Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled, “U.S. Army Corps Budget 2024 and Implementation of Water Resources Development Act of 2022.”
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as delivered.
“Thank you, Chairman Carper, for calling today’s hearing and for your ongoing commitment to bipartisan oversight of the implementation of the Water Resources and Development Act of 2022.
“I look forward to hearing about the Army Corps’ ongoing efforts to implement the law and their fiscal year 2024 budget request.
“As Ranking Member of this Committee, I recognize the important role that the Army Corps plays in safeguarding our communities and supporting growth.
“I live one quarter of a mile from one of your waterways so I see how important the work the Corps does in my own community.
“Since 2014, the Committee has kept to a biennial schedule of authorizing water resources projects and setting national policies for the Civil Works Program of the Army Corps.
“And I look forward to continuing this track record next year.
“WRDA 2022 authorized 25 new projects and six modifications to existing projects around the country, including projects for navigation, flood and coastal storm risk management, and ecosystem restoration.
“And, it authorized more than 100 feasibility studies that will develop solutions to water resources challenges in the years ahead.
“WRDA 2022 also included several policy changes that will help the Army Corps better succeed in the Civil Works mission.
“I would like to extend my appreciation to the staff at the Army Corps and also in the Assistant Secretary’s office for their continual engagement with the Committee as we oversee the implementation of WRDA 2022 and prior WRDA legislation.
“As my colleagues on this Committee know so well, the Army Corps also has important regulatory responsibilities under other federal laws.
“These responsibilities include reviewing permit applications from public and private entities that are seeking to undertake important infrastructure projects or economic development projects across the country.
“One of those private entities, Nucor, announced last year that Mason County, West Virginia will soon be home to the company’s newest steel sheet mill.
“This is really great news for the state of West Virginia, but also the country.
“The Committee has heard time and time again how product availability issues adversely impact the delivery of projects and the manufacture of goods.
“This mill will have the capacity to produce up to three million tons of American-made steel sheet per year, helping to alleviate availability issues for the industries that utilize this product and supporting compliance with Buy America provisions, including those for the Corps’ own construction projects.
“According to Nucor, it will also have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any sheet mill in the world.
“Most importantly, to me and to most of my fellow West Virginias, it will bring hundreds of permanent, great jobs to West Virginia, where they are desperately needed.
“In order for this mill to become a reality, Nucor submitted applications for permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 to the Huntington District. Was looking at that date, 1899, that’s pretty long ago.
“The Army Corps and Nucor must work diligently and collaboratively through this process so that timely decisions on these applications can be made.
“The federal laws must be adhered to, while bureaucratic delays must be avoided.
“Assistant Secretary Connor and General Spellmon, you’re not surprised to hear me talk about this. I want to thank you for the personal attention you have paid to these applications and look forward to continuing our engagement as we move forward.
“I appreciate your commitments to provide the District with resources it needs to review these applications and notify me of any challenges that the Army Corps has encountered.
“As I have previously reinforced with both of you, this plant is critical to the economic vitality of my home state and to improving the lives of my constituents while also supporting infrastructure and manufacturing across our country.
“I will continue to stay on top of this, and we’ve talked about this already, as I know you all will too. So, thank you for that.
“Last year, the Army Corps also provided funding for a Kanawha River Basin flood risk management study. This study will focus on the area of West Virginia that was devastated in 2016 where we lost 23 people in a massive flash flood.
“Notably, the Army Corps also made a significant federal investment in the Lower Mud River flood control project in Milton, West Virginia.
“This funding will go toward constructing a levee and other measures to help ensure the long-term safety and prosperity of residents in the Milton area.
“Thank you very much for recognizing the importance of these projects to my state.
“The work of the Corps has and will continue to make a difference in communities across the state of West Virginia.
“Chairman Carper, I know before too long we will be kicking off the process for WRDA 2024 and I look forward to continuing our partnership to develop bipartisan legislation.
“Let me again reiterate my gratitude toward our witnesses, thank you for being here today.”
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