Rep. Kelly Votes to Create Jobs & Strengthen Water Infrastructure in America

May 20, 2014 Issues: Economy and Jobs

House passes bipartisan conference report on fiscally responsible jobs bill crucial to Western Pennsylvania ports & waterways

WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) – co-chairman of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition – issued the following statement today in support of the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, sponsored by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). Through WRRDA, Congress authorizes the key missions of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, including developing, maintaining, and supporting the nation’s economically vital waterway infrastructure and supporting effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. H.R. 3080 was passed by the House of Representatives this afternoon by a bipartisan vote of 412-4.

Statement by Rep. Kelly:

“At a time when so many Americans look to Washington and only see discord and dysfunction, let today’s massively bipartisan achievement stand as proof that the people’s business can still get done when Congress focuses on the right priorities. Today’s legislation will strengthen our economy and secure the 13 million American jobs that depend on our nation’s ports and waterways, while paving the way for the creation of new ones. Its commonsense reforms will improve our water infrastructure, protect trade, promote growth, cut wasteful red tape, and save taxpayer dollars. This is the first water resource bill in history to contain absolutely no earmarks.

“This agreement will guarantee that our port in Erie is dredged, which in turn will make sure that the folks 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 for generations to come. Overall, three of the Third District’s most important industries – tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture – are directly improved by this incredibly important bill.”

Statement by Ray Schreckengost – Executive Director, Erie-Western PA Port Authority:

“I'm happy to hear that the Water Resources Reform and Development Act is finally coming to a vote and we will finally be able to codify funding for the Great Lakes harbors. As you know, the backlog of dredging and maintenance throughout the Great Lakes/Seaway system is substantial. Treating it as a system and codifying funding for a ten-year period is an excellent way to address our ongoing maintenance requirements. Thank you for your support of this bill; it is groundbreaking legislation for the Great Lakes.”

Specific Benefits in WRRDA for Pennsylvania’s Third District: 

  • WRRDA requires 10% of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to go toward Great Lakes Harbors and 10% to go toward “emerging harbors.” The port of Erie fits into both of these categories. This is particularly essential to Erie’s shipbuilding renaissance at Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair.
  • WRRDA includes the final version of the Kelly-McCullom Amendment, which will help keep Asian carp out of Lake Erie and Pennsylvania’s rivers. The amendment establishes a multiagency effort to slow the spread of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins and tributaries by providing technical assistance, coordination, best practices, and support to state and local governments in carrying out such activities. This includes enhanced authority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and authorization of emergency measures by the Army Corps in the Chicago Area Waterway System. The agreement also requires reports by the Obama administration and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and on the economic impacts of invasive species.
  • WRRDA establishes goals for distributing higher percentages of collected HMTF revenues, aiming for 100% by fiscal year (FY) 2025. For the Great Lakes, it establishes the Great Lakes ports as a single navigation system and sets aside 10% of funding above FY2012 levels for Great Lakes ports. This will ensure that Great Lakes ports such as Erie receive a greater share of HMTF operational fees to which they are entitled.
  • WRRDA eliminates needless regulations so that non-federal partners (local governments, state government, non-profit organizations, or businesses) can invest in water infrastructure. Until this point, taxpayers have been responsible for most project costs; WRRDA eases this burden. This is especially important for the Allegheny River Development Corporation in Armstrong County where they are currently struggling with bureaucratic red tape to open locks along the Allegheny River.
  • WRRDA will expedite the completion of infrastructure projects on the Lower Monongahela Watershed crucial to the development of the Third District’s manufacturing and burgeoning energy industries.