May 22 2014
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, voted today in support of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which passed the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support and now awaits the president’s signature. The legislation establishes priorities for the Army Corps of Engineers to manage the backlog of Corps projects, maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. In addition to funding critical infrastructure priorities, the legislation also eliminates $18 billion in wasteful spending.
Importantly, the bill contains provisions to advance stalled flood control projects, including authorization of the Western Sarpy-Clear Creek flood control project. The final conference report mirrors language offered by Senator Fischer to provide needed regulatory relief for Nebraska’s agriculture community.
“I am proud to support this important bill, which will go a long way in moving important projects forward to protect valuable water resources and metropolitan drinking supplies in Nebraska,” said Fischer. “I worked closely on this legislation with my colleagues on the EPW Committee, and I’m pleased the final product passed by Congress includes measures I fought for to prioritize the Western Sarpy-Clear Creek flood control project and prevent unnecessary regulatory overreach impacting Nebraska farmers and ranchers. This bipartisan bill is an example of Congress coming together to set responsible funding priorities by cutting wasteful government spending – exactly what Nebraskans sent me to Washington to do.”
Authorization of Western Sarpy-Clear Creek Project:
WRRDA authorizes necessary funding for the Western Sarpy-Clear Creek flood control project to proceed. Senator Fischer worked closely with three metropolitan area Natural Resource Districts to address needed changes to the law for this flood control project located along the banks of the Platte and Elkhorn Rivers in eastern Nebraska. The area has a significant, long-term flooding problem and levee improvements are needed to provide flood protection to portions of I-80 and Highway 6, hundreds of homes, Nebraska Army National Guard buildings, and drinking water supply infrastructure that supplies drinking water to 50 percent of Nebraska’s population –including the Lincoln and Omaha area.
Fischer Language Providing Relief from EPA’s Costly SPCC Rule:
A bipartisan amendment offered by Senator Fischer to address the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) misguided Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule served as the basis for revised text in the final legislation. EPA’s regulation would affect any facility with a fuel storage capacity of more than 1,320 gallons, which includes a majority of Nebraska farms. The Fischer text provides an immediate 6,000-gallon exemption, with a study to review and determine the most appropriate level of exemption for a farm from all requirements of the rule. In addition, the legislation increases the oil storage threshold to determine whether a professional engineer must certify a facility’s SPCC plan from 10,000 gallons to 20,000 gallons.
Note: WRRDA is the first water resources bill passed by Congress since 2007.