Two Post Katrina Water Policy Reforms Advance

Global warming vote shows Senate majority support action

05-16-2007 // NWF Media Team

Statement by Larry Schweiger, President and CEO, National Wildlife Federation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - "The National Wildlife Federation applauds Army Corps reform legislation included in the Water Resources Development Act passed today by the U.S. Senate. Given the Army Corps' history, it's time that the agency changed course.

"Americans will have more confidence in Corps' projects and those projects will incorporate modern guidelines due to passage of provisions for peer review and updating the Corps' operating procedures.

"In the most dramatic development, a majority of the Senate voted for legislation to take global warming into account as a matter of national policy. While the 51 to 42 vote failed to garner the 60 votes needed for passage, it signaled a majority now seeks action on global warming. The amendment would have required the Army Corps of Engineers to consider global warming impacts in its projects like levees, flood control, dams and beach replenishment.

"As the primary agency responsible for the failure of New Orleans' levees it would be irresponsible for the Corps to fail to plan for global warming's triple threat of stronger hurricanes, increased storm surge and increased flooding.

"Corps projects are on the front lines of facing impacts of global warming. We have no confidence that this fact is being taken into proper consideration by the Corps.

"However, some of the bill's key reforms are long overdue. Critical peer review of Corps projects and an update of the Corps playbook are necessary if this beleaguered agency is going to get on the right track. While these reforms represent important progress, they are the minimum that must be done in order to begin to modernize the Corps. We look forward to working with our champions to ensure these measures are not weakened as the bill moves through the legislative process.

"We thank Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), for her leadership in pushing through long overdue reforms advocated by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) We also applaud Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and their long list of cosponsors for their amendment to instill a sense of climate reality into the Corps. We remain disappointed that Senator Inhofe took this amendment not as an opportunity to help protect lives and property, but to air his vendetta against climate science.

"Also, as the water resources needs of our nation become more urgent due to global warming, we will need a system in place to ensure that Corps projects are prioritized for federal funding according to the greatest urgency and need, not by politics as is the case now. The Feingold-McCain prioritization amendment was revamped this year to address concerns raised last year, but those changes were still not enough to overcome the appetite for a pork-driven process.

"In addition to the provisions to modernize the Corps, the bill takes a needed step by authorizing $1.2 billion for restoration of the coastal Louisiana wetlands that could have provided a natural levee against Katrina's storm surge.

"The legislation also includes measures that would advance the restoration of the Great Lakes and the Everglades."

The National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children's future.


For Immediate Release:
May 16, 2007