Letter Opposing an Amendment to the "Water Resources Development Act"
May 11, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports H.R. 1495, the "Water Resources Development Act." However, the Chamber strongly opposes an amendment that may be offered to this legislation by Senator Feingold dealing with climate issues.
This bill is long overdue and provides the coordinated federal agenda needed to better protect the country against severe weather and flooding, and to facilitate commerce at the nation's waterways and ports. Passage of H.R. 1495 would authorize vital inland and coastal infrastructure projects such as the restoration of the Louisiana coast and provide the Army Corps of Engineers with the resources they need to undertake hundreds of flood control, navigation and environmental mitigation projects over two years. It also ensures water resources projects are developed collaboratively with all stakeholders to maintain public confidence and makes certain that transportation demands are addressed.
Ports and waterways are integral to the national transportation system and contribute $718 billion to the nation's gross domestic product. On an annual basis, the U.S. marine transportation system moves more than 2 billion tons of domestic and international freight. The Chamber believes that such infrastructure upgrades are necessary to ensure the competitiveness of the nation's exports and to permit Americans' access to low-cost imported products.
However, the Chamber considers the Feingold amendment—should it be offered—nothing more than a flagrant attempt to inject the climate change debate into what should remain a water development bill. The amendment would accomplish nothing more than bogging the Corps down with paperwork and creating unnecessary time and expense for the various projects authorized by WRDA. Implementation of this amendment would pose the same types of problems as the environmental assessment process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For example, the NEPA process for a timber sale can take as many as two years to complete, and approximately 80 percent of the average annual sale of timber from national forestland remains mired in litigation.
Rather than creating extra delay, expense, and paperwork for much-needed water development projects, Congress needs to have a serious discussion about the technology research, development, and demonstration projects necessary to improve the way America uses energy resources. Imposing onerous, NEPA-like climate change restrictions on WRDA will neither address climate change issues, nor aid in the development of water projects.
The Chamber strongly urges you to support H.R. 1495 and oppose the amendment on climate change. The Chamber may consider using votes on, or in relation to, these issues in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten