SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS' AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S BUDGETS AND PRIORITIES FOR FY 2002
WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
MAY 2, 2001
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin, Vice-Chair
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
STEPHEN HORN, California
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
MIKE ROGERS, Michigan
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
HENRY E, BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTODD RUSSELL PLATTS, Pennsylvania
MIKE FERGUSON, New Jersey
SAM GRAVES, Missouri
C.L. (BUTCH) OTTER, Idaho
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON, Texas
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
CORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
SHELLEY BERKLEY, Nevada
BRAD CARSON, Oklahoma
JIM MATHESON, Utah
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
STEPHEN HORN, California
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
DOUG BEREUTER, Nebraska
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
HENRY E. BROWN, Jr., South Carolina
BRIAN D. KERNS, Indiana
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana, Vice-Chair
C.L. (BUTCH) OTTER, Idaho
JOHN ABNEY CULBERSON, Texas
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
DON YOUNG, Alaska
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
JUANITA MILLENDER-MCDONALD, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Flowers, Lieutenant General Robert B., Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C., accompanied by Major General Hans A. Van Winkle, Director of Civil Works, Washington, D.C.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Tornblom, Claudia L., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, Management and Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Civil Works, Washington, D.C.
Whitman, Hon. Christine Todd, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Blumenauer, Hon. Earl, of Oregon
Menendez, Hon. Robert, of New Jersey
Millender-McDonald, Hon. Juanita, of California
Pascrell, Hon. Bill, Jr., of New Jersey
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Flowers, Lieutenant General Robert B
Tornblom, Claudia L
Whitman, Hon. Christine Todd
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
Flowers, Lieutenant General Robert B., Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
Fiscal Year 2002 Direct Program table
List of projects that make up the Construction General backlog
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCResponses to questions from Rep. Gilchrest
Fiscal Year 2002 Operation and Maintenance General Navigation Projects, chart
Responses to questions from Rep. Menendez
Response to a question from Rep. Lipinski
Responses to questions from Rep. Duncan
Responses to questions from Rep. Pombo
Responses to questions from Rep. Brown
Responses to questions from Rep. Blumenauer
Horn, Hon. Stephen, a Representative in Congress from California, letter to Administrator Whitman on behalf of the Coalition for Practical Regulation, and letter from the Coalition for Practical Regulation to Rep. Horn
Otter, Hon. C.L. ''Butch'', letter to Administrator Whitman, May 1, 2001
Whitman, Hon. Christine Todd, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
Letter to Dennis A. Dickerson, Executive Officer, California Regional Water Quality Control Board from Alexis Strauss, Director, Water Division, December 19, 2000
Responses to questions from Rep. Duncan
Responses to questions from Rep. Pombo
Responses to questions from Rep. Baker
Response to a question from Rep. Brown
THE ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS' AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY'S BUDGETS AND PRIORITIES FOR FY 2002
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Wednesday, May 2, 2001
House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Washington, D.C.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:30 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John J. Duncan, Jr. [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. DUNCAN. I want to welcome everyone to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. The subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on the fiscal year 2002 budgets and to hear about the priorities of the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Members will have the opportunity to examine the Administration's fiscal and program priorities and raise matters of concern to their districts.
To accommodate everyone's schedule, we will begin with the Army Corps of Engineers. EPA Administrator Whitman will join us at about 11 o'clock.
The Army Corps is represented here today by Deputy Assistant Secretary Tornblom and Lt. General Flowers. They are accompanied by Major General Van Winkle, Director of Civil Works, and Mr. Vining, Chief of the Programs Management Division.
As veterans of three budget hearings already in the last few days, I don't suppose that they will hear any question today that will surprise them. Of course, this will give some of our members a chance to raise some concerns that they have in particular.
The fiscal year 2002 budget request for the Corps is 14 percent less than the fiscal year 2001 enacted levels. This has raised some real concern on the part of many people. We know that fiscal year 2001 was a very good year for the Corps with an increase in funding over prior years. But increased funding is necessary if the Corps is going to fulfill its traditional missions of navigation and flood protection and take on new missions such an environmental restoration.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Currently, the Corps claims to have a construction backlog of $40 billion. But the budget requested for fiscal year 2002 is only $3.9 billion. At this rate it would take a decade to complete just those Corps projects that have already been started, without meeting any emerging needs of taking on any new large environmental restorations.
In the meantime, the balances in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and the Inland Waterways Trust Fund are increasing because we are collecting more in taxes from the shipping industry than we are spending on navigation projects.
Under the President's budget request in fiscal year 2002, the balance of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is projected to grow almost $200 million to $1.89 billion.
The Inland Waterways Trust Fund is projected to grow by approximately $50 million to $409 million, a total of close to $2.5 billion in these two funds.
Although the balances are somewhat lower, the same principle should apply to these trust funds as applies to the Highway Trust Fund and Airport and Airway Trust Fund. We should not collect taxes for the specific purpose and then use those revenues to offset other Federal spending or mask the size of the Federal debt.
We have significant port and waterways infrastructure needs in this country. We rely on our ports and waterways to move goods to and from and around our country. Congestion in our ports and waterways decreases our competitiveness in the global marketplace and increases the costs of good here at home.
My goal, and I think the goal of the subcommittee and the staff is to address these issues by increasing investment in our nation's ports and waterways and decreasing congestion in water transportation.
I hope that the Corps of Engineers will be our partner in meeting this goal.
Turning to the EPA budget, I believe that our hearing today is Administrator Whitman's first opportunity to explain the fiscal year 2002 budget of the Environmental Protection Agency. Although EPA's budget is 6.4 percent less than fiscal year 2001 funding levels, it is the same as the fiscal year 2001 budget request.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Like the Corps, I expect that Administrator Whitman will hear concerns over EPA's funding level, particularly the funding levels for wastewater infrastructure. Once again, the subcommittee is concerned about the Administration's budget request for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
Although the fiscal year 2002 request is an increase over requests of the past two fiscal years, when compared to the fiscal year 2001 enacted levels, the Administration has proposed a $500 million cut in the Clean Water State Revolving funds. We have already heard some testimony about that at one of our prior hearings and we need to look into that.
To the credit of the Administration, the Administration is proposing $450 million for grants to municipalities to address combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows, bringing total wastewater infrastructure funding up to $1.3 billion.
This subcommittee hopes to see funding for the Clean Water State Revolving funds restored, while keeping the funding for sewer grants. We also would like to ensure that those grants are directed to communities where the needs are greatest.
The Administration's proposal to allow $450 million in grant funding to all 50 States in accordance with the SRF funding formula does not focus this funding on combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflow infrastructure needs and spreads the funding so thin that it becomes almost irrelevant.
We are looking forward to fiscal year 2003 and beyond, I hope Administrator Whitman will work with this subcommittee to develop a plan for addressing our nation's water infrastructure needs and make a renewed Federal commitment to help States and communities meet those needs.
I have several questions on things that I am concerned about with both the Corps and EPA. We will get into those later.
I will now go to Mr. Blumenauer for any statement that he wishes to make.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your having this hearing and I appreciate the Corps being here. I do have a formal statement that I will submit for the record.
I would just make three references, if I could. One, I was privileged to share the dais with General Flowers a couple of weeks ago in Portland. He made what I thought was a forceful and compelling statement about his vision of the future for the Corps of Engineers in terms of its commitment to sustainability, to a broad concept of environment protection and being a full partner for livable communities.
I wanted to say that I deeply appreciated the statement. I said then and I will reiterate now that my commitment over the next two years is to work with you to make sure this Congress is a full partner with you in realizing that vision for an environmental sensitive and long terms perspective of the Corps of Engineers.
I have been sharing your speech and referencing it on the Web repeatedly.
Second, Mr. Chairman, I would hope that we could explore some areas that I think Congress really hasn't done quite enough. In the context of this budget, looking at things like unexploded ordnance and cleaning up some of the wastes from military activities, are areas where I think is important to keep the commitment with our communities.
Every State in the union has a problem that is related to this. Congress, sadly, has sort of been missing in action. It hasn't given the resources to the Corps and to the Department of Defense to help restore the health of our communities. I am hopeful that in the course of our work we can do something in that regard.
Last but not least, I am hopeful that we can continue to focus on ways that the Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the Federal agencies and Congress can be partners in preventing disasters before they occur. Approaches like Project Impact, can help before the fact and will save a lot of time and money in the future.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I appreciate the statements we have heard from the administration looking at a broader view of some of these issues. I look forward under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, and that of my colleague, Mr. DeFazio, that this committee can help the Corps realize that vision.
I appreciate your courtesy.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Blumenauer.
We will go next to Chairman Boehlert, the former Chairman of this subcommittee and now Chairman of the full Science Committee for any statement.
We are pleased to have you here with us.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to welcome General Flowers. We have had a good conversation in our office and I look forward to working constructively and cooperatively with you.
I don't want to mix Transportation Committee metaphors too much, but when it comes to water, our nation is at the crossroads. We face enormous water and water transportation infrastructure needs. There is also a growing recognition that we need to improve environmental decision making so that it is more integrated and science-based.
It won't surprise you that I am for science-based decision making. So is everybody else in this town except when the science-based leads to a politically inconvenient conclusion. Then they look for some other approach.
We need leadership, I think, that is bold and innovative. I could go on with a long statement. I will not. But one seed I would like to plant, General, I would like the Corps to continue to consider peer review and merit-based decision making on projects.
Some people are afraid of that. I am not. I welcome that. We use it very effectively with the National Science Foundation. I think we could use it very effectively with the Corps. You can't do it overnight. You can pilot projects, work it out together. But I think it would insulate you from some potential problems and would give you a greater degree of assurance that we are doing the right thing for the right reasons.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, I want to welcome you all. I look forward to working with you.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your indulgence.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Chairman Boehlert.
We will turn now to the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I regret that I was a few minutes late and missed some of the other opening statements. Just on reflecting on Mr. Blumenauer and Mr. Boehlert's statements, I think certainly we can always do better. I have met with numerous representatives of the Corps to discuss the possibility of some reforms and new efficiencies, you know, taking a second look at some of the parts of the mission and I would echo some of the statements they made.
But more generally, I would like to comment on this budget and the one we will hear later. You know, there is a point at which we have to question pursuing one political goal to the detriment of a whole lot of things that are important to the American people.
I think that what we are going to hear in these hearings today is that we do not have a budget which is adequate to fully meet the mission of the Corps, a mission I think would be widely agreed upon by divergent members of the committee, despite concerns they might have with some aspects of past Corps operations.
The same with the Environmental Protection Agency budget, which we will get into a little bit later. The Corps budget will be down fourteen percent from 2001 levels. I just don't think that can be justified. We just had massive floods.
I find it ironic, that the head of FEMA was chastising Davenport, Iowa, for not having a permanent dike system in place, which would, of course, cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.
Yet, at the same time, projects that are important to my district and many other districts are being slowed down to the point of where we don't have any new starts. I have one particular project in my district, which is of tremendous environmental benefit. I have been working to get it going for a dozen years. It is going.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This year I think the budget will allow for one guy to go up there with a bucket and mix his own cement and pour cement on a daily basis. It is not adequate. No one can make the argument that this is a good way to do the agreed upon priorities of the Corps of Engineers.
We are having a drought in the northwest. That means a heck of a lot more shoaling. But we are cutting the dredging budget. Do these things make sense? Well, they might make sense in a single-minded pursuit of maximizing the titular surplus in order to maximize the tax cuts which will flow mostly to a few people at the top.
It is not going to help my fishermen get over the bar. Their $47 in tax cut is not going to help them get their boat over the bar. The few dollars that my people, fishers and environmentalists and others, who are concerned about water temperatures and salmon recovery in the Willamette Basin with their $50 or $100 are not going to be able to do anything to help speed up the construction of the cooling tower which is going to help the salmon recovery.
So, at some point we are doing things to the detriment of society, things that can only be done collectively as a society where all our small contributions add up to major improvements in our quality of life. And we are walking away from those things. I have tremendous concern about that and I will be pressing the Corps a bit on those issues this morning.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. Brown, do you have any opening statement?
Mr. BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Being from the coast of South Carolina, we have like 150 miles of oceanfront that comes in. I know one of the concerns that we have down there is beach renourishment. I know that there is a move afoot to try to change the ratio between what the Federal government contributes and what the locals contribute. Now the match is some 65 percent for the Federal and 35 percent local.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I certainly would like to see that addressed. I know it is an undue hardship on the coastal region already, with the other infrastructure needs being highways and water and sewer and police protection for those tourists that come down.
I would hope that we would rethink the percentages that are required by the locals and hope we can maintain the 65. At one time it was 75-25, so, Mr. Chairman, sometime during the deliberations I would like to get a response back on that.
Another area that we were concerned with is in the Horry County region where after the Hurricane Floyd we had a tremendous amount of flooding in that area. We had set a study to determine what alternatives we might have to divert the water in a 100-year type flood plane in some other direction so that we would prevent the flooding from occurring.
General, thank you for being with us today.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Brown.
Mr. Pascrell said he didn't have any opening statement.
Mr. Berry, do you have any statement at this time?
Mr. BERRY. I just want to welcome the delegation from the Corps of Engineers. I have always been a great fan of what you do, considering that I live in a place that does have a levy and we want to keep it maintained.
I don't like flooding either. That levy keeps me from getting flooded. So, we appreciate what you do and we are glad you are here.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. Kerns, do you have a statement?
Mr. KERNS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to thank the Corps also for being here. I had a good working relationship in my prior role as chief of staff to Congress Pease.
General Flowers, I last saw you down at the Lower Mississippi Flood Control Association meeting. What a great team you have. You participate in that every year.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you. I look forward to working with you.
That is all, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. MASCARA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the Ranking Member, Mr. DeFazio also for holding these very important hearings.
I would like to welcome the delegation from the Corps. The Corps has been good to my district. I appreciate the fine work that you do for the American people.
The region of Pennsylvania that I represent relies heavily on its waterways. Due to the geography of the area, there is no other way to move commodities in my district than down the Monongahela River.
In 1998, about 25.5 million tons of commodities passed through my district, the value of which was approximately $1.6 billion. Without the Corps, we would have a serious logistic and economic problem.
The Corps has for years been the backbone of that river, which is the backbone of our local economy, and for that, I thank you.
I am certain there are regions all across this nation that can say the same thing about what the Corps does for them. That is why I find it especially disturbing to see this budget. I have trouble understanding why an agency that has been so successful would go to the chopping block.
I would like to know if this shortfall in funding will have an adverse effect on projects throughout the country generally, and in my Congressional district specifically. We will address those questions when I get an opportunity to ask you some questions.
Thank you again, gentlemen, for coming today.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. LaTourette. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Very briefly, General Van Winkle, it is nice to see you again and everyone else.
I just left the Great Lakes Maritime breakfast. The level of O&M funding for the Corps was a subject of great discussion at that breakfast. The steel industry in the entire United States is suffering badly. That means the iron ore industry is on the line, too, and the mines in Minnesota and other parts of the country.
The observations was made by one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle at this breakfast, expressing concern about this administration's funding request for the O&M account. They pointed out that under the previous administration there was a reduction of $700 million and a further proposed reduction this year.
I would be most interested in hearing from the Corps today similar to what Mr. Mascara was talking about and that is how that is going to impact the viability of the very important programs that the Corps conducts all around the country.
You know it was interesting. I can remember when the previous administration zeroed out the O&M account in one budget submission saying that these were somehow pork projects for Members of Congress. Well, I have never met a Member of Congress that represents a constituency that has been flooded or that can't move commerce of who has boaters where their props are stuck in the mud that considers that to be pork of any kind.
I can't think of a bad water project in the seven years that I have been here in the United States Congress. So, I would very much appreciate the Corps's observations on the budget submission as well as from the administration's point of view.
Just on a personal note, I would tell the other members of the subcommittee that the General was in my office about a month ago making his annual pilgrimage to the Hill. I brought up the fact that we have a small town in northeastern Ohio that has a creek that needs to be dredged. They were running into some difficulties. They said, you can't dredge it because there are wetlands on either side. If you put the dredge material on the bank you are going to impact the wetlands. But you can't take a truck in and haul it out either because you would be driving the truck over the wetlands.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Within 48 hours the General had made sure that that town was contact and the problems were taken care of. I just want to thank you on behalf of my constituents and thank you for all you do.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Ms. Millender-McDonald has joined us. Do you have a statement at this time?
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. Just sitting down, I am here to listen and to learn and to take notes.
Thank you so much.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right, thank you.
We will go ahead and start then with the first panel. The first panel consists of Ms. Claudia Tornblom, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Also, we have Lt. General Robert B. Flowers, Chief of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers. He is accompanied by Major General Hans A. Van Winkle, Director of Civil Works, and Mr. Robert F. Vining, Chief of Programs for the Management Division, Directorate of Civil Works.
We are pleased to have each of you here with us. We do proceed in the order that the witnesses are listed in the call of the hearing. That means, Ms. Tornblom, we will start with you.
You may begin your statement, please.
STATEMENT OF CLAUDIA L. TORNBLOM, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, OFFICE OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, CIVIL WORKS, WASHINGTON, D.C.; AND LIEUTENANT GENERAL ROBERT B. FLOWERS, CHIEF OF ENGINEERS, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, WASHINGTON, D.C., ACCOMPANIED BY MAJOR GENERAL HANS A. VAN WINKLE, DIRECTOR OF CIVIL WORKS, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am here before you today because during this transition I am the senior Army official responsible for the Civil Works Program.
I appreciate the opportunity to testify today on the President's budget for the Civil Works Program of the Army Corps of Engineers for fiscal year 2002.
I will summarize my complete statement and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I ask that the complete statement be entered into the record.
The 2002 Civil Works budget reflects the President's overall goals to slow the growth of Federal spending, provide for a tax cut and reduce the national debt while providing greater emphasis on education and protecting Social Security. The budget requires appropriations of $3.9 billion. In addition to the $3.9 billion in appropriations, about $514 million will be contributed by Bonneville Power Administration, non-Federal cost sharing sponsors, and other additional sources.
