how the federal policies we craft in a highway reauthorization package are implemented at the local level,” Elam said. “This unique background, along with his passion for policy objectives like improving work zone safety, makes him a great compliment to our Government Affairs team. Mitch has already hit the ground running on all things NAPA in Washington, D.C.”

Baldwin said, “For the American people, asphalt producers and installers, and state and local governments, federal surface transportation funding is the most critical thing Congress does for our transportation system. Our economy and way of life depends on this reauthorization, and NAPA will be leading the charge on highway funding during the next congress as we approach the 2026 reauthorization.”


NAPA members may recognize Paul Sass from his participation on NAPA panels and other activities since he joined Cassidy and Associates, a D.C.-based government relations firm. Prior to joining C&A, he was Chief of Staff for Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and later Republican Staff Director of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I), which Graves chairs.

“We are thrilled to have Paul Sass join the NAPA team this past fall, his extensive work on the House T&I Committee is impressive, and he is very familiar with our product and membership,” Elam said. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Paul while he was a Congressional staffer for over seven years, and he was a great professional with unrivaled knowledge of how the T&I Committee operates on complicated bills. Paul’s work on various highway packages from MAP-21 to IIJA will be invaluable as NAPA leverages his insights as we work closely with the relevant policy stakeholders on the next surface transportation bill.”Opens in modal lightboxiViewable Image – chris mccannell with grayrobinsonImage Caption6. Chris McCannell with GrayRobinson PHOTOS BY NAPA


NAPA also brought Chris McCannell into its lobbying fold. McCannell has had more than a half dozen clients in the construction and transportation sector, and brings more than 20 years of Washington experience and insight to the trade association via GrayRobinson.

McCannell, too, has a long track record on the Hill, having served under Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD) and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) before working stints as Chief of Staff for former Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Michael E. McMahon (D-NY).

“Chris was highly recommended by trusted colleagues in the infrastructure sector. His passion for this industry and our deliverables has been evident since day one,” Elam said. “Chris brings a plethora of contacts and relationships with key Democratic offices in both Congress and the Administration, and he will be a huge asset as we leverage new relationships and expand NAPA’s Hill reach.”



runway success allan myers earns

“Start by volunteering. Exceptional leaders set the standard through their actions, showing initiative and self-motivation. Demonstrating these qualities can be effectively achieved by engaging with industry associations, being active in committee meetings, contributing to discussions, and taking it a step further by volunteering for various tasks. This could involve reviewing technical documents, offering insights on significant legislation, or sharing experiences from your operations through a case study presentation at an industry conference. Such involvement not only showcases leadership but also contributes to personal and professional growth within the industry.”



In Pave It Black’s seventh season, Conversations from the Capital, Richard and Brett facilitate conversations between industry leaders and federal partners. Tune in to learn about industry developments, agency updates, and much more! Check it out on Apple Podcasts, wherever you get your podcasts, or listen to Season 7 on SoundCloud.


NSSGA, NAPA, and NRMCA are joining forces again this fall for Hill Days Sept. 25-26 in Washington, D.C. to share industry priorities with elected officials and policymakers.

Together, our voice is stronger. Together, we achieve more. Together, we build!

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