Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Chairman of its Water and Wildlife Subcommittee, called Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA/S. 601) a crucial investment in Maryland’s economy, the newly expanded Port of Baltimore and the National Treasure that is the Chesapeake Bay.
“Clean water means good jobs for Marylanders. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) invests in the health of the Chesapeake Bay and bolsters support for the Port of Baltimore, which is extremely important for maintaining and creating jobs, for our economy, and for our competitiveness. For 40 years, we have had a network of strong environmental laws to protect American rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes and coastal waterways from toxic pollution. I am proud that through WRDA, we were able to work in a bipartisan manner to keep these public health provisions in place, protecting the American people by keeping our waters safe to swim, fish, and especially drink.
“WRDA supports the Chesapeake Bay that is particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of erosion. Every year the Army Corps of Engineers clears tons of eroded sediment from the federal navigation channels that lead into and out of the Port of Baltimore. Keeping this busy port open and the channels dredged is essential not just for Maryland, but for the nation. The Corps then uses the dredge to restore natural islands like Poplar Island and the Mid-Bay islands restoring critical wildlife habitat and protects coastal communities. In addition, WRDA continues beach replenishment programs in Ocean City and Assateague and Wallops Islands that save taxpayer dollars in emergency recovery funding as the replenished beaches protect against millions of dollars in potential property damage and loss of business. And the programs for oyster bed replenishment contribute to mitigating future storm damage while restoring the habitat for the oysters that are essential to balancing to the Bay’s ecosystem.
“Helping to strengthen the bill is my amendment (#861) that would block disgruntled agencies or ‘non-federal interests’ from elevating a project dispute with the Corps to a higher level, even the President, without appropriate justification. I believe that this is not a process that should be invoked lightly. Further, my amendment clarifies this new review process as a time-limited pilot program.
“We have a good bill. It’s well-balanced. There are some provisions that I would have drafted differently, but that is the nature of our system of bipartisan compromise and cooperation. I hope that House of Representatives will act quickly to send this important jobs bill to the President.”