BIPARTISAN WRDA PACKAGE AUTHORIZES VITAL WATER PROJECTS FOR AMERICA
Bill Authorizes $13.9 Billion For Army Corps Projects Nationwide
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, today thanked their colleagues for their bipartisan support for the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. The bill, which passed the Senate today by a vote of 91 to 4, will authorize America's essential flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects in a way that is fiscally responsible and technically sound. The bill authorizes nearly $2 billion for wetlands restoration and flood control projects to put Louisiana on the path to Category V storm protection, and authorizes dozens of other critical water projects nationwide. The passage of a WRDA bill is a top priority for the EPW Committee.
Senator Boxer: "This bill meets our communities' and our nation's acute and unmet water infrastructure needs and it does it in a fiscally responsible way. One of the lessons of Hurricane Katrina is that we ignore our water infrastructure needs at our nation's peril. This bill makes a substantial commitment to protecting Louisiana's coasts and communities. Some of the communities this bill will protect have waited seven years or more for these projects. This bill will end that wait, but it will also ensure that we avoid the mistakes of the past by making sure future projects receive the serious analysis and careful implementation they deserve. The Water Resources Development Act and the projects, policies, and programs it authorizes are essential components of keeping our economy growing. From trade to transportation, disaster prevention to rural recreation, this bill helps America compete in the world and stay strong and safe at home."
Senator Inhofe: "In passing WRDA today, the Senate took a significant step forward in improving our nation's water resource needs. The WRDA bill passed by the Senate meets many of the most critical water resource needs facing our nation today. For example, the WRDA bill improves navigation and increases capacity and efficiency of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, provides measure to increase hurricane and storm damage protection through wetlands preservation and restoration, and creates an inventory of the nation's levees with assessments of high risk levees in order to protect people and property. I am pleased to work with my colleagues on the Committee to get this legislation passed. As the Ranking Member, I will continue to work with my EPW colleagues to expedite this bill back to conference with the House and to the President as soon as possible."
Senator Baucus: "Today is a great day for our country. From creating jobs on Main streets, to ensuring our nation's food supply, to protecting us from catastrophes, the WRDA bill is absolutely vital for not only for my state of Montana, but for our entire nation."
Senator Isakson: "The passage of this bi-partisan, fiscally responsible bill is a tremendous step for our nation. It is an investment in safe drinking water. It is an investment in stormwater management. It is an investment in flood control and water resources of the United States of America. I commend Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe for their tireless efforts in completing this long overdue step forward in the investment to protect our water resources, enhance our environmental restoration and spur economic development."
The bill that passed the Senate today will:
Put Louisiana's coast on the path to Category 5 storm protection, by authorizing approximately $1 billion for projects to restore Louisiana's wetlands, including projects that are ready to begin by 2010, and by authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to spend at least an additional $911 million for structural measures to restore 100-year-level protection for New Orleans and vicinity. It specifically includes the closure and rehabilitation of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. It also requires the Corps to complete its studies and requires swift action on storm protection measures.
* Creates a National Levee Safety Program, improves flood protection for Sacramento, California, and dozens of other communities across the country, and modernizes locks and dams on the upper Mississippi River.