HEARING: “Oversight Hearing on Implementation of Corps of Engineers Water Resources Policies”

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, participated in the hearing, “Oversight Hearing on Implementation of Corps of Engineers Water Resources Policies.” The hearing also featured testimony from Secretary Collin O’Mara from Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

For more information on the hearing or to watch a webcast of the hearing, please click here.

A copy of his opening statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

“Madame Chair, Ranking Member Vitter, thank you for having this hearing today to spotlight the challenges that the Army Corps of Engineers and our states face in managing the nation’s water resources.

“Before I start, I’d like to welcome Secretary Collin O’Mara, who leads Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

“Secretary O’Mara has been instrumental in making Delaware a leader in the global clean energy economy and a top-notch steward of our state’s natural heritage.

My state of Delaware is situated between the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Delaware River and Bay.

“Along with our inland bays, smaller rivers, and tidal marshes, we are blessed with tremendous water resources, and the Army Corps is a valued partner in managing them.

“For example, the Corps is in the midst of deepening the main channel of the Delaware River, a critical shipping corridor, to 45 feet in anticipation of the lager super-Panamax ships.

“This project, years in the making and vital to regional commerce, will allow Delaware River ports like the Port of Wilmington to make our contribution to the President’s goal of doubling exports by 2015.

“On the other side of the state, the Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States, host to countless species, and one of our country’s national treasures.

“And if you can believe it, both the pharmaceutical industry and the Red Knot, an endangered migratory bird, depend on the largest population of horseshoe crabs in America, found along the Delaware Bayshore.

“The Corps’ partnership in environmental restoration projects has helped to revitalize and enhance these magnificent coastal environments for the benefit of wildlife, outdoorsmen, tourists, and the businesses they support.

“Finally, as we so tragically saw during Hurricane Sandy, Delaware is also at the mercy of severe coastal storms.

“We depend on the Corps’ flood protection projects, which have spared lives and protected hundreds of millions of dollars worth of my constituents’ property.

“Whatever the project may be, we value our partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the work they do, and I’d like to thank Senator Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter for making WRDA a priority in the 113th Congress.

“I often say of my work in the Senate, everything I do, I know I can do better, and the same is true of the Army Corps.

“When we last passed a WRDA bill in 2007, I was proud to be part of bipartisan reform efforts that I believe have had a positive impact on the Corps’ effectiveness.

I appreciate that Senator Boxer and Senator Vitter have been just as receptive to my suggestions this time around.

“However, as much as we may seek to improve the policies that guide the Corps’ work, we also have to keep in mind the fiscal constraints under which we are all acting.

“We have to focus on new ways of doing business that offer us better results for less money – doing more with less, rather than less with less.

“Nowhere is this clearer to me than in the area of storm damage protection and coastal hazard mitigation.

“The Corps, FEMA, states, and municipalities must form even closer working relationships to help protect against rising seas and stronger, more frequent storms.

“There are other areas of coastal policy, such as the regional management of sediment resources, that I believe can also yield cost savings while offering better outcomes.

“Ultimately, I am sure that we can accomplish this; we have more solutions than we do problems. And while our budgets may be limited, our capacity to innovate is limitless.

“I look forward to hearing ideas from both panels on how we can achieve this.

“Thank you.”