April 13, 2005
<b>JOHNSON NOMINATION AND WRDA BILL PASS EPW COMMITTEE</b><br> Oklahoma priorities included in WRDA bill
WASHINGTON, DC ñ Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, held a full committee business meeting today passing the nomination of Steve Johnson for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by a vote of 17-1. The committee also passed by voice vote S. 728, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which includes several priorities for the State of Oklahoma.
In addition the following nominees were passed by voice vote: Luis Luna - to be EPAís Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resource Management; John Paul Woodley, Jr. - to be the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Major General Don Riley- to be a Member and President of the Mississippi River Commission; Brigadier General William T. Grisoli, - to be a Member of the Mississippi River Commission; and D. Michael Rappoport and Michael Butler - to be Members of the Board of Trustees of the Udall Foundation.
ìI am very pleased with the bipartisan work accomplished today by the Environment and Public Works Committee,î Senator Inhofe said. ìNow that we have passed the nomination of Steve Johnson as our new EPA administrator through committee I look forward to moving it to the floor for a vote as soon as possible. It is a testament to Steveís hard work in public service that he has been nominated to lead the EPA and I expect strong bipartisan support for him from the full Senate. I commend the other nominees as well for their steadfast service to our nation and look forward to swift passage for them as well.î
ìThe Committee also took a major step with the reauthorization of WRDA ñ which will go far in helping Oklahoma and all other states as they work toward meeting their critical water resource needs,î Senator Inhofe continued. ìI thank Subcommittee Chairman Bond for his leadership in bringing this legislation together. The bill aids in providing needed funding for water resources development and protection of our nationís waterways. I also want to recognize the leadership of Senator Vitter on this bill. The legislation takes tremendous steps in dealing with Coastal Erosion in Louisiana - and that is due to the work and persistence of Senator Vitter. He told me from day one that this issue is his top priority. I believe that this Committee has responded to his efforts and we will continue to do so.î
The following list includes benefits to the State of Oklahoma of the WRDA bill:
S. 728 ñ Water Resources Development Act:
WRDA authorizes the Corps of Engineers to spend $45 million per year across the country for planning, technical assistance and the remediation of abandoned hard rock mines. Abandoned non-coal mines resulting from mining activities that occurred over the past century and a half are scattered throughout the western United States. Most of the sites were mined and abandoned prior to modern environmental regulations being enacted over thirty years ago.
McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation Channel
The bill directs the Corps to continue construction of the12 foot navigation channel to the Port of Catoosa. The bill authorizes the Corps to convene a blue ribbon panel on the pallid sturgeon to avoid any unnecessary delay. The bill would also authorize the construction of low water dams and islands on the Arkansas River to provide habitat for the interior least tern in the area of Tulsa County. These mitigation activities will result in features similar to those found at Zinc Lake.
Codification of a Consent Decree between Corps of Engineers and the City of Edmond regarding Arcadia Lake
The City of Edmond became a cost share partner with the Corps in 1979 for recreational development and water storage facilities on Arcadia Lake. In 1987 a dispute arose with the Corps over cost overruns on the recreation facilities. That dispute was settled in 1992 through a Consent Decree. Included in that Consent Decree was a provision that the City of Edmond thought would clarify a potential future dispute regarding the requirement to pay storage on future water use. Per the terms of the Consent Decree, the City was not liable for payment of future use water until such time that City decided to actually use the water. The cost of the future use water was set at $27 million, which the City paid in October 1999.
In November 1996, the City was notified by the Corps that they had to beginning paying interest on the future use water storage because the 10 year interest free period following the projectís completion had expired (projected was completed in 1986). However, the City believes that the Consent Decree clearly stated that they were not liable for the future water until such time as they made use of it which occurred in 1999 when the City paid $27 million. The Corps continues to charge the City interest from November 1996 to present. This would clarify that City is not liable for the interest from November 1996 to October 1999.
Waurika Lake Project
In WRDA 99 language was added to overrule $2.9 million in fees the Corps of Engineers was insisting Waurika had to pay. The fees were assessed to the Waurika Project Master Conservancy District WPMCD by the Corps after the Corps lost a negligence lawsuit filed by Travelers Insurance following the completion of the lake in the 1980s. The Senator believes that WPMCD should not be held financially responsible for negligence by the Corps.
After WRDA 99 the Corps discovered an accounting error, and claimed it had inadvertently undercharged the WPMCD for costs associated with a land purchase related to the water project in the early 1980s. Under the terms of the construction contract, the WPMCD is required to pay all costs associated with building the project, including the full cost of the land purchases. WRDA 04 clarifies that Waurika is obligated to pay the amount that they agreed to pay when the project was completed.
Oklahoma Lake Demonstration
This bill would remove reversionary interest language on land previously conveyed to the State of Oklahoma at Lake Texoma. The reversionary clause is hindering local plans for further recreational development.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for approval.
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