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Tell the story right to get on the same page with regulators

Face-to-face meetings with members help educate agency officials on real-world effect of rules; describe impact on customers, economy

May 1, 2015
By Lori Sharn

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The National Association of Chemical Distributors added a new component to its annual fly-in in 2013. In addition to visiting congressional offices, NACD members sit down with some of the unelected officials who have a great impact on their businesses.

“Regulatory issues are really front and center” for NACD members, said Jennifer Gibson, vice president of regulatory affairs. “Handling chemicals brings numerous regulatory requirements from the whole alphabet soup of agencies—EPA, OSHA, DOT, DHS, DEA. The list goes on and on.”

Many of the same strategies associations use to sway lawmakers can also work to influence regulators—getting association members to tell their stories in face-to-face meetings, collaborating with coalitions and writing lots of letters. But there are also notable differences, particularly when it comes to the process regulators and the public must follow. There are windows of time in the rulemaking process, for example, when private meetings with agency officials are discouraged.