SENATOR INHOFE OPENING STATEMENT
Hearing on the Nomination of Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, Jr.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Thank you Madam Chairman for holding this hearing today. As has been noted, Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp is currently Commander of the U.S. Army Accessions Command. His nomination to be Chief of Engineers comes at a very challenging time for the Army Corps, but he is certainly well qualified and highly regarded. I have no doubt that he will be successful at this new post.
Although General Van’s nomination is officially the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee, I think it is important that this Committee have a chance to hear from him prior to his confirmation. The Armed Services Committee, of which I am also a member, held a hearing and approved his nomination last month. There we heard from General Van on the wide range of issues that are the responsibility of the Chief, but it is this Committee that has the expertise regarding the Civil Works mission of the Corps of Engineers.
The new Chief will face many difficult decisions and management challenges just within the Civil Works mission. He will need to oversee the continued rebuilding and improvement of the hurricane protection system in South Louisiana, with all of the engineering difficulties that presents. He will need to continue implementation of the many changes that have begun as a result of the hurricanes down there, such as the emphasis on integrated water resources management and the use of risk assessment tools to guide our decisions and inform the public.
As the new Chief, General Van would take charge of a vast regulatory program that needs to begin providing clarity and certainty to the regulated community in the wake of two Supreme Court decisions that haven’t seemed to clarify much of anything.
The new Chief will need to implement whatever new policy provisions are included in the WRDA bill we all hope to have enacted as soon as possible. In particular, both House and Senate bills include various so-called “Corps reform” provisions. Whatever the final mix is, General Van as Chief of Engineers would be responsible for ensuring that these items are incorporated into the Corps procedures efficiently and effectively.
Finally, on a note specific to my home state of Oklahoma – General Van, over the past four years, state and federal agencies have devoted much resources and effort to remediation and resident assistance at the Tar Creek Superfund Site in northeastern Oklahoma. I want to get your commitment to make the work at Tar Creek a top priority and to ensure timely cooperation with state agencies that are involved in assisting the area residents.
General Van, upon confirmation you will face many difficult tasks, but I have every confidence that you will meet these challenges and be a strong leader for the Corps of Engineers.