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 hearing titled “Improving American Economic Competitiveness through Water Resources Infrastructure: Federal Panel.”
The hearing featured testimony from Ryan Fisher, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works); Lieutenant General Todd Semonite, commanding general and chief of engineers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and Charlotte Bertrand, deputy assistant administrator for policy at the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Last month, this committee held our first hearing on the importance of passing a new Water Resource Development Act for 2020.
“This legislation authorizes projects and funding for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program.
“At last month’s hearing we heard from a panel of stakeholders that included cattle ranchers and farmers.
“We also heard from witnesses involved in marine construction, port operations, and ecosystem restoration projects.
“Today we are going to be hearing from the Army Corps on how we can best address water infrastructure needs and challenges in upcoming legislation.
“It is also a chance for committee members to conduct oversight into the implementation of programs and projects that were enacted in America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which was passed by this committee and signed into law in 2018.
“America’s Water Infrastructure Act included numerous EPA water and wastewater infrastructure authorizations.
“Today we will be hearing from the EPA on the implementation of those provisions.
“This committee has established a tradition of working across the political aisle to pass meaningful water infrastructure legislation every two years.
“We did it in both 2014 and in 2016 under Senator Inhofe’s chairmanship.
“We did it again in 2018 with America’s Water Infrastructure Act, which passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 99 to 1.
“I look forward to doing the same again in 2020.
“New water resources legislation in 2020 should continue to prioritize flood prevention and the modernization of our nation’s levee systems. This will protect lives and property.
“For example, this spring we saw homes and farm fields across all of Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, the river basins destroyed as a result of extreme rainfall and rapid snowmelt.
“Billions of dollars in economic losses were incurred by American farmers and homeowners.
“The bill should also ensure that western states continue to have adequate water supplies.
“Wyoming is a good example of how critical water supply really is, not only for drinking water, but also for ranching and farming.
“As I said in our September hearing, water is the cornerstone of Wyoming’s economy.
“The Army Corps needs to prioritize the implementation of America’s Water Infrastructure Act provisions to increase water storage capacity.
“The provisions will reduce sediment in reservoirs, increasing access to water for western states.
“This committee should also continue to be proactive in combatting the threat posed by invasive species.
“Invasive species exist on land and in the water.
“They significantly degrade water quality and availability for farmers, ranchers and native species, and rural communities all across America.
“Species such as zebra mussels clog water infrastructure, Russian olive and salt cedar steal precious groundwater.
“The bill should also continue the tradition of authorizing important projects that will increase the navigability of our nation’s waterways.
“Our nation’s inland waterways in particular are a vital commercial network that transports agricultural goods, raw materials and products from middle America to the coasts and beyond.
“These projects are vital to the economic health of our country, and will keep America’s economy strong.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass bipartisan water infrastructure legislation in 2020.”