IRPT Annual Conference - April 23-25, 2019 - Baton Rouge, LA

National Waterways Conference News Alert

National Waterways Conference News Alert

News Alert

January 21, 2019

In this issue

  • House T&I Committee assignments
  • WRDA 18 Implementation
  • Legislative Summit registration reminder

House T&I Committee Assignments

Incoming Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) announced the selection of Democratic Members to serve on the Committee in the 116th Congress. Selections were made by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and approved by the Democratic Caucus.

New Democratic Members are new to the committee are: Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA-8), Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Rep. Anthony Brown (MD-4), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ-9), Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7), Rep. Colin Allred (TX-32), Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3), Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-1), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-4), Rep. Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-1), Rep. Angie Craig (MN-2), Rep. Harley Rouda (CA-48). Returning members include: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (MD-7), Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-2), Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Rep. Daniel Lipinski (IL-3), Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-8), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-4), Rep. André Carson (IN-7), Rep. Dina Titus (NV-1), Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Rep. Jared Huffman (CA-2), Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26), Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Del. Stacey Plaskett (USVI).

Chairman DeFazio has not announced either the subcommittee chairs or the subcommittee members.

New T&I Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) has announced the subcommittee ranking members. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) will serve as ranking member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. He replaces Rep. Garrett Graves (R-LA) who served as subcommittee chairman during the 115th Congress. Graves now heads to the Aviation subcommittee as ranking member.

Rep. Sam Graves also announced the Republican Members selected to serve on the full committee. Those selections must be ratified by the Republican Steering Committee. New members to the committee are: Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL), Rep. Ross Spano (FL-15), Rep. Pete Stauber (MN-08), Rep. Carol Miller (WV-03), Rep. Troy Balderson (OH-12), Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Rep. Greg Pence (IN-06). Returning members are: Rep. Don Young (AK-AL), Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-01), Rep. Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-11), Rep. Thomas Massie (KY-04), Rep. Mark Meadows (NC-11), Rep. Scott Perry (PA-10), Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07), Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36), Rep. Garret Graves (LA-06), Rep. David Rouzer (NC-07), Rep. Mike Bost (IL-12), Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14), Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-11), Rep. Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Rep. John Katko (NY-24), Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18), Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-08).

Subcommittee assignments have not been announced yet.

WRDA 18 Implementation

In a press release issued last month, the Corps invited interested parties to submit written comments on various provisions of WRDA 18 to be considered during the development of implementation guidance. NWC met with Corps headquarters to request that the Corps provide more meaningful engagement for WRDA implementation, and not simply the opportunity to submit written comments. Subsequently, after discussions with our Legislative Policy Committee, we sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) reiterating our request.

Copied below is the text of that letter. Several of our members have sent similar requests. If you would like to support the request, please send your email to Dave Leach at david.j.leach5.civ@mail.mil

The current deadline for submitting written comments is February 12. As the Leg Policy Committee considers our comments, please send any feedback or reference any specific provisions you’d like mentioned.

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January 9, 2019

The Honorable R.D. James

Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

108 Army Pentagon (3E446)

Washington, DC 20310-0108

 

Dear Secretary James:

I am writing in response to the press release issued on December 14, 2018, seeking input on the development of implementation guidance for various provisions of the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA 18). As described therein, interested stakeholders are provided an opportunity to submit written comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their consideration. Comments are due on February 12, 2019.

On behalf of the National Waterways Conference, Inc., I would respectfully request that you consider offering additional opportunities to submit input during this process. In particular, we would request that the Corps hold public meetings to offer face-to-face discussions. This option would provide for the type of constructive engagement contemplated by WRDA 18. While we share your goal to issue implementation guidance in an expeditious manner, a reasonable extension of the time period by which to submit comments, coupled with public meetings, would be more consistent with the intent of Congress expressed in WRDA 18, rather than simply accepting written comments in a non-participatory proceeding. For instance, a modest extension of 60 days would both permit the type of public discussions contemplated and achieve the goal of finalizing the guidance in a timely manner. Similar discussions held by other agencies in recent years, including FEMA’s outreach seeking feedback on the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, the Maritime Administration’s hosting of discussions to frame a National Maritime Strategy, USDA’s public engagement on farm bill implementation, and the recently delayed public hearing to solicit input on a revised definition of “waters of the United States,” could all provide guidance in structuring WRDA meetings.

By way of background, during the process to develop the guidance to implement the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, (WRRDA 2014), the Corps held a series of webinars soliciting input. In general, while stakeholders were appreciative of the opportunity, there was widespread sentiment that a more meaningful process would be more effective. NWC’s comments at that time stated:

“In addition to the listening sessions and the opportunity to submit written comments, a forum for candid conversation and an open and transparent exchange of ideas would provide for a more robust process. A true dialogue with subject matter experts from the Corps would elicit more meaningful feedback, leading to more effective stewardship of the nation’s water resources. Many provisions of WRRDA require consultation, coordination, and the opportunity to provide comment by processes which contemplate more formal and interactive discussions than provided by listening sessions and written comments. We respectfully request that the Corps consider utilizing those processes to provide for a more meaningful strategic engagement with its stakeholders.”

That sentiment is even more applicable to WRDA 2018. While Section 1105 (of WRDA 18) provides for public notice and the opportunity to submit comments, that provision goes even further than the two prior WRDAs. Section 1105(b)(1)(B) provides an opportunity for interested non-Federal stakeholders to “engage” with the Corps on the development and issuance of guidance, which contemplates more than simply the submission of written comments. Even more significant, section 1105(c)(2) allows the Corps “to reach out to non-Federal stakeholders and circulate drafts of implementation guidance . . .for informal input and recommendations.” These two provisions, for which NWC strongly advocated, clearly contemplate a more interactive process.

House Report 115-708, discussing Section 115 from H.R. 8, which was the provision enacted into law in the final bill, states:

“The Committee reemphasizes the need to engage with non-Federal project sponsors and their associated representatives to coordinate and consult on implementation guidance. This bill directs the Corps to adopt an open process to gather input and initiate a dialogue with those non-Federal sponsors who have a stake in how programs and activities are carried out. Hosting one-way communications through Webinars and other non-participatory forums jeopardizes the necessary modifications and adjustments to the Corps programs and activities that are authorized in WRDAs. The Corps should work to ensure all non-Federal project sponsor and relevant stakeholders voices are heard and incorporate those considerations and Congressional intent into final implementation guidance.”

Thank you for considering my request. We appreciate your continued commitment to the nation’s water resources. I am available at your convenience to discuss further.

**

Reminder: register now for our 2019 Legislative Summit

Confirmed speakers include The Honorable RD James, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works); Major General Scott Spellmon, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations; USACE Chief of Program Integration Eddie Belk and Chief of Operations and Regulatory Tom Smith; and Alex Herrgott, Executive Director, Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council.

Details on their website, www.waterways.org