Shuster tells governors to expect water resources bill in coming months

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



MILWAUKEE, Aug. 7, 2013 - House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., recently told the nation's governors that the committee plans to consider the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) next month with the goal of having it hit the House floor in October.

Not yet unveiled, Shuster's bill will likely aim to cut federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamline the project delivery process, promote fiscal responsibility, and strengthen the water transportation networks to promote competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.

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Speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Milwaukee, Shuster said WRRDA will “be the most policy and reform-focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades.”

Water resources legislation typically focuses on developing, maintaining, and supporting the nation's vital port and waterway infrastructure needs, as well as supporting effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. Congress used to consider such bills to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies and construction activities every two years, but has not approved one since 2007.

Shuster told the governors that the water transportation system is growing more obsolete each day.

“The ports, channels, locks and dams, and other infrastructure that support our maritime and waterways transportation system and provide flood protection for our homes and businesses are vitally important to a healthy national economy and job growth,” Shuster said. “We need fiscally responsible reforms for how our nation maintains and improves this infrastructure, and we need to empower states with the flexibility they need to move forward with projects when federal bureaucratic hurdles stand in the way of progress.”

Shuster said it used to take the Corps of Engineers between three to five years to complete a study, but now it takes up to 15 years.

“The unwieldy review process remains tied up in red tape, costing us time and money and preventing action,” Shuster said. 

A committee aide said Aug. 6 that a bipartisan agreement on the framework of the bill has been reached, but lawmakers and staff are continuing to fine tune the language before introducing the legislation.

“We're working to finalize that,” the aide said.

The Senate approved its water resources legislation (S. 601) with a strong bipartisan 83-14 vote on May 16.

The legislation would authorize funding to modernize the nation's locks and dams, provide upkeep for rivers and coasts, assist with flood protection and restore key environmental areas.

The Senate's Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) aims to promote investment in the nation's critical water resources infrastructure, accelerate project delivery, and reform the implementation of Army Corps of Engineers projects.

 

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