WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today hailed the agreement reached on the Conference Report for the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (WRDA) (H.R. 1495). The bill, which passed the Senate on May 16, 2007, by a vote of 91 to 4, will authorize America’s essential flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects in a way that is fiscally responsible and technically sound. As the Ranking Member and former chairman of the Committee, Senator Inhofe has made passage of the WRDA bill a top priority. With the agreement reached today, the bill now goes back to the Senate and the House for a final vote.
“Today’s agreement is great news for improving our nation's water resource needs in a fiscally responsible manner,” Senator Inhofe said. “I commend the hard work of my colleagues to complete this long overdue bill that provides our nation with numerous project authorizations and policy improvements that are vital to the nation’s economy, public safety and environment.”
“In this WRDA bill, we took a serious look at the needs of critical inland and intracostal waterway projects. Our inland and intracoastal waterway system carries one-sixth of the National intercity cargo. Given the congestion on our nation’s highways, we need to be developing and maintaining alternative ways to move freight.”
“I am proud that our bill helps address community needs for flood control. Although the Army Corps of Engineers cannot prevent floods, flood control efforts do significantly reduce the cost of flood events. To illustrate this point consider that during the 10 years from 1991 through 2000 the country suffered $45 billion in property damage from floods. However, if Corps flood damage reduction measures had not been in place that figure would have been more than $208 billion in damage. Clearly, flood control is a wise investment.
“This bill also takes an unprecedented leap into authorizing environmental infrastructure projects. Although I have been critical of this step because these types of projects are not part of the Corps traditional mission and a program already exists through the EPA to address these concerns, I can certainly understand and appreciate member frustration. I hope that our efforts in WRDA will not lessen the need or desire to complete a comprehensive Water Infrastructure bill.”
“Finally, I am also pleased that we were able to reach agreement on an several provisions designed to help Louisiana recover from the devastation of hurricane Katrina and provide additional protection from future storms. The Conference Report addresses several critical and immediate needs of Louisiana plus establishes a process for moving future projects forward in an efficient and expeditious manner. I would note that we would not have been able to get as much done as we did without the able help and cooperation of Senator Vitter and Congressman Baker, who did an able job of representing their State as conferees.”