In combination, these funding sources will support a total Civil Works program for 2002 of $4.4 billion.
The budget emphasizes the principal Civil Works missions of commercial navigation, flood damage reduction and environmental restoration. The program currently has an active construction backlog of about $40 billion. Of this amount, $26 billion represents the requirements to complete projects currently budgeted for either construction or pre-construction engineering and design. In order to address this backlog, available funding in 2002 is directed toward construction of continuing projects. As a result, no construction or project study new starts are budgeted.
The budget does propose two new national studies that will provide information needed by the Army and the Chief of Engineers to assess potential changes in the Civil Works Program, its policies and procedures. The first of these two studies, which was authorized in Section 223 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, is a 12-year program to monitor the economic and environmental results of up to five projects constructed by the Corps.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The second new national study was authorized by Section 215 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1999. This study will assess the extent, causes and impacts of shoreline erosion on the coastal shores of the United States.
As Congressman Brown mentioned, the 2002 budget presents a new Administration policy toward shore protection projects that involve beach nourishment. For the initial sand placement of these projects, the Administration proposes no change in the current 65 percent Federal, 35 percent non-Federal cost sharing. However, for subsequent periodic renourishment of such projects, the Administration will seek a 65 percent non-Federal share, reducing the Federal share to 35 percent. This policy applies to all periodic nourishment work funded in 2002 and beyond.
Until now, beach nourishment projects started since 1995 have not received budgetary support. Now, due to this policy change, the budget includes funding for projects with 2002 requirements, regardless of when they were started. Altogether, about $82 million is budgeted for beach nourishment projects.
For the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, the budget targets funds to high priority flood damage reduction projects, which a re on the main stem of the Mississippi River and in the Atchafalaya River Basin of Louisiana.
In the Operation and Maintenance Program, the budget gives priority among port and harbor and inland waterway activities to those that support higher commercial navigation use. Funds for operations and maintenance of shallow draft harbors are limited to $47 million. Among shallow draft harbors, subsistence harbors for isolated communities and harbors that involve relatively greater use for commercial cargo and fishing are given a higher priority, while those harbors that are essentially recreational in nature are de-emphasized.
The budget includes $42 million for operation of low commercial use inland waterways, that is, waterways with less than one billion ton miles of traffic per year. Funds for maintenance of low commercial use inland waterways are limited to $25 million for maintenance dredging. Again, these funds are targeted at the waterway segments with relatively greater commercial use.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Recreation user fees will be increased in order to raise 2002 receipts about $10 million to an estimated total of $44 million. This is the first step of a four-year effort to increase recreation user fee receipts by a total of $25 million per year. About $4 million of this amount will be realized by increasing fees under existing authority.
In addition, we plan to transmit proposed legislation to Congress to authorize certain changes in fee collection authorities. All of the increase in fees will be available without further appropriation under this proposal for operation, maintenance and improvement of Corps recreation facilities at areas where they were collected.
We are working closely with the Chief of Engineers to identify opportunities to strengthen the Civil Works planning process. In addition, as indicated in the President's Budget Blueprint, the Army is reviewing options for strengthening the ability of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works to ensure proper policy oversight of project planning. Already, General Flowers and I have agreed to restore the past practice of concurrent vertical involvement of all organizational levels, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary, at critical steps in project formulation.
Mr. Chairman, the Army Corps of Engineers is the premier government agency for water resources project planning, construction and operation, for protection of the nation's waters and wetlands, and for emergency response.
As a decentralized watershed-based organization with strong engineering, environmental and research capabilities, the Corps is very well positioned to continue developing integrated solutions to modern, complex water resources problems.
With the Corps' strong emphasis on technical and analytical approaches to these problems, the Army Civil Works Program is, we believe, a wise investment in the Nation's future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This completes my statement.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Ms. Tornblom.
General FLOWERS. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thanks very much for inviting me to testify about the President's fiscal year 2002 budget for the Civil Works Program.
I have a prepared statement that we furnished and I ask that it be made part of the record.
Before we delve into the budget, let me address the flood situation in the upper Midwest. Floodwaters from the snow melt and heavy spring rains have begun to subside. Homeowners, farmers, business owners and community leaders have begun to assess the damages. They have taken part in many flood fights along the Red, the Minnesota, and the Upper Mississippi Rivers. Their collective efforts have represented a true affirmation of community spirit.
When I was in Davenport, Iowa a week ago, I met local officials together with residents and volunteers as they engaged in a heroic effort to keep flood damages at a minimum. Their homegrown levee held back the floodwaters. I am proud to say that our Army Corps of Engineers provided support and assistance for the flood fighting effort there and elsewhere.
As the cleanup begins, the public dialogue about how best to protect against flood damages resumes. This debate is appropriate and as it goes on, let me assure you of one thing, when your Corps of Engineers was needed, we were there.
I would like to speak of some of our Corps heroes. Laurie Taylor of our St. Paul District began her first day ever of flood duty. She discovered that the small village of Glen Haven, Wisconsin was at risk. Her research indicated that the community would be inundated because the flood would crest one foot higher than the levee that had been built three decades ago. She was on site the next day inspecting the construction of a 600-foot long raise of the levee. Her actions helped save the village.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Meanwhile Kent Peterson and Terry Zien from St. Paul spotted severe erosion at Marsh Lake Dam near Appleton, Minnesota. Wind gusts had driven ice and waves into the dam embankment to create the problem. Later, they found erosion at a difficult-to-reach overflow spillway.
The situation called for urgent repairs. A team of Park Rangers, engineers and contractors assembled and their quick action to repair the damages protected Montevideo, Granite Falls and other downstream communities from additional floodwaters.
I think you can be proud of these public servants. They are 150 strong and their efforts and expertise have paid great dividends for the citizens of our many towns.
While we stayed on course in carrying out missions such as these, we have been surrounded by controversies. When I became Chief last October, I found an organization that was on solid ground. Our very capable men and women have soldiered on to provide sound solutions to our Nation's water resource problems while our credibility has been assailed and our integrity has been challenged.
When I testified before the Senate in March, I offered my reactions to the investigation by our Army Inspector General and the review by the National Academy of Sciences of our Upper Mississippi Navigation Study.
I commented that it was unfortunate that our Inspector General did not have the benefit of the National Academy of Sciences review available when his report was published. I believe he would have taken an entirely different view of the proceedings.
My view is this: If the Inspector General had had that report he would have found good, decent, and honorable people trying to come to grips with both a flawed economic model and insufficient data.
Since then, I have met with a wide spectrum of Americans with different interests and viewpoints. All have thanked me for speaking up for the quality and integrity of the scientific and engineering services that we offer our nation.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me assure you again, the Corps has sound, systematic processes that consistently provide decision makers, the Congress, the Administration, and the American people, with solid recommendations based on sound engineering, scientific fact, and objectivity.
Our intent is to achieve a synergy between economic objectives and environmental values. I submit that the Corps program is subject to more Executive Branch and Congressional oversight than any other Federal activity.
Corps projects are separately authorized by Congress and signed into law. Every project is reviewed annually by both the Administration and the Congress during the appropriations process. Each is also subjected to a benefit-cost ratio that is unique among Federal agencies.
We receive the scrutiny because of our profound impact on the Nation's well being. For example, U.S. deep-water ports, coastal and inland harbors and waterways move 2.3 billion tons of domestic and foreign commerce annually. Flood and shore protection projects prevent $22 billion in damages each year. Over 120,000 acres of aquatic wetland and flood plain ecosystems have been added to the natural habitat since 1998.
The Nation's investment in the Army Corps of Engineers produces a 26 percent annual rate of return and has put $30 billion in tax revenues and savings into the Treasury.
These statistics confirm my belief that the American people have invested wisely in our Nation's water resources infrastructure. Your Corps of Engineers has responded to our Nation's call for over two centuries, from the time when we first explored and mapped the Western frontier to this day when we are helping to save lives and protect property. We have sought to improve the quality of life for our citizens.
Today, however, as our population has increased and our infrastructure has aged, our investment in water resources has decreased. The Corps today has a $40 billion backlog of authorized, unfunded new capital investments that, when implemented, will provide benefits to the American people.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Our critical maintenance backlog amounts to over $800 million a year. As the infrastructure ages, those costs escalate. Have we as a society and as a nation paid enough attention to the future? I say no.
In the report card recently issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation's navigable waterway infrastructure received a D+. We also heard that same answer from 1300 people, a cross-section of concerned stakeholders from all walks of life in all areas of the country, when we went out and listened to their concerns last year.
These listening sessions raised important issues. Examples include the need to make improvements to our water transportation system, the need to manage our flood plains better and the need to restore and protect the environment.
In closing, I am firmly convinced that our Army Corps of Engineers has a critical contribution to make in solving our country's problems, today and in the future. Ours is an organization that has built flexibility into its structure to seek out the best economic, environmental, and social solutions to our Nation's tough jobs.
We strive to bring synergy to problem solving. I am proud that our Nation looks to us when it needs the best.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks. I am prepared to respond to your questions.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, General Flowers. I wondered what the attendance was at the 16 open meetings. But you said you have 1300 people at those 16 sessions. Is that correct?
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. DUNCAN. Well, that was good attendance. I hope, though, that they were more than just feel good sessions. I am curious. Did you learn something? Are you going to or have you made any changes in the way the Corps operates from those sessions?
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What good did they do? I mean are you able to make some improvements in the way the Corps is operated from those sessions?
General FLOWERS. The answer to that is yes, sir. We put the results of the listening sessions on our website, so they are there for all to see if they would like to see the raw data. We have also created an executive summary in a pamphlet form that is available.
We incorporated what we heard in the listening sessions into a new strategic plan for our Civil Works Program. That plan is a draft plan which is now being submitted through the Administration. So, yes, sir, we are making use of it.
Mr. DUNCAN. We can't go to that website right now. Would you tell us about some of those changes?
General FLOWERS. Sir, we made some changes in our procedures for considering early on and opening the dialogue early on as we work our study process. What we heard them say is also, you need to emphasize and work on fixing the infrastructure that is there.
Part of what we are emphasizing in our statement, I think, is the fact that we do have a critical maintenance backlog. I think I made a speech referenced by Mr. Blumenauer where we are working very hard within the organization at developing a set of principles that we will operate by as we move to the future, in both our military and our civil program to work at creating a true synergy between development and the environment. I think we can do that because we are good enough. As we work in the future, those are some of the things that we will be working to change.
Mr. DUNCAN. I understand that the average time to process an individual permit has gone up to 150 days now from 100 days not too long ago. I am wondering, do you see that time going up? Are you going to be able to do something to bring that time down? What is the current status of that?
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. Sir, we are working very hard to bring down the time it takes to process permit applications. We are doing it by gaining a greater visibility over where we have to apply effort and surge it where we can to decrease backlogs where we have a large number of permit requests that come in.
But I have to tell you that our funding for our regulatory program has pretty much been flat-lined for the last few years. With permit requests increasing, it gets tougher and tougher to achieve it.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me ask you this: The Corps has received some criticism over the past year about the way its studies are conducted. You are very familiar with that. Are you considering some changes? I understand that you are at least considering having independent reviews.
Have you set up a process of independent reviews? Are we going to read at some point that some independent consultants are receiving whopping fees or what are you thinking about in that regard?
General FLOWERS. Sir, I testified that I am in favor of establishing a peer review process. I would like to establish a process that would not add any time or expense onto an already very lengthy and very public study process. I think we can do that. So, I am developing a recommendation that I will send to the Administration just as soon as we have a new Secretary appointed. In that recommendation I will urge that we set up a peer review panel that will work concurrently as a study progresses.
Mr. DUNCAN. Another concern I have, ABC National News recently reported that the restoration of the Everglades--and this was based on a GAO report,it says that the estimates a short time ago, were that the total cost of that restoration is $8 billion but now GAO says it is going to cost $11 billion.
According to a report by John Martin on ABC News, he says that nobody is really in charge and that it is in danger of becoming one of the most wasteful projects in the history of the Congress.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, I can tell you that I am in favor of doing projects, but I am also charged with the responsibility of making sure that the taxpayers are not ripped off in some way or that they get the most bang for their buck, so to speak. It has been a Washington shell game for many years to low-ball the cost estimates on all kinds of projects and then they just blow up.
What I am wondering about is this: Was ABC News just totally off base in saying that nobody is in charge of that project? Is the Army Corps in charge of that project and have you looked at it enough to know whether it is going to cost $8 billion as was estimated just a few months ago or $11 billion as the GAO is now saying?
What I am really concerned about is I don't want to read in a few years that the project has cost $20 or $25 billion.
General FLOWERS. Sir, I have not seen the ABC News report, so I don't know where those figures come from. I can tell you this: We are in charge. We will work very hard to make sure that every taxpayer dollar that is invested in that restoration is wisely spent. We have a management plan in place.
We will be prepared to report whenever necessary on the progress, what its costs and projections are. As far as I know, sir, the estimate that we have turned in still stands.
Mr. DUNCAN. The $11 billion comes from a GAO report that apparently has just come out. Have you not seen that GAO report?
General FLOWERS. No, sir, I have not.
Mr. DUNCAN. Would you look at that and get me some type of response as to whether you think they are off base or whatever?
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir. We will respond for the record.
[The information received follows:]
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General Fowers. Chairman Duncan, in response to your question, my staff has reviewed recently completed GAO reports related to the cost estimates for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The $11 billion cost figure appears in GAO's April 1998 report, entitled ''An Overall Strategic Plan and a Decision-Making Process Are Needed to Keep the Effort on Track.'' That estimate, which was developed by GAO staff based on its analyses of the total south Florida restoration programs, was questioned by the Federal agencies response letter to GAO dated April 7, 1999. The Federal agencies determinied that this cost figure included estimates for the CERP, already authorized State and Federal capital projects, and Federal expenditures for the last six years, the majority of which were for routine expenditures like operation and maintenance of existing projects. The Federal agency response to that report affirmed that the current estimate for implementation of the CERP was $7.8 billion. I again affirm that cost estimate for the CERP as authorized in Title VI of the Water Resources Development Act of 2000.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. DeFazio?
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I have quite a number of questions. At this point I am going to defer on the first round to Mr. Blumenauer because our Governor is in town and at least one of us can get to the meeting if he gets to ask his questions.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. Chairman, I would just footnote that Congressman Kind and I have some legislation on peer review and some activities of the Corps. At some point it might be possible for this subcommittee to look at that and some other legislation where we might be able to add our voices.
I appreciate the flexibility that is indicated by the budget submission and the statements of new ways of doing business, of partnerships, prevention and environmental protection. I think that is important in light of some of the new challenges you are going to face.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am one of the people who actually takes seriously the threat of global warming. I spent a portion of the weekend with one of the chairs of one of the monitoring committees. It seems to me, your challenge may get more challenging in a hurry if we have ocean levels increasing, or if we have a wild increase in intense weather incidents.
It raises real questions in my mind about what changes we need to do in terms of standards to which we are constructing. I guess I would put three questions on the table for your consideration now, General, or at some point in the future, in the interest of time.
One, I am encouraged by your looking again at the match ratio for beach nourishment. I wonder if there is a way that we could look at a uniform match provision that actually puts more responsibility on local governments as well as State governments so that they don't try and back the Corps into doing something that may be risky in terms of land use. We probably should have some influence locally in terms of people being full partners.
So I am very interested in exploring what the Administration has. But I wonder if that principle could be expanded broadly so that it is always at least as cheap to restore a wetlands, say, as to pave it and that local governments are going to be full partners in these activities.
My second question deals with the unexploded ordnance and military toxics. I am curious to know if you have any thoughts about what sort of expenditure would be required so that we would at least know the nature of the problem, whether it is 20 million acres or 50 million acres and some semblance of a time frame because we have heard hundreds of years up to something that may last more.
I would like to know what would be a realistic number to at least inventory the problem so that the Congress and the American public know how serious it is.
Finally, I wonder if there might be an opportunity to pursue the important lines of inquiry that you have put forth in your testimony today in a more informal fashion where people might be able to roll up their sleeves and have a little bit of give and take to explore what the Chairman has already identified.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those are three questions that I would appreciate your thoughts and observations on now or at some point in the near future.
General FLOWERS. Sir, I prefer to put a little more thought into these and respond to them in the future.
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Thank you. I yield back my time to Mr. DeFazio.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. Chairman Boehlert.
Mr. BOEHLERT. General Flowers, you talk about the construction backlog of about $40 billion. That is a daunting number. Can you give us some more detailed information on that and the estimated benefits that would derive from those construction activities if we were to proceed with them? Some investments pay bigger dividends than others.
General FLOWERS. Sir, at our last testimony that list was asked for. We are putting that list together of what constitutes the $40 billion backlog. I would be very happy to make that available, sir. What it essentially is are projects that are authorized and the money has not yet been appropriated or in some cases they are projects that have been begun and we are looking for the year-to-year funding to keep them going.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Yes, that would be very helpful to the committee, if we could get more details on that.
General FLOWERS. Sure.
[The listing of projects that make up the Construction General backlog appears on page 76]
Mr. BOEHLERT. As you know from our conversations, I am very interested in peer review. I think the National Science Foundation model is a very good model. I hope that you are taking a look at that in terms of setting up something within the Corps.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Can you share with us anything right now, other than the fact that you are committed to the basic proposition that we should go ahead with the program? Are you talking about a pilot program? Are you talking about something more comprehensive?
I mean I have had a very difficult time. Quite frankly, the last the committee Chairman of the full committee said ''over my dead body.'' That was his response to my suggestion that we examine peer review.
General FLOWERS. Well, at least in my thinking, and I have not yet sent my recommendation to the Administration. That will go up in June. Hopefully, we will have a Secretary by then. But a key idea, and everyone has hit upon it, is that the average length of time it takes for a Corps study to be completed now is probably approaching five years.
