Contact: Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797
Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee Business Meeting Thursday, May 14, 2009
Thank you Madam Chairman. Much to the surprise of outside observers, you and I have an outstanding history of working together to reach a consensus on many of the issues within our Committee’s jurisdiction. Today’s Business Meeting is a good example of that fact. Once I convince you of the logic of my position on Global Warming we will really be able to do great things together!
We have several items on today’s agenda, but certainly S. 1005 the Water Infrastructure Financing Act or the SRF (State Revolving Loan Fund) bears some additional comment.
There are some $500 billion in unmet needs throughout the nation for our drinking water and wastewater systems. This bill is designed to help states meet unfunded mandates created by the Clean Water Act. I can tell you from personal experience in my home state of Oklahoma that these costs place a tremendous burden on our citizens and result in real hardships when systems are required to upgrade. The need for relief is genuine, which is why I cosponsored this legislation.
Since 1987, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund has not been reauthorized. Since 1996, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund has not been reauthorized as well. In the meantime, needs have changed. The formula under the Drinking Water SRF is still good, but the Clean Water SRF formula has fallen behind the times. This bill updates that formula, using the most recent needs survey by the Environmental Protection Agency. It provides more funds for smaller states. And, thanks to the authorization level provided by the bill, it will mean more dollars for every state.
The bill also helps smaller communities with grants for technical assistance, and it helps older systems that have problems with sewers that combine stormwater and wastewater.
Madam Chairman, it has been far too many years since Congress successfully reauthorized these programs. It is long past time to do so. For the sake of communities around the nation that are desperately in need of help with their water systems, I urge my colleagues to support S. 1005.
Finally, many may be surprised to see that I am cosponsoring S.849 with Senators Boxer, Carper and Kerry that requires EPA to study more about black carbon emissions and its effects on public health and global warming. Rest assured, to all those who may be concerned, this does not in any way change my position about global warming or cap and trade. Rather, unlike CO2, which does not pose any public health threats, decreasing emissions of black carbon or soot will immediately improve public health. In addition, focusing research efforts on black carbon helps prioritize spending of money on real and immediate health problems, such as addressing indoor pollution of soot from cook stoves on the poor and developing countries in Africa, which I have great interest in.
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