SENATOR BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD)
ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
HEARING ON NOMINATION OF
LT. GEN. ROBERT VAN ANTWERP,
CHIEF OF ENGINEERS & COMMANDING GENERAL
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Thank you for holding this hearing today.
I represent a state which relies heavily upon the Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works programs.
Maryland has 31 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, which are the site of two critical Corps projects – a hurricane protection project at our premier beach resort community, Ocean City, and a mitigation project at Assateague Island National Seashore.
The Chesapeake Bay is America’s largest estuary. The Corps’ oyster and habitat restoration, shoreline protection, and sediment management programs are integral to our efforts to restore the Bay.
We have a geography and topography which makes the Chesapeake Bay particularly susceptible to erosion. This erosion contributes millions of cubic yards of sediment annually to the bay, adversely affecting water quality and clogging navigation channels.
The Port of Baltimore is one of the largest ports on the east coast and a vital engine of economic activity, contributing $2 billion to the State’s economy and employing 18,000 Marylander’s directly and tens of thousands more indirectly.
There are 126 miles of shipping channels leading to the Port of Baltimore. Maryland also has more than 70 small navigation projects around the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. These navigation projects are critical to commercial and recreational fisherman, to local and regional commerce and to local economies.
We rely heavily on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood protection in communities in Western Maryland and for water supply.
In short, the Corps of Engineers has projects and provides assistance to virtually every jurisdiction in the State of Maryland
Our efforts in Maryland focus on four areas:
· maintaining the navigational channels serving the Port of Baltimore and numerous communities in our state, and finding responsible and environmentally sound solutions for disposing of the dredged material from these channels,
· restoring the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers and streams which flow into the Bay,
· addressing the shoreline erosion problems on Maryland’s Atlantic Coast , and
· mitigating for previous construction of civil works such as the rewatering of the C&O Canal in Cumberland.
I have talked with met with the nominee and reviewed his impressive background. We need a Chief of Engineers that understands the importance of the range of issues facing Maryland and the nation. I think that Lt. Gen. Van Antwerp has the potential to bring to the job a strong background and a willingness to work with us that will combine to make him an excellent chief. I look forward to asking the nominee a few questions, and I anticipate working closely with him in the years ahead.