Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 11:14 am | Overcast with Haze 62º


Capps Votes for Infrastructure Bill, Voices Concern About Provisions Limiting Environmental Review

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, voted Wednesday in favor of House Resolution 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act.

The bill would authorize Army Corps of Engineers funding for improvements to America’s ports, waterways and projects tied to flood protection, drinking water, dams, levees and environmental restoration.

The legislation passed 417-3, and will now go to conference with a similar Senate bill, which was passed in May.

“This bipartisan legislation will help strengthen our ports, waterways and water infrastructure here on the Central Coast and across the country,” Capps said. “This bill is also good for our economy, creating a large number of jobs and providing millions of dollars for local governments and flood protection.”

Unlike past WRDA bills, this bill does not contain any project-specific authorizations because of new earmark rules. Instead, the bill would create a new process — directing the Army Corps to generate lists of approval-worthy projects and submit them to Congress for consideration in future bills — for new project authorizations going forward.

While the bill is a positive bipartisan step forward, it unfortunately contains provisions that would limit public participation and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. While proponents argue the changes are aimed at reducing project delays, the Congressional Research Service and the Government Accountability Office have repeatedly concluded that infrastructure projects are typically delayed by changes in project design, project size or complexity, or lack of funding — not NEPA.

Capps voted for an amendment to delay these provisions until the corps certifies that there is sufficient funding to reduce the current backlog of authorized corps projects to less than $20 billion. This amendment failed by a vote of 183-236.

“I certainly support responsible efforts to reduce project delays, but undermining the NEPA process is not the way to do it,” Capps said. “Thorough environmental review and public input are critical components of any successful infrastructure project. We must keep these important protections in place, both for the health of the public and protection of the environment.”

— Chris Meagher is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


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