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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to present this amendment that deals with the Corps of Engineers' new program that was put in place 2 years ago, specifically in the New Orleans district, called the Modified Charleston Method.

The Corps changed the usual and normal method for mitigation. On any kind of mitigation that's done on wetlands throughout the country, you have to mitigate if you are going to do development. Everybody understands that. Everybody has worked with that over the years.

Two years ago, the Corps changed, specifically for the New Orleans district, that process and literally put in place a process that has made it very unworkable to do a lot of our flood protection projects and economic development projects.

This amendment, by the way, is identical to language that we passed in the same appropriations bill last year, so the House has already gone on record saying that this is an unworkable plan by the Corps of Engineers. This new MCM method, as it is being referred to, has literally shut down many flood protection projects and economic development projects in south Louisiana.

What we have been saying to the Corps of Engineers is let's work together on putting reasonable rules in place. This rule is unworkable, so much so that the Corps didn't even use these rules when they were doing their own projects. Americans understand that when government tries to impose rules on the people and yet doesn't even follow those same rules themselves, it shows there is a problem. Yet that's what is happening in this case.

All we are saying is everybody understands we need to do mitigation, but when the Corps comes out with these new rules that triple, in many cases, the amount of mitigation that needs to be done to a point where it is unworkable--as an example, just last year, Corps permit applications for development projects were down by 33 percent because they literally took off the table the ability to do any kind of development in many areas of south Louisiana--that's not how rules and regulations are supposed to work. You ought to be working with local communities and not saying you can't even protect yourself from flooding. Literally, if you look at the wetlands rules, they are preventing us from restoring wetlands with these rules on wetlands. It doesn't make sense. It is something that's unworkable.

This amendment addresses this problem and says, if the Corps can't move forward with the Modified Charleston Method, then let's go back to the table and put some rules in place that actually make sense, put some commonsense rules in place.

I urge adoption of my amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, this is a bipartisan amendment that reestablishes priorities here. It's similar to an amendment we passed overwhelmingly last year on this same piece of legislation, the Energy and Water appropriations bill.

What this amendment does is it transfers $2 million out of the Department of Energy's Administrative account and moves that money into the Corps of Engineers construction budget. And the reason we're doing this is to move more projects forward, to actually get some of that backlog that the Corps of Engineers have moved forward and open up the door for projects all across the country that are vital to not only our Nation's waterways, our economy, our ability to export, but in Louisiana, for example, it would provide opportunity to move forward on the Louisiana Coastal Area plan, which is a coastal restoration plan that's a major flood protection project.

So what we're talking about is, literally, one penny, one penny coming out of administration, of bureaucracy in Washington, to move that money into actual construction projects.

And I think when you talk to taxpayers across the country, they are less concerned about having bureaucracy in Washington. They want to actually see government get things done. They want to see this backlog get cleared out, and they want to see other projects that are important to our Nation's economy move forward. And that's what this amendment does. It's a bipartisan amendment.

I want to thank my colleagues--Mr. Richmond, Mr. Cassidy--who have also helped work on this. But again, this deals with projects all across the country that are in a backlog that could help move our economy forward rather than spending that money on administration in Washington.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SCALISE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

The way that this amendment is drafted actually would apply nationwide. This would move $2 million out of that administrative account in the Department of Energy, move it into the overall Corps construction budget, so it would be available to the Corps of Engineers for construction projects across the Nation.


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