Inhofe Welcomes Oklahoman Joe Freeman to EPW Committee
December 13, 2011

Contacts:

Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797

Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160            

Inhofe Welcomes Oklahoman Joe Freeman to EPW Committee

Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, welcomed Joe Freeman, Chief of the Financial Assistance Division of the State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board to testify on the importance of the State Revolving Fund (SRF) at today's Senate Environment and Public Works hearing entitled, "Our Nation's Water Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities."

Joe Freeman of the State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board testifies before the EPW Committee

"I was very pleased to welcome Joe Freeman of the State of Oklahoma Water Resources Board to testify about the importance of the State Revolving Fund (SRF)," Senator Inhofe said.  "As Joe rightly stated, the SRF is one of the most effective federally authorized programs in achieving its intended goals: it repairs our crumbling water infrastructure, helps create jobs, and strengthens our economy and environment. But, as Joe also pointed out, the success of this program depends on states having maximum flexibility so that they can meet their individual water quality needs.  I appreciate Joe's valuable testimony today and thank him for his hard work and dedication to Oklahoma's infrastructure future.

"I also appreciated the testimony of Van L. Richey, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Cast Iron Pipe Company, which employs approximately 214 people at the American Castings plant in Pryor, Oklahoma.  Mr. Richey explained the importance of investing in our nation's water infrastructure, especially as studies estimate that as much as 20-25% of treated water is lost through leakage in aging distribution systems that need to be updated.

"Today's hearing demonstrated the strong bipartisan support for water infrastructure spending, which is proven to provide meaningful economic and environmental benefits.  As Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, reauthorizing the SRF is one of my priorities." 

Highlights from Joe Freeman's Testimony

"In the past two decades, few federally authorized programs have proven as effective in realizing their intended goals as the SRF programs. They have provided a sustainable source of funding to protect and restore our nation's rivers and streams and assure safe drinking water for all our citizens. It is important to note that the assistance made available to communities is significantly greater than the initial federal investment as a result of state match, loan repayments, issuance of bonds and interest earnings. In Oklahoma for example, every one million in federal funds is leveraged into three million dollars in capacity for funding additional infrastructure projects. Consequently, the Federal Government is providing less than one-third of the infrastructure funded via the SRF Programs."

"After years of successful program operation it is clearly the experience of Oklahoma that the more latitude and operating flexibility that States are allowed, the greater our ability is to accomplish our environmental and financial goals. Certainly States need to continue to be fully accountable for their use of federal dollars, but excessive oversight or administrative control by EPA stifles innovation and the ability of States to best respond to local needs. Currently, funding levels are decreasing while the restrictions and set-asides for those funds are increasing, thus making the program even less sustainable and growing the gap of unmet needs.  The success of this program derives from the flexibility of the SRF model which allows each State to decide the best approach to meet its individual water quality needs."

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