Issue 244

May 22, 2006

 

In this issue:

 

WRDA update

FY2007 Energy & Water Appropriations update

Register for PNWA Mid-Year Meeting

US DOT/WS DOT Freight Financing Workshop



WRDA update


The Water Resources & Development Act (WRDA) may finally be showing signs of life in the Senate, after being stalled for over one year. We are pleased to report that the Democratic and Republican cloakrooms have recently �hotlined� a new version of the Senate WRDA bill (S.728). �Hotlining� a bill allows the leadership of both parties to determine if there are any holds on the bill, whether any members would like to offer amendments. Once these items are known, the leadership can cobble together an agreement on the number of amendments, how much debate will be allowed, etc. We are also pleased to report that a number of PNWA member projects and issues have been updated in the new version of the bill, to reflect language preferred by PNWA.

The House passed their WRDA bill (H.R.2864) by a vote of 406 � 14 on July 14, 2005. The Senate version of WRDA (S.728) was reported out of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee on April 13, 2005. It has since been stalled, and has not been scheduled for floor debate or a full Senate vote. Corps reform and controversy over a few large projects have heretofore prevented WRDA from reaching the floor of the Senate for the past year. And recently, $2 billion in Louisiana water projects have been proposed for authorization and funding as part of the supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq and Katrina. By moving these projects forward through the supplemental, rather than WRDA, some of the momentum could be lost for WRDA.

The last WRDA bill was passed in 2000. Typically, it is biennial legislation, and it is now approaching four years overdue. PNWA strongly supports the passage of a WRDA this year, and has joined with other navigation and economic development groups nationwide to encourage the Senate leadership to schedule this bill for floor time and a vote. PNWA was successful in securing the signatures of all six Northwest Senators on a WRDA support letter signed by 80 Senators, which was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Frist in early February. For a copy of the letter, visit www.pnwa.net.

PNWA urges Congress to bring the new Senate WRDA bill to the floor for a vote. WRDA needs to pass this year.

For a full copy of all PNWA supported language in the two WRDA bills, visit www.pnwa.net.

Staff contact: Kristin Meira, 503-234-8556 or email Kristin

 

FY2007 Energy & Water Appropriations update


The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee marked up their FY2007 appropriations bill (H.R.5427) on Thursday, May 11 th, and the full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill on Wednesday, May 17 th. The House bill sets overall Corps funding at $5 billion, which is $251 million above the President�s request, but $345 million below last year�s level when adjusted for funding in emergency supplemental spending bills. The bill will now head to the House floor for a vote, after which it will be forwarded to the Senate for the same process.

Perhaps the most important element in the house appropriations bill is the funding of operations and maintenance (O&M) on a regional basis. Even though the President�s budget reflected O&M regionally as well as for individual projects, the House bill does not specify funding on a project basis. PNWA is very concerned that the House has chosen to take a regional/watershed approach in funding Corps O&M projects, for several reasons:

  • Region 17 (Pacific Northwest) is an enormous and unwieldy lumping of disparate projects, and is described as all projects falling in �the drainage within the United States that ultimately discharges into: (a) the Straits of Georgia and of Juan DeFuca, and (b) the Pacific Ocean within the states of Oregon and Washington; and that part of the Great Basin whose discharge is into the state of Oregon. Includes all of Washington and parts of California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.�
  • The House�s regional approach could result in serious delays for Corps funded projects. The House bill requires the Corps is to inform the House and Senate, within 30 days of enactment, how they plan to allocate regional pots of money among all of the projects within each region. This plan would then have to be approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. This essentially duplicates the long-standing budgeting processes already in place, wherein the Corps submits their budget to OMB and the White House, who then send a budget to the Congress. The Corps budget submitted to Congress by the White House for FY2007 reflected funding three different ways: by business line, by region, and by project. Another layer of review and consultation between the Corps and Congress, after the appropriations bill is already signed into law, will undoubtedly result in serious delays to Corps projects. This is especially troubling, as the Energy & Water appropriations bill is typically one of the last appropriations bills to be signed into law each year, and sometimes is so late that it is rolled into an omnibus funding bill after the new fiscal year has already begun.
  • An eventual conference between the House and Senate bills could prove to be difficult. Though the House has chosen to reflect funding by region, it is thought that the Senate appropriations subcommittee will provide funding on a project by project basis, as has traditionally been the case.

PNWA strongly supports the reflection of funding by project, as this is the clearest way in which Congress can indicate its wishes for Corps projects, and will not lead to any further delays in carrying out Congress� directives once the final appropriations bill is passed and signed into law.

Of the twenty-one regions around the country, Region 17 (Pacific Northwest) is one of six regions that had funding reductions in the House bill, when compared with the President�s budget. Region 17 received $9.5 million less than was in the President�s budget ($242.593 million vs. $252.093 million). Because this is a regional appropriation, it appears that it would be up to the Corps to determine where to make specific project reductions. The Committee did not indicate where it wanted the cuts to be applied. The only specific funding directives included for our region are $85 million for Columbia River Fish Mitigation, an additional $500K in funding for Coos Bay, and $2M for Benson Beach dredge material placement.

In the general investigations category, we are pleased to report that the Lower Columbia River Ecosystem Restoration received $200K in the House bill, as compared to the $100K in the President�s budget. Also, the Elliott Bay Seawall project, which was zeroed out in the President�s budget, has received $225K in the House bill.

The President�s budget was released on February 6th. When compared with general funding levels for Northwest navigation projects in previous years, the levels included in the budget this year showed an overall improvement. However, shortfalls still remain. We will continue to keep you informed, now that the field of play shifts to the Senate Appropriations committee.

For a full listing of PNWA�s supported energy & water appropriations projects, please visit www.pnwa.net.

Staff contact: Kristin Meira, 503-234-8556 or email Kristin

 

Register for PNWA Mid-Year Meeting


Join us for our Mid-Year Meeting at the Salishan Lodge & Conference Center on the Oregon Coast , June 21-23. Hotel room block has been extended until May 26th!

Our Luncheon Keynote Speaker will be Mike Carrier, Natural Resources Policy Advistor from the State of Oregon. Mike will be speaking on "The State of Oregon's Approach to Meeting Endangered Fish Needs on the Oregon Coast and the Columbia/Snake River System"

There will also be several key U.S. Corps of Engineers speakers, Karen Durham-Aguilera, Director, Programs and Carol Angier, Civil Work Deputy to discuss project funding, endangered species and other regional issues.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to meet and greet key players that affect the future of your region.

Register at www.pnwa.net.

 

US DOT/WS DOT Freight Financing Workshop


The US Department of Transportation�s Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Maritime Administration are pleased to announce a partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation�s Office of Freight Strategy and Policy. The agencies are co-hosting a Freight Financing Workshop in Seattle on June 20, 2006.

Where: Jackson Federal Office Building, 4th Floor North Auditorium,

When: Tuesday, June 20, 2006, from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM

For more information regarding this workshop please contact Lyn McClelland
Maritime Administration Seattle Office 206-220-7717 or email Lyn Mcclelland