Congresswoman Lois Frankel advocated for South Florida priorities, Port Everglades expansion and Everglades Restoration, as negotiations got underway on a final Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).
Frankel, a member of the Transportation & Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, has a seat at the table as the House-Senate Conference Committee resolve differences between the House and Senate-passed WRRDA bills.
“I am very optimistic and energized that we can show the American people that lawmakers have the ability to work cooperatively in this conference committee and bring back an excellent finished product to our respective bodies,” he said.
“Transportation moves our economy, and our waterways play a vital role.
“WRRDA is about jobs for America, and as a Floridian I will be looking forward to supporting a final bill that streamlines project approvals, promotes our ports, protects our precious wetlands known as the Everglades, and preserves and manages our coastline.
“Both WRRDA bills reduce the bureaucracy and expense in determining the feasibility of water projects. That will be good news for applicants, like Port Everglades, that has waited 17 years for a chief’s report on a dredging proposal.
“America’s ports, like Port Everglades, need to be ready for the widening of the Panama Canal, expected to be completed by 2015. If they are not ready, the ships will pass them by.
“Dredging projects will allow the accommodation of larger and heavier loaded Post-Panamax freight ships. For Florida, this translates into tens of thousands of jobs with a multi-billion dollar impact on our economy.
“The ports of our country are in an infrastructure race with the rest of the world.
“So for those ports and other projects waiting for a Chiefs report and not yet authorized, I urge support for a House provision that will allow nonfederal interests to proceed with planning, design, and construction of projects, once they receive their chief’s report.
“This will allow important projects not authorized in this WRRDA bill to move forward in a timely manner without impact on our federal budget unless authorized by future congresses.
“Both our bills authorize important projects that help to restore Florida’s most important watershed, the Everglades, with a 4 to 1 return on every dollar spent. This restoration means increasing and improving the water quality for millions of people, protecting our natural habitat, increasing property values, expanding recreational opportunities, and boosting tourism.
“Shore protection projects are a vital first-line of defense against deadly storms like Super-Storm Sandy. For that reason, I commend the Senate’s lead in addressing the looming issue of federal project authorizations coming to their 50 year deadlines and for encouraging a more regional approach to sediment management.
“This is especially crucial for the economy and environment of South Florida.”
Press Release, November 21, 2013