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Public Statements

Amending the Federal Water Pollution Control Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, as the Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I rise to address S. 3687, which reauthorizes appropriations for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program for fiscal years 2012 through 2017, among other purposes.

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program was authorized by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in the Estuaries and Clean Waters Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-456). This Act established a new program office within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide administrative and technical assistance to the local management conference, convened under section 320 of the Clean Water Act, for the restoration and protection of Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana, as well as provide Federal grant assistance for restoration projects, studies, and public education projects, recommended by the conference for the benefit of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. The initial authorization of the Lake Pontchartrain, Basin Restoration Program was $20 million, annually, for fiscal years 2001 through 2005. This $20 million annual authorization was extended through fiscal year 2011 in Pub. L. 109-392.

Section 1 of S. 3687 extends the authorization of appropriations for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program through FY 2017, however, at reduced levels. S authorizes ``..... the amount appropriated for fiscal year 2009 for each of the fiscal years 2013 through 2017.'' According to information provided by EPA, the fiscal year 2009 appropriation for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program was $978,000. Accordingly, section 1 of S. 3687 reduces the authorization of appropriations for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Program from $20 million, annually, to $978,000, annually, for each of FY 2013 through FY 2017.

In addition, section 1 of S. 3687 would establish a maximum 75 percent Federal share grant assistance authorized under the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program. Under current law, there is no statutory cap on the percentage of Federal assistance that can be provided by grants under the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Program. Acording to information provided by EPA, the EPA Region 6 office typically required a 5 percent local match for grants provided under this Program--resulting in a Federal share of 95 percent for grants provided under this authority. Under section 1 of S. 3687, the maximum Federal share of future grants provided under this authority would be reduced to 75 percent, with the remaining share to be provided by local interests, such as local parishes or municipalities.

I am encouraged by the House Republican Leadership's willingness to schedule this bill and allow it to pass by Unanimous Consent. I am hopeful that the Leadership's willingness to move this legislation will enable the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to move forward quickly in the 113th Congress on a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill. Currently, there are 22 Army Corps of Engineers Chief's Reports awaiting authorization throu the WRDA process. These and other critical flood control, navigation safety, shoreline protection, and environmental restoration projects must move forward to ensure the safety of our communities, strengthen our National, regional, and local economies, protect our natural resources, and create jobs.


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