Washington, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) submitted the following statement for a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee oversight hearing on the implementation of the Corps of Engineers water resources policies.
“Thank you, Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter, for holding this hearing and allowing committee members to receive testimony on the implementation of Corps of Engineers’ water resource policies. I also would like to thank Assistant Secretary Darcy and Lieutenant General Bostick for testifying before us again this morning, as well as the four gentlemen who will be joining us during the second panel—this committee greatly appreciates you and relies on your expertise, so thank you very much for being here.
“It is crucial for the next Water Resources Development Act to authorize the necessary maintenance and updates to the infrastructure of the United States. I look forward to working with Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, and their staffs in order to pass this important piece of legislation.
“To the witnesses, I look forward to talking to you about a few possible reforms we should consider. The provisions that expedited project delivery for Highway and Transit projects were a hallmark of the MAP-21 legislation that passed through this committee in 2012. Any reforms to Corps policies should ensure a streamlined process where we can cut through the red tape, avoid bureaucratic messes, and minimize the steps taken to ensure the most effective use of existing resources. More efficient and transparent policies will allow for greater regulatory certainty on Corps projects.
“We should also look to better utilize public-private partnerships. One of the most frequently discussed ways to leverage non-federal investment is through public-private partnerships. With these partnerships, state or local governments enter into an agreement to raise private capital and transfer risks to the private sector, making challenging and unaffordable projects possible. Corps projects are woefully underfunded with a backlog of $60 billion in authorized projects, yet only a $5 billion yearly budget. These partnerships are a way to unleash an enormous amount of private investments in public infrastructure.
“One such project is the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan in my home state of Oklahoma. WRDA 2007 authorized $50 million to carry out ecosystem restoration, flood damage reduction, and recreation components of the Plan. Cooperative efforts among the Corps, Tulsa County, the City of Tulsa, and Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) are necessary to implement it.
“Another important project includes chloride control at the Red River. I have been working with the Tulsa District Office and the local Lugert-Altus Irrigation District in order to provide new drinking water supplies, increased agricultural irrigation in the southwestern Oklahoma area, and improved downstream water quality.
“Our nation’s system of inland waterways, highways, and coastal ports are our pathway to trade and economic prosperity. It is vitally important that we implement responsible policies in order to best utilize this system. Again, I thank the witnesses and look forward to their testimony.”