Statements and Speeches

Hearing Statement: "Water Resources Development Act of 2012"

U.S. Senate Committee On Environment And Public Works

Nov 15 2012

WASHINGTON - Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement on the Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, "Water Resources Development Act of 2012." For more information or to view a webcast of the hearing, click here.

A copy of his statement as prepared for delivery is below:

"Madame Chair, Ranking Member Inhofe, thank you for having this hearing to discuss your proposal for a water resources bill and spotlight the benefits of investing in our nation's water resources. Though the subject of today's hearing is investing in water infrastructure – ports, navigation, waterways, flood control, and environmental restoration – what this hearing is really about is job creation, economic growth, and the protection of life and property. 

"I have a short recipe to continue to drive our recovery: tax reform, infrastructure, workforce, research and development, and trade. Now is a critical time to be focused on infrastructure investment. However, it is also a particularly challenging time, as both federal and state governments are facing daunting deficits. In this context, I believe that this Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill is the right prescription for addressing several points of my plan. 

"We can create jobs by investing in water infrastructure, which in turn boosts trade and helps us sell American products around the globe. And we can do so in a way that is fiscally responsible. I believe in each of the three Corps missions, and there are some excellent examples of each type of project around Delaware.

"We are in the process of deepening the main channel in the Delaware River from 40 to 45 feet. This will help ports up and down the river, including the Port of Wilmington, to accommodate new, bigger ships that will begin arriving on the East Coast when the Panama Canal expansion is complete. A deeper channel means more trade – that is a message I heard from businesses at the Port of Wilmington when I recently visited.

"Flood control projects along Delaware's Atlantic coast are another great example. These projects protected the lives of our coastal population during Superstorm Sandy and prevented billions of dollars in damage. These projects protect a region that is vital to our state's economy. Tourism is the fifth-largest private sector employer in Delaware representing 15,000 full time jobs, and $750 million annual revenue.

"So investment is critical. However, as important as projects like these are, we also need to be mindful of provisions that can make sure our investments are smart, strategic, and prioritized.  That's why I was proud to support key reforms in our last WRDA bill in 2007. It was a pleasure to work with this Committee to pass these provisions in 2007, and since then we've worked to ensure that they are well-implemented and having the desired impact. 

"As we move forward, let's keep these reforms in mind. Some of the best advice I ever received was, 'Find out what works, and do more of it.' Now is the time to examine how reform is working, do more of it where it works, and revisit and improve any policies that do not.

"Shifting gears, I'd like to talk for a minute about a recent feature in my state's newspaper, the News Journal. The feature included more than a dozen articles over the course of an entire week that showed that the sea level along the Delaware coast is rising, and communities are facing major challenges as a result of this. 

"Whatever you may believe is the cause of this, it is a fact that in Delaware and other states, every year the water line is higher. We must take steps to ensure that the people and communities who depend on Corps projects can have confidence that those projects are built with rising seas in mind, and are built withstand the stresses of stronger and more frequent storms. This is not just an issue for coastal states. Record flooding in the Midwest and Northeast last summer, and the drought that we are still suffering through across this country are both evidence that we need to be developing projects with a changing climate in mind. 

"This Committee has tackled big issues several times this year, and I am confident that we can find agreement on a path forward on this legislation. If you doubt that for one minute, just look at how this Committee's leadership defied the naysayers to pass a Transportation Bill. 

"So in closing, let me say that I am delighted that Chairwoman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe are using every last minute to try to address the important priorities of America. I want to commend our leaders at Environment and Public Works for putting such a high priority on moving this bill and I hope that we can continue work on this important legislation when Congress returns after the election."