5:51 PM EDT

Ben Cardin, D-MD 3rd

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, first let me say to my friend, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), if we get a ship that is moving through the S-turn that happens to go aground and starts spilling oil, I think then all of us are going to say why did we let this happen.

I am thinking about what I can say to my colleagues who are listening to this debate to try to impress upon them why they should reject this amendment. Sure, I can go through the safety considerations, and we have gone through that. I can read to them a letter signed by the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) that says the Tolchester project involves safety-related modifications of the existing channel which makes five course changes within 3 miles. The Corps of Engineers is completing

a safety-related study of the project. We request that the committee indicate support for the execution of the project as a safety improvement using operation and maintenance funding authority. This was signed by our entire delegation, including the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST).

I could tell my colleagues that this does meet the standards to be funded, otherwise the distinguished chairman and ranking member would not have included it in the bill they brought forward. The administration would not have included it in its funding. This is not an add-on. This is authorized funding and has met all of the standards.

I could talk about the need, about the pilots, the bay pilots that have been in my office that tell us of the safety hazards and the time delays that are caused because of the S-turn and how this change should be made from the point of view of the efficiency and safety of our port.

I could tell my colleagues about the environmental issues; that all of us are very concerned about the environment and we have worked very hard. Our entire delegation will stand by the Army Corps' findings. And if this is not consistent with the environmental standards, that we are not going to support any type of activity that jeopardizes the progress that we have made in the last 25 years for the Port of Baltimore.

I could tell my colleagues all these things, but let me just maybe make one point. This has followed the orderly process. And if my colleagues believe there should be a process in approving these projects, reject the gentleman's amendment. We have four Members of our delegation on the floor that represent this area, two Democrats, one Republican, opposing the gentleman's amendment.

We all are concerned about the area; but we recognize that in order to make progress, in order for safety, in order for the efficiency of this port and in order for the environment of our area, we must reject the gentleman's amendment. As well intended as it is, the gentleman is opposed to dredging. He is opposed to any new dump sites. I understand his position, but it is not the orderly process that we followed.

We have complied with all of the requests that have been asked of us. Allow the study to go forward. Let the Army Corps reach its judgment. We are all satisfied to be controlled by how the Army Corps reaches that decision.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:51 PM EDT

Ben Cardin, D-MD 3rd

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, first let me say to my friend, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), if we get a ship that is moving through the S-turn that happens to go aground and starts spilling oil, I think then all of us are going to say why did we let this happen.

I am thinking about what I can say to my colleagues who are listening to this debate to try to impress upon them why they should reject this amendment. Sure, I can go through the safety considerations, and we have gone through that. I can read to them a letter signed by the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) that says the Tolchester project involves safety-related modifications of the existing channel which makes five course changes within 3 miles. The Corps of Engineers is completing

a safety-related study of the project. We request that the committee indicate support for the execution of the project as a safety improvement using operation and maintenance funding authority. This was signed by our entire delegation, including the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST).

I could tell my colleagues that this does meet the standards to be funded, otherwise the distinguished chairman and ranking member would not have included it in the bill they brought forward. The administration would not have included it in its funding. This is not an add-on. This is authorized funding and has met all of the standards.

I could talk about the need, about the pilots, the bay pilots that have been in my office that tell us of the safety hazards and the time delays that are caused because of the S-turn and how this change should be made from the point of view of the efficiency and safety of our port.

I could tell my colleagues about the environmental issues; that all of us are very concerned about the environment and we have worked very hard. Our entire delegation will stand by the Army Corps' findings. And if this is not consistent with the environmental standards, that we are not going to support any type of activity that jeopardizes the progress that we have made in the last 25 years for the Port of Baltimore.

I could tell my colleagues all these things, but let me just maybe make one point. This has followed the orderly process. And if my colleagues believe there should be a process in approving these projects, reject the gentleman's amendment. We have four Members of our delegation on the floor that represent this area, two Democrats, one Republican, opposing the gentleman's amendment.

We all are concerned about the area; but we recognize that in order to make progress, in order for safety, in order for the efficiency of this port and in order for the environment of our area, we must reject the gentleman's amendment. As well intended as it is, the gentleman is opposed to dredging. He is opposed to any new dump sites. I understand his position, but it is not the orderly process that we followed.

