Statement: Sen. Carper Lays Out Delaware Priorities at WRDA Conference Committee Meeting

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) delivered the following statement at the Meeting of Conference Committee for the Water Resources Development Act, known as WRDA.

Chairmen Boxer and Shuster, Ranking Members Vitter and Rahall, fellow Conferees, I’d like to start by thanking you for all that you’ve done to bring the Water Resources bill to this point. In today’s political environment, it’s a testament to your leadership and bipartisanship that we are meeting today to begin working out a final piece of legislation to send to the President.

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 of Engineers is a valued partner in managing them. We have every type of project in Delaware – navigation, flood control, and environmental restoration.

Whether the Corps is at work deepening the main channel of the Delaware River, restoring and improving valuable coastal environments along our Bayshore, or constructing vital protective barriers against coastal storms, these projects offer benefits to all Delawareans in one way or another.

However, I often say, everything I do, I know I can do better, and the same is true of the Army Corps.

Both the House and Senate legislation offer many ideas for how the Army Corps can complete its mission more effectively, efficiently, and cost-effectively. As we work through these provisions, it’s important for us to pay close attention to the changing needs of coastal states like mine. As we have so tragically witnessed during Hurricane Sandy and numerous other disasters, Delaware and other coastal states are at the mercy of severe coastal storms. We depend in part on flood protection projects built by the Army Corps and funded jointly with state and federal funds.

These projects have spared many lives and protected hundreds of millions of dollars worth of my constituents’ property.  The authorizations for several of them will soon expire. While we can’t simply let these projects lapse, leaving local communities vulnerable to the next Sandy, I’d hope that we look at this bill as an opportunity to establish a more efficient process for evaluating these projects and their benefits and costs. Similarly, there are many other opportunities to take the best ideas from both bills to help chart a course that will preserve the Corps’ role as a strong federal partner to our states when it comes to investing in water resource projects. 

Whatever the project may be, we will continue to value our partnership with the Corps of Engineers and the work they do and look forward to continuing this strong relationship. I look forward to a productive and speedy conference.