H.R. 3080: Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

H.R. 3080

Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

Date
October 23, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Emily Leviner

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, the House will begin consideration of H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, under a rule.  H.R. 3080 was introduced on September 11, 2013 by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  H.R. 3080 was marked up on September 19, 2013 and ordered reported, as amended, by a voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3080 “authorizes the United States Army Corps of Engineers to carry out water resources development activities for the Nation, usually through cost-sharing partnerships with non-federal sponsors.  Activities include navigation, flood damage reduction, shoreline protection, hydropower, dam safety, water supply, recreation, environmental restoration and protection, and disaster response and recovery.  H.R. 3080 also makes fundamental reforms to the Corps of Engineers planning process, accelerates project delivery, empowers non-federal project sponsors, and strengthens congressional oversight.”[1]

Specifically, H.R. 3080 authorizes twenty-three water resources projects that have completed the technical review by the Corps of Engineers and are recommended by the Chief of Engineers.[2]  A table identifying each project is available beginning on page 42 of Committee Report 113-246, Part 1.  H.R. 3080 also authorizes modifications to three previously authorized water resources projects, as project cost increases require congressional approval.[3]

H.R. 3080 establishes a process to deauthorize $12 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007.  The bill also establishes a public-private project delivery pilot program, allowing non-federal interests to finance construction of at least fifteen authorized water resources development projects. 

In addition, H.R. 3080 reaffirms that WRDAs should be considered by Congress every two years.  Traditionally, WRDAs have been biennial omnibus authorization bills.  They are not, however, reauthorization bills.  “That is, WRDAs generally authorize new activities which are added to the pool of existing authorized activities.”[4] 

A section-by-section analysis of the bill is available here.

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure provided the following highlights of H.R. 3080[5]:

Reforms Bureaucracy, Accelerates Project Delivery, and Streamlines Environmental Reviews

  • Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies[6]
  • Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews
  • Streamlines environmental reviews

Enhances Fiscal Responsibility

  • Deauthorizes $12 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007[7]
  • Fully offsets new authorizations with deauthorizations
  • Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs[8]
  • Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps

Strengthens Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability

  • NO earmarks
  • Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight

Increases Flexibility for Non-Federal Interests

  • Maximizes ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to move authorized studies and projects forward
  • Expands ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite evaluating and processing of permits
  • Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program

Improves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure

  • Authorizes needed investments in America’s ports
  • Supports underserved, emerging ports
  • Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
  • Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs

[2] Id. at 67.

[3] Id. at 277.

[5] Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: WRRDA Highlights.

[6] WRRDA limits Corps of Engineers feasibility studies to three years.  Currently these studies have no time limit.  Additionally, WRRDA caps the federal cost of Corps of Engineers feasibility studies at $3 million.  Currently there is no cap.

[7] This section requires the Secretary of the Army submit a list of inactive projects to the Congress that were authorized prior to the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, have not begun construction, or, if they have begun construction, have not received any funds, federal or non-federal, in the past 5 years.  The Secretary must identify projects from the oldest authorization to the newest until the total federal cost of the projects on the list totals $12 billion.  After a 180 day period of congressional review, the projects on the list are deauthorized.

[8] This section terminates the authorization for any project or separable element of a project authorized for construction by the Act after 7 years unless construction has been initiated.

Background

Nearly one-third of America’s GDP is derived from international trade, and 99% of that trade passes through the nation’s ports.[1]  Thirty million jobs are related to international trade, and $200 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue is generated by our ports each year.[2]  Transportation accounts for as much as ten percent of the total product cost for the food, clothing, and other goods we buy on a daily basis.[3]  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is vital for maintaining the nation’s competitiveness in the global economy.   

The Army established the Corps as a permanent branch in 1802[4] and since that time, its civil works mission has evolved significantly.  An overview of the Corps’ regulatory jurisdiction is available here.[5]  “Under its civil works program, [the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] plans, builds, operates, and maintains a wide range of water resource facilities.  Its civil works responsibilities are principally to support navigation, reduce flood and storm damage, and protect and restore aquatic ecosystems.”[6]  Corps activities require congressional authorization, which can be project-specific, programmatic, or general.  However, authorizations are insufficient for a Corps study or project to proceed; and “action on an authorization requires funding.”[7] 

Authorizations for Corps activities traditionally have been provided in omnibus WRDAs, “making certain projects and activities eligible for receiving federal funding.”[8]  WRDAs also establish policies for Corps civil works activities.[9]  “Historically, water resources legislation has been enacted every two years to provide oversight of and policy direction to the Administration and the Corps of Engineers.  But since such a measure has not been enacted since 2007, Congress has been silent on needed reforms and has failed to take action to develop, maintain, and support our Nation’s vital water infrastructure needs.”[10]  H.R. 3080 addresses this by authorizing key missions of the Corps and providing an opportunity for Congress to make critical policy reforms.


