WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today supported a revenue neutral amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that transfers $8 million to watershed and flooding prevention programs under H.R. 2112, the so-called ‘minibus’ appropriations act that will fund Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and related agencies for Fiscal Year 2012. A cosponsor of this amendment, the measure passed without objection by a voice vote. The transferred funds will be taken from departmental administration funds generally used to support upper-level bureaucrats.
"Oklahoma has more upstream flood control dams than anywhere else in the country, and Senator Moran’s amendment offers a needed solution to improving the nation’s watersheds and dams,” said Inhofe. “Rather than being used for bureaucrats in the agency, these funds will protect 1,532 county and highway bridges, while providing flood prevention for 20,541 farms and ranches in our state. It is clearly a safety and infrastructure issue that requires the repair of aging water dams well past their expected service life. Without this amendment, farms and ranches across the nation are vulnerable to increased flooding that endangers livestock, grain, and crops. I applaud my Senate colleagues for supporting this amendment and assisting agricultural communities in need.
“We applaud the efforts of Senator Moran and the support of Senator Inhofe,” said Clay Pope, Executive Director of Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts. “Oklahoma has more upstream flood control dams than any other state in the union. In 5 years, 1,000 dams will be past design life and in need of repair. Without these funds, the lives and properties of Oklahomans will be put in jeopardy. These funds are critical to repairing these structures. We appreciate the work of Senators Moran and Inhofe in ensuring these funds are available to use.
“I appreciate both Senators understanding that you cannot abandon infrastructure and put people at risk even when our nation faces a severe budget crisis,” said Mike Thralls, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “Funding for flood control programs is very much needed.”
Earlier this year, Inhofe warned about the irresponsibility of cutting important funding from the watershed program. In March 2011, he said, “The USDA watershed programs have been incredibly important to Oklahoma, especially with the state’s extreme weather. The watershed rehabilitation program has been responsible for 321 watershed dams throughout the state, and the program works on a cost sharing basis with local communities. As a result, communities across Oklahoma have safe, effective flood control and a reliable water supply. Cutting these programs without regard for the impact that will have is irresponsible. I will continue to work closely with Congressman Frank Lucas, who has championed these programs, to make sure they are approached in an appropriate manner for both flood control and fiscal responsibility.”
In August 2009, Inhofe fought President Obama and a Senate amendment both of which would have zeroed out funding for the program that is responsible for 2,105 upstream flood control dams have been constructed in 121 watersheds in 64 counties across Oklahoma. The program provides benefits such as flood control, water supply, erosion control, recreation, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.