October 26, 2005 SENATE DEMOCRATS MISUNDERSTAND, CRITICIZE EDA PROCESS Critics Would Prefer to Leave Local Leaders on the Sidelines WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee, today criticized Gas PRICE Act opponents’ misunderstanding of the process by which the Economic Development Administration (EDA) assists communities with funding to help improve infrastructure and encourage economic development. “As Chairman of the EPW Committee for the past three years and as a former mayor, I am more than familiar with the tremendous job the Economic Development Administration does in working to assist local communities suffering from economic hardship and the loss of jobs,” Senator Inhofe said. “Local governing boards, consisting of the best and brightest from each community, approach the EDA for assistance to help overcome economic disparity. Unfortunately, certain Senate Democrats are proposing to exclude any individual with ties to any business or association that receives federal grants, or those working for a business or industry themselves, from the EDA process. Doing so effectively ensures that nobody who knows what they’re doing will be involved, leaving the best qualified individuals out of the process. “If you follow that kind of logic, groups such as the Smithsonian, Nature Conservancy, and even the NRDC, would not qualify for any federal grants or funding because of business interests represented on their boards. Surely my colleagues on the other side would agree with me this is not their intention. It is far more likely that today’s commentary demonstrates a desperate attempt by Democrats to oppose and attack legislation in order to disguise political motivations to oppose any or all sensible solutions to rising energy prices.” Refiners Do Not Receive Subsidies Under the Gas PRICE Act S. 1772 directs the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to provide additional resources to communities, not to industry as some claim, facing BRAC-related job loss to consider building refineries on those sites. Those resources would help finance infrastructure improvements or modifications that would likely have to be made regardless of what type of business were to move to the location. Improvements made with EDA grants in the past have included access roads, sewers, wastewater treatment capacity increases, and rail spurs. EDA grants are offered to defer the costs to local governments only, not to any private industry. BRAC Communities and the EDA The EDA assists communities with economic recovery in the aftermath of a severe and sudden dislocation of jobs. Sections 209(c)(1) and 702 of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 (PWEDA) provide for activities to assist with the transition of military and Department of Energy sites to alternative uses that will spur economic development and job creation: SEC. 209. GRANTS FOR ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT. (42 U.S.C. § 3149) (c) PARTICULAR COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE.– Assistance under this section may include assistance provided for activities identified by communities, the economies of which are injured by– (1) military base closures or realignments, defense contractor reductions in force, or Department of Energy defense-related funding reductions, for help in diversifying their economies through projects to be carried out on Federal Government installations or elsewhere in the communities; SEC. 702. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS FOR DEFENSE CONVERSION ACTIVITIES. (42 U.S.C. § 3232) (a) IN GENERAL.—In addition to amounts made available under section 701, there are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out section 209(c)(1), to remain available until expended. (b) PILOT PROJECTS.—Funds made available under subsection (a) may be used for activities including pilot projects for privatization of, and economic development activities for, closed or realigned military or Department of Energy installations. Under the PWEDA statute, which the Gas PRICE Act does not modify, an eligible recipient for assistance is defined as: an economic development district; an Indian tribe; a State; a city or other political subdivision of a State, including a special purpose unit of a State or local government engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities, or a consortium of political subdivisions; an institution of higher education or a consortium of institutions of higher education; or a public or private nonprofit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.