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April 21, 2020

Inhofe Applauds $3 Million Grant for Tulsa Levees

Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) applauded an announcement by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3 million grant to Tulsa County, Oklahoma, to improve critical infrastructure needed to protect communities and businesses from flood damage. The EDA grant, which is located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $750,000 in local investment and is expected to retain nearly 1,560 jobs.

“Last year, our state experienced record flooding that highlighted the critical need to modernize the Tulsa-West Tulsa levee system—including the levee pump stations. These stations ensure rain water and flood seepage during flood events does not build up on the backside of the levees – an extremely vital function. I’ve kept the pressure on key agencies and today, I am pleased that the Levee District will receive $3 million to modernize two existing pump stations. This funding will go a long ways towards repairing and modernizing the Tulsa levees and surrounding infrastructure to ensure the system can continue to protect families, businesses and property for decades to come. We still have more work to do, and I’m eagerly anticipating the Corp’s Chief Report on the modernization of the levee system. The swift consideration of the EDA application and the Chief’s report show that the Trump Administration continues to prove investment in Oklahoma infrastructure is a priority.”

“The Trump Administration is working hard to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and improve economic resilience in the wake of natural disasters, such as the floods that impacted Oklahoma in 2019,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This investment in a Tulsa County Opportunity Zone will support flood prevention infrastructure along the Arkansas River Levee and attract new businesses to the area.”

“EDA plays an important role in catalyzing local business development and disaster resiliency,” said Dana Gartzke, Performing the Delegated Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development. “Replacing pump stations and updating equipment will provide Tulsa County with the necessary infrastructure to keep impacted businesses in the region, prevent economic losses after flood events, and attract additional private investment in an Opportunity Zone.”

“The announcement of the $3 million dollar EDA grant for the imperiled levee system could not have come at a better time,” said Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners Chair, Karen Keith. “Senator Inhofe’s efforts to secure these funds made all the difference in this outcome. The Tulsa West/Tulsa Levees are even more compromised following last year’s high water event.  This will begin the process of much needed repairs. This $3 million dollar grant will help us begin replacing the old pump stations, none of which functioned under the pressure of the heavy flows in 2019. Having functioning pump stations are critical as we continue to push for the funding needed to rebuild the levee system.”

The announcement of the federal Economic Development Administration grant to Tulsa County to replace antiquated stormwater pumps at two critically important pump stations in west Tulsa is welcome news,” said INCOG Executive Director Rich Brierre. “The infrastructure upgrades replacing 70-year-old equipment along the Arkansas River levee system will help protect businesses and industries, schools and homes from severe storms and flood events and support job retention and growth in west Tulsa. This announcement once again highlights the important role that EDA plays in partnering with local communities to invest in infrastructure that drives the economy. Senator Inhofe’s leadership, support and advocacy working with our federal and local partners is recognized and greatly appreciated.”

“Senator Inhofe’s continued leadership to ensure our levee system is up-to-date and able to protect Tulsans for years to come is unparalleled,” said District 12 Levee Commissioner Todd Kilpatrick. “The announcement today that EDA will provide $3 million to modernize the system—including pump stations that play such a vital role in their functionality—is incredibly encouraging. In last year’s floods, the pump stations were unable to do their job, and being able to repair them is critical for the continued success of the Tulsa-West Tulsa levees. I want to thank Sen. Inhofe for his leadership over the years on this.”

On October 16, 2019, Inhofe sent a letter in support of the INCOG application for the project.

Inhofe pressed EDA leadership about the project at an EPW hearing in January to make sure it was a priority for the department.

On February 6, 2020, Sen. Inhofe sent a letter to Lt. General Semonite urging the Corps to take all appropriate measures to review and complete the Chief’s Report for the Tulsa-West Tulsa levees as soon as practical. He also urged that the Corps include financing recommendations to allow a 30-year repayment eligibility for this project. On March 24, the Corps affirmed its expected timeline of completing the Chief’s report this Spring and committed to a 30-year repayment eligibility for the project.

This project was made possible by the regional planning efforts led by the Indian Nation Council of Governments (INCOG). EDA funds INCOG to bring together the public and private sectors to create an economic development roadmap to strengthen the regional economy, support private capital investment and create jobs.

This project is funded by the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 (Pub. L. 116-20), which provided EDA with $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) Program funds for disaster relief and recovery for areas affected by Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Lane, Typhoons Yutu and Mangkhut, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and other major natural disasters occurring in calendar year 2018, and tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, under the Robert T. Stafford Act. Please visit EDA’s Disaster Supplemental webpage.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.


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