Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
At the Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing:
“Project Delivery and Environmental Stewardship”
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding these continuing hearings on the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century – TEA-21 - and I’d like to join you in welcoming our witnesses.
Mr. Chairman, the issue of expediting the completion of federally-funded highway construction and mass transit projects is an important one. I am extremely concerned that this can often be an expensive and time-consuming process that discourages the completion of valuable road and rail projects. As someone who represents the most densely populated state in the nation, I can state to the need we have for quick help for the traffic problems that we face.
I want to see things go faster. I know that the witnesses appearing before the committee today all want to see things go faster. But we need to make sure that we do not turn our backs on the strides we have made in protecting the environment over the past 30 years – on the land, in the air and in the water.
Congress enacted streamlining provisions in TEA-21. We need to consider the effects of these provisions within the reauthorization process. But we also need to consider the progress that is being made on the state level because it is usually state Departments of Transportation that are responsible for the completion of environmental documents. I was heartened, for example, to see in a report from the Department of Transportation that all 50 states have adopted or initiated agreements for streamlining environmental review. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today as to what has been accomplished and what can still be done.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion we need to focus on an inclusive process that considers the views of all stakeholders and brings them all together in an expedited process that does not sacrifice environmental protection. I look forward to working with the committee to see such an approach happen.