Owners of off-road diesel equipment – primarily construction contractors, but also the ski, airline, mining and other industries – faced the promulgation of an off-road diesel engine regulation targeting particulate matter (PM) and NOx emissions that threatened their core business model.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB), after working on this regulation for five years longer than originally anticipated and amending it to include NOx at the last minute, released the final regulation less than two months prior to its scheduled vote. Miller Public Affairs Group was retained to assist the construction industry in raising awareness among the public, lawmakers and board members about the impact this regulation would have on the industry, economy and workers. The initial goal was to delay the vote on the regulation to allow more time for an agreement to be reached on compromise language.
Increasingly, the political and public opinion environment as it relates to clean air, water and land issues is less on the side of industry and more on the side of environmental protection. In addition, voters had recently passed a historic infrastructure bond package. As a result of these two forces shaping the landscape, we recommended that the construction industry approach the regulatory process from a position of cooperation and use language that was geared toward bringing all the stakeholders together to develop a regulation that protected BOTH the environment and the economy.
We developed a set of core messages that focused on the industry’s willingness to work together to develop a win-win solution for business and the environment, outlined the technological challenges the regulation presented, highlighted the negative economic impact this regulation would have on construction contractors, construction workers and the economy as a whole and discussed the ramification this regulation would have on the buying power of the infrastructure bonds passed by voters in 2006. These core messages served as the basis for the grassroots, legislative advocacy and media components of our campaign.
Simultaneously, we built a broad coalition of construction contractors, labor unions and infrastructure stakeholders called the “Coalition to Build a Cleaner California,” designed to have maximum impact on lawmakers, the public, Governor Schwarzenegger and the Board. We primarily used regular e-mail blasts/calls to action and direct mail to motivate this coalition to send letters to these key decision makers. At the CARB hearing in May 2007, more than 1,000 letters from Coalition members, generated as a direct response to our direct mail, were delivered to the Board.
Through key reporter/editorial writer briefings, earned media events, op-eds and letters to the editor, we raised awareness of this issue with the public and in targeted lawmakers’ and Board members’ districts. We generated several editorials in favor of the industry and garnered a substantial amount of positive media coverage.
In addition, we worked behind the scenes with the legislative advocacy team to develop a coordinated strategy to reach the Governor’s Office, the Legislature and CARB members with our message.
As a result, we successfully secured a delay in the CARB vote on this rule in May 2007.
Since that time, Miller Public Affairs Group has worked with many members of this same coalition on other regulations before CARB using a similar approach. As a result, over the course of time, the rules have been amended to ease their burden on the industry.