WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., joined with Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today in introducing legislation that would ensure a more coordinated rebuilding effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Gulf Coast Infrastructure Redevelopment and Recovery Act of 2005 would establish a Federal Infrastructure Task Force to serve as the coordinating body to distribute and execute federal funding for redevelopment, and establish standards for investment. The Task Force would coordinate Katrina response efforts among agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Economic Development Authority, the Delta Regional Authority, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The bill establishes National Preparedness Grants and several readiness studies to update emergency response plans, resolve inadequacies and identify infrastructure vulnerabilities. The bill also requires the Army Corps to assess all projects in the area and repair or modify them with one comprehensive approach. It also establishes a National Levee Safety Program. To speed recovery efforts, the bill provides $200 million to both the EDA and the DRA. It also requires EPA to develop and execute a comprehensive sampling plan for hazardous substances and industrial chemicals that may threaten human health or the environment. In introducing the bill, Jeffords, the ranking member of the EPW Committee, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency's poor response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina illustrated that the agency has lost sight of its traditional role of responding to natural disasters. "FEMA has shown itself to be ineffective, in my opinion, largely due to the bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA's lack of independence," said Jeffords, who opposed dissolving FEMA into DHS in 2002. "The federal aid provided for Katrina must be coordinated in a wise, targeted manner, and this bill will go a long way in doing that," Jeffords said. "In the rush to clean up after Katrina, we must also make sure that public health and the environment are not overlooked." Co-sponsors of the bill include all seven Democratic members of the EPW Committee: Sen. Max Baucus, MT.; Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Conn.; Sen. Barbara Boxer, Calif.; Sen. Thomas Carper, Del.; Sen. Hillary Clinton, N.Y.; Sen. Frank Lautenberg, N.J.; and Sen. Barack Obama, Ill.