[1] Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: WRRDA Booklet at 4.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Mission Overview.

[5] U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Regulatory Jurisdiction Overview.

[7] Id.

[8] Id. at 1-2.

[9] Id. at 2.

Cost

Based on CBO estimates, “implementing H.R. 3080 would cost about $3.5 billion over 2014-2018 period.  Spending would continue for authorized projects after 2018, and CBO estimates that such spending would total $4.7 billion over the 2019-2023 period.”  Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending; therefore pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

Additional information noted by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure:

  • WRRDA is subject to all annual discretionary appropriations under the spending caps contained in the Budget Control Act (BCA).  
  • With a ten year score of $8.2 billion, WRRDA authorizes $4 billion less than the Senate passed bill (S.601) and $15 billion less than the enacted 2007 WRDA.
  • WRRDA fully offsets new water resources infrastructure authorizations with deauthorizations.
    • CBO’s scoring conventions assume that new authorizations will receive funding, but assume cancelling the authority to build projects does not provide budgetary savings.
    • However, these scoring conventions do not change the fact that new authorizations are more than fully offset by deauthorizations

Activities authorized in WRRDA are subject to yearly appropriations and WRRDA does not increase spending for the Corps of Engineers

Amendments

1)         Reps. Shuster (R-PA), Gibbs (R-OH), Rahall (D-WV), and Bishop (D-NY) Manager’s Amendment #72 – Amendment adds a new section that provides for expediting the completion of any on-going feasibility study for a project initiated prior to enactment and clarifies that the Corps of Engineers is authorized to move to preconstruction planning, engineering, and design activities immediately after completing a feasibility study.  Amends Section 107 of H.R. 3080 to add a savings clause to ensure work carried out under an existing statute related to navigation that is repealed in H.R. 3080 can continue if initiated prior to enactment. Adds a new section providing non-Federal interests the ability to carry out work at their own expense for a project where a final feasibility report has been completed but has not received authorization from Congress. Requires the non-Federal interest to carry out work subject to any State or Federal permitting requirements and to carry out the project in accordance with the final feasibility report. Also amends Section 120 of H.R. 3080 to request the Corps of Engineers to review the uses and economic feasibility of non-structural alternatives in their review of existing authorities for carrying out work after a storm event. Moreover, amends Section 102 of H.R. 3080 to add natural gas companies to the entities eligible to contribute funds to Corps of Engineers to expedite the processing of permits within the regulatory program of the Corps of Engineers.  The amendment makes other technical and conforming changes to H.R. 3080.

2)         Reps. DeFazio (D-OR), Blumenauer (D-OR), Jackson Lee (D-TX), Pingree (D-ME), Edwards (D-MD), and Bonamici (D-OT) Amendment #52 – Amendment delays the application of environmental “streamlining” provisions in the bill until the Secretary certifies that there is sufficient funding to reduce the current backlog of authorized Corps projects to less than $20 billion; more than $40 billion in projects have already been authorized using existing environmental review processes, but have yet to receive funding for construction.

3)         Rep. Flores (R-TX) Amendment #78 – Amendment prohibits programs or actions authorized under this Act from further implementation of coastal and marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management components under Executive Order 13547. Requires the Secretary of the Army to conduct and submit a study detailing all activities engaged in and resources expended in furtherance of Executive Order 13547. The study also should include any budget requests for fiscal year 2014 for support of implementation of Executive Order 13547, and be submitted to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

4)         Rep. Mullin (R-OK) Amendment #55 – Amendment specifies that due to ongoing drought in many parts of the United States, state agencies are finding it difficult to maintain Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-licensed lake levels. Not later than 180 days after enactment, FERC is to initiate an assessment of the effects of drought conditions on these lakes and report to Congress – specifically looking at existing FERC-licensed lakes with rule curves in areas of drought and the effect long-term licenses have on state agencies being able to meet all their obligations.

5)         Reps. Young (R-AK) and Petri (R-WI) Amendment #21 – Amendment requires USACE to contract with private sector surveying and mapping firms, wherever practical, in performance of surveying and mapping services and activities for Corps projects. Requires the Secretary to issue agency guidance to encourage use of the private sector for surveying and mapping services, and requires a process to provide oversight of the performance of compliance with the guidance.

6)         Rep. Hastings (D-FL) Amendment #15 – Amendment includes operation and maintenance costs associated with sand transfer plants in the annual operations and maintenance budget of the Corps of Engineers.

