House Water Bill No Reform Measure
"Putting the word 'reform' in the title of the bill can't hide the reality."
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has reported a bill titled "The Water Resources Reform & Development Act of 2013" today. The bill is traditionally known as the Water Resources Development Act.
Melissa Samet, Senior Water Resources Counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, had this to say about the House draft of this bill:
"Putting the word 'reform' in the title of the bill can’t hide reality. This bill would undermine longstanding laws that have improved public safety, protected wildlife habitats and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
"Over the decades, we have seen that careful reviews of the impacts of projects such as levees and dams save time and money and protect the environment. Gutting this review process will result in taxpayers footing the bill for projects that cause entirely avoidable harm to our nation’s waters.
"If the House wants to truly reform this process, it will take much needed steps to improve the Army Corps’ planning procedures and will determine which items on the $60 billion laundry list of approved projects are actually priorities for our nation. We need to begin the difficult task of figuring out how we could construct the most important projects at the least cost and with the smallest impact to our rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. This bill’s attempt at addressing the backlog is a baby step in the right direction, but doesn’t get us to where we need to go.
"We are extremely disappointed to see that this bill authorizes damaging new projects such as the Fargo Moorhead Diversion which is absolutely the wrong approach to reducing flood damages. While we appreciate that the Committee has acknowledged that the Army Corps’ current management of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint project is devastating the economy and the environment in Northwest Florida, the ’Sense of Congress’ language adopted by the Committee will do nothing to improve the situation. With so much at stake, it is irresponsible for Congress not to act to correct the Corps’ mismanagement of this system. This bill does advance a number of important restoration efforts, and authorizes projects that benefit the Everglades and the Mississippi River Delta, two nationally important ecosystems that have long been in crisis."