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  • Introduction of Legislation

    by Representative Gus M. Bilirakis

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    BILIRAKIS of florida in the house of representatives Thursday, December 12, 2013 Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, today I introduced the Public Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2013. This legislation seeks to modernize the Corps permitting process so that crucial public safety infrastructure projects can be built in a sensible and timely fashion while ensuring there is a thorough environmental review. The National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act guide the Corps' actions to protect our Nation's waterways, but they have flaws that lead to unnecessary and costly delays that do not balance public safety [[Page E1864]] needs against appropriate environmental protections. Under current law, fringe groups are allowed to--for the cost of a postage stamp--file lawsuits against any infrastructure project needing a Clean Water Permit that they spot in the Federal Register. These lawsuits, and the fear of them, have stopped numerous projects that were necessary for local governments to protect their constituents and would have caused minimal harm to the environment. My legislation would modernize the application process for CWA permits submitted by local governments that are for levees, self-closing flood barriers, seawalls, flood gates, slough and stream construction and dredging for flood control, retention ponds for residential areas, and roads and bridges for hurricane, wildfire, and other extreme weather event evacuations. It creates firm time limits for the Corps to act, and a petition process should the agency be unwilling to complete consideration of the project. The legislation also caps mitigation costs to being no more than twenty percent of the total project's cost to ensure projects costs are responsible to the taxpayer. This legislation does not waive NEPA and protects practical environmental review. With local governments struggling to allocate scarce taxpayer dollars for badly needed public safety projects, we must ensure the Federal Government properly balances public safety and environmental concerns. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation through Congress.



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