Catch up with PFI in this issue of the Pellet Wire!

October 27, 2023

From the Director’s Desk: Show and Tell in DC, Pellet Fuels Institute Fly-In – Offices Visited, Special Thanks to O’Malley Timber Products 

Show and Tell in DC

There is a photograph in the cafeteria at the Dirksen Senate Office building, dated 1949, of a group of dairy farmers milking a cow on the Capitol grounds, all of them wearing those paper hats you don’t see much anymore. I noticed this photograph during an impromptu lunch break that found the Pellet Fuels Institute’s fly-in roster hurriedly scarfing down something to eat before their afternoon meetings. The photograph was a visual reminder that in almost 75 years, the playbook for advocacy with our elected policymakers in Washington, very little has changed. As it turns out, show and tell was then, and remains today, the most effective way to help policymakers understand what our industry (any industry) does and why we are relevant and important. Being in DC offers an important perspective for which there is little substitute. As an example, while waiting for our first meeting in the offices of Senator Chuck Grassley, I learned from a staff member that they regularly receive calls from constituents about missing postal packages. While the cynic inside wondered why someone would think to reach out to their Senator for a matter like that, they do, and as constituents expect at least a friendly redirect. The inbound inquiry from constituents runs the full spectrum to be sure. After meeting with us, Senator Grassley was meeting with the President of Grand View College, a private university in Des Moines. We were still talking shortly after our meeting ended when the Senator and an aid whisked by, off to somewhere else.

The House of Representatives was embroiled in a divisive effort to name a new Speaker including floor votes that impacted the attendance at our scheduled meetings for members in the afternoon. Did I mention there was also a disruptive protest that locked down the Cannon Office Building for nearly three hours requiring the deployment of easily 100 capital police the afternoon we were there? It is into this stew that we, and everyone else who was on the Hill that day, dropped into hoping to make a small handful of important points about wood pellet production and the headwinds and tailwinds created by federal policy and regulation.

I’ve included links to the documents we used to support our efforts if you’d like the detail on our legislative asks and the supporting state-specific information we offered during our meetings, but our approach was largely the same as it was when we last visited in 2019 and during our phone-based advocacy last summer. We started by confirming familiarity with our product. From there we laid out some basic facts about wood pellet manufacturing in the state of the member we were visiting. We talked about production capacity, residue purchases, homes heated, and the value of the business to the state.

The reactions on the other side of the table were varied. In some instances, our fly-in teams were meeting with longstanding supporters of our industry who have introduced or co-sponsored key pieces of legislation on the industry’s behalf. In others, our team was presenting to staffers with little, some, or a lot of familiarity with our issues depending on the staffer. The Pellet Fuels Institute had four different fly-in teams who collectively performed nearly 40 independent meetings.

Then, almost as suddenly as it started, it was over. My fly-in group caught our collective breath at Bullfeathers, a favorite watering hall just steps from The Capitol, and watched as Members of Congress and their staff streamed by. In more than one instance there was a greeting of recognition exchanged based on a meeting from earlier in the day.

Our work to maximize our efforts last week has already begun, starting with some basic data capture. Short as they may be, our job now is to capture something or someone worth knowing from as many of the meetings we had as possible. Open invitations to Members of Congress to come and visit plants while they are back in their home districts need to be followed up on and executed to communicate our ambitions and needs at the right time in the right amount to round out our next steps.

I’ll close with a thank you to our members and board members who committed a day in their busy professional lives to travel to DC and engage in the age-old game of show and tell that is federal advocacy. If this wasn’t your year, please start thinking about joining us down the road. You won’t regret it.


Pellet Fuels Institute Fly-In – Offices Visited

*Bolded names indicate members were present.

Midwest Team (B. Jordan, B. Rose, B. Hoskins, K.Smeltz)

  • Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)        
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)                 
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Rep. Tom Tiffany(R-WI-7)    
  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2)          
  • Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-1)     
  • Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-8)

Northeast Team (L. Otten, S. Cummings, F. Scorzetti, F. Kvietok, J. Parrott)

  • Senator Angus King (I-ME)
  • Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH)
  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
  • Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME-2)
  • Rep. John Joyce (R-PA-13)
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21)
  • Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY-19)
  • Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY-24)
  • Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA-15)
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-2)

Mid-Atlantic/Appalachia Team (S. Faehner, C. Atkinson, M. O’Malley, T. Plaugher)

  • Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9)
  • Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV-1)
  • Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA-1)
  • Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD-3)

West Coast Team (T. Portz, K. Lisle, S. Elliot)

  • Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA)
  • Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
  • Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR-5)
  • Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA-06)
  • Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID-1)
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1)
  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA-2)


Special Thanks to O’Malley Timber Products  

As if a board meeting and a full day of federal advocacy weren’t enough for our assembled group last week, there was also a member-plant tour on offer. About half of our fly-in group made time to visit O’Malley Timber Products in Tappahannock, Virginia. Expect a full write-up and a photo of the week in the next edition of the Pellet Wire. A big thank you to PFI Board Member Matt O’Malley for opening his facility to his fellow PFI members. Thanks, Matt!

—Tim Portz
 Executive Director

Save the Date 2024

Photo of the Week:

About Half of Our Group: Our timing and some increased security around the Capitol posed some lighting and space challenges for our traditional fly-in photo. Additionally, a good share of our group had earlier meetings and weren’t available for this photo. (L to R) M. O’Malley, S. Cummings, K. Harman Smeltz, B. Hoskins, B. Rose, K. Lisle, C. Atkinson, B. Lisle, F. Kvietok, B. Jordan)

Photo credit: Tim Portz

Send Us Your Photos! Help us build a collection of photos of our members, their pellet mills, and products! Send images to Tim Portz at [email protected].

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