U.S. Representative Patrick E. Murphy (FL-18) joined a bipartisan effort in the House of Representatives to urge for contingency language in the final Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference report to authorize Army Corps of Engineers projects that receive a final Chiefs report up to one year after enactment of the bill. The Chiefs report for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), focused on moving water south of Lake Okeechobee to protect coastal estuaries such as the St. Lucie, is currently in the final stages of the approval process. This language would allow for this important Everglades restoration project to be authorized and move forward if the Chiefs report is finalized within the next year. (Please find below and attached a copy of the letter to WRDA Conferees).
"While I continue to push the Army Corps to finalize the Chiefs report for CEPP, I am also calling for language in the final WRDA conference report that would allow for this and other important projects to be authorized if finalized within the next year. It has been seven years since WRDA was last authorized. With toxic waters plaguing the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon leading to a 'lost summer' this past year, the residents of the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches cannot wait another seven years for this important project to move forward. Furthermore, Everglades projects are not only vital to protecting our precious ecosystem, but provide a three-to-one return on investment in both short-term job creation and long-term economic benefits. Such beneficial projects should not be held up by arbitrary deadlines, allowing further harm to the local environment and economy."
Murphy will discuss the importance of finalizing CEPP, passing a final WRDA bill, and full funding for the C-44 Indian River Lagoon project with United States Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy when she joins him for an aerial tour of local waterways Saturday morning in Stuart. That evening, Murphy will be a keynote speaker at the Everglades Coalition dinner discussing these important issues and his work to address the problems facing the St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, and the entire Everglades system.
We are writing to express our strong support for the inclusion of contingency language in the Water Resources Development Act conference report to authorize Army Corps of Engineer projects that receive a final Chiefs report up to one year after enactment of the bill.
Under the bill's current arbitrary deadline, critical Corps of Engineers projects in Florida, Texas, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Oregon, Missouri, Maine, South Carolina and possibly other states will have to wait for years before being able to complete their projects. The previous two Water Resources Development Acts each took 7 years to reauthorize, delaying important environmental restoration projects and slowing preparation for larger Post-Panamax ships. Compounding the problem, the sequester cuts and recent government shutdown has slowed the Army Corps of Engineers even further. These states simply cannot afford to wait for these critical infrastructure improvements.
The process for receiving a Chiefs Report for a project is long and arduous, and includes rigorous studies and cost-benefit analysis. The project must be economically and environmentally justified, and it must provide an overall benefit to the country. The only difference between these projects and the ones currently authorized in the bill is the arbitrary deadline.
Authorizing these additional projects will generate billions of dollars in economic activity, create hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs, and benefit the nation's economy as a whole.
The inclusion of these projects does not change the current bill in any way, and can be paid for in the same way as the projects currently authorized in the bill, through the de-authorization of obsolete projects.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.