Adding peer review on the end of a five-year, very expensive and in most cases cost-shared program
Mr. BOEHLERT. It is my understanding that you want to go forward simultaneously.
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We don't want to add any time. We want to minimize the time.
General FLOWERS. What I would propose would be some sort of a peer review that begins at the beginning of a project. We intend to open the process up as much as we can. At milestones as the project progresses, this peer review board would view what has happened and make their recommendation.
So that at the conclusion of the study, this board, and my recommendation would be that we bring in on the board people from outside the Corps. Up until 1993, we had the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, which was an in-house peer review of all projects.
When projects of a certain criteria were completed and had gone through the study process, they had to appear before this Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors before the Chief would sign the Chief's report. It was a pretty tough grading system, but it added time on the end. I think that is why it was done away with after the advent of cost sharing, because sponsors got tired of paying for that.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, what I would propose is using an organization like the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, having members appointed from that group or nominated from that group combined with some Corps division commanders who are not associated with the project, and have them conduct this in-progress peer review.
I think then the review that comes out, which is done concurrently with the study, will hopefully meet the mark of satisfying everyone that we have had peer review and external review prior to the Chief signing the Chief's report that would then go to the Administration. It would not add on any time and hopefully, not much expense.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Our objective is to get to merit-based decision making.
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. BOEHLERT. This is not a popular theme among some up here, but to get away from having the guy with the biggest political muscles flex them and get what he or she wants and everybody else goes by the board.
Ms. TORNBLOM. Excuse me. If I might add, Mr. Boehlert, as I mentioned in my opening statement, General Flowers and I have already discussed and are implementing the concurrent vertical involvement that was tried a few years ago quite successfully to accomplish just what he described.
So, when there are questions about policy, interpretation and application or analytical assumptions, they can be dealt with early on in the process so time isn't wasted getting started in the wrong direction.
This will also help the Assistant Secretary's office expedite studies while still fulfilling the Secretary of the Army's responsibilities under Title 10 of the Goldwater-Nichols Act. Of course, it will help us jointly in answering any questions from the review that OMB does under the Executive Order.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we put all of these efforts together and start early, our hope is to make the process both efficient and something that we can all step forward and be proud of when the study is done.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Mark me down as deeply interested and anxious to work cooperatively with you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you Chairman Boehlert.
We are going to proceed in the order the Members arrived. That means we will go to Mr. Mascara at this point for any questions he might have.
Mr. MASCARA. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
As I indicated in my opening remarks, I have some concerns about some projects in my Congressional district. I will be more parochial then about the efforts that are being made to do the project on the Lower Monongahela River, which was originally a $705 million project.
In my request, along with some other Members from my area, we requested $75 million in fiscal year 2002. It is indicated to me that in the President's budget the request was granted at $34 million, a sizable $40 million cut.
I was just wondering what impact that would have on that project because the dam at Lock 2 is so old there is a wooden structure under there and we can't even get divers to go down there to take a look at it.
If that should fail, the problems in shipping would just be great to that part of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
The other is that in our letter to Sonny Callahan, the Chairman of the subcommittee, for an additional $8 million to study the main stem system on the Ohio River, there is no money in the President's budget for that.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just wondered whether you wanted to comment on how that will affect those projects.
General FLOWERS. Well, sir, the conscious decision was made to try and continue all projects that were currently underway, but at a reduced funding level just in order to keep all the projects going. Across the board for the Corps, that is about a 50 percent funding from what would be optimum for most efficient conduct of the construction or the work.
So, the average delay on a project will be about ten months. That is across the Corps. If you would like a specific answer on the Monongahela, I am going to ask General Van Winkle. Well, he already answered the question for me. It is about a two-year delay at current funding levels.
Mr. MASCARA. Is everybody aware of the problems there with the dam at Braddock? I think the project includes rebuilding the dam at Braddock and then removing the one at Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and just a stone's throw from where I live in Shalerway, Pennsylvania, the North Shalerway Lock 4 Dam, they are going to upgrade that.
Is there any concern that we might have a failure down there that would cause problems? Do we give any more consideration to a project that could cause interruption in flow of goods on the Monongahela River?
Major VAN WINKLE. Mr. Mascara, I was a former Division Commander in Cincinnati and had charge of that project. As a former Division Commander, I worked independently with the replacement.
I share your concern about a very old lock and dam system. It is one of our older ones. It very much needs repair. I think it is important that we proceed in making those repairs. I think we have an innovative approach in the Braddock Dam. We are using a new technique for construction. We will be able to save a considerable amount of money.
There is always a concern for failures, the safety considerations that occur, the disruption to traffic and the consequences on cost factors in moving, particularly coal, in that area.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We will do all that we can to preclude that. We have very competent engineers and people on site that are doing the best they can. I can't guarantee that there will be no failure. There is always that possibility. But we are working very hard to make sure that doesn't occur.
In the meantime, we will use the money that is allocated in the most effective manner to that very, very important project.
Ms. TORNBLOM. Our difficulty, Congressman, is that the available resources in large part had to be allocated to projects that had construction contracts awarded prior to the beginning of fiscal year 2002.
So, those projects that already had major contracts underway received, perhaps, a relatively more generous portion of the limited funding available.
On some of the other projects, even though we are in full agreement with you on their critical importance, there was not sufficient funding available within our budget to keep those moving on a more efficient schedule.
Mr. MASCARA. In all fairness to President Bush, we had the same problem with President Clinton in his Administration as related to funding of this project. I am just glad to see that you are well aware that there is a problem there and that we could have a major problem on the Monongahela if Braddock should fail.
But you are on top of it. I have faith in the Corps and hopefully we can get that project underway and completed. I hear 2008. I would imagine since we are not budgeting the amounts that have been requested that that again will be pushed back.
So, I thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
Mr. BROWN. Ms. Tornblom, I listened intently about the beach renourishment explanation, but I wasn't quite sure exactly how the projects were going to be prioritized and which would be funded at 65-35.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Let me see if I can reflect what was in your statement. You said the initial renourishment would be 65-35, but any continuing renourishment would be 35 Federal and 65 State. Is that correct? Could you clarify that for me, please?
Ms. TORNBLOM. Certainly, these projects, over a 50 or so year period, the normal project life, there is an initial placement of sand and then at intervals over the 50 years, that beach is renourished as the natural processes and storms erode it.
The switch in the cost sharing is for those subsequent periodic renourishments, not for the initial phase of the project, which we call the initial placement.
Mr. BROWN. Why the change in strategy? Why is it more important to do the first time rather than the second or third time?
Ms. TORNBLOM. It is not a matter of importance, sir. I believe I could best characterize it as the Administration's concern about the long-term obligation of Federal resources to these projects which limits our ability to commit future resources to other types of projects.
This is one of the types of projects that never goes into an O&M phase, Operation and Maintenance. It continues throughout its life in the construction phase with the Federal Government responsible for that.
Since 1986, most projects have been turned over to non-Federal sponsors to be operated and maintained. But beach nourishment projects always stay in this category. Therefore, the Administration thought it was appropriate to make some adjustment in the periodic renourishment cost sharing.
Mr. BROWN. And who would make the determination whether a beach had qualified for renourishment?
Ms. TORNBLOM. That is based on an engineering judgment of whether the beach needs to be restored to meet its initial purposes and provide the protection that it was designed for. Of course, that is subject to the availability of funds.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BROWN. Well, let me ask you another question then. Do you all plan to lessen your standards then for barrier protection to prevent erosion?
Ms. TORNBLOM. This has nothing to do with engineering standards, sir.
Mr. BROWN. But don't they kind of follow? Somehow or other, we must protect our beaches. If we felt like the most environmentally friendly thing to do was to just continue to renourish, without putting the barrier bags or whatever other resources out there to prevent it so I was just kind of concerned.
I really am concerned about the shift of responsibility from the Federal Government back to the locals on an issue that is so important to South Carolina, a relatively small State with a tremendous amount of influx of tourists coming in.
I just feel like that is an undue burden on our local municipalities to have to absorb that kind of additional costs. You know, we have storms every so often, maybe not every year. They have a tremendous impact on the beaches when they come in. You know, locals, it is just a tremendous cost for them to have to continue to absorb.
I was hoping we would go back to the 75-25 like it was in prior years. I am disappointed that the Federal Government would relinquish that responsibility back to those locals.
Ms. TORNBLOM. I understand your concern, sir.
Mr. BROWN. You can't change that?
Ms. TORNBLOM. No, sir.
Mr. BROWN. Could we do it legislatively?
Ms. TORNBLOM. This is a proposal for voluntary cost sharing above the statutorily required 35 percent for periodic renourishment.
Mr. BROWN. Thank you.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. You are welcome.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
The next in order then is Ms. Millender-McDonald.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this hearing brought about to look at our water resources and environmental issues that are facing a lot of us in urban and even suburban areas.
I have several questions, or at least some comments. One, Lt. General Flowers, I would like to direct to you specifically. In my area, the Los Angeles River Project is an ongoing project right now. I am interested in the ability for you to conclude that given the fact that we are trying to build these levees to circumvent this 100-year flood that could very well wipe out our communities, and specifically, to perhaps finish that so that we can remove the flood insurance for the remainder of that area in my district.
With the cutbacks, will there been a possibility of continuing that project, and I suppose any projects, but specifically I am concerned about that project?
General FLOWERS. If the project was underway, and I believe it was, yes that will be continued.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Yes.
General FLOWERS. But it will be continued at a reduced funding, which means it will take longer to complete the project. We do that so that we can continue all of the projects that we have going.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Do you have a ''guesstimation'' at this point, sir, as to how long that will take given the constraints that you are now under?
General FLOWERS. It looks like, based on the contracts that had already been in place and awarded that we are going to complete the project this year.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. And that is specifically the Los Angeles River Flood Project that is downstream and set in part of my district?
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. It is LACDA?
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. That is correct.
General FLOWERS. Yes, Ma'am.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Thank you. With other cutbacks, I am interested in the concerns that were raised or at least observations that were raised during your 14 regional meetings and others about the national water and related land management infrastructure aging.
Those aging areas will be hampered by cutbacks, it appears to me. How soon can the Army Corps of Engineers begin their rehabilitation-modernization, modifying or removing any infrastructure that needs to be done or to be rehabilitated?
General FLOWERS. Well, we would love to begin addressing that just as quickly as we can. At the end of 2001 our critical maintenance backlog for infrastructure will be about $415 million. At the end of 2002, with this budget, it will be about $830 million.
That, I think, gives you a feel for how tough it is to maintain this infrastructure. Our population has increased dramatically in the last few years, particularly in a number of locations.
Our investment in the aging infrastructure has decreased, not increased.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. That is unfortunate, given the fact that Los Angeles, well, I should say California has gone from 31.2 million in the early 1990s to now 34 million. So, indeed, that is a population growth and with it comes the aging of infrastructure and a critical need for the rehabilitation of it.
I would certainly be interested as we go through this year and into next year, in some comments that you can make as to how we can project how soon we can begin to look at the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, especially in the State of California and more specifically in the Southern California area where the growth is.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. Yes, Ma'am. I would prefer to respond to that for
the record, if I could.
[The information received follows:]
General Flowers. Representative Millender-McDonald, it will not be until FY 2003, under the current budget proposal, that we could make a concerted effort to reduce the backlog. Even then, it will depend upon funds appropriated by Congress specifically to repair and rehabilitate the aging infrastructure. We continue to look for innovative means to apply our limited resources to reducing the growing backlog. The Corps has implemented cost saving initiatives over the past several years and directed those savings be applied to reducing the backlog. In FY 2000, cost savings initiatives in California amounted to almost $10 million. These savings were applied to reducing California's backlog. About $6.4 million of the $10 million, was applied to repairing the aging infrastructure in Southern California.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Yes, fine.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Ms. Millender-McDonald.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I ask unanimous consent that I have a series of questions here that I probably won't get to and I would like to submit them for the record so the Corps can respond at their convenience.
Mr. DUNCAN. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. GILCHREST. General Flowers and Ms. Tornblom, General Van Winkle and Mr. Vining, welcome to Washington and the U.S. Congress. General Flowers, you and I talk periodically about a number of different issues.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to state on the record that our relationship has been one of integrity and very professional. We also work very closely with people from the Philadelphia District and the Baltimore District and our communication with them has also been, sometimes rocky, but that is the nature of a democratic society where people sometimes have fundamental difference of philosophy, but it has always been on a professional level. I appreciate that.
I have just a couple of questions. The Corps of Engineers has, I assume, certain statutes and standards that they go by of particular criteria in order to pursue a project that has Federal interest.
Does the Corps of Engineers ever come under political pressure from Members of Congress?
Ms. TORNBLOM. I can't imagine that happening, sir.
Mr. GILCHREST. So, you are saying the Corps of Engineers does not come under political pressure.
General FLOWERS. Let me have a shot at this one.
Mr. GILCHREST. General Flowers.
General FLOWERS. Douglas MacArthur, whose castles I wear on my uniform, was commissioned into the Corps of Engineers when he graduated from West Point and his mother gave him his castles.
Mr. GILCHREST. I don't think he ever recommended beach replenishment in the Philippines, though.
General FLOWERS. Sir, I am not sure if he did or not, but I can tell you this: He addressed one of my predecessors, the 38th Chief of Engineers, General Sam Sturgis. He told General Sturgis, he said, ''Sam, the greatness of the Corps of Engineers is not in the Panama Canal or the Washington Monument, the flood control structures, the dams, the air bases it has built around the world and the like.''
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. The protection of wetlands?
General FLOWERS. He said, ''The greatness of the Corps is in its ability to say 'no' when 'no' is the right thing to be said.''
So, that talks about our credibility. So, if it is a question of ''Is pressure put on?'' that is one question. If the question is ''Does the Corps yield to that pressure?''the answer is ''no.'' We stand on the best engineering and science.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Has the Corps of Engineers ever undertaken a project that their own analysis showed that there was no Federal interest?
Ms. TORNBLOM. Yes, definitely, Congressman. It is the democratic process that has been so eloquently described here that envisions that the Congress will make the final decision in allocation of funds.
There are many reasons for those decisions. There are sometimes decisions based on things that don't show up in the analysis. There have definitely been projects.
Mr. GILCHREST. So, occasionally, there are projects that do not meet the benefit to cost ratio that get put into an authorizing piece of legislation or language in an appropriation bill which the Congress says, ''Whether this meets the taxpayers needs, that will go through anyway.''
So, those things happen?
Ms. TORNBLOM. Yes, sir, they do.
Mr. GILCHREST. When they happen, does the Corps say in public that this did not meet our Federal criteria, there is no Federal interest in this project but certain influential members of the House or the Senate want to pursue this? Does the Corps of Engineers have an assigned person or a particular way of telling Congress that this doesn't meet the criteria, but if you want it done, you have the last word?
Ms. TORNBLOM. Congressman, every year the President's budget recommends whether or not to provide funds to continue projects. This has always been considered a means of requesting that the Congress take a second look on some projects.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC You will see many times in the past where funding has been added one year to initiate a project and the following year's budget will not provide continuation funds. That is an example of the process we use in the Army and the Executive Branch to address those questions.
I would also like to say that I think these are policy questions you are asking and it would be the place of the Army Secretariat or the Executive Office of the President to make those statements, not the professionals in the Corps of Engineers.
Mr. GILCHREST. Oh, so we just have professionals here. So, those are questions I should direct to somebody else?
Ms. TORNBLOM. I will be happy to bring them to the attention of the Assistant Secretary as soon as one is confirmed.
General FLOWERS. What we do, sir, is I render a Chief's report any time we complete a study. That Chief's Report, when it is signed by the Chief of Engineers, has the full weight of the Corps behind it. That report then stands on the best engineering and science that is available.
It may recommend that something be done. It may recommend that there is no Federal interest here and it should not go forward. It then goes to the Administration. The Administration then has the opportunity to review the Chief's Report and comment on it before it is sent to Congress for any kind of action.
Mr. GILCHREST. And for the most part that process works pretty well. I understand the nature of Federal agencies under the watchful political influential eye of Congress.
There has been a lot of discussion here today about peer review. As a project moves forward in the feasibility study, before it gets to the PED study, in existence right now, who peer reviews the math other than the District Engineer? Does someone initially peer review that math?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. All of the work that was done at the district level, until 1993 when a project was finished with the review process and went before the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors if it was a sizable project or controversial. When legislation did away with the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors because it was lengthening the study process, that ended that type of review
So, right now, when the district sends the study forward, and bear in mind it has had public review.
Mr. GILCHREST. If I could make a comment about public review, which is generally 30 days and it is a book of about 700 to 800 to 900 pages, which is extremely technical, and clearly most people in the public are not going to be able to review that and find math errors.
The reason I bring that up is because we had a project that was peer reviewed in 1996 and some men in my district found mathematical errors. I guess based on the decision of the Congress in 1993 not to have that math reviewed, since that math wasn't reviewed, there was a series of errors in there which eventually led to the deferment of a particular project.
So, in the process of peer review, would you recommend going back to the way it was prior to 1993?
General FLOWERS. Sir, that is an option. But again, that would add time and potentially expense onto the studies.
Mr. GILCHREST. If I could just cite, General, and this would be my last comment, see, I am not sure if that would add much time to the peer review because the gentleman that peer reviewed that feasibility study for the deepening of the C&D Canal did it in a fairly quick amount of time. They did it in the summer of 1996, confirmed it in November of 1996.
In December of 1996, the headquarters at Washington, D.C. reviewed their analysis and found it to be correct as opposed to the analysis for the feasibility study of the Philadelphia District. So, that was a fairly quick mathematical review of that.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. The Chief's Report for the report you mentioned earlier, the C&D, found that there were errors and more work needed to be done.
Mr. GILCHREST. I think my question, though, it is my understanding going through that process that if there was no meeting in Chestertown, Maryland with these four men who did that analysis with the headquarters that reviewed their analysis, there would have been no analysis on the feasibility study and the project would have gone forward.
Mr. DUNCAN. I am sorry. We will have to move on to other questions at this time because Mr. Gilchrest has gone way over. I apologize to him. But we will go now to Mr. Taylor.