We have complied with all of the requests that have been asked of us. Allow the study to go forward. Let the Army Corps reach its judgment. We are all satisfied to be controlled by how the Army Corps reaches that decision.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:51 PM EDT

Ben Cardin, D-MD 3rd

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, first let me say to my friend, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), if we get a ship that is moving through the S-turn that happens to go aground and starts spilling oil, I think then all of us are going to say why did we let this happen.

I am thinking about what I can say to my colleagues who are listening to this debate to try to impress upon them why they should reject this amendment. Sure, I can go through the safety considerations, and we have gone through that. I can read to them a letter signed by the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) that says the Tolchester project involves safety-related modifications of the existing channel which makes five course changes within 3 miles. The Corps of Engineers is completing

a safety-related study of the project. We request that the committee indicate support for the execution of the project as a safety improvement using operation and maintenance funding authority. This was signed by our entire delegation, including the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST).

I could tell my colleagues that this does meet the standards to be funded, otherwise the distinguished chairman and ranking member would not have included it in the bill they brought forward. The administration would not have included it in its funding. This is not an add-on. This is authorized funding and has met all of the standards.

I could talk about the need, about the pilots, the bay pilots that have been in my office that tell us of the safety hazards and the time delays that are caused because of the S-turn and how this change should be made from the point of view of the efficiency and safety of our port.

I could tell my colleagues about the environmental issues; that all of us are very concerned about the environment and we have worked very hard. Our entire delegation will stand by the Army Corps' findings. And if this is not consistent with the environmental standards, that we are not going to support any type of activity that jeopardizes the progress that we have made in the last 25 years for the Port of Baltimore.

I could tell my colleagues all these things, but let me just maybe make one point. This has followed the orderly process. And if my colleagues believe there should be a process in approving these projects, reject the gentleman's amendment. We have four Members of our delegation on the floor that represent this area, two Democrats, one Republican, opposing the gentleman's amendment.

We all are concerned about the area; but we recognize that in order to make progress, in order for safety, in order for the efficiency of this port and in order for the environment of our area, we must reject the gentleman's amendment. As well intended as it is, the gentleman is opposed to dredging. He is opposed to any new dump sites. I understand his position, but it is not the orderly process that we followed.

We have complied with all of the requests that have been asked of us. Allow the study to go forward. Let the Army Corps reach its judgment. We are all satisfied to be controlled by how the Army Corps reaches that decision.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:54 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Let me just make some comments. The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CARDIN) said we stand by the Corps' findings. The Corps found that the benefit for the straightening is based solely upon time saving. It is not economically justified. And the Corps' findings go on to say, ``Based on our information, general funding for this purpose,'' straightening the Tolchester S-turn, ``is not considered feasible or appropriate.'' That is what the Corps of Engineers said.

Now, the gentleman is saying that we did not follow an orderly process. Well, we did follow an orderly process. The orderly process rejected the widening and the straightening of the Tolchester S-turn by the Corps of Engineers. What we are doing here is interrupting, we are bypassing, we are leapfrogging the orderly process with this appropriation of $6 million for what the Corps of Engineers said was not a necessary project.

Now, at this point I would like to wax a little bit philosophical with Justice Felix Frankfurter's statement, which goes and I quote, and this has to do with the letter that I signed approving this project some years ago. And after some investigation and a closer look at the project, I would like to quote Justice Felix Frankfurter. Here is what he said: ``Wisdom so often never comes. When it does, we ought not to reject it merely because it's late.'' And in this particular situation, I think

that is appropriate.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:54 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Let me just make some comments. The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CARDIN) said we stand by the Corps' findings. The Corps found that the benefit for the straightening is based solely upon time saving. It is not economically justified. And the Corps' findings go on to say, ``Based on our information, general funding for this purpose,'' straightening the Tolchester S-turn, ``is not considered feasible or appropriate.'' That is what the Corps of Engineers said.

Now, the gentleman is saying that we did not follow an orderly process. Well, we did follow an orderly process. The orderly process rejected the widening and the straightening of the Tolchester S-turn by the Corps of Engineers. What we are doing here is interrupting, we are bypassing, we are leapfrogging the orderly process with this appropriation of $6 million for what the Corps of Engineers said was not a necessary project.

Now, at this point I would like to wax a little bit philosophical with Justice Felix Frankfurter's statement, which goes and