Ribble-Backed Water Bill A Win for Great Lakes

Sep 19, 2013 Issues: Jobs and the Economy, Transportation

Washington, D.C. - Congressman Reid Ribble announced that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the bipartisan Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080) today by voice vote.

“I am pleased that our Committee worked together to pass this reform-minded, fiscally responsible water resources reform bill, the first of its kind.  This legislation will speed up project delivery for Army Corps work and streamline environmental review processes, much like we did in last year’s highway bill.  WRRDA also improves Congressional oversight over water resources development activities,” said Ribble.

“WRRDA includes several important reforms that I worked to include on behalf of Northeast Wisconsin and the Great Lakes region.  The bill improves dredging and maintenance of our ports and harbors, like the Port of Green Bay, and allows the Great Lakes region to better compete with other navigation systems for limited funds.”

Congressman Ribble championed the following provisions in the bill:

•    Harbor Maintenance.  Currently, merely half of the $1.8 billion paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund each year is actually used for maintenance and dredging of our nation’s ports and harbors.  WRRDA addresses this problem by increasing harbor maintenance expenditures each year until Fiscal Year 2020, when 80 percent of Trust Fund dollars will be used for maintenance activities.

•    Great Lakes Navigation System.  Presently, the five Great Lakes must compete with one another for project funding, even though they operate as an interdependent system.  WRRDA fixes the problem by designating the Great Lakes as a single navigation system, which will allow the Great Lakes to work together, not against each other, for funding.

“Many thanks to Congressman Ribble (WI) and the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on passage of WRRDA.  On behalf of the Great Lakes, the Port of Green Bay is pleased that WRRDA as drafted recognizes the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway as a “system” of interconnected waterways and ports on America’s 4th coast.  This recognition will encourage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to budget for the Great Lakes a whole rather than as competing ports, thus enabling the Great Lakes region to be more competitive for funding.”
-- Dean Haen, Director, Brown County Port & Resource Recovery

Earlier this month, Congressman Ribble sent the attached letter to Chairmen Bill Shuster and Bob Gibbs urging them to include the above Great Lakes provisions in the WRRDA legislation.