General FLOWERS. We will respond for the record.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay
[The information received follows:]
General Flowers. Representative Gilchrest, this is in further response to your discussion of whether the mathematical errors found by the group of men who reviewed the Philadelphia District's report on the C&D Canal deepening in the 1996 would have been found otherwise. I believe they would have been found. This situation is a positive example of how the Corps open planning process provides numerous opportunities for checks and balances by the Corps, the sponsor, other Federal and state agencies and the public at large to assure that projects that move forward through the process are economically justified and environmentally sustainable. The report in question was still early in the review process, at a point which allowed for public review. This window occurred before Headquarters review and its subsequent state and agency review. The subsequent Headquarters review affirmed that there were errors and more work needed to be done before the project could move forward. I believe the Corps of Engineers planning process is fully open and provides the best mechanism by which the interests of all stakeholders can be fully vetted and opportunities exist to validate all assumptions and technical analyses.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. TAYLOR. I thank the gentlemen for being here. Thank you, Ms. Tornblom.
Ms. Tornblom, I have to tell you, I really respect the honesty of your statement. I happen to have a brother who is a big shot in the offshore supply boat business and towing business. He is always asking me for a tax cut. I explain to him, when the nation is only breaking even, something has to give.
When I look at the money that is coming out of Operation and Maintenance and dredging, the little bit of money that is going to be available to maintain the channels under 14 feet, I guess every time one of his boats runs aground, he can think about that tax cut he got. So, it is going to be pretty interesting.
As someone who really doesn't want to be a part of the last generations of Americans, though, who thinks that the true wealth of the nation is in its infrastructure, I have to tell you that I am distressed because I don't see investments in our infrastructure. I see a 14 percent cut in doing those things that really are important.
I went to school in New Orleans. I understand that if that levee weren't there that town would flood almost every year. I represent a waterfront community. If we didn't have that channel dredged at Pascagoula, Mississippi, we could not build ships for the Navy. If we did not have the channel dredged in Gulfport, Mississippi, we could not unload all those bananas that Americans eat.
Even the smaller channels, quite frankly, in order to pay for that tax cut it may be great work for the people who are going to repair the shafts and propellers and rudders that get bent, but it is going to be might tough on my shrimpers trying to get their boats back in when the wind is blowing out of the north during the wintertime when it gets pretty shallow. So, there is a tradeoff.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think you have been very honest to explain that tradeoff in your statement. I do want to compliment you for that. Honesty is the best policy.
On the flip side, I am going to say I think you are wrong. I think it is important that we invest in those dredging projects. I think it is important that we maintain our channels. I think it is important that we maintain our flood control projects.
I am not an advocate of huge government but there are things that only our government can do. The Corps provides that mission.
So, I am going to, hopefully politely, disagree with you on your budget priorities.
I do want to compliment you as the Deputy Assistant Secretary on what I have seen in the past year as a huge turnaround in the attitude of the Corps of Engineers. Particularly in this respect, I have asked them to give serious concern to trying to do beneficial things with dredge material and to enhance nature whenever possible in the course of their work. I really do want to compliment them, particularly the Mobile District, in trying to work with me on that.
But the bottom line is that it cost money. As you pointed out in your statement, if we are going to have tax cuts, if we are going to emphasize Social Security and education, that means we are not emphasizing defense and transportation. It is one or the other.
So, thank you for being here. You have a very tough job. I want to thank the generals for being here. They have an extremely tough job. I am sure every springtime they are sitting there wondering, not if, but where the Mississippi River is going to try to come over its banks.
But again, it costs money to do all these things. I do think that investing in our infrastructure is more important than tax cuts right now.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Taylor.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LaTourette was next, I think.
Mr. LATOURETTE. I think it was Mr. Horn.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Horn.
Mr. HORN. I thank the Chairman.
It is good to see you General Flowers, with your team. You do a great job and the Corps has done a great job through its history.
Let me ask you about a few situations that happen to be as others are asking in our district. The LACDA Program, the Los Angeles County Drainage Area, which is mostly the Los Angeles River, but it is also the Rio Hondo and it is also the San Gabriel on the east, eight Congressional districts line the west and the east.
There are 500,000 low-income people that make a living on that. That is not rich, fancy mansions or anything like that. We have been very fortunate over the last three years to have our colleagues in the Senate and the House put up $50 million a year because they know the impact it has on people if they are flooded out of very small minimal housing.
I would like to ask you, it is my understanding that the work will be completed by 2001. It could be done even earlier, I think. We have had the money there. We have had nothing but cooperation from the various district engineers and their staffs that have been on this project.
Where we have one little problem here is that a lot of constituents say ''Well, those beautiful levees have already gone up, why do we have to pay flood insurance for that because it seems to me it won't flood in that area.''
So, people are very upset about that. I wonder if you could enlighten us, with your partner, which is the County Public Works of Los Angeles, and they have been very helpful also. So, I would just like to get a fix on the levee insurance when the levees are there. I wonder if you can enlighten me on that.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. Sir, the LACDA Project will be finished this year. The funds are available to do that.
Mr. HORN. Do you think when this year?
Ms. TORNBLOM. I think it is this calendar year.
General FLOWERS. This calendar year, yes. So, December is a good date.
Mr. HORN. I didn't quite hear it. It is what?
General FLOWERS. December of 2001 is a good date.
Mr. HORN. December 1 or December 31? I don't want to press you, General.
General FLOWERS. That is all right. We will go out on a limb here, the first of December, December 1. It should result in a lowering of the insurance.
Mr. HORN. I would hope that we could do that earlier on this flood insurance. I realize you don't have anything to do with the flood insurance, but it seems to me, when it is pretty much done and there are eight districts involved, that we would have them get reimbursements, of course. That can happen, but right now they are still collecting.
General FLOWERS. Sir, we will press to do everything we can to expedite this. As you are aware, FEMA is the one that adjusts the flood rates annually. So, we will work with them.
Mr. HORN. Well, I thank you very much on that.
I would like to know in the overall strategy of the Corps in general nationwide, to what extent are wetlands and the improvement of wetlands in the Corps's litany of things to do? Where would that rank?
General FLOWERS. Sir, it ranks very, very high. Right now about 26 percent of our Civil Works budget is spent on the environment, such as environmental restoration and environmental enhancement. That is growing every year.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In my opening statement, we talked about the creation since 1998 of 120,000 acres of aquatic wetlands and flood plain natural habitat that has been restored.
Mr. HORN. Well, I am glad to hear that. We just happen to have a little 400-acre wetlands known as Los Cerridos Wetlands and there is very few wetlands left in the State of California. I think almost all are gone.
Along the Los Angeles coast, where there are ten million people in the County of Los Angeles, we could certainly use help on that. We will be asking Ms. Whitman the same thing.
We also appreciate the dredging you do for the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, both of which are in my district and a few others on the wharfs. But that is very important because those are the major entries of commerce from Asia and Latin America that go to 48 States. It is just Alaska and Hawaii they do not do, unless they stop from Asia and Hawaii.
But the dredging is very important because these ships are getting longer, wider and higher. Those containers keep going. When you put those two ports together, they rank with Singapore and Hong Kong in world commerce.
So, we appreciate it when you get some of those dredgers down there to keep going at a 55-foot dredging. I just wonder how often. I know you have been very good about not having to take it away, but trying to build on it when it is in the area. Do you think we can finish that project?
General FLOWERS. Sir, we are working.
Mr. HORN. Okay. I am glad to hear it. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Horn.
Mr. HONDA. Thank you very much. First I would like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member DeFazio for calling this meeting. It is a very important meeting.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For me as a freshman, it is a very enlightening meeting. I have a greater understanding of what the Army Corps of Engineers does. It is not only riprap along our rivers and banks and things like that. So, I am glad to be here as a part of this process.
One of the things I would like to share with you, and it has already been said, is my deep concern over the budget cuts that are being proposed for the next budget. I am concerned about that because I am concerned about the Corps being able to accomplish their mission and fulfill the projects that are already on line and to fully plan the future, also.
So, one of my questions is: Will you be able to fulfill the mission as originally conceived under the budget cuts?
The other question I have is regarding a local project that we have in San Jose. It is the Upper Guadalupe River Flood Control Project. That project indicated that the locally preferred plan may also be the national economic development plan based on considerations of all economic and environmental benefits and impacts on our endangered species there.
This plan further provides more natural hydraulic conditions as well as the opportunity for better land and water conditions and a significant increase in the riparian habitat that we are developing there.
I understand that additional studies are to be done during the design phase to confirm that the NED plan that was recommended by Corps headquarters as the locally preferred plan be considered for full Federal participation, subject to a positive report.
The question relative to that is do we know how the study is proceeding and do you know when this report will be ready for us to look at? I believe that there is a choice between a 50 and 100-year plan. What is the position of the Corps on that and is the Corps in a position to fully participate in this actually very superior and environmental sound and sensitive flood control project?
Those are the questions. Let me close the questions out by really thanking the Corps for really working cooperatively with the local agencies there to come up with some of the obvious alternatives and solution sets that you came up with in that area.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. Sir, thank you. Your first question, I think, was would the budget and the funding going to affect the Corps and its ability to accomplish the mission. My response, sir, is that we will take everything we are given and use it the best way we can to most effectively return benefit to the taxpayer. In short, that means a yes answer. It does affect us.
Any time you are looking at the stretching out of project times, funding at something under your most efficient way to complete projects and construction, it does affect you and the length of time.
The other thing that hasn't been talked about, but each year, another Member mentioned it, there are Congressional adds that go on to be funded. Few of those are funded as you move forward. So, if those don't get funded in 2002, they will have to be terminated and there will probably be costs associated with those terminations.
As far as the very important Guadalupe Project goes, what I would like to do is defer that to the Director of Civil Works and ask him to answer that question.
General VAN WINKLE. Sir, we are familiar with your comments. We are reviewing that at this point, looking into alternatives. Our expectation is that within the next 12 months we will have an answer for you.
Ms. TORNBLOM. Sir, I agree with everything General Flowers said about the impact. I also would like to point out that because of the constrained resources, the budget focuses the limited funds available on the three highest priority missions in the view of the administration. Those would be commercial navigation, flood damage reduction, and environmental restoration.
Many of the projects and programs that didn't receive follow-on funding in the budget are ones that would have expanded the Corps's mission into new areas. We fully recognize, as I am sure the Members of the Committee do, that there are needs out there that are not being met.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But there is concern within the Administration about to what extent that should be a Federal responsibility and even if it is a Federal responsibility, which agency's mission does it fit best with.
Mr. HONDA. From your comment to the Chair, I suspect that the three items that you mentioned, that we fit two out of three. I am assuming also that it is the expectation that we will continue to complete this project in a timely matter.
Ms. TORNBLOM. The Guadalupe Project, definitely.
Mr. HONDA. May I yield the rest of my time to Mr. Pascrell?
Mr. DUNCAN. You have no other time, Mr. Honda. I apologize.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. As I indicated in my introductory remarks, I spent the morning with the Great Lakes maritime folks. Not surprisingly, the award winners as legislator of the year this year on the Democratic side was Pete Visclosky and on the Republican side was Jack Quinn. They were recognized because of their work today in the Nation's steel crisis.
As I look down the dais, the Ranking Member, Mr. Oberstar, deserves all of our congratulations in the Great Lakes region for joining with Bart Stupak in pressing the new Administration to look under Section 232 jurisdiction to determine whether or not the ailing and failing steel industry.
I was at a meeting last week with Mr. Oberstar where he was pushing the Secretary of Commerce to look at the Section 201 case that sadly the previous Administration neglected to pursue since 1997.
But all of that brings to mind the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes shipping industry. We are already light loading ships as the iron ore pellets come into Cleveland to go to the LTV Foundry which hopefully will stay open for a very long time. It has to be off-loaded in the rain so it can then go down to the river of many curves, the Cuyahoga.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, the dredging of those waterways is paramount. I am just wondering, General Flowers or General Van Winkle, if you have, based upon this budget projection, a forecast for those of us who are fond of the Great Lakes and Great Lakes shipping, as to what we can expect the Corps' activities to be in the coming fiscal year?
General VAN WINKLE. Mr. LaTourette, we can provide you the specific numbers port-by-port and channel-by-channel for the record. In general, though, I think that the maintenance budget for dredging in those areas is diminished.
Ms. Tornblom, in her statement, indicated the reasons why and what the policy is in that regard. In the Great Lakes area we have many low use harbors in that regard. So, they do receive diminished funding.
What we will try to do is that for those harbors and waterways where we do not have sufficient funding, as shoaling occurs or problems occur, we will try to move money and move to those projects as those projects as quickly and efficiently as we can.
But there will be some challenges for us*
in the Great Lakes area.
[A tabulation of the identified funding needs and funding request for FY 2002 Operations and Maintenance, General budget related to navigation projects around the Great Lakes may be found on page 110]
Mr. LATOURETTE. I know, General Van Winkle, that you are all over this situation. At this same breakfast last year the chaplain prayed for higher water levels and I think the water level in Lake Superior went down another two inches. So, perhaps divine inspiration isn't the way we should proceed at this moment in time. I want to touch upon the FUSRAP sites in the short time that I have remaining, too. We all know that the Corps had that responsibility transferred in 1998 from DOE. At least the FUSRAP site in my district, the Corps has discovered that they got some bad data from the Department of Energy and found that they had more work to do than was previously anticipated.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That led to going back and not only re-examining but also the need for additional money. Is that a common occurrence or is that the exception? Did the Corps receive the FUSRAP in pretty good shape from DOE or am I just unlucky in northeastern Ohio?
General VAN WINKLE. Mr. LaTourette, it is not unusual that when you do these projects, I don't want to castigate anybody's research, but the initial site surveys that are done are a best guess at that point.
As one gets into the actual construction or removal of the materials, one often finds that those materials have expanded in a direction that we hadn't expected or gone deeper somewhere. So, it is not unusual in a restoration type of project such as FUSRAP that we do find additional areas.
So, it is unfortunate. We do our best guess in our initial characterization of the site, but we can't be accurate until we actually get into the ground and find out where the material is. Obviously, we have to do that in the interest of safety.
Mr. LATOURETTE. I thank the gentleman.
General FLOWERS. The other piece there, sir, is that the science gets better and better as time goes on. In this area, the science has grown enormously in the last few years and will probably do so into the future.
So, as we are able to find a resolution on what is there, it could create a new set of solutions or issues that we have to deal with.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you. My last observation, as the yellow light goes on, Ms. Tornblom, I was very critical of the last Administration when they did things like zero out the O&M account and consider these projects in these vital areas of concern as pork projects for Members of Congress.
I think those of us on the Republican side will be likewise critical of this Administration if the resources aren't provided to the Corps and other agencies to get this job done.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is nothing more important to the folks where I live than making sure that the boats can come in and out and deliver the goods and services necessary to the Port of Cleveland, the Port of Toledo, the Port of Ashtabula, so that people can continue to work.
I understand that all this stuff is sort of a blueprint in pencil. I hope that people have an eraser on that pencil as well and that as we get forward into the budget and appropriations cycle thought is given to replacing some of these funds.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. LaTourette.
Mr. DEFAZIO. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Going back to the introductory remarks by Ms. Tornblom, the issue of dredging and the emphasis of the prioritization. I have an overall concern here, which is that as I look at the budget I notice we do collect a tax for harbor maintenance and dredging.
I see under the proposed Corps budget that actually that fund, while we are cutting back on dredging, is going to increase. Why do we have to have this triage where we are cutting some ports off?
You can say it is only recreational fishing. But, we have not had a recreational salmon fishing season in ten years on the west coast of any significance. We are going to have one this year. But we also happen to have a drought, which means all of my recreational ports are going to be shoaled in because we are not getting the natural flush.
We have money, and obviously this is next year's budget, but we don't know what is going to happen next year. We are choosing year in and year out not to spend money. Now, I know it is not your choice. But, can we say this is really good policy?
What are we going to do with the increasing balance in the Harbor Maintenance Dredging Trust Fund? It is going to go from $1.6 billion last year to $1.7 billion this year to $1.9 billion if these cuts go into effect two years out. What are we going to do with that money?
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. I appreciate the opportunity to address that issue. The collection of the Harbor Maintenance Tax was deemed to be unconstitutional with regard to exports.
Mr. DEFAZIO. I am aware of that. Don't forget, I don't have much time. So, just to get to the bottom line of my point, the fund in the President's budget is increasing. What are we doing with the imports?
Ms. TORNBLOM. The fund is entirely, 100 percent, subject to appropriations, sir. Every dollar spent out of it counts for scorekeeping purposes.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Okay. So, we are talking about the people, the trolls that live under the bridge with the green eyeshades. Even though we are collecting a tax from shippers and ultimately the public is paying part of that tax with higher costs of goods, and we have dredging needs, which are recognized all around the United States, we are going to cut back on dredging with the purpose of increasing the fund because the trolls who live under the bridge and the people over in the Appropriations Committee don't want to commit the money of the tax that we are collecting from the people.
Ms. TORNBLOM. I am hopeful that the new Administration will shortly address the question of some kind of replacement proposal.
Mr. DEFAZIO. But then we would have even more money. We don't export much any more, really. I mean we are importing a heck of a lot more than we are exporting. The fund is showing an increase. If we just spent the money coming into the fund, we would increase dredging by $200 million this year instead of cutting it.
I know that is above your pay grade, but I just had to express that concern. Thank you.
General Flowers or General Van Winkle, I am concerned to see that we seem to be stretching out a lot of projects, that is, we are not doing new starts, and we are cutting back on Corps funding. That means projects are going to take longer to accomplish. I assume this means that they are going to cost more ultimately.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Because like I said in my somewhat sarcastic introductory remarks about the project I have been trying to get funded for 12 years that was just started, we are going to have one guy up there with a bucket hand-mixing cement and pouring this summer because the funds are not adequate to move ahead on a regular basis.
