Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the inclusion of bipartisan environmental innovation legislation and bipartisan water infrastructure legislation in the bill to fund the government.
Barrasso is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW).
Senator Barrasso’s excerpts:
“I come to the Senate floor today to discuss critical parts of today’s government funding bill before us this week.
“These are the result of bipartisan work at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
“The first is historic, bipartisan climate innovation legislation.
“And the second is comprehensive legislation to upgrade America’s water infrastructure.
“I’m going to talk about two different things.
“One is the climate innovation legislation and then what is commonly known as the WRDA bill –the Water Resource Development Act.
“The Republicans and Democrats on this committee have worked together to reduce emissions through innovation – not taxation, not regulation – but do it through innovation.
“Free market innovation – not punishing government regulations.
“I believe that is the best way to go as we address the challenges of our environment and our climate.
“We have reached a historic agreement in the committee – and we will on the floor tonight of the Senate – a historic agreement to include environmental innovation provisions in the government-funding bill.
“The environmental innovation agreement includes three specific bills that will significantly reduce greenhouse gases.
“I have had the privilege of working closely with my friend and our committee’s ranking member, Tom Carper from Delaware, on each of these three.
“The first is called the USE IT Act.
“This legislation ensures that Washington is a willing partner in the research and the development of carbon capture technologies and projects.
“Carbon capture holds the key to significant carbon emission reductions.
“These captured emissions can be used to create building materials, medical supplies, even clothing.
“They can also be used to extract more natural resources to provide more energy for all of us.
“The USE IT Act is going to expedite permitting so that important carbon capture projects can get moving.
“It supports the research and the use of carbon capture, including direct air capture technology – actually capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – and that will take carbon emissions straight out of the air.
“It’s very innovative.
“This kind of research is already happening in my home state of Wyoming – in Gillette, Wyoming – at the Integrated Test Center which is associated with the University of Wyoming School of Energy and Natural Resources.
“I worked closely with Senators Whitehouse, Capito, and Carper on the USE IT Act and having it passed – first through our committee, then through the full Senate, and tonight in a bill that will ultimately be sent to the President of the United States for his signature.
“The second measure that is part of this innovative work is a bill sponsored by Ranking Member Carper to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.
“This program has already significantly reduced the amount of black carbon in our air by replacing older engines in school buses, trucks, and other vehicles.
“This is working well.
“These replacement engines make diesel equipment cleaner and more efficient.
“This legislation will reauthorize this important program until the end of 2024.
“The last element of our bipartisan agreement will phase down the use of chemicals known as ‘HFCs.’
“These chemicals are in every home in America – from cars to refrigerators to air conditioners.
“This agreement is going to authorize a 15-year phasedown of the production of these chemicals.
“Innovative breakthroughs in chemistry have led to the development of cleaner replacement chemicals.
“This legislation tonight will help protect our air while keeping costs down for the American people.
“Importantly, the bipartisan agreement that we’ve come up with safeguards the essential uses of HFC chemicals when substitute chemicals are less effective.
“Some examples include bear spray.
“We use it in Wyoming. They use it in Alaska.
“It protects hikers.
“It’s also used in fire suppression systems on planes that protect travelers and we need it.
“In my hometown of Casper, the defense spray manufacturer Safari Land Group employs about 75 people.
“They use HFC chemicals to make defense sprays.
“It’s a critical part of their business.
“If forced to use replacement chemicals, these sprays would be far less effective.
“It you’re around a bear, you want to make sure you have the most effective spray available.
“With the changes we negotiated to this important bill, companies like Safari Land Group will be able to continue making high-quality products that people want and people need to save their lives.
“We also made sure that manufacturers using these chemicals have a clear set of rules to go by – one clear set of rules to go by.
“Our agreement preempts state and local laws to ensure that specific essential uses are protected.
“Now, manufacturers won’t have to deal with different sets of rules in different states – which has been a real problem.
“This clears that up.
“The end result is clean air and clear rules – we need both of those.
“I want to thank Ranking Member Carper and Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana for working with me to reach an agreement that will reduce the use of HFC chemicals while protecting consumers and manufacturers alike.
“All three of these measures support market innovation.
“All three will reduce greenhouse gases in ways without harming the economy.
“The government-funding bill also includes bipartisan water infrastructure legislation.
“Dams, levees, ports, reservoirs, and water systems are important to every community all across the country.
“This infrastructure is critical.
“It protects all of us from dangerous floods and storms, while also providing water for our families and our farms.
“The government spending bill includes the Water Resources Development Act of 2020.
“It is the result of months of negotiations between committee leaders from the Senate and the House of Representatives.
“The bipartisan legislation is fiscally responsible, it helps grow the economy, it cuts red tape, and it makes communities safer.
“It will spur economic growth by creating jobs and authorizing vital projects.
“In my home state of Wyoming – and across the Rocky Mountain West – access to a consistent water supply is essential for ranchers and farmers.
“The water they need to grow crops and raise cattle has to be delivered on time.
“In several communities, the water reservoirs that serve farmers and ranchers are happen to be old.
“These aging reservoirs and irrigation systems need maintenance or full rebuilding.
“This bill makes these projects a significant priority.
“This legislation will also establish a new Army Corps of Engineers program for construction of new, small, water-storage projects or the expansion of existing ones.
“It will also authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out sediment removal projects in water reservoirs.
“This improves water quality and it increases water quantity.
“The bill authorizes projects to maintain shipping lanes, to deepen ports, to upgrade aging dams, and to increase water storage across the West.
“Maintained shipping lanes ensure that American-made goods are shipped from the heartland, to the coasts, and around the world.
“Deepened ports result in increased commerce.
“If our major ports are dredged and deep, more ships can use them to export more goods.
“These projects that we are going to adopt tonight will create jobs and expand commerce in America’s cities and heartland.
“To ensure these important projects get moving, the bill cuts red tape to speed up the Army Corps of Engineers’ process.
“The Water Resources Development Act is going to expedite the permitting, construction, repair, and the maintenance of many Army Corps projects.
“Communities can’t afford to wait years for flood management or water storage projects to be completed.
“The need them now.
“Finally, this legislation will make communities safer.
“The critical infrastructure projects included here will help prevent damaging floods by maintaining dams and levees.
“Floods can take a terrible toll in property damage and on human life.
“The legislation allows the Army Corps of Engineers to focus efforts on fixing aging flood-management infrastructure.
“It prioritizes the dams and levees most at risk.
“I would like to thank House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Ranking Member Sam Graves for working with us to get this legislation to the finish line.
“I want to thank infrastructure subcommittee Chair Capito and Ranking Member Cardin for their work, as well.
“I want to thank every member of Environment and Public Works Committee and specifically, Ranking Member Tom Carper.
“His staff has worked so closely with mine to on this bill
“I want to thank him for his partnership as we worked together these past four years as I served as chair and he served as ranking member.
“We have not always agreed on every issue, but we have respected the positions of each of us.
“We found common ground, found solutions, and I believe, made a real difference for the economy and as most importantly here, the environment.”