WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) released the following statement after the House passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 Conference Report. Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.) also offered a statement.
Statement from Whip Scalise:
“Today the House passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), which includes important provisions I added that will strengthen flood protection for families and communities in Southeast Louisiana, and improve the navigation projects essential for the economic stability of Louisiana and America’s maritime industry. Along with Members of our Congressional Delegation, I fought hard to secure reforms that protect Louisiana families from being forced to pay bloated tabs when critical flood protection and coastal restoration projects aren’t delivered by the Army Corps of Engineers in a timely and affordable manner.
“I’m also proud to have secured authorizations for deepening Baptiste Collette, the Houma Navigation Canal, and Port Fourchon Belle Pass, all of which will enhance Louisiana’s ability to move commerce on our waterways and strengthen our position as a leading export state and a top producer of our nation’s oil and natural gas. Additionally, this year’s WRDA authorizes a study for the Tangipahoa River that will produce necessary solutions for flooding in the region.
“An investment in Louisiana infrastructure is an investment in the American economy, and I’m glad Congress is supporting the infrastructure projects that are so important to our state and nation.”
Statement from Congressman Garret Graves:
“This legislation comes on the tail-end of a hurricane season where Louisiana was threatened by seven major tropical storms or hurricanes – a reminder why it’s critical that we continue pushing for stronger flood protection and projects to restore the coast and revitalize our economy.
“I was proud to offer a number of key provisions in this bill to improve our state’s resilience – authoring provisions to lower payments for the Katrina-era Hurricane Protection System (which will save the state more than half a billion dollars), reengage the Corps in the management of the Louisiana Coastal Area ecosystem (restoring our coast), a transformational study of the Lower Mississippi River’s management (other tools to manage water flows), as well as supporting the authorization to construct key local projects. These wins will ensure that the state is able to continue to invest in protecting our communities and restoring our coasts, and I want to thank Congressmen Scalise and Richmond, and Governor Edwards, for working collaboratively to support these opportunities for our state.
“This year too has shown just how important Louisiana’s coastal and water future is for America’s best interest and long-term economic competitiveness. Our ports and waterways are the vessels that connect dozens of states to global commerce, we take on the nation’s water, and are the powerhouse for seafood and energy to the country. This bill advances Louisiana and our country, and I am looking forward to seeing the Senate amplify our needs before it is signed into law by President Trump.”
Louisiana leaders and stakeholders also praised the passage of WRDA 2020:
“Today’s vote is a major win for the State of Louisiana. WRDA is incredibly important to Louisiana and final passage would provide meaningful relief from nearly $600 million in unfair interest accrual during a decade of delays in the construction of the HSDRRS system that protects five coastal parishes,” said Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Chip Kline. “The House passing this bill today represents the culmination of years of coordination and collaboration with our congressional delegation, and I applaud their efforts to advance this critical legislation.”
“The Greater Lafourche Port Commission applauds the House passage of the Water Resources Development Act,” said Port Fourchon Executive Director Chett Chiasson. “This bill contains authorization to construct the Port Fourchon Belle Pass Channel Deepening project, which is the culmination of more than three years of study conducted by our Port Commission, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and with the final approval of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works. It will enable Port Fourchon to deepen its channels to an initial depth of 30 feet, to accommodate the needs of our tenants in the offshore energy service industry. We will continue to evaluate our future needs and depths, and seek to modify the authorization in the future, as dictated by industry needs. We wish to thank our Congressman Steve Scalise, and the rest of the Louisiana Congressional Delegation for their support over the past three years while we were conducting this study, and for the development and passage of the current Water Resources legislation.”
“The Houma Navigation Canal Deepening authorization is a feat that industry in South Louisiana has waited over two decades to achieve,” said David Rabalais, Executive Director of the Terrebonne Port Commission. “An additional five feet of depth is critical in a very competitive market. Terrebonne Port’s partnership with LADOTD along with the CORP’s New Orleans District worked diligently for many years to get the study to DC. Once received, Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation did an awesome job of getting the approvals needed for the study to be placed in the WRDA Bill. I especially want to thank Congressman Steve Scalise and Congressman Garrett Graves who both continued to push this project along even when it didn’t look like we would get there.”
“We are excited to learn of the passage of this bill,” said Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller. “We are extremely thankful to Congressman Scalise for working diligently on the behalf of the residents of Tangipahoa Parish. This study will provide the data in order to begin major projects to reduce flooding to our residents.”
The 2020 WRDA Conference Report includes a number of provisions that benefit flood protection and waterway navigation in Louisiana’s First District, including:
- HSDRRS Renegotiation – Language that allows the State to renegotiate the terms of the deferred payment agreement for the hurricane protection system around New Orleans, which has experienced significant delays. Options for renegotiation include forgiveness of interest, recalculation of the interest rate, credit for investments made by the non-federal sponsor, and allowing the State’s contribution to be made without interest.
- Tangipahoa Flood Study – Authorization of a feasibility study for flood risk management in Tangipahoa Parish.
- Baptiste Collette Deepening Authorization – Authorizes the deepening of Baptiste Collette from current depths of 14 feet in the inner reach and 16 feet in the outer reach to depths of 22 and 24 feet respectively.
- Port Fourchon Belle Pass Deepening Authorization – Authorizes the deepening Of Belle Pass to provide access to the port’s planned deep-water facility for rig repair and refurbishment.
- Houma Navigation Canal Deepening Authorization – Authorizes the deepening of the Houma Navigation Canal from 15ft to 20ft.