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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, I offer this bipartisan amendment with my fellow Louisiana colleague, Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond. And what our amendment does is it transfers $1 million out of the Corps of Engineers' expense account and into the Corps' construction account for critical coastal restoration efforts.

If you look at what we're dealing with here, what we're trying to address, not only can we maintain fiscal responsibility, but we need to also maintain and restore America's wetlands.

And just what is happening to America's wetlands? What are we trying to address with this amendment? Louisiana alone has lost 25 square miles of coastal wetlands every year.

And I want to hold up this football to represent that every single hour, Mr. Chairman, every single hour the State of Louisiana alone loses an entire football field of land, an entire football field of land that's eroded away. And what exactly does that wetland, America's wetland, protect that's eroding away?

I want to show a chart here of the oil and gas infrastructure, the pipelines that move America's energy throughout the country. In the gulf coast alone, just in Louisiana, we produce about one-third of America's energy. And we talk all the time about our interest in reducing our country's dependence on foreign oil, and I strongly, strongly support that effort. In fact, Louisiana is at the forefront of doing that.

But that energy that we produce, and we ought to be producing more of it, we have the opportunity to produce more, but the energy we do produce is distributed throughout the entire country through pipelines that are in jeopardy right now because of that erosion of our coast, this wetland in America.

And not only is it the oil and gas infrastructure that's at risk, but also seafood production. The gulf coast of Louisiana, we produce a third of the country's seafood. And just looking at this chart makes me hungry when you look at the oysters, and the crabs, and the fish, this great product that we produce off our coast. But all of that comes from America's wetland, from that wetland that's evaporating, eroding away. And we're trying, we're bringing a bipartisan amendment to stop that from happening.

Louisiana's put its own skin in the game to the tune of over a billion dollars, over a billion dollars of money that Louisiana's put in. But there was a project that was authorized by this Congress, because this is a national issue. And, in fact, Congress has recognized this is an issue that shouldn't just be left up to Louisiana, because we're talking about something that protects and serves the entire country. And that's why in 2007, the LCA project was authorized by Congress. And all we're trying to do is keep that project alive, moving a million dollars from the expense account over into the Corps' construction account.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the interest by both gentlemen in dealing with the backlog that the Corps currently has, and, in fact, that's one of the reasons why, when I worked closely with my colleague from New Orleans, Cedric Richmond, on this amendment, we first of all made sure not to take anything away from existing projects, so those existing projects in the pipeline are not affected at all by this amendment.

And, in fact, the Corps's overall budget is not increased by our amendment, and we worked very hard to get to that point that we weren't taking away from other vital projects but pointing out that this is not a Louisiana-specific issue, this is a national issue. And as we talked about that pipeline, that series of pipelines that goes throughout the entire country to supply the energy needs of our Nation, and we talk about the vital seafood production and the things that make our gulf seafood so appetizing to people all around the country and around the world, but I also want to go back to this football and talk about the football field of land that erodes every hour. Just the last hour we have been sitting here, an entire football field of America's wetlands has eroded away, and we can reverse that trend without taking away from any other projects.

I understand the importance of that and, like I said, that's why we worked so hard to put the amendment together in the way that we did. I would urge adoption from all of my colleagues.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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