WASHINGTON, D.C. — H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), was introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY). Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support the Nation’s vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. Historically, Congress has passed such legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007.
“WRRDA 2013 is the most policy and reform focused legislation of its kind in the last two decades,” Shuster said. “The bill contains no earmarks and makes major programmatic reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight of federal water resources development activities. Most importantly, WRRDA is about jobs and improving America’s competitiveness. A strong, effective water transportation network is essential to keeping pace with other nations that are improving their own infrastructure networks and gaining ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”
“This bill is about jobs,” said Rahall. “It boosts our ports, strengthens our maritime economy, and allows commodities to move more efficiently along our inland waterways, saving time and money. When we invest in these corridors of commerce we are investing in a more competitive nation and enabling our water transportation network to support increased economic opportunity.”
“This bill changes the way the Corps of Engineers does business,” said Gibbs. “We have been literally studying infrastructure projects to death. While it once took the Corps three to five years to complete a study, it has become normal for this process to take 10 to 15 years. WRRDA cuts the red tape, streamlines reviews, and accelerates the lengthy process, saving us precious time and money and allowing infrastructure improvements to move forward.”
“Investments in America’s water infrastructure create jobs and lay the foundation for sustained economic growth in a global economy,” said Bishop. “This bipartisan legislation is an important first step in addressing the challenges facing our nation’s harbor and inland waterway infrastructure and I will continue to work with my colleagues to enhance the levels of investment we make to support American competitiveness.”
Highlights of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013:
• Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies
• Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews
• Streamlines environmental reviews
• Deauthorizes $12 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007
• Fully offsets new authorizations with deauthorizations
• Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs
• Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps
• No earmarks
• Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight
• Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move authorized studies and projects forward
• Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite the evaluation and processing of permits
• Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program
• Authorizes needed investments in America’s ports
• Supports underserved, emerging ports
• Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
• Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs.
More information about WRRDA, including text of the introduced bill and a document describing the importance of WRRDA and how it will improve American infrastructure and competitiveness is available at http://transportation.house.gov/wrrda.