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Conference Report on H.R. 1495, Water Resources Development Act of 2007

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Location: Washington, DC


CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 1495, WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - August 01, 2007)

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Mr. BAKER. Mr. Ranking Member, I am humbled by your comments. I thank you for that courtesy, and I am deeply appreciative.

I have enjoyed very much the opportunity not only to work with you in this capacity but to work with our chairman, who has deep roots and ties to New Orleans, and the gracious gentlelady from Texas, the chairman of our subcommittee.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a terrific team from which there has been a terrific product developed that all Members who have spoken this evening have made clear as to the scope of the projects, the need for the projects, the clarity of the process, which our ranking member insisted on and opening up to public scrutiny the projects which ultimately are contained in this report.

I wish to make just one observation as a representative of Louisiana and make clear that the Governor, the congressional delegation and, most importantly, the people of Louisiana recognize what this legislation means to us tonight. It is not merely the elimination of an inconvenience or the restoration of some public service that we would like to have. This bill goes to the point of restoring our culture and our ability to live as people along the coast of the great State of Louisiana. For that, all of us are deeply grateful to the Members who have made this possible and to this Congress.

There is one notable development I would like to memorialize in the discussion of the conference report tonight, and that is a problem which had been long-standing for many years with the representatives of the great State of Mississippi, particularly that of Senator Lott, to whom I would like to express deep appreciation.

The gentleman has had for many years concerns about the salinity levels of the water off the gulf coast affecting the productivity of his own fisheries. Likewise, we in Louisiana had concerns about some of the proposed remedies which, in our view, would have had an adverse water quality effect on our own fisheries.

In the course of the debate with the conferees, I was assigned the duty to work with the Senator and come to some resolution thereon, which will enable both States to seek the benefit they are entitled to.

I am pleased that with the coastal area impact program, we have identified a source of funding, we have agreed to the terms of construction for the Violet Canal project, and I tonight want to say tonight, on behalf of the congressional delegation and for those who follow us here, that it is our intent to honor and abide by the terms and

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agreement that Senator Lott negotiated with us and in good faith ultimately seek closure of this most difficult project, which I understand has led to difficulty and the consideration of prior WRDA legislative efforts. It is important, I believe, for us to recognize the contributions made by that delegation and their willingness to assist us in Louisiana in coming to final agreement.

With that, I am just pleased to be a small part this process and to have enabled the ability to participate in a small way getting a vital piece of legislation virtually for every congressional district in this country.

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Mr. BAKER. Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Port of New Orleans and the economic and business interests throughout the State of Louisiana that rely on the maritime trade and commerce through the Port, I am especially pleased today to commend the conferees on H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, WRDA, for their support of the navigation project to improve access to the Port's Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. Section 1004(a)(7) of the WRDA conference report will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge and maintain a channel leading to the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal berthing area at a depth not to exceed the authorized channel depth of the Mississippi River Ship Channel. This will ensure that the transportation benefits of the authorized channel depth of the Mississippi River Ship Channel will continue to be realized by the adjacent Port terminal and the larger container and other oceangoing vessels that desire to use that facility. This small navigation enhancement project will create significant economic and business benefits for the Port, and aid in the continuing recovery of the greater New Orleans area. I thank Chairman JIM OBERSTAR and Ranking Member JOHN MICA of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for their support of this initiative in the vital WRDA legislation.

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