7)         Rep. Bentivolio (R-MI) Amendment #51 – Amendment seeks to increase the amount of backlogged projects to be de-authorized, beyond what is initially de-authorized in the bill from $12,000,000,000 to $35,000,000,000.

8)         Rep. Jones (R-NC) Amendment #89 – Amendment exempts the disaster restriction on projects which non-federal interests may contribute to.

9)         Rep. Jackson Lee (D-TX) Amendment #44 – Amendment provides that in making recommendations pursuant to Section 118 of the Act, the Secretary shall consult with key stakeholders, including State, county, and city governments, and, where applicable, State and local water districts, and in the case of recommendations concerning projects that substantially affect underrepresented communities the Secretary shall also consult with historically Black colleges and universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.

10)      Rep. Grimm (R-NY) Amendment #2 – Amendment modifies Section 118 to require the Secretary of the Army to include project recommendations made in the study for flood and storm damage reduction related to natural disasters under title II of division A of the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 within the Secretary's Report to Congress on Future Water Resources Development.

11)      Rep. Peters (D-CA) Amendment #13 – Amendment adds a subsection specifying that the Secretary of the Army coordinates with the Administrator of the FEMA to disseminate the emergency communication of risk to the public through widely used and readily available means.

12)      Rep. Stutzman (R-IN) Amendment #16 – Amendment provides that the Secretary of the Army shall not require the removal of levee vegetation until the Corps of Engineers’ policy guidelines on vegetation management for levees have been reviewed and adopted.  Amendment provides an exception for vegetation that presents an unacceptable safety risk.

13)      Rep. Velázquez (D-NY) Amendment #88 – Amendment establishes a national water-based freight policy to improve the movement of freight and cargo over waterways, canals, ports, and harbors.

14)      Del. Pierluisi (D-PR) Amendment #42 – Amendment adds Puerto Rico to the provision of law that would be updated for inflation by Section 137 and that authorizes the Secretary of the Army to waive local cost-sharing requirements up to a specified dollar amount for studies and projects in certain U.S. territories.

15)      Rep. Cotton (R-AR) Amendment #65 – Amendment allows non-federal entities (regional authorities or municipalities) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to collaborate on a proposal to sell any excess water supply in order to address an oversupply of water resulting from the 1958 Water Supply Act. This would not authorize the Corps to actually sell the water or release the water from storage.

16)      Reps. Richmond (D-LA) and Scalise (R-LA) Amendment #18 – Amendment directs the Corps to calculate the national benefits of proposed flood protection projects, including benefits from a reduction in national and regional economic losses, as well as the protection of evacuation routes.

17)      Rep. Hastings (R-WA) Amendment #47 – Amendment ensures that Congress continue the practice of authorizing project purposes at Corps of Engineers dams or reservoirs.

18)      Reps. McCollum (D-MN), Kelly (R-PA), Schneider (D-IL), and Lipinski (D-IL) Amendment #1 – Amendment establishes a multiagency effort to slow the spread of Asian carp in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins and tributaries by providing technical assistance, coordination, best practices, and support to State and local governments in carrying out such activities.

19)      Reps. Thompson (D-CA), Benishek (R-MI), DeFazio (D-OR), Simpson (R-ID), and Titus (D-NV) Amendment #14 – Amendment requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an assessment on the impacts of aquatic invasive species on federal assets and current federal spending on aquatic invasive species prevention.

20)      Rep. Brownley (D-CA) Amendment #41 – Amendment requires the Army Corps to consider activities of the Secretary of the Navy when assessing the operation and maintenance needs of harbors and the equitable distribution of funds.

21)      Rep. Lowenthal (D-CA) Amendment #40 – Amendment requires the Secretary to include ‘expanded uses’ of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund in the assessments and  prioritization of operations and maintenance reports to Congress.

22)      Rep. Brownley (D-CA) Amendment #39 – Amendment requires GAO to study and report to Congress on the effectiveness of activities funded by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund in maximizing economic growth and job creation in the communities surrounding low- and moderate-use ports; and include recommendations relating to the use of amounts in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to increase the competitiveness of United States ports relative to Canadian and Mexican ports.

23)      Rep. Schneider (D-IL) Amendment #9 –  Amendment expands congressional reporting requirements to include recommendations for mitigating current problems and limiting the construction backlog.

24)      Rep. Gardner (R-CO) Amendment #29 – Amendment establishes the Office of Water Storage at the Army Corp of Engineers to serve as an initial point of contact for the acquisition or satisfaction of a Federal permit for a water storage facility.

Additional Information

For additional information, see the WRRDA Resource Page provided by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  The page includes, in part, the following resources:

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.