Could either of you comment, General Flowers or General Van Winkle, on the additional costs and what the total costs are when we stretch these things out?
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir. We estimate that as a result of the budget we will forego about $5.8 billion in benefits on projects.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Over what time period, General?
General FLOWERS. That is over the 10 year period to which the fiscal year 2002 ceilings apply.
Ms. TORNBLOM. That is the Corps's estimate of the deferred benefits, assuming a fairly similar level of funding for the future.
General FLOWERS. And about $.5 billion in additional costs, mostly from interest, over the same period. The average delay of a project is about ten months. So, the answer is, yes, sir. It has a fairly significant effect.
Mr. DEFAZIO. My staff is just pointing out that it is an additional $500 million a year and a $1.3 billion budget. That is a pretty big percentage of your budget.
General FLOWERS. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Plus foregoing the potential benefits.
General FLOWERS. Right.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Again, it wasn't to criticize Ms. Tornblom or you. You are given your budgets from on high and you do the best you can with them. It goes back to the initial point I made in my introductory remarks. I don't think there is enough money in your budget overall. I know that is not something that I can put you on the spot and ask you about.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have concerns about the delays in permitting. We hear that the permitting staff is level funded by the last administration and by the current administration.
I would agree with my colleague from Ohio who said he criticized the last administration on these issues. I have too and I will criticize this one. This is not a partisan issue. Are we going to meet the legitimate needs of the infrastructure of this country? This is one aspect of it, and we are not.
We are under-spending to create room somewhere else in the budget to do something else, whatever that is, whether it is tax cuts or something else. I have one other question on the issue of the floods. I referred to this earlier, too. I did note that the head of FEMA was quite critical of Davenport for not building levies. Obviously, that would exceed your current budgetary capabilities rather dramatically if the Corps were involved even on a significant cost-share basis.
But you also had a program which we in the west have been very interested in the west with our 100-year floods, which we had two of within three years. Now we are having a drought, but who knows what the future holds?
The Challenge 21 Program, the non-structural, I believe that the funding is eliminated in this budget.
Ms. TORNBLOM. Mr. DeFazio, that would have been a new start. It was proposed twice in the past but never funded. So, to fund it this year it would have been a new start, the first year to receive funding.
Because of the funding constraints overall, the decision was made that we would not propose any new starts but that we would focus the resources on continuing work.
Mr. DEFAZIO. I don't look at non-structural as being like this one little tiny area. I would assume that we would ultimately assess a number of river basins with flood potential. It would be very broadly cast.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. It would be a new program rather than a new project, yes, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. We would not really look at it as a new start like we are going to pour concrete on the spot. But, just given your budgetary constraints, you can't get there.
Ms. TORNBLOM. I am afraid that is correct, sir.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Now, Davenport has undertaken, as I understand it, some mitigation or planning and I saw a lot of the flooding was in areas where they hadn't constructed things. Have they, in part, gone down this path and avoided it? Is anyone really familiar with what has gone on in Davenport? I am just curious.
General FLOWERS. Sir, there had been proposals in the past for flood control structures along the waterfront. These are pretty tough, almost personal decisions that communities have to make. Davenport made the decision to keep their waterfront the way it was and accept the risks of having some flooding. That is about where we are at right now.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you. My time has expired.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me go very quickly to Mr. Oberstar.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Chairman, is it possible that we could just simply vote and come back.
Mr. DUNCAN. Yes, we can do that. I was going to leave that up to you.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I have at least four issues I would like to explore.
Mr. DUNCAN. Okay. We have two votes, so we will be in recess for several minutes. We will come back as soon as we can.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DUNCAN. I would like to call this hearing back to order. We are always honored to have the Ranking Member of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar, with us. He very graciously agreed to go last, even though we had a very large number of members here.
So, I am going to turn it over to Mr. Oberstar and let him take whatever time he needs.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Again, congratulations on your leadership of this subcommittee. These issues, while different from those of aviation where you chaired for the last several years, are vitally important to America.
The issues we deal with today are those of building America and of our oldest and most important transportation system, that which is waterborne and the oldest of America's institutions, the Corps of Engineers, which preceded the new Nation established by the Continental Congress, in fact, to undertake the necessary work of building the new Nation.
General Flowers, congratulations on your position and coming into the fray in a very critical time, for the Corps a transitional time, if you will.
I have long been a fan of the Corps of Engineers. I learned early on in my service here as a Legislative Assistant, as we were called then, as a Clerk of the Committee on Rivers and Harbors in the old days, the oldest committee in the Congress, by the way, the Committee on Rivers and Harbors.
It precedes Ways and Means, although they say that they are the oldest committee, which is really not the truth.
Later I served as administrator of the committee staff and lo, after these many years, as a Member.
I am very honored to have been awarded the De Fleury Medal of the Corps, which is something very, very special. It is very touching and very important to me.
So, it is with that background that I just want to make an observation or two. We have two budgets submitted by the Corps to our committee. The first one said, ''To ensure an appropriate level of funding for permit evaluation, enforcement and compliance activities will be reduced.''
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When the committee staff consulted with me on this and raised questions later with the Corps, we got a second budget which had that sentence deleted. Now, will the real budget stand up? What underlies the initial statement and what was the cause of deletion in the second budget?
Ms. TORNBLOM. I will be happy to answer that question, Mr. Oberstar. The two versions of the justification sheets that you have for the regulatory program are a result of when the justifications were transmitted to Congress some comments that had been made during the administration review process were inadvertently left out.
As you have pointed out, those changes were essentially to delete some statements that were rather negative in that presentation.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Did you say statements that were left out?
Ms. TORNBLOM. Yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. It was left in.
Ms. TORNBLOM. Well, that was the initial one. That was the incorrect one. The second one with the statements deleted is the one that was cleared by the administration. But I think the important thing is that in both versions the allocation of the total among the program activities is the same. The statement is gone, but there is no change in the allocation or the funding to the activities.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Is there a policy shift here? Are you going to do more permit evaluation and less enforcement or does the deletion mean that there is not a policy change here?
Ms. TORNBLOM. The important thing, I believe, to look at is the numbers and the proposed allocation of funds does allocate less to enforcement than in the prior year and relatively more to permit processing.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I don't recall the specific number. What is the number reduction?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. In enforcement, it is a reduction from $24 million in 2001 to $19 million in 2002. I am told that that entire $24 million which was allocated in 2001 may not be needed. If it is not, then that also in 2001 would be reallocated to permitting, to try to reduce the time it takes to process permit applications.
Mr. OBERSTAR. That means shifting more manpower resources?
Ms. TORNBLOM. That is right. It is a very manpower intensive program. The majority of the resources go for salaries and expenses.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I know in the St. Paul district they process something like 8,000 permit applications and in the Detroit district, that is around 25,000 permit applications. The numbers stick in my mind because I have these annual meetings with the district engineers. One of them happened to be yesterday.
That is a considerable workload, but I think we will need to pray a little bit together on how enforcement is conducted. I don't want to see that part disappear in favor of just doing more permitting, however important that is.
General Flowers, at the outset you confronted the issue surrounding the NAV study on the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois Rivers. Your testimony suggests that a good deal of responsibility should rest with the ''failed economic model.''
That model has, at the outset of this issue, I didn't think too much about it, but as it persisted I looked into this more extensively. That model has been around for ten years. The Corps, not under your direct leadership or General Van Winkle's, but it has been there for ten years. And $55 million or so in taxpayer funds were spent on this model.
Something escaped somebody in this process. What is it in the management at the Corps that could allow a sizeable investment of management and time on a river that has been with us for at least since the last glacier and about which the Corps knows more than anyone else and has this marvelous station in Vicksburg, Mississippi that models the Mississippi River, how is it that $55 million drifted along with study review after review and no one picked up that there was a flaw?
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General FLOWERS. Sir, this is the first time that the Corps has undertaken a study of this magnitude. At the direction of Congress we were told to predict 50 years in advance what was going to happen on the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois Waterway. It is 37 locks and dams, well over 1,000 miles of river and environmentally sensitive areas.
So, the model that we were using, a variation of a model, as you pointed out, that we have always used, which was a micro-economic model, when you apply it, and this is what the National Academy told us in their report, when you try and apply it on the system you can't get there from here. You don't have enough data to feed that model, so it is flawed to start off with.
Now, of the $55 million, sir, almost $30 million has been spent for environmental studies on the Upper Mississippi. We know more now about the environment on the Upper Miss than we ever have before.
One of the challenges is how to use that as you go forward with the study. We have not lost anything in the economics that we have done. We will apply it as we re-scope and re-start the study. So, we have learned a lot from the experience. This was the first time this was done.
I think a lot of the difficulty came from results coming out of the economic model and were counter-intuitive, a struggle to try and work and rework the model to where you were going to get some results that seemed to make sense. That is what caused a lot of the high stress that resulted in the whistle-blower allegations, et cetera.
Mr. OBERSTAR. We don't have the time to go into all those issues of environment. I would invite you to my office for a discussion in greater details. We could spend a couple of hours on that subject.
On the point of the environmental aspect, former Congressman Albert Quie, a Republican from southeastern Minnesota and I joined efforts in 1978 on an amendment on which we prevailed to require the Corps to conduct its mitigation concurrently with construction works in the Upper Mississippi because we found that the needed mitigation to preserve wetlands for migratory waterfowl--and that is the central flyway of the United States in which 100 million migratory birds move every year--the wetlands for their resting places and also their nesting and breeding grounds were disappearing.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Of course, you would say, well, we did the construction but sorry, we just ran out of money to do the mitigation. So, we were saying put it in at the same time and get Appropriations to put it in at the same time. For a while that worked. But that model, if you will, has degenerated over time.
I would like you to think about visiting with me and perhaps others in the Mississippi watershed about that particular concern. Maybe you have a comment now to make about it.
General FLOWERS. Sir, I look forward to coming in and spending the time with you. I would really like to do it and discuss it in that forum, if I could.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Now the deferred maintenance that our colleague, Mr. LaTourette referred to, you know for 15 years we had unusual climate condition in the Upper Great Lakes Basin where we had below normal temperatures, above average precipitation, below normal transpiration because of above average cloudy days and above average water levels.
Now, we are in another 15-year cycle of seemingly lower precipitation, more transpiration and low water levels. The point is that during that period of time, even though we continued to ask for funding for dredging, the dredging was deferred because the water levels were high enough and they didn't need to take the silt out of the inter-connecting channels on the Great Lakes and in the harbors. Now you have to. Now we are seeing maintenance deferred in this budget.
As the maintenance is deferred, the cost to the government goes up in the long run. In the short run the cost goes up, as Mr. LaTourette and others pointed out, the cost goes up to the shippers and the operators, as my colleague from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor pointed out.
How do you justify this deferred maintenance? Is it simply because you were told by OMB that that was the number you were going to get?
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. TORNBLOM. I think that the limited funds and the allocation of them can best be understood in the light of President Bush's overall budget priorities.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, that is a matter we will have to address on a concerted basis. I invite my colleague from Mississippi and my colleague from Ohio to join with us when the appropriation bill comes to secure the necessary funding increases.
I understand, General, that you have to catch a plane. I wanted to spend a little time talking about the increase from $5 billion to $30 billion a year in disaster assistance payments we are paying for tragedies resulting from increased flooding, tornados, earthquakes and other disasters and to suggest that there is a long-term change in climate that is having an effect for the Federal Government consequence of outlays from FEMA and from private insurance companies, that goes up to $65 to $100 billion total.
I want you to think about what the Corps is doing to deal with long-term climate change and the consequences for the Corps's great work.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Oberstar. I apologize. I do understand that the General has to catch a plane and Administrator Whitman has to be at the White House in about an hour or so, so we need to end with this panel.
Thank you very much for being with us. You have been an outstanding panel. We will be talking with you more. Also, any Members who have additional questions, can be submitted in writing. The Army Corps has indicated a willingness to answer any of those questions that were not allowed to be asked orally.
Ms. MILLENDER-MCDONALD. Mr. Chairman, I just want to submit my statement for the record and I want it to be a part of this hearing.
Mr. DUNCAN. Of course. Any formal statements can be submitted for the record.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We will go ahead then and excuse the first panel. I understand that Administrator Whitman is coming. We do want to welcome Administrator Whitman.
We are pleased and honored at this time to have as a second panel the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Honorable Christine Todd Whitman.
We do apologize to Administrator Whitman. We had about 20 members here earlier and it delayed things. So, we are sorry that we didn't get to you before now.
We have lost some members due to votes and luncheon meetings, but that may move things a little quicker. So, we are pleased to have you. We do understand you have to be at the White House shortly, so we will proceed right into your statement.
Members had a chance to give opening statements when we started at 9:30 this morning. So, we will let you go ahead and begin your testimony at this time. Thank you very much for being with us.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate being here. I thank the members of the subcommittee that are here.
I am, of course, very pleased to be able to give this presentation on the President's budget for the Environmental Protection Agency as well as our views on other issues of interest to the subcommittee on water infrastructure needs, Superfund and brownfields programs and brownfields legislation.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to give a brief opening statement and then submit a more lengthy one, a more complete one.
Mr. DUNCAN. Your formal statement will be placed in the record. You can make any comments at this time that you wish to make.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you.
I am pleased to report that the present budget provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out its mission effectively and efficiently in the next fiscal year. The fiscal year 2002 request of $7.3 billion is $56 million more than last year's request.
The President's budget request for EPA reflects a commitment to building and strengthening partnerships across America to achieve our goal of making America's air cleaner, water purer and land better protected.
It encourages the development of innovative environmental programs and embraces the expertise and experience of State and local governments and tribal governments, while providing them with great flexibility with which to pursue our shared goals.
America's States and tribes receive $3.3 billion in this proposed budget, $500 million more than what was requested by the previous administration.
Included in these funds is a $25 million grant program for State enforcement. Each year the States perform about 95 percent of the nation's enforcement compliance inspections and take about 90 percent of the enforcement actions. This new program will allow the States to enhance their enforcement efforts in ways that will increase accountability for results and will provide flexibility to address their individual and unique needs.
The President's proposed budget also includes $25 million to help improve the States' environmental information systems. By helping States and EPA exchange information electronically, we will improve accuracy for better decision-making.
I believe we all understand the importance of timely and accurate information for the best decision-making.
I am pleased to report that the proposed budget increases funding for the brownfields program by $5 million above last year's enacted budget to $98 million. This program will provide additional support for the State voluntary cleanup programs and the brownfields assessment demonstration pilot program. It is an excellent illustration of successful partnerships between the Federal Government and the States.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I should also add that the Administration looks forward to working with the Committee to make this an even more effective partnership by reforming Superfund to provide specific authority for brownfields. Consistent with the principles that the President has enunciated, we hope to include such important reforms as liability protection, providing States with greater authority and resources while maintaining high standards, streamlining the grant process and encouraging research and development into new cleanup technologies and techniques.
For the continued cleanup of toxic waste sites, the President's budget requests $1.3 billion for Superfund. This will allow us to continue to work to address the cleanup of the 1200 sites that remain on the Federal national priority list, while also supporting the Department of Defense's effort to clean up sites that were part of the base realignment and closure process.
With respect to America's water infrastructure, the President's budget proposal includes $2.1 billion in grants to States to ensure that every community enjoys safe and clean water.
The administration's proposal of $1.3 billion in wastewater infrastructure grants to the States includes $450 million in a new program to help communities address combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows.
Also included is $850 million for continued capitalization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
Overall, the President's request for water infrastructure is $500 million greater than last year's request.
Through the hard work of a number of members of this committee, these new grants for combined sewer overflow (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) were authorized by language in the Omnibus Appropriations Act. The Act stipulated that funding for CSO and SSO grants be available when the funding for the Clean Water SRF reached at least $1.35 billion.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In this budget proposal, we have sought to strike an appropriate balance between the needs for infrastructure funding, both for the Clean Water SRF and for the new grant program, and the exercise of judicious fiscal restraint.
Our proposal of $850 million for the Clean Water SRF and $450 million for the Wet Weather Quarterly Act achieves these goals, important goals, that the administration certainly shares with the committee.
I understand that this proposal does not meet Congress's goal of funding the Clean Water SRF at $1.35 billion before initiating this new grant program. However, the administration believes that it is important to begin providing funds for the combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflow grants now, even though the need for fiscal restraint does not allow us to bring the Clean Water SRF to $1.35 billion level.
We are, of course, ready to work with you and your colleagues in the Congress to achieve consensus around this issue.
The President's budget also fully maintains support for EPA's core water quality programs, programs that help States manage water quality programs and address non-point source pollution.
We will be working with the States to develop TMDLs for their most impaired waters, as well as providing technical assistance to States in the adoption and implementation of new drinking water standards.
We also maintain support for the development of beach monitoring and notification programs by State and local governments.
With respect to drinking water, the President's budget proposes to maintain capitalization of the drinking water State revolving fund at the current level of $823 million. The President's budget will continue to provide States with the flexibility to transfer funds between their clean water and drinking water State revolving funds, helping them to address their most critical needs as they see fit.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Taken together, the President's budget helps communities across America address their most pressing clean water and drinking water priorities. It also provides the financial foundation needed to help communities address their long-term water infrastructure needs, which, as you know, can be significant over the next several decades.
I am proud of the budget that the President has submitted for the Environmental Protection Agency. I believe that it provides the funds and sets the priorities that my Agency needs to meet its mission of protecting our environment and safeguarding the public health.
I would be happy, Mr. Chairman, to take any questions you might have.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Administrator Whitman. We are honored to have the Chairman of the full committee with us. I would like to call on Chairman Young at this time for any statement, comments or questions that he might have.
Mr. YOUNG. Governor, I appreciate your showing up today. I just met with you briefly. I tried to call you Secretary, but you said you were an Administrator, so I will call you Governor.
Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you.
Mr. YOUNG. One of my highest priorities in this committee is the transportation infrastructure, streamlining the process. We have found the average length of time now to achieve a permitting process for an airfield is 15 years. A highway is 12 years. It goes down the line.
