U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, today announced that H.R. 3080, known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), has passed the House of Representatives. The legislation includes multiple initiatives that Whitfield has worked to have included as part of WRRDA, including a permanent Freedom to Fish Act and components of his WAVE 4 legislation.
"This innovative legislation is vitally important to the economic well-being of our country because we have to have a strong inland waterways system in order to be competitive in the global marketplace," stated Whitfield on the floor of the House of Representatives. "Setting a priority for inland waterway projects, reforming the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project delivery methods and freeing up money in the inland waterway trust fund for these projects is vitally important, and that's what this legislation does."
H.R. 3080 authorizes the United States Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water resources development activities for the Nation, usually through cost-sharing partnerships with non-federal sponsors. Activities include navigation, flood damage reduction, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery. H.R. 3080 also makes fundamental reforms to the Corps of Engineers planning process, accelerates project delivery, empowers non-federal project sponsors, and strengthens congressional oversight.
The multiple initiatives that Whitfield has worked to have included in WRRDA are listed below.
Permanent Freedom to Fish Act
Whitfield has been working on a permanent Freedom to Fish measure since last February. Whitfield's measure prevents the Army Corps of Engineers from restricting access to tailwaters along Cumberland River dams. Whitfield also ushered a two year moratorium on the installation of the Corps' barricades back in June. In September, Whitfield expressed optimism of WRRDA including the permanent measure.
"I also want to thank the [Transportation and Infrastructure] committee for making sure that our freedom to fish is protected," stated Whitfield on the Floor of the House of Representatives.
Waterways are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act (WAVE 4)
Whitfield first introduced his WAVE 4 legislation during the 112th Congress. WAVE 4 proposes a comprehensive, long-term inland waterway system modernization plan based on collaborative recommendations of a team of inland navigation private sector stakeholders and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The WAVE 4 components incorporated into WRRDA include: project prioritization; Corps project delivery reform; and adjusting of the cost sharing for Olmsted--which will provide $89 million per year for other priority inland waterway trust fund projects.
"I also want to thank the [Transportation and Infrastructure] Committee for including some of the WAVE 4 language used to improve the inland waterway system. That bill was introduced in the House and in the Senate, and some of the provisions are in here," stated Whitfield on the Floor of the House of Representatives.
Paducah Flood Wall and Dredging of Small Harbors and Ports
Whitfield also helped secure an authorization increase for vital flood projects, including the Paducah Flood Wall project. This provision will enable the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to work with the City and County to rehabilitate the floodwall to protect $1.2 billion of residential and commercial property as well as thousands of families from flooding in the region. This project was first authorized by Congressman Whitfield in the 2005 water resources bill.
Lastly, Whitfield has pushed his colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to ensure that small ports such as Hickman Harbor receive necessary funding for dredging and maintenance. Under WRRDA, the Secretary of the Army is required to allocate 10 percent of the annual Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund expenditures for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 on harbors that have throughput of less than 1 million tons. Whitfield has a long history of working to ensure Hickman Harbor receives necessary resources for dredging and maintenance.
"I also want to thank the [Transportation and Infrastructure] Committee for including language supporting our nation's small ports and harbors and also for their commitment to repair the aging levees that shield many of our local communities from devastating floods, hurricanes and other disasters," stated Whitfield on the Floor of the House of Representatives.