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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. Chairman, this may seem like a very simple, straightforward amendment, but we do have an issue in construction.

In the summer all across America, the cliff swallow and the barn swallow, which is a very common migratory bird--this is not an endangered species; it's not even a threatened species; it is a common migratory bird in almost every State in America--they travel back and forth, move around, and they love to nest around man-made objects.

The law states now, currently, that you can't touch a bridge or any kind of construction if that barn swallow or cliff swallow is present there. So during the prime construction time, from early June through September, you can't do construction on many bridges, or construction companies have to hire people to go out and stand around the construction site to wave off the birds to keep them from nesting there to be able to fight this off during the earliest part of the season. There are numerous cases of this.

In my own State of Oklahoma, let me just give you one example of that.

In Ellis County, State Highway 46, they were painting a bridge. Just painting it; no construction, no anything else. The total project was estimated to cost $185,000. Because in the process of going out to check and verify they found a barn swallow there, they had to halt that until after September to come back and paint it. It increased the price of the project $27,000 to set up, realize it's there, tear down, come back, and do it all over again--a 15 percent increase for a painting job.

Now, I say this to say this is not an issue that is going to shape the future of America, but this is one of those issues that does increase the cost of construction over a bird that is not endangered, that is not threatened, that is incredibly common.

Should we honor wildlife? Absolutely. But this dramatically drives up the cost and decreases the amount of construction that we can do in America during prime construction season. I would just suggest that we take just these two species and set them out just for transportation purposes here.


Mr. LANKFORD. Yes. Actually, in 2001, the President did Executive Order 13586. That executive order extended that out to all agencies dealing with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So it does extend this out to the Department of Transportation as well, as well as all their agencies.

Now, if they're going to prosecute, obviously it's going to be the Department of Justice, and the rules are going to be promulgated out of Fish and Wildlife, but all agencies are affected by it based on the executive order from 2001. So we're just trying to take this for transportation only because it is such an issue for much of the transportation across the entire country.


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