The jurisdiction of the Subcommittee includes the civil works programs of the Army Corps of Engineers and the clean water programs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Other agencies under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction include the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the International Boundary Water Commission, and certain programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Subcommittee advocates cost effective water infrastructure improvements that provide jobs and an economic return on investments.
Establishing a Reasonable Water Quality Agenda for the Nation: The Administration and some special interests are pursuing a costly, unrealistic and unattainable water quality agenda that favors confrontation and litigation over environmental improvement. Examples of excessive EPA regulation and overreach include extremely stringent and expensive total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and water quality standards on states; burdensome wastewater discharge standards and stormwater requirements for local governments and utilities; and strict regulatory restrictions on farmers, foresters, developers, power generators, water resource managers, mining operations, commercial vessels, and others. Preventing an unreasonable and burdensome regulatory agenda will ensure that taxes for small businesses, families and individuals do not increase, and will protect employers’ ability to create new jobs.
Preventing Dramatic Expansion of the Clean Water Act: On June 7, 2012, the Committee approved bipartisan legislation (H.R. 4965), introduced by Full Committee Chairman John L. Mica, Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs, and others, preventing the Obama Administration and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing a dramatic and unlawful expansion of federal jurisdiction over waters, wet areas and land use decisions in the United States. This massive federal power grab was previously the subject of failed legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses, but now the Administration is attempting to achieve its expansionist regulatory agenda by ignoring the proper federal regulatory process. (more information)
Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011 (H.R. 2018): Introduced by Full Committee Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall, Subcommittee Chairman Gibbs, and others, this bipartisan legislation amends the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore the long-standing balance between federal and state partners in regulating the nation’s waters, and preserve the system of cooperative federalism established under the CWA in which the primary responsibilities for water pollution control are allocated to the states. It also restricts EPA’s ability to second-guess or delay a state’s permitting and water quality certification decisions under the CWA once EPA has already approved a state’s program. (more information)
The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011: Another initiative to prevent costly overregulation by EPA is H.R. 872, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011. This bill, introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Gibbs, would reverse a costly and needless court ruling to require farmers, ranchers, forest managers, state agencies, city and county municipalities, mosquito control districts, water districts, and others to obtain a duplicative permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for the use of pesticides. The use of pesticides is already highly regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and requiring further permits under the Clean Water Act simply isn’t necessary. Adding a burdensome federal regulatory hurdle to activities that are already properly regulated will drive up costs without any true environmental benefit. (more information)
Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund: We must do more with less to improve our nation’s infrastructure, and the Committee is examining ways to ensure that all funds coming into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used to provide maintenance dredging of our harbors. Trust Fund revenues are derived from fees paid by shippers. However, while hundreds of millions of dollars come into the Trust Fund every year, Congress typically uses only half of those funds for their intended purpose. As a result our ports are often not maintained at their authorized depths and widths. We must properly employ all of these trust funds to invest in harbor maintenance so that ships carrying imports and exports are able to move as efficiently as possible in this global economy.
Levee Safety: In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Corps and FEMA have been strictly enforcing rules and requiring levee owners to certify that their levees would perform as expected. Some local governments have found it difficult and costly to comply with the required investigations and potential repairs in the short amount of time allowed. These areas run the risk that FEMA will ignore the existence of their levees and force their citizens to pay for flood insurance. The Committee will examine ways to ensure that cities and towns have the time and the means to get their levees investigated and, if necessary, repaired.
Chairman Mica Tours Midwest Flood Damage
On August 19th and 20th, 2011, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (FL-07) joined Rep. Kristi Noem (SD-01), Rep. Lee Terry, (NE-02), Rep. Tom Latham (IA-04), and other local leaders as they investigated flood damage along the Missouri River’s dam and reservoir system.
This year’s record flooding along the Missouri River in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas dislocated thousands of residents and caused damage estimated to be in excess of $2 billion. The communities in the upper Missouri Basin experienced significant disruptions in commerce and impaired infrastructure, as well as many substantial transportation challenges. Some areas of South Dakota have experienced more than 100 days of continuous flooding from the Missouri River. In Iowa, over 60 miles of primary highway have been closed for more than two months due to the flooding. Rail transportation in the region has also been impacted. The airport in Omaha, Nebraska remains open only because of the extraordinary flood fighting efforts of the local officials.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s jurisdiction includes issues related to flood damage reduction and disaster preparedness, as well as waterborne and surface transportation. This visit allowed Chairman Mica and other Members of the Committee to see firsthand the impacts of the severe flooding that the Midwest has faced. Meetings were held to evaluate the response to the flooding and to chart a path to recovery. Participants at the forum held in Pierre, South Dakota included representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, and State and local officials. The Corps of Engineers, which controls the reservoirs, explained that their unprecedented releases of water were necessary after May, June, and July were three of the top five wettest months in recorded history. Corps leaders agreed to examine this event carefully this Fall to see if improvements can be made to how the system is managed in the future. More pictures here
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
B-370A Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515