May 23, 2006


“For The Second Time In Three Years, The EPW Committee Passed Important Legislation That Will Bolster Our Security At Water Treatment Plants All Across The Country.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, commented on the EPW Committee’s 10-8 partisan vote to pass wastewater security legislation.

“For the second time in three years, the EPW Committee passed important legislation that will bolster our security at wastewater treatment plants all across the country,” Senator Inhofe said. “My bill seeks to work with local governments and wastewater treatment plants to provide needed support and additional tools to help ensure these facilities are secure from a potential terrorist attack and able to respond to, and recover quickly from, natural disasters.

“An amendment offered by Committee Democrats today, defeated along party-lines, presumed that those in Washington, DC know more about wastewater security than local officials. I firmly believe, however, that wastewater treatment plants need our assistance, not burdensome unfunded mandates from the Federal Government. The Democrat amendment would also eliminate the use of chlorine and require plants to spend thousands, even millions, of dollars to switch to a federally mandated alternative. Additionally, during these times of aging systems and growing federal regulations, cost is an important consideration. Chlorine is by far the most effective, least expensive, disinfectant available.

“As a former Mayor, I understand the tremendous problems these unfunded mandates would cause for local governments. A March 2006 Government Accountability Office report found that a majority of the largest wastewater facilities had switched from chlorine to other technologies after a careful review of their facility, including the effectiveness and cost of alternatives. They did so without a federal mandate. Rather than assume our local officials do not care about their constituents or their own families, my bill seeks to work with them to address their security needs.

“Senate Democrats now have a choice: they can continue to obstruct national security legislation that will provide necessary support to our nation’s wastewater security plants, or they can join their colleagues in the House who unanimously supported similar legislation in the 107th Congress and overwhelmingly supported it again in the 108th by a 413 to 2 vote. For the sake of our national security, I urge them to end their obstruction and support my wastewater security legislation.”