Rep. Kelly Hails Passage of Water Resources Development Act of 2016
House passes bipartisan bill crucial to Western PA ports & waterways
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition and a member of the Great Lakes Taskforce – issued the following statement today in support of H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, which was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday evening by a bipartisan vote of 399-25. Through WRDA, Congress authorizes the key missions of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and addresses the needs of American harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water infrastructure critical to the nation’s economic competiveness. It accomplishes these tasks in a fiscally responsible way by establishing sunset dates for new authorizations as well as de-authorizing $10 billion in unnecessary projects, which will fully offset the same amount in new authorizations contained in the legislation.
“I am thrilled that the People’s House has once again passed WRDA in such an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner. This bill will strengthen our economy, protect our water resource infrastructure, and secure the 13 million American jobs that depend on our nation’s ports and waterways. The Great Lakes contain one fifth of the entire world’s fresh water and supply drinking water to 40 million people; if they were collectively their own nation, they’d be the world’s third largest economy. Protecting them is not just a civic or economic duty but a moral duty upon which our country’s very strength, competitiveness, and greatness depend.
“For Western Pennsylvanians, WRDA’s benefits are always very close to home. Its authorization of lock and dam projects on the Upper Ohio River will spur job creation throughout the region for years to come. It will guarantee that our port in Erie remains properly maintained, which will make it possible for everyone at Donjon’s shipyard in Erie can keep doing their job. It will ensure that Presque Isle’s pristine beaches are protected, which will keep tourists coming and commerce flowing. Overall, three of the Third District’s most important industries – tourism, manufacturing, and energy – are directly impacted and supported by this extremely important legislation.”
Specific Benefits in WRDA 2016 for Pennsylvania’s Third District:
- WRDA 2016 makes permanent a 10% set-aside of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for the upkeep of small harbors such the port of Erie and many others on the Great Lakes that are essential to keeping industry and recreational boating on the Great Lakes Navigation System operational.
- WRDA 2016 authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for the next five years. It directs a coordinator to work with local state and federal entities to solve Lake Erie’s toxic algal bloom problem. It will clean up environmental “areas of concern” on the Great Lakes, which Presque Ilse Bay was once considered; with the help of GLRI, it was delisted. It will also continue to keep Asian Carp and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes.
- WRDA 2016 is essential to keeping both recreational and commercial river traffic moving on the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers by maintaining locks and dams along these rivers. It authorizes the Upper Ohio Study which allows the Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery (EDM) lock project near Pittsburgh to advance, thus ending a 13-year wait on this project, which is essential to the region’s economy and drinking water.
- WRDA 2016 will expedite the completion of infrastructure projects crucial to the development of the Third District’s manufacturing and burgeoning energy industries.