I notice the President has talked about streamlining. The other day I talked with Secretary Mineta and asked him the same question, would he work with us to help us streamline the environmental regulations so we can get these projects on line so we can relieve the congestion?
Frankly, I would like to hear from you now on what your position is on streamlining the process of issuing permits.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Mr. Chairman, I would be happy to work with you on that. I certainly agree that we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to streamline projects while still ensuring that we are protecting the public health and safety and protecting the environment.
But I believe that we can do a whole lot better than the kinds of timeframes that you have outlined. So, I would be happy to work with you on that.
Mr. YOUNG. Along those lines, as I mentioned to you earlier, you can have good thoughts and good ideas, are you going to be able to convey this to the agency workers themselves that they have a responsibility to meet deadlines on time and working with, for instance, the Corps, the Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife, all the other agencies. Do they understand that they can be part of the process of bottling up a permit process?
Ms. WHITMAN. Yes. I appointed one of my counsel, Jessica Furey, I appointed her as the liaison with the White House and the other agencies to ensure that everyone understands the importance of working together and not providing unnecessary roadblocks.
Mr. YOUNG. Okay. The other question is on January 9th, 2001, just recently, the Supreme Court issued an opinion on the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, a case that has broad implications on Federal jurisdiction over isolated wetlands.
The only guidance that has been issued by the EPA and the Corps interpreting this case was issued under the prior Administration. This issue is very important and cannot be left just to career staff.
Will you issue new guidance that takes into account the input of your new Assistant Administrator for Water and the input from the Corps' new Assistant Secretary of the Army when they are in place?
Ms. WHITMAN. Yes. We have in fact, again, put in place some of the counsel. Jessica Furey has also been given that one. She will act as the liaison there. So, we are very aware of those issues.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. YOUNG. Along those same lines, there is a perception among State and local transportation agencies that EPA and the Corps have been increasingly inflexible and uncooperative in moving projects through the environmental reviews and permitting process.
I believe the agency should be trying to help citizens reach environmental goals rather than going out of its way to punish and frustrate them.
What will you do to change the tone at our regional offices to encourage streamlining and flexibility and establish trust?
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, as you know, wetlands issues are often associated with highway projects. Several EPA regional offices have gone forward to develop procedures to integrate and streamline the NEPA process with the Army Corps of Engineers, Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting process for discharged and dredged and filled material. So, we are right now trying to work together in a way that will make some sense of these issues and ensure that we can move ahead and protect what we all agree is very precious to our future--and that is our wetlands.
Mr. YOUNG. Repetitive as these may sound, T-21 mandated that the agency cooperate and provide a timely response on NEPA issues. This has not occurred. I am hoping that you are listening to me very carefully, because that is my main goal. As we mandated that, it has not occurred in the past Administration.
So you have a tremendous responsibility, not only upon yourself, but those who work in your agency. They sort of thumb their nose at this committee. That does not excite me. I am very resentful of any agency, any bureaucracy or any bureaucrat who says they know better than what this Congress knows and decides not to do what we tell them to do.
We have $3 or $4 billion. I forget what amount we have told them to mandate in spending and they have not done so. So, I am not being super-critical of you because you just came on the bridge.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am watching you very carefully. You are not my favorite agency, I will tell you right up front. It is not because of you. It is because of agency actions in the past, the actual arrogance of the agency trying not to help people and establish good, environmental sound policy, but by being policemen and frankly bullies, does not excite me.
So, I charge you more than anything else to try to get the process moving and make sure those people who work under you understand one thing: We are going to make this system work or they are going to be somewhere else other than where they are right now.
I have tremendous space in Alaska. I have a tremendous number of small villages. We can establish a few little districts up there and let them freeze a while and maybe then we can get things done.
Ms. WHITMAN. Mr. Chairman, I will take it upon myself to ensure that we make you like the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. YOUNG. Thank you. I appreciate it. That would be a great step forward, believe me.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will be very easy on the witness after the Chairman, even though I am in the other Party. But I do have a few questions. In particular, I am concerned that last year when the Congress authorized the Omnibus Budget Act, which I didn't vote for, the Wet Weather Program. It was for reasons other than this that I didn't vote for it. The language said that we couldn't steal the money or take the money from the SRF clean water program to fund the Wet Weather program. It was very, very specific.
I note in the proposed budget of the President that you are proposing to undo that language and actually take all the money to fund the Wet Weather program from the SRF and then move another $50 million somewhere else or attribute it back to the general budget for so-called surplus.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have been hearing for years that there is at least $2 billion worth of needs in the SRF fund. Now I find that we are going to cut that back to less than $1 billion. We are going to put $450 million in the Wet Weather fund if the authorizing language is changed. I would like you to comment on that.
I guess one further thing, I don't want to make this too complicated, but I am further concerned that you are using 1970s data to allocate the Wet Weather grants. In the case of letting me be parochial, in my State, that means per combined sewer overflow with 98 permitted, $51,000.
For Arkansas, per combined sewer overflow with only two, it means $1.45 million. For some other States, they are all over the map. But it doesn't really seem to follow need. It is very programmatic.
Could you comment on those issues?
Ms. WHITMAN. I would be happy to. You are right and we are seeking a change in the language from the Congress. We recognize that and put that up front. The $850 million in the SRF program is in fact $50 million more than was requested last year. We will maintain. This year we expect the revolving loan fund to be at about $3 billion. That will maintain a $2 billion State
Mr. DEFAZIO. If I might, I think it was funded higher. I am not necessarily supporting the levels at which the prior administration made these requests.
Ms. WHITMAN. No. I am just doing the apples to apples comparison here from how the request went in and what that will do. We did feel, however, that it was important to get started with the Wet Weather Program. So, we put the $450 million into that in order to be able to begin that program.
Using the criteria that we have used for the SRF program, because that is there, next year we will take another look at that to make sure we are doing it in the right way.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The other change we are making is with respect to whom the funds are awarded to. The Wet Weather program had actually anticipated the first year going directly to municipalities and then the second year moving on to the States. We feel that the States can make better decisions. They are prepared to do it. They can do it. So, we anticipated that and we will be providing that money directly to the States next year.
Again, the $1.3 billion that is now appropriated for water infrastructure is what we believe to be a substantial commitment and will, in fact, help move forward on these very serious problems that we know we need to address.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Well, Madam Administrator, with 9,258 permitted CSOs in the country, we are not targeting the money to the problems. That is, States that have some of the largest numbers of permitted CSOs are not getting adequate funding under the 1970s formula, which wasn't intended for this purpose because the law didn't exist. They are getting funds that are randomly assigned.
Some States that have no CSOs are getting money. Other States that have huge numbers are getting very little money. My State, where one city is spending $1 billion on this, is going to get $5 million. It is like we send a little money down in a random way to make sure all the States get some, whether they have CSOs or not.
It is really not addressing the CSO problem. It is just sort of addressing the ''sending a little money down to the States kind of problem.''
Ms. WHITMAN. No. It is really an effort to get this program started, because between CSOs and SSOs, most of the States do have problems in one part of that program or another and can use this money well.
We feel that the States are in a position to be able to prioritize. Each of them has the need. But I will tell you, the overall issue is one that I think we are going to be having many more discussions on. As you know, there are several studies.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Congressional Budget Office is doing a study looking at what the overall infrastructure needs are going to be. That is something that we need to engage in for the future because the needs could be much, much greater than anyone has anticipated to date.
Mr. DEFAZIO. When do we expect to have that number?
Ms. WHITMAN. The Congressional Budget Office is doing a study. We are also looking at a gap analysis because, as you know, we are constrained at what we can look at at the agency, what we can count toward these needs. Programmatically, we are constrained.
The industry has put forward some numbers. There is a big gap here. So, we are trying to do an analysis of what are legitimate costs to be counted as we look at what the overall needs are. I would expect that we will have that done by this summer. The gap analysis will be done by this summer.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Will it be on the street?
Ms. WHITMAN. It will be on the street. You will have it and be able to look at it so we can start to engage in that discussion because, as you know, the numbers range from $480 billion to $1 trillion in need. Those numbers are huge. Those numbers demand that we think of smart ways to partner with State and local governments and figure out other ways to finance this.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Well, I will look forward to that proposal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. DeFazio.
Administrator Whitman, you have gone from one very difficult job, being Governor of New Jersey to what I think may be an even more difficult job, probably one of the toughest jobs in the entire federal government. By that I mean you have to somehow try to satisfy environmental groups, some of which can't ever admit being satisfied or their contributions would drop way off if they stopped telling people how bad everything is.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Yet, we can't go to such extremes on environmental regulations that we double or triple utility bills as an expert told me, he thought we would see $3 a gallon gas prices by the end of this summer. You end up hurting a lot of poor and lower-income and working people.
So, somehow, you have to achieve a very delicate balance there. What I am wondering about is how you see yourself achieving that balance.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, you have touched exactly on the issue, the problems and the challenges faced by the Agency. Many times when you talk about balance people see that as a trade-off, meaning you are trading one side off against the other and that it is a zero-sum game.
What our challenge is is to ensure that we use all of modern technology, all of the science that we have available, all of the best thinking that we have to ensure that we can protect the environment while not stopping the kind of economic growth that we have seen in the past.
In fact, the United States is, I would say, at risk of contradiction always, but I think we are pretty safe on this ground, that we are the first industrialized nation that has actually been able to see a decoupling between economic growth and increased greenhouse gas emissions and increased use of energy.
When we had a GDP growth of seven percent, our increase of energy use was at one percent. That is still an increase and we still are huge consumers. So, we need to constantly be watching how we approach these issues.
But I believe very firmly, and we saw it in the State of New Jersey, that when we bring people together, all of the stakeholders together to agree upon goals and then as an Agency get out of the way and not micromanage how those goals are achieved, American industry has been incredibly resourceful in their ability to meet standards in ways that have kept them economically competitive. That is certainly something that I believe is very important.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look toward getting to a place where what we can do is enter into partnerships where we agree on standards, on what gets put into the air, what gets put into the water, what is going to be put into the land. We set parameters there and then we allow the States or the local governments or the businesses to determine how they can best meet those goals without having us have to look over their shoulder every step of the way.
Mr. DUNCAN. This subcommittee gets into a lot of things like water infrastructure needs which we have been discussing this morning, brownfields, Superfund, all kinds of things, wetlands issues, even some things that I didn't know about.
For example, in discussing the balance that I just mentioned, I had the Mayor of Los Angeles come to see me because he said that he had 10,000 restaurants in his city and that most of them were mom and pop operations. He said the EPA Region 9 was attempting to require the installation of expensive grease collection technology. I never thought anybody would come to me and talk about grease.
But when he talked about running several thousand mom and pop small businesses out of operation, then you can see the concern.
Our next hearing in a couple of weeks is going to be about an issue that is becoming more and more important. We have had two Governors here already talking to us about runoff from animal feeding operations.
What we are trying to figure out is a way to not run all the small farmers out of business. So, I hope that when you go over all these issues you will keep in mind that we don't want to run all the small business people out or all the small farmers out and just turn everything over to the big giants in enforcing these rules and regulations.
Do you understand where I am coming from with that concern?
Ms. WHITMAN. Absolutely. In each of those instances that you have brought up and mentioned, and I, too, have met with the Mayor to talk about grease and a few other things. I am very sympathetic to the concerns that have been raised, as you may know.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In that particular instance, we did bring some action on a much broader set of non-compliance issues for the city and then the environmental groups joined in. We are in settlement talks now. We are talking to them. I believe that we can see our way through this so that we do protect the environment, but we don't put the mom and pops under.
Of course, the same thing is true as we look at the CAFOs and those regulations. We again need to be sensitive to the impact on the environment from activities as they have changed over the years. But the object here is not to make it so expensive to comply that small businesses or small farms just cannot stay in operation.
One of the changes I have made and one of the things that we are doing, particularly as the farm community is concerned, is reinstating the position of an Agriculture liaison so that we are constantly taking into account the real impact of decisions on real people. We are doing that in every instance to be sure that we do meet our statutory obligation to protect the public health and to protect the environment. That is number one in our responsibility as an Agency, but with the understanding that it is counterproductive if we do that at the expense of small business or if we do that at the expense of people's ability to earn a livelihood to enable them to enjoy that and to provide the tax dollars that help support some of the work that we need to do to protect the environment.
Mr. DUNCAN. Let me ask one last quick question. Where is the Superfund Program headed? Is it winding down or is it gearing up? There has been some mention about decreasing the number of the targeted site completions.
Ms. WHITMAN. The number of site completions is down this year. It is anticipated to be down from 85 this year. That started back in fiscal year 2000 when the funds began to be cut from the Superfund Program. It is a combination of that and the fact that we are now getting to some of the more complicated and difficult and expensive Superfund remediation efforts.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, just the scientific ability to clean those sites, what it is going to take technically to clean those sites means that we are going to be able to complete fewer of them. The money that is in the budget is what we feel is appropriate. We will be able to get the 65 sites done and keep us on track to address the overall issues that we face.
It is also a recognition that those funds have been cut over the last few years in budget cycles and these cleanups are getting to be more complicated and more technically demanding.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Thank you very much.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Madam Administrator. We are glad to have you here before the committee. I am sure this will be one of many get-togethers.
Ms. WHITMAN. I am sure it will be.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Last year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Superfund. Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. I spent a great deal of time as a staff member on the Clean Water Act over a period of two years. I was administrator of the committee staff at the time. I have a great fondness for that legislation.
My predecessor, John Blotnick, sits up there looking over us as the initiator in 1956 of the very first Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
It is important that we celebrate those milestones in an appropriate way. What I am disappointed about on Superfund is that for the first time we have a budget that does not call for reinstatement of the oil and chemical feedstock excise taxes that constitute the funding source for the Superfund Trust Fund.
Could you enlighten us as to why that was terminated or at least it was not mentioned, why the administration is not advocating its reinstatement? While it has been there in every budget
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Well, part of it is a reflection of Congress' reluctance to reinstate it in the past.
Mr. OBERSTAR. That shouldn't mean surrender on the part of the administration, though.
Ms. WHITMAN. The program is being funded this year 50-50, 50 percent from the funds that are left in the account and 50 percent from general revenues. That doesn't mean that we won't go back and take another look or are not willing to work with Congress in the future to see if we can actually find another source of revenues to ensure that the program is funded at adequate levels.
But it has been the history of the Congress not to want to see that tax reinstated. That is why we just didn't bother to put it in this time, so we were looking at what really was there, what really was available so that everyone could have a very clear idea of where the program was going without any kind of additional support.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, by any calculation, the trust fund runs out of money next year.
Ms. WHITMAN. The trust fund is definitely going to be running out of money and we are going to have to put more money into the Superfund program from general revenues, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, I would hope that the administration would reconsider its position and not just say, well, Congress hasn't funded it so we shouldn't ask them to. I think you should, in your role as environmental steward, press for the reinstatement.
After all, we all learned as kids, at least I did in my family, if I made a mess, my mother said, ''You clean it up.''
These folks made the mess.
Ms. WHITMAN. I will certainly be happy to work with you on that, Congressman. I have no problem with seeing what we can do. This year there is adequate money in the budget to deliver on the projects that we are going to be able to do from a technological point of view, what we have the technology and the ability to clean up, those sites. So, we have the money to do that and this budget supports that.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would be happy to talk with you and work with you further to see if we can't address the ongoing issues.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I will look forward to doing that.
Secondly, there was a reference made by Chairman Young to environmental streamlining. I was not in the room at the time. I was visiting with a group of Close-Up students from my district.
We all have concerns about streamlining. But the FAA has the authority and has used the authority to bring the parties together, that is the Federal regulatory parties together and do the environmental work concurrently rather than sequentially and has reduced to three to four years the time it takes for the environmental part, building a new runway, taxiway, parking apron or new airport.
That is still longer than many of us would like to see. But it is a lot less than the eight or ten years. Are you participating in other areas of streamlining on Federal aid to highway projects? When I say ''you,''I mean EPA, not you personally. You are newly on the job. But this is a matter we did discuss briefly in a previous meeting. It is a matter that I hope you will give further attention to.
Ms. WHITMAN. There are a number of memorandums of understanding that have been signed in the regions with the various other Federal agencies as they move forward to ensure that there is coordination. Because I would agree that it makes much more sense to have the environmental issues aired at the beginning of a process rather than waiting until the end and have us come in, as so often has been the case, and be perceived as just a roadblock, pulling the rug out from under something, when those issues probably could have been dealt with earlier on in the process.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I just want to make it clear, I am for environmental streamlining. I am not quite sure what streamlining really means. But in the sense of speeding up the process, so long as it does not result in environmental responsibility avoidance.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Absolutely.
Mr. OBERSTAR. A final issue I would like to raise is the studies by numerous groups, including just most recently the Civil Engineers Association. They estimate $300 billion in water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. Yet, the administration budget for the State Revolving Fund capitalization grants is down $500 million. I don't understand how a cut of that magnitude can be justified.
Ms. WHITMAN. Actually, it is up on the request. The $50 million and the $500 million that is backed out are on Congressional riders and add-ons which were not part of the request.
Mr. OBERSTAR. But the authorization level is $1.35 billion.
Ms. WHITMAN. The authorization, not the appropriation, yes.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Yes, the authorization level. That is what this committee in its wisdom determined was needed.
Ms. WHITMAN. We feel that the $850 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan funds for capitalization is where we need to be for the States to be able to meet their demands. There will be about $3 billion this year in monies through that Revolving Loan Fund that States will be able to utilize.
We have seen them put this program to very good use. We believe that now we are at the adequate level for them and this will in fact enable us to stay at the $2 billion level long term.
Mr. OBERSTAR. Well, I didn't agree with the previous administration's level of funding and I don't concur in the current administration's judgment on that matter, not when we look at the capital needs that await us.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, Congressman, let me just say that I believe the Congressional Budget Office and GAO are both doing studies on this need. We are doing that gap study, as I indicated earlier, to take a look at the difference between the numbers that we have seen and the industry has seen.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is a serious need that goes well beyond anything that has been anticipated in any budget. I believe that we are going to be seeing a lot more of one another as we discuss this because when you are talking about difference in numbers between $480 billion and a trillion dollars, you know you have some extraordinary needs out there.
