Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee hearing titled “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges.”
The hearing featured testimony from Julie Ufner, associate legislative director at the National Association of Counties; Scott Robinson, port director at the Muskogee City-County Port Authority in Oklahoma; Steve Cochran, associate vice president for coastal protection at the Restore the Mississippi Delta Coalition; William Friedman, chairman-elect at the American Association of Port Authorities; and Nicole Carter, natural resources policy specialist at the Congressional Research Service.
For more information on their testimonies click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Today, we are holding a hearing to highlight the importance of passing a new Water Resource Development Act, or WRDA, during the 115th Congress.
“WRDA is the bill that authorizes funding for Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program.
“In order to write good legislation we must consider the effectiveness of past WRDA provisions, the status of their implementation, as well as our country’s future water infrastructure needs.
“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has jurisdiction over much of our nation’s water infrastructure, including locks and dams, inland waterways, and ports.
“Prior Congresses have traditionally passed WRDAs on a biennial basis going back to 1986.
“Unlike other contentious issues, historically, Republicans and Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have been able to work together and pass WRDA legislation.
“To put it another way, this is legislation moves.
“It does so because regardless of party affiliation, we understand that these kinds of investments are far too important to our economy and security to fall victim to partisan politics.
“The members of this committee represent a diverse group of communities with different needs.
“Our committee has members that represents Baltimore, Maryland and Anchorage, Alaska.
“Des Moines, Iowa and Mobile, Alabama.
“Greybull, Wyoming and Wilmington, Delaware.
“Their citizenry and millions of other Americans expect Congress to do its job by passing bipartisan WRDA legislation to grow their economies, and to keep them safe.
“When it comes to rural areas in particular, many communities depend on Corps projects for their existence.
“Congress must act to make it easier for the Corps to prevent flooding and to modernize levees.
“We must find better solutions to minimize ice jams such as those that caused the Big Horn River to flood small rural towns such as Worland and Greybull, Wyoming.
“Ice jams are a major public safety concern for towns which can’t afford the out-of-control costs that come with severe flooding.
“In Wyoming and other western states, rural communities still face challenges associated with providing long-term water supply and storage.
“Federal water-storage facilities out West continue to lose existing space as a result of sediment buildup.
“This is a major problem for western state economies, which have rapidly growing populations, significant ranching and farming communities, and enlarging energy industries.
“I believe the Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation need to work together to address this challenge.
“It’s my hope that this committee will work together to find solutions to meet our country’s water infrastructure needs for urban areas as well.
“Our nation’s ports on our coasts and inland waterways are just as vital to the country’s economic well-being.
“Goods, commodities, and raw materials from the heartland of America go through these ports for export.
“In Wyoming, our soda ash, the key component of making glass, gets shipped out of the port of Portland, Oregon.
“We all have a vested interest in maintaining these ports, which are vital arteries of commerce.
“So I urge my colleagues to work with me in a bipartisan way to find these solutions through the enactment of a WRDA bill in 2018.”