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Public Statements

Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say thanks to my good friend from Florida for yielding me this time.

I urge that the rule be rejected. There is no reason why we can't have an opportunity to amend this legislation to address some of its failures. As the author of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, I was proud to usher in a new era of environmental and wildlife conservation. Moreover, NEPA passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a vote of 372-15. A similar vote took place in the Senate. During the debate on NEPA, I noted:

Mankind is playing an extremely dangerous game with his environment. We have not yet learned that we must consider the natural environment as a whole and to assess its quality continuously if we really wish to make strides in improving, preserving, and protecting it.

NEPA has a very simple promise: look before leaping. The law ensures that Federal agencies weigh the environmental consequences of development projects before they are undertaken. This bill puts its finger in the eye of that particular approach. I worry that the provisions included in the bill before us today will lead us down a path going back to those days of impunity and disregard for the well-being and concerns of the public, where actions were taken without any full appreciation or understanding of the environmental impact of that.

That was the reason NEPA was passed, so that we would know what we were doing, and so that we would have a fair opportunity for people to participate in the judgments by having these decisions made in an open and a transparent fashion. Now perhaps changes are needed, and perhaps an update, if you will. We cannot say that this legislation does that. However, before we make changes, we need to have some comprehensive hearings in the committee of jurisdiction. I note that the committee that brings this legislation to the floor is not necessarily the committee of jurisdiction.

This is a proposal which is disregarding one of the things which was said by President Nixon when he signed it. He said that this was going to stop the decay of the environment. We are renewing that decay.

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