We are going to have to do some serious prioritizing and serious assessment of where we find money and how much money we are going to spend here.
Mr. OBERSTAR. I will look forward to those future encounters.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, and I use that phrase because that is exactly what you deserve to be, Secretary at a Cabinet level to a department officially. I have been involved in this business a long time. I first introduced the bill to elevate EPA to Cabinet level back in 1988. I am tenacious and we are going to see it happen.
Let me also say that I am encouraged. I welcomed your appointment and I think you are going to bring new stature, improved stature and even good relationship with the distinguished colleague like the gentleman from Alaska. You are going to prove to him that EPA is the good guys.
Let me ask you a couple of things. First of all, I am happy this morning because we had a tentative budget agreement last night. As a result of that, we are going to resist the temptation to have too high tax cuts, significant but not too high, and we are going to get some more money in non-defense discretionary, which is what you guys need. So, you are going to be in the hunt for those additional dollars if the agreement sticks.
What would you give as your top priority if you had some additional dollars in your budget? Now, that is a softball from a friend to someone who is a friend.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Well, there are clearly a number of needs. Research and development, I believe, and sound science is going to be at the top of any list of how we move forward. We need to be able to have the resources to do the kinds of reviews that are required in order when we put proposals forward, to ensure that we are able to back them up and to explain to people how this is going to in fact preserve and protect the environment and preserve and protect public health.
Another area that we have been talking about is our water infrastructure needs. Those are huge. There are a lot of very important ancillary benefits that come from that discussion and addressing those needs, not the least of which is ensuring an adequate supply of water throughout the country. This is going to be a huge need.
But I don't think there is anything where a little bit more money in the budget is going to provide enough money to do that.
So, I would say as I look at the Agency's budget overall that research and development is an area where we can always ensure that we would put money to good use. But there are a number of other projects.
I don't think there is anything in this budget that I would say isn't worthy of support. I believe probably every Cabinet officer will tell you that most of what they have in their budget could always use a little bit more money.
However, we are very sensitive to the fact that there is an overall budget and we need to be cognizant of the money we are spending and whose it is.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Well, in my other capacity, putting my hat on as Chair of the Science Committee, we are going to work with you in the agency to get the funding that you need for research and development activities.
This is a town where everyone likes to say they are for science-based decision making, until the scientific consensus is politically inconvenient, and then they look for something else.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Following up on a comment made by Mr. Oberstar, I, too, am concerned as we look to the future. The Superfund trust fund is dwindling down. It has to be replenished. I am not anxious to violate the basic concept that the polluter pays. I think it is rather sinful that we have let the corporate environmental income tax lapse.
I am not going to put you on the hook to get you to respond to this. But that corporate environmental income tax collects 12/100ths of a percent. When all profits over $2 million were figured on the alternative minimum tax, it would cost the entire oil industry in one year $33 million, the whole industry in one year.
In the first quarter of this current year, Mobil made $5 billion in profits. I am not against profits. They are not a dirty word. I want companies to make profits. That is what they are in business for. But that $33 million from the oil industry, which has been rather vociferous in its opposition to the lapsed corporate environmental income tax, that $33 million represents about ten minutes' of profits.
So, we will talk with you on a bipartisan basis to make certain that we get the funds we need in that Superfund trust fund to do the job that I know you want to do and that we must do for America.
One last question: This is an easy one. But TMDLs has been something that has been very much on our docket. In the 2001 EPA appropriations bill we required EPA to do a study on TMDL development and implementation cost.
So, I know you are new on the job and you have inherited everything. But we are anxious to get that information. I wonder if you have any idea when that might be forthcoming.
Ms. WHITMAN. I am very hopeful and in fact it is our intent to be able to complete that report and brief the Congress on the results of that study by the end of this month.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. Taylor. Thank you, Madam Secretary for being with us today. Madam Secretary, have there been some sort of technological breakthrough that would allow us to construct sewerage plants that are a lot more efficient, that are a lot less expensive than in the past?
I am puzzled that as a higher percentage of Americans moves within 50 miles of the coast, and I am told it could be 80 percent of our population within the next 40 years, who would be cutting money that goes to the State Revolving Fund? Are there some technological advances that will allow us to treat that additional demand or why is this money being cut?
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, as I indicated before, the amount being requested in this budget is $50 million more than what was requested last year for the State Revolving Loan Fund.
Mr. Taylor. But it was less money than was appropriated. I did notice in your testimony that you used requested a few times and you used appropriated. It is less than we actually spent last year.
Ms. WHITMAN. What we did is we did the same thing that the previous Administration did what every administration does, which is back out the Congressional add-ons. That is not to say they are not good projects, but as far as the overall program is concerned and the priorities of the administration and the agency, there is an increase in this, a recognition that there needs to be more.
The fund will probably be able to be at a revolving level of $3 billion this year, exceeding what was anticipated to be a revolving amount of $2 billion long term. But that does not address the long-term need and discussion that we are going to have to have on water infrastructure.
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We did feel it was very important. The overall program is at $1.3 billion. We do feel it is very important to start that Wet Weather program, the CSO and SSO grants, which is why $450 million is directed toward that program as something that we think is critical as we address our water needs and infrastructure needs.
Mr. Taylor. Okay. Is it safe to say it really isn't any cheaper to construct a sewage treatment plant? In fact, the price goes up. I am asking that in the form of a question.
Ms. WHITMAN. I know and I appreciate the question. I couldn't tell you definitely. I am sure there have been when you say not any less expensive than last year I don't know the technology has advanced significantly since last year. It certainly has over the years advanced significantly.
Mr. TAYLOR. Ms. Whitman, what troubles me about your budget request is that America has thousands of miles of coast line. I represent maybe 100 miles of those thousands of miles. Just the three coastal counties that I represent have asked for off the top of my head$200 million worth of infrastructure this year.
So, I cannot believe that. As we know, the growth is all along every coastline in America. I simply cannot believe what you are proposing is going to be anywhere near what they need to satisfy it.
Since we have both served in local government, I think what we are basically doing is for the sake of these tax breaks is shifting that burden from the federal government to the State and local governments. It has to happen under Federal mandate. They have to bring their effluent up to Federal standards. So, for the sake of a tax break at the Federal level, we are in effect mandating that their local sewerage treatment costs are going to go up. Is that a fair assessment?
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, no. I would argue with you that it is not because of any tax cut. I believe that with this Administration's commitment to controlling the rate of growth and spending and this budget is larger for the Environmental Protection Agency than it has been in the past that you would see a cut in spending overall anyway, a cut in the rate of growth in spending. It is not a cut in the spending because that rarely, if ever, happens, even with individual programs.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, it is not analogous to say that is what is happening. But I would agree with you that the needs in water infrastructure are enormous. They are far greater than $2 billion or a $3 billion revolving loan fund.
We are talking about walking around the margins there. We need to look at, once we have all the information, what is the Federal role, what is the Federal responsibility as we look at these needs and try to determine what are we talking about, $480 billion or a trillion dollars? That is far beyond anything that has ever been anticipated in the budget of this Agency or any other individual Federal Agency to meet these kinds of needs.
So, we do have a greater discussion that needs to take place. But I would not say we have seen a cut in this program overall. It is more than was requested than the previous Administration thought was necessary to deal with these issues. That is the fact in what was asked for. I only go by what was asked for.
We go into a process where there are a lot of good projects. Everybody has very good and important projects. As those get added on, there comes a time when, from a budget perspective, you can't spend any more. But on this one, these issues are going to be well beyond anything that anyone has imagined. We need to have a very complete discussion of them in light of what we suspect the needs are going to be.
Mr. Taylor. Thank you for being here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
The staff tells me that the first one here on our side was Governor Otter. So, we will go to him at this point.
Mr. OTTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Administrator Whitman. I am just new here so I get a little confused when I hear about this, authorized and requested and what was actually spent.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Isn't it a fact that the Bush administration is asking for $50 million more than the Clinton Administration asked for?
Ms. WHITMAN. Yes.
Mr. OTTER. Isn't it a fact that the present authorization is zero? So, the President of the United States is asking for $850 million more than Congress has authorized?
Ms. WHITMAN. Yes.
Mr. OTTER. Thank you. Now that I have that clear, that is my lesson for the day, I suppose, Administrator Whitman. I thank you very much for that.
There are a couple of things that are coming down on us in the West. I am from Idaho. There are a couple of things that are coming down on us pretty hard in the west. One of them is a court decision out of the 9th Circuit Court regarding a national pollution discharge elimination system violation of the Clean Water Act by an irrigation company out there that naturally used herbicides in order to maintain weed-free canal banks so that water can be delivered through irrigation systems and that sort of thing.
I know you are relatively new on the job and a lot of these things are coming at you. But the concern that I have and the concern that we have out west is in order to maintain a good system of water delivery, we deliver a lot more water. There are lots of leaks and a lot of other types of things to slow down that water. It has a tendency to percolate because not all of our canals out there and irrigation laterals are concreted.
So, I am really concerned how the EPA under your guidance is going to look upon that decision. It is called the Talent Irrigation System, if that helps you. Would you respond to that, please?
Ms. WHITMAN. We are in the process right now of analyzing the implications of that decision and what it means for the Agency and what it means for our ability to ensure again that we protect the public health and safety and the health and safety of the drinking water, but do it in a sensible way that recognizes that there are real differences in various parts of the country in both needs and climate that impact on those needs and the ability to address problems.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, we are in the process right now of doing a review of that decision. We recognize the importance of the decision relative to herbicides and pesticides and their use. We will hopefully be coming to some resolution to be able to publish something very quickly.
Mr. OTTER. If the Postal Service truly does its job, Administrator Whitman, I sent you a letter relative to that yesterday. So, you can expect it probably sometime this month. Along with 21 of my colleagues who have also signed that letter, all from out west, we are very concerned about that.
If there is anything we can do to help guide a decision in that direction that is responsible yet responsive to our needs out there, we would be more than happy to help you.
Ms. WHITMAN. I appreciate that.
Mr. OTTER. I have co-sponsored with Mr. Bilirakis House Resolution 1431, which basically asks for a reinstatement of the EPA ombudsman.
We had a disaster in Idaho. The EPA rolled into town 18 years ago. They said, ''We are going to spend $28 million in three years and we are going to clean up the Silver Valley for you, because the State cannot be trusted to do what is right.''
Now that was 18 years ago and it was over $280 million ago, not the $28 million that they promised us. We still have a problem because it is not cleaned up.
During the last administration, an ombudsman, through a review with peer review, found that the EPA had made a lot of mistakes. He was fired.
Now, we are asking for that to be reinstated through this Bilirakis bill, House Res 1431. I would hope you would encourage the President to sign that bill.
Could I get you to respond to that?
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, I have already indicated that I would be supportive of making the ombudsman independent because I know that has been a concern relative to the ombudsman. That is something that I am prepared to work with Congress on.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OTTER. Thank you. I am glad to have you in town. It is great to see somebody who has your experience. I was Lt. Governor of Idaho for 14 years and watched as agent after agent from Washington, D.C. marched into Idaho, marched into our State and indicated to us that they could do a much better job of running our State than we could, if we would just let them.
So, it is good to have you here. It is good to know that coming from the State level, from the nexus of government, we have finally got somebody running the EPA that may be administratively sensitive to the true level of government at the state. Thank you.
Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you.
Mr. OTTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. MASCARA. I would like to welcome you, Governor Whitman. Based on your record, I am certain that you will do a good job as the EPA administrator.
Ms. WHITMAN. I will try.
Mr. MASCARA. I look forward to working with you. I wish you the best. You have my commitment to work with you to make sure that we are all sensitive to the environmental needs in this country.
From the looks of the budget though, EPA has its work cut out for them. I come from a region that has had a long history of environmental problems. In fact, some say the environmental movement started in my Congressional district in Donora, Pennsylvania, if you remember the smog in the 1950s when hundreds of deaths occurred in the Monongahela Valley.
In fact, I only lived about six or seven miles from Donora in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. I am old enough to remember the reference to the City of Pittsburgh as the smokey city. Now we have a wonderful, beautiful, thriving city in Pittsburgh. A lot of that is due to the efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While they have over-reached on occasions and I have disagreed with the former administrator, Carol Browner, I think we can look to work very closely with you to make sure that we are sensitive to the environmental needs in this country.
For the future I am especially concerned about funding for the CSOs and the SSO grants. Those programs are important to many of the communities that I represent. They are older communities and have a limited tax base.
Now, this grant program is desperately needed. The longer we wait, the worse the problem will become. I am fearful that if we don't act quickly we might have serious water quality problems.
In fact, in the City of Pittsburgh, in Allegheny County, they have an agency there by the name of ALCOSAN. We have a Wet Weather demonstration project going on. It is estimated to cost somewhere around $3 billion to correct the problems in Allegheny County.
I know that you have firsthand experience with these problems. I will be looking forward to working with you and our communities to try to rejuvenate the municipal water treatment systems all over this country.
This leads me to a question and it is sort of a statement. I wonder if you would be amenable to looking at a program that would be structured like the ISTEA or TEA-21 highway bills to fund the construction and maintenance of programs throughout the country. That is to develop a program that would provide low interest loans and grants to communities around the country who could not afford to correct major problems with water and sewerage.
These communities are overwhelmed. The regulations certainly don't add to that problem. We need to mitigate these problems. The question of funding, of course, comes to mind. We in D.C. take umbrage with anybody who suggests that there might be a fee or some tax to fund some Federal program. But the State and local governments are overwhelmed by the problems associated not only in my district, but the northeast literally the sewerage and water problems there and our infrastructure is crumbling.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While I am not looking for another program, I think if we are going to rebuild the infrastructure that relate to water and sewers in this country that perhaps the federal government needs, in cooperation with the State and local governments, to find some way to fund at least maybe the interest and some grants to communities all over this country to begin to rebuild our water and sewers.
Eisenhower said in the 1950s we needed an interstate highway system and a lot of people said we couldn't afford that. But I think we can ill afford as a country to ignore the crumbling infrastructure all over this nation, generally and specifically in the northeast.
I am just wondering if we can have some dialogue sometime about creating some kind of a TEA-21 or ISTEA to talk about funding the improvements in this country.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, Congressman, the Administration obviously agrees with your concern on these issues, which is why we have divided the budget in the way that we have, to start the Wet Weather program with $450 million.
But we are also looking forward to the reviews that are being done by the Congressional Budget Office and by GAO on water infrastructure needs in general and what the federal government's role should be in meeting those needs.
As we have been discussing, they potentially are enormous, far bigger than anything that anyone had anticipated or what we have provided for in any budget.
The EPA is completing the next clean water survey needs which is to be completed by 2002. We are moving forward on that. The only thing I would reiterate is something that you touched on and mentioned that for ISTEA-TEA21 we have a users fee. That is how lots of that gets paid. There is no similar type of federal fee on water because that is done at the local and State level.
That is one of the challenges. You know, talking about having a TEA-21 or something very similar, but I certainly think that we need to be engaged in a very complete discussion on what kind of a program can we put forward, what can we sustain? How can we leverage the dollars that we have to meet what is a very real, and as you point out, a growing problem, particularly in areas such as the northeast where you have infrastructures that are well over 100 years old.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MASCARA. Perhaps we can begin to talk about some cooperation with State and local governments to address something in the future. I realize that is not going to happen overnight. But I know as a former county commissioner who had to deal with just 67 communities in Washington County, Pennsylvania, of the amount of communities that really are going broke having to fund programs that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources are placing on smaller communities.
So, I think perhaps this might be the time to engage in some dialogue.
I wish you well, Madam Administrator.
Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. I apologize to Mr. Gilchrest and Dr. Horn. I understand that Dr. Ehlers has to be at a markup and wants to go next.
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all I want to thank you for accepting this job. It is a rather thankless job, but I have to say when I heard over the radio that you had taken it, I almost literally jumped for joy.
Ms. WHITMAN. I hope not to disappoint you.
Mr. EHLERS. Well, it has been a real problem got me the last several years. I appreciate your ability, your honesty and your thoughtfulness in approaching this job.
My specific question relates to Superfund. I am very concerned about that program and about the future of the program. It obviously needs some changes.
Congressman Boehlert, who chaired this subcommittee for the past few years, spent many, many hours negotiating some changes with the previous Administrator. He had, I think, done yeoman work and we thought we had agreement and at the last minute the other side backed out and we just didn't get it.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But I hope we can use that as a starting point for restructuring Superfund this year. I hope you and your staff will take a look at that.
I am sure that Chairman Duncan will be also interested in following up on this. In particular, it is important to do it because the stance of the Ways and Means Committee under the previous Chairman is that they would not reauthorize the Superfund fee until the law was rewritten.
I don't know if the current Chairman has the same stance. I would certainly be happy to discuss it with him.
But clearly, we should reauthorize the bill anyway and do it right this time and correct what we have learned from the past and build on what we have learned works. I hope you will be willing to join with us in the effort and also in the effort that it is going to take to get the fee reinstituted through the Ways and Means Committee.
Ms. WHITMAN. Congressman, I look forward to working with you on Superfund legislation. As I indicated in previous testimony, I am very hopeful that we will see brownfields legislation completed and get it to the President as quickly as possible.
Then, as soon as that is done I want to get right to work, and I pledge to get to work with the Congress on what we can do with Superfund and ensuring that that program actually gets the money out into the field, into the projects that need to be done and that we can avoid some of the litigation that unfortunately has delayed the process, delayed the cleaning and has redirected some of those very much needed dollars.
Mr. EHLERS. We don't have to totally revamp the program, but a number of things, the de minimis exclusion, for example, would greatly simplify it and, I think, save a lot of money.
