SEEC Members call for inclusion of the Caucus’s Sustainable Infrastructure Proposal in the Water Resources Development Act

May 10, 2018 Issues: Climate Change, Environment, Water

Washington D.C. – Today the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition called on House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Leadership to include policies from SEEC’s Sustainable Infrastructure Proposal in this year’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The policies outlined in the letter and the proposal call for: maintaining bedrock environmental protections; updating waste and stormwater systems vital to protecting people’s access to clean water; cleaning up hazardous air pollution at our ports; and promoting ecosystem restoration and natural infrastructure that helps manage rainfall, protect against storm surges, and address pollution.

This letter was led by SEEC Vice-Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal and SEEC Member Rep. David Price along with SEEC Co-Chairs Reps. Paul Tonko, Gerry Connolly, and Doris Matsui, and SEEC Vice-Chairs Reps. Matt Cartwright, Chellie Pingree, Mike Quigley and Jared Polis. The caucus’s infrastructure proposal released in February was also led by Reps. Lowenthal and Price.

The letter reads in part:

“The advancement of a new WRDA bill offers tremendous opportunity for Congress to enact policies that will promote resiliency, protect public health, and preserve our natural environment. We hope you will give our infrastructure proposal due consideration and advance a water resources bill that adheres to sustainable principles.”

The full text of the letter is below. A signed copy of the letter to the subcommittee leadership can be found here, and a signed copy of the letter to the full committee leadership can be found here.

 

Dear Chairmen Shuster and Graves and Ranking Members DeFazio and Napolitano,

As your Committee considers the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), we hope that you will take note of policy proposals advanced by the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition.

As you may know, in February, SEEC released its sustainable infrastructure proposal, detailing commonsense investments in America’s infrastructure aimed at protecting human health and the environment. We believe this proposal can inform the next WRDA bill in promoting resilient, sustainable policies that will best serve our communities.

In particular, we urge the Committee to:

  • Reject roll-backs of core environmental protections:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), and other laws are too often treated as scapegoats for delays on infrastructure projects. However, these laws and processes provide a vital opportunity to evaluate and mitigate environmental impact, solicit public input, and properly assess a project’s benefits and costs.

  • Increase investment in wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and support low-impact development:

Our nation desperately needs to upgrade and maintain aging wastewater systems. WRDA represents an opportunity to make necessary investments in this essential infrastructure. Additionally, permeable pavement, rain gardens, and other green infrastructure can reduce stormwater pollution and runoff in rain-proof areas. We hope the Committee will promote efforts by EPA and local water agencies to implement these sustainable solutions to stormwater management.

  • Promote ecosystem restoration and natural infrastructure:

Our forests, wetlands, and shorelines can be important tools to manage rainfall, protect against storm surges, and address pollution. However, many of these ecosystems are damaged or under threat. Congress should use WRDA to encourage the repair and nourishment of this natural infrastructure, including dune and wetland preservation.

  • Encourage the growth of sustainable maritime transportation:

Short-sea shipping and the use of our inland waterways not only diverts cargo traffic away from our congested roadways, it also often reduces carbon emissions. Robust investment to modernize our harbors and inland waterways will support this important system of goods movement and help continue efforts to adopt low- and zero-emissions technology in maritime transportation.

Our full report, attached, includes detailed proposals on wastewater and natural infrastructure, as well as ports and waterways. The advancement of a new WRDA bill offers tremendous opportunity for Congress to enact policies that will promote resiliency, protect public health, and preserve our natural environment. We hope you will give our infrastructure proposal due consideration and advance a water resources bill that adheres to sustainable principles.

Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to speak with any of us about ideas for sustainable infrastructure investment.

 

 

                                                                                Sincerely,