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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. LANDRY. Mr. Chairman, I have consistently championed the need for Louisiana to protect its fragile coast and wetlands. I have offered amendments and supported bills that all positively affect the creation of new wetlands and starts to turn the tide on the coastal land loss in Louisiana. But the New Orleans District Corps of Engineers office is going to cripple our ability for Louisiana to protect itself from dangerous hurricanes by introducing a standardized method of wetlands mitigation. This standardized method is called the Modified Charleston Method.

This method is driving up the State and local mitigation cost of hurricane protection in Louisiana by 300 percent. I said only the State and local cost because the Corps has exempted itself from its own method on Federal projects. This is why the American people are frustrated at the Federal Government; it creates a rule, enforces it on everybody else, but exempts itself.

The Corps' new wetland rules are actually halting the creation of wetlands. As such, my amendment prevents the enforcement of the Modified Charleston Method within the State of Louisiana for 1 year, forcing the Corps to take a breath and develop a mitigation system that provides for our wetlands without stifling needed hurricane protection measures and economic development.

My amendment impacts only Louisiana. If your Corps districts use the MCM and it works for your constituents, great, your Corps districts can continue to do so. But the MCM does not work for Louisiana. In fact, the State of Louisiana, the Police Jury Association of Louisiana--our association of counties--the Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana, Vermillion Parish and countless local communities all have severe concerns about the MCM.

Moreover, the MCM does not acknowledge that some construction projects actually preserve wetlands. For example, a flood protection levee that protects homes also protects wetlands from saltwater intrusion and erosion. However, these benefits are not calculated.

The Corps itself does not follow the MCM. And until it does, local parishes, communities, and builders should not be forced to follow it as well.

I urge passage of this amendment and reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LANDRY. Mr. Chairman, the only thing consistent about the method is that it doesn't work in Louisiana. In fact, the only thing that it increases is the amount of land that the mitigation banks can sell.

We have parishes in Louisiana who understand that the Federal Government doesn't have any more money. The residents and citizens of those parishes have taxed themselves to protect themselves from storms, and yet the formula that the Corps is using is driving the cost of these projects to a point where they can't build them anymore. But yet some in this body will argue that after hurricanes come in, after hurricanes affect Louisiana's coast, they don't want to pour the money in to rebuild those communities.

Those communities are trying to protect themselves at a time when the Federal Government has told them ``no'' as a source of funding, and yet now the Federal Government is going to change the rules. It just doesn't work in Louisiana. And for that, I urge my colleagues to help me pass this amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. LANDRY. Mr. Chairman, in 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Section 801 of this act authorizes the Department of Energy to create a national media campaign to promote alternative green technologies and wean Americans off of fossil fuels. My amendment defunds this media campaign.

Our government must get out of the business of picking winners and losers. The American public knows far better than any government bureaucrat what energy sources work best for them, their families, and their businesses. Instead, private green energy firms should use their own advertising campaign funds on behalf of the energy sources they sell. Why are government dollars needed?

I urge my colleagues to support this amendment and to defund this taxpayer media campaign.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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