Also, the brownfields, we have to do a better job of defining how that is to be done.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is just a host of different things. I appreciate your interest in this. Since I have just a few seconds left, I want to comment on some of the other comments made here. I have served in local government, State government and now the Federal government. I have to say that it somewhat amazes me that so many local governments are coming to us to rebuild their infrastructure when the original infrastructure was built at a time when their citizens were much poorer than they are now and had less resources and they managed to put in water and sewer systems without the help of the federal government.
I have no problem with establishing revolving loan funds, but I am very concerned about local communities somehow developing the expectation that we are going to fund their infrastructure problems from Washington. First of all, I don't think it is most efficient. Secondly, if we start this they will never be able to get a bond issue passed because people will say, ''We will wait for the federal government to help us.''
You don't have to respond to this. But I just wanted to say that the opinion is divided on this committee about whether or not it is up to us to solve it. We should do what we can to help, especially through revolving loan funds, low interest and things of that sort.
But I think if we get actively involved in that it is going to turn out to be one of the biggest pork barrel programs that this Congress has ever seen. The money would not go on the basis of need, but rather on the basis of political power.
Thank you very much.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There was some reaction to the previous gentleman's statement. I am sure he wasn't referring to members of this committee when he talked about the other side backing out on the Superfund reform, since I was one of the first Democrats to support a reasonable reform.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Despite the objections of the administration, we did pass a bill out of this committee, 69 to 2, bipartisan. I would suggest that as a potential model and starting point for the new administration, which perhaps would be more receptive to reasonable reform.
I do have a particular question. The administrator may or may not be familiar with this. If she is not, I would like an answer, but it wouldn't have to be this moment.
Ms. WHITMAN. I will try.
Mr. DEFAZIO. There is a case called the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County, which was a Supreme Court case decided in January. It goes to the issue of isolated intrastate waters. It has extraordinarily broad implications for the potential regulation of wetlands. In particular, I think of areas like the Prairie Potholes and areas which we know are absolutely vital for flyways and wildlife and those things.
My understanding of this case, as decided by the Supreme Court, is that it would basically exclude wetlands regulation by the federal government in those areas under current law.
I am curious if you are familiar with that decision and if you are familiar with it, does the administration intend to introduce legislation to modify or overturn the Court's decision?
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, actually, in fact, I have been talking with staff quite extensively on the SWANCC decision because of the implications that it has for what is considered waters of the U.S. That was kind of the defining terminology.
We are in the process of an analysis, working with the Army Corps of Engineers to see what we can do, as well as the Department of Justice and the Council on Environmental Quality, to help ensure that the SWANCC decision is implemented in a manner that is consistent among all the field offices and the agencies in a way that really does protect the very precious wetlands that we know are critical to the health of habitat, habitat for humans as well as animals.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are right now looking at whether we need to look for rule-making or what other kind of guidance we need to have from the Clean Water Act in order to be able to meet the parameters of that judicial decision. It is something that we have been working on since the decision came down. We are still in the process of trying to see how we can best implement that in a way that does protect the appropriate waters.
Mr. DEFAZIO. I am not entirely conversant with the decision, but I would hope it would be a little more aggressive than looking toward just implementation. This puts at risk virtually anything that is regarded as wetlands that is not a free-flowing interstate river in terms of regulatory actions by the Federal government.
I would posit that the previous Bush Administration adopted a no-net loss policy on wetlands. I have yet to see any sort of comprehensive statement by this administration on the issue. But, I would hope that there will be a strong and consistent message and I would hope it is not just to implement this decision because I think a rigorous implementation of this decision would be devastating for precious resources.
Maybe we are arguing over words.
Ms. WHITMAN. I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression. Part of what the discussion with the Department of Justice is to see what are the potential next steps. What really is embodied in that decision? What does it mean and where can we re-examine what our flexibility is in what is determined to be a water of the U.S. Because that is how they framed their decision.
So, we are not just looking at okay that is the decision and how do we implement it. We are on a dual track, really.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Are there constitutional issues here or could Congress in fact adopt a much broader definition and resolve the problem?
Ms. WHITMAN. Congress has the ability to do a lot of things.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DEFAZIO. Yes, there is no constitutional prohibition for us to redefine it.
Ms. WHITMAN. I don't think there is any language in the Constitution that describes waters of the U.S. I don't remember any part of the Constitution that addresses that issue.
Mr. DEFAZIO. So, you could recommend, your conclusion could be to recommend to Congress that we either reinstate the prior rule through legislation, an amendment to the Clean Water Act or take other action.
Ms. WHITMAN. That certainly could be an outcome, yes.
Mr. DEFAZIO. Do you have any time line on when you might have a recommendation?
Ms. WHITMAN. We are moving it as quickly as we can trying to come to some kind of position where we are able to make a series of recommendations: What we could do regulatorily; where we would need legislation; where we need to engage in a discussion with the Congress.
I would hope we would be able to do that in the next month or so, but I can't give you a precise date.
Mr. DEFAZIO. We will look forward to that. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you.
Mr. GILCHREST. Ms. Whitman, welcome, again.
Ms. WHITMAN. It is good to see you.
Mr. GILCHREST. The Chesapeake Bay Program in the President's budget was funded at about $18-some million. But we understand from staff that there probably will be some correction up to $20-some million, which is what we were requesting.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It is my understanding that that probably won't be a problem with this committee, based on what the President's budget will recommend.
Ms. WHITMAN. That will be funded at the same level as last year's request.
Mr. GILCHREST. It is a good program. What we are going to try to do is take that science that we have been looking at for 20 years now and put it on the ground and make it work for some of those dollars.
The other question I had, a few years ago through the Clean Water Act the federal government decided to implement and then gradually enforce the TMDL concept. I know it is a controversial issue. But what we did in the first Congressional district of Maryland, which is basically the Eastern Shore of Maryland, was to take a look at that and understand it from two different perspectives, which is that it is a storm water runoff control regime and also it also is basically best management practices for agriculture.
Now, the two most profitable industries, well not profitable, the two largest industries in my district are commercial and recreational fishing and agriculture. They have a tendency to have a conflict with each other because if you have too much unregulated agricultural runoff, you eliminate a lot of spawning areas for what the fishermen are going to try to catch.
So, what we did was went to every single county with the County Commissioner, the Planning and Zoning Commission, their public works people, farmers, watermen and everybody that we could get into the room.
We explained the TMDLs were fundamentally an improvement on storm water run off and best management practices for agriculture. Then we took the Region Three Director and people from the Region Three office and we walked them around on farms. We came to the conclusion that the TMDLs are not something that you have to be a rocket scientist and extreme environmentalist to understand the nature of. But if we put our brains together, we could implement this policy, have cleaner water and profitable farms.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just want to make a comment that that is what we are doing. It is not easy, but with a little bit of rigorous mental effort, those things can become a reality.
I understand, though that there is a study being worked on for which we appropriated money for development and implementation, and also a National Academy of Science study being worked on. Do you have any idea when they might be ready?
Ms. WHITMAN. We expect to share with the Congress the EPA study by the end of this month. The National Academy of Science study should be done by June, and be ready to be discussed then.
Mr. GILCHREST. There has also been some discussion about wetlands. Might the President have a policy of no net loss the way the former President Bush had?
Ms. WHITMAN. At this point in time, I will tell you very honestly, we have not discussed that issue as being a policy issue for the President.
I know he cares very much about the environment, so I wouldn't be surprised, but he hasn't made any kind of commitment along those lines as yet.
Mr. GILCHREST. We hope so because there has been a lot of congestion that has been discussed here and in Transportation. The more wetland areas we lose, the less areas there will be for wildlife and the more congestion there will be in certain areas.
So, we would encourage the administration to adopt what we thought some years ago was a reasonable policy.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, we certainly have a commitment to preserving and protecting our wetlands at the Environmental Protection Agency. I just can't speak to whether the President is ready to make that kind of statement.
Mr. GILCHREST. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Gilchrest.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FILNER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Madam Secretary or Governor. I am not quite sure which has the highest prestige.
Ms. WHITMAN. It is actually Administrator.
Mr. FILNER. Madam Administrator. I know you have had a long morning, so I won't ask you about arsenic and I won't ask you about global warming and I won't ask you about logging and I won't ask you about drilling in the Arctic--all of which you should be asked about.
Ms. WHITMAN. I am happy to answer.
Mr. FILNER. I know you are all ready. I represent San Diego, California, at least the southern half and the border area with Mexico. I will tell you that on some very key issues that we have been involved in with EPA, the last administration, good friends of mine, I would say, were on the wrong side of good science and common sense.
I just want to make sure you bring yourself up to speed on those two issues because they are still current and I think EPA can reverse itself and be on the good side on this.
We have an extraordinary situation in San Diego where 50 million gallons of raw sewage flows through my district to the Pacific Ocean from Mexico because Tijuana does not have adequate sewage facilities.
You may be familiar with the fact that an international wastewater treatment plant has been built in San Diego, but while that was being built, the problem doubled.
We came up with a very innovative private-public partnership where a new facility using the latest technology that EPA wanted to build in San Diego would be built in Mexico. It would allow Mexico to recycle the water. It would have all kinds of environmental benefits, win, win, win, win.
EPA resisted it the whole time. We finally did pass legislation which mandated it. But there is still negotiation going on between the U.S. and Mexico to come up with the international treaty that would allow that to happen.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I just hope that EPA will line itself up on encouraging those negotiations and helping them because that will solve a 50-year problem for our region.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, Congressman, I look forward to working with you on that. I will also tell you that I be going to visit the border States prior to a bilateral meeting in Guadalajara in June where one of the discussions will clearly be the NAD and the BEK and what their role is and should be and how we ensure that the dollars anticipated get out through those two vehicles directed at environmental issues along the border, how we ensure that we get that money out.
Whether or not this project, whether that is the best way to do it, I know that the concern we have had is really the State Department's role here and the State Department's assumption of the overall authority to handle this.
But I think there is some potential with the NAD Bank and the BEK. [Conversation in Spanish between Ms. Whitman and Mr. Filner.]
Mr. FILNER. The other issue in which your legal department is involved with, and I think unnecessarily, is San Diego's metropolitan sewage treatment plant. After much discussion, litigation and legislation, we received a waiver from secondary treatment, a 301(H) waiver five years ago through legislation that was passed in the Congress. Again, it was legislation that had to be passed.
As a freshman, it was my first piece of legislation. It ended up saving San Diego, I think, about $6 billion. I figured I could retire after that. So, now the five-year period is up. The EPA, through administrative and legal action is saying that San Diego must live up to the requirements of that legislation in the renewal of the waiver.
Now, when you go to legislative intent, it would be a good source to ask the legislator, and I wrote the bill. The intent of the legislation was to get San Diego into the game for the waiver and certain compromises that EPA and others wanted were put in there to bring them into the waiver process.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It was the intent that after they got into that system that we would be treated like any other city for the renewal of the waiver.
But EPA wants to hold us to higher standards. Ordinarily, I would be for any higher standards that would help the ocean. But we have the foremost oceanographic institute in the world sitting a mile or so from the plant, the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. They agree with us that the intent of the legislation or the intent of the Clean Water Act would be met by just granting the waiver, that obviously no harm is being done to the ocean and it is good science. It is common sense.
We are wasting time in the legal and administrative process to sue San Diego to go beyond what the Clean Air Act asks. They are using my legislation, the Ocean Pollution Reduction Act, to say no, that act required more. Well, I wrote the act. We did what was required to get us into the game. Now, we are in the game and we want to follow the rules that are applied to every other city. We would hope that you would relook at that because I think you are wasting your resources in trying to force us to do something beyond the legislative intent.
When I get into court and they ask the legislator's intent, I think you will probably lose the case, in any case. But we are wasting time and money here along the way.
Ms. WHITMAN. Well, Congressman, I have to admit to you I am not familiar with that case. But I will certainly go back and take a look at it and get in touch with you.
Mr. FILNER. I appreciate that. You have so many other things to do. You don't want to do anything that is a waste of your resources and your great legal talent.
Ms. WHITMAN. I couldn't agree with you more.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you, Mr. Filner.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. Horn.
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Administrator, I am going to put a little light on. In the 103rd Congress, we put legislation in the Government Reform group, then known as Government Operations, that the Administrator of EPA would be called Madam or Ms. Secretary.
We sent it to the Floor, however, and the Science Committee, on a bipartisan basis, Democrat and Republican, John Mica, Republican, the former State Senator in Florida, Karen Thurman, Democrat, they put in there that EPA must make its rulings based on sound science. We sent that to the Floor.
The Democrat Speaker Foley and Democrat Majority Leader, at that time, Mr. Gebhardt, refused to ever let it come up. Why? Because they knew we had the votes and that we were going to insist on science and not bureaucracy.
So, hopefully, we can get that going again where your decisions would be made on science. I think that is important because it hasn't been in a number of cases.
Before your agency, we had the Corps of Engineers in. I asked the question, ''To what degree in the strategy of the Corps of Engineers are wetlands?''
They said basically it would be about a fourth of what they are working on. They were very supportive.
I just wonder in the EPA, have you had an opportunity to take a look at wetlands and the need for them because I have a wetlands project for you.
Ms. WHITMAN. I would be happy to hear about your wetlands project, Congressman.
Mr. HORN. It is the Los Cerridos wetlands in Long Beach, California.
Ms. WHITMAN. We feel very strongly about wetlands at the Environmental Protection Agency. We understand their critical importance to the ecology, to the environment overall, and of course to cleaning our water and to ensure that we have adequate supplies.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, for a host of reasons wetlands are very important to the overall health of this country.
Mr. HORN. Well, I thank you. That is a good statement and we will take you up on that.
Mr. Chairman, I have some correspondence here I want to put in the record at this point. One is a letter from myself to the Administrator, Ms. Whitman and a letter from the Coalition for Practical Regulation, 34 cities in southern Los Angeles County.
It is in answer to the Region 9 Director. It is by Larry Forrester Steering Committee. I might add that 34 cities in southern Los Angeles County are several million people.
Next is the Alexis Strauss, Director, Water Division in the Region 9 San Francisco. We are unhappy with that because that should have been a little more practical, as they suggest. I hope you will take a look at that because I think Region 9 is a little too excitable about lifting the burden from the State to the local municipalities. We would like to deal with that. If you could, we would spend some time with you once you have a chance to look at it.
Ms. WHITMAN. I will be happy to do that.
Mr. HORN. Thank you for coming.
Mr. DUNCAN. Those letters will be made a part of the record.
Mr. HORN. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. LaTourette.
Mr. LATOURETTE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Administrator, it is nice to see you. Congratulations on your appointment.
I just want to go back and make an observation about something you have been asked about a number of times. I want to underscore its importance. You have been talking about the State Revolving Fund. You have been talking, too, about the Wet Weather program.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Just from my perspective going back to the last Congress when Jim Barcia and Bill Pascrell from your State were working very hard on this legislation in the last Congress. It was very important and included in there, which I see that the administration's budget has a legislative proposal to repeal the trigger that was put in there.
The thinking that went into it was that we all recognize really the billions of dollars that are going to be needed by America's cities, large and small, and America's rural areas to replace and upgrade decaying sanitary systems, combined sewer systems, sewer system overflow problems.
But we didn't want that to come at the expense of the State Revolving Fund. So, the legislation, H.R.828, I think it was in the last Congress, specifically indicated that there couldn't be any money authorized for the combined sewer overflow problem unless we hit the $1.35 billion, which clearly, and I know you do not and I understand the difference between asked for, appropriated and authorized and everything else.
But I do have a concern. What was contemplated by the drafters of the legislation in the last Congress was that there be $1.35 billion in place for the State Revolving Fund and then there would be money for the CSO program.
When we add up your $850 and your $450 million, we still only get to about $1.3 billion, I guess. So, I could argue, if I wanted to, that you are $50 million short. I don't choose to do that.
But I hope that as we move forward through the appropriations process and maybe some more numbers shake and if the white smoke comes out of the Senate and we are able to reach some deal on the budget and the tax cut, that you, as the administrator of this agency, are prepared to go to bat and urge that this is a significant, significant need in America. People are not going to stand still when they see that their sewer and water bills go up $50 or $100 or $75 a month because they can't pay to take care of some of these degraded systems.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. All right. Any member, of course, has the right to submit additional questions in writing. We will ask the Administrator to respond in writing to those questions.
Administrator Whitman, there is an advantage to starting to testify at noon, as long as this has been.
But let me just ask one last thing that has been brought to my attention by the staff. In the last Congress there was a subcommittee of this committee called Oversight and Investigations. That is now being handled and staffed at the full committee level.
But they had a hearing on some of the grants that had been issued by the EPA. This was before your watch. Apparently, there is over $300 million a year that is spent on discretionary grants or survey studies and so forth by the EPA.
This investigation showed that many of those grants went for questionable purposes or had conflicts of interest and so forth and went, for instance, to foreign countries. There was a grant to provide electric scooters to China. There was a grant to a nonprofit to develop a car-pooling and van pooling scheme to reduce congestion in a town in South Africa.
There was a grant to study and develop a wetland management plan for a technical conference for China's Yellow River Delta wetlands. I am told there are many other similar grants.
I can assure you that almost every Member of this subcommittee and the full committee on both sides would prefer that the money for those grants be spent in this country. In addition, I am told that that investigation showed that there was an EPA employee who apparently helped obtain a grant for an organization of which that EPA employee was a member.
So, we would appreciate it if you would look at those grants and what has happened in the past and that you would try to steer those grants more to this country and also that you would try to make sure that no EPA employees obtain grants for organizations of which they are a member or even their families are members.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. WHITMAN. Certainly. I will definitely take a look.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much for being with us today. You have held up remarkably well. We appreciate it. We look forward to working with you, especially on these water infrastructure needs. That is going to be the most important area, I think. Of course, we touched on all these other things that are very important, also. We really are pleased that you are there. We think that you are doing a great job so far and we hope you keep on.
Ms. WHITMAN. Thank you.
Mr. DUNCAN. Thank you very much. That will conclude this hearing.
[Whereupon, at 1:35 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]