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Chairman Simpson Floor Statement on FY 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

Washington, May 24, 2016 House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson spoke in support of H.R. 5055, the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, on the House floor today. His statement follows:

It’s my distinct honor to bring the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water bill before you today.

Before I go into the details, I’d like to recognize the hard work of Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey on this bill and the appropriations process.

I would also like to thank my Ranking Member, Ms. Kaptur. I appreciate her help and it is a better bill because of her work on it.

The bill provides $37.4 billion for the activities of the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and other agencies under our jurisdiction. This is $259 million more than last year’s funding level and $168 million above the budget request.

This is a responsible bill that recognizes the importance of investing in this nation’s infrastructure and national defense. As we do each year, we worked hard to incorporate priorities and perspectives from both sides of the aisle.

The Administration’s proposal to cut the programs of the Army Corps of Engineers by $1.4 billion would have led to economic disruptions as our ports and waterways silted in and would have left our communities and businesses vulnerable to flooding.  Instead, this bill recognizes the critical work of the Corps and provides $6.1 billion for those activities. 

This includes $1.8 billion for flood and coastal storm damage reduction projects.  These projects prevented damages of $14.8 billion in 2014 alone.

Harbor Maintenance activities are funded at  $1.26 billion, the same as last year and $122 million more than the fiscal year 2017 target.

The bill makes use of all estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust.

The Department of Energy nuclear weapons program is funded at $9.3 billion, which is $438 million more than last year. This increase will support full funding for stockpile life extension programs. It also includes an additional $106 million above the request to address the growing backlog of deferred maintenance and $30 million above the request to upgrade the security infrastructure where nuclear weapons material is stored. The recommendation for Naval Reactors is $1.4 billion, an increase of $45 million, and includes full funding for the Ohio-Class replacement submarine.

A national energy policy can only be successful if it maintains stability while investing in a secure, independent, and prosperous energy future. This bill makes balanced investments in a true “all of the above” energy strategy.

This bill also takes a strong stand against the regulatory overreach and extreme application of laws that have been the hallmark of this Administration.

The bill opposes the Administration’s actions with regards to the Clean Water Act and includes three provisions that prohibit changes to the definition of “fill material”, the definition of “waters of the U.S.” and the permit requirement for certain agricultural activities.

The bill also includes several provisions to ensure that the Bureau of Reclamation maximizes water deliveries in California to help alleviate the drought while sustaining senior water rights and maintaining environmental protections.

This is a strong bill that will advance our national security interests and our economy. I urge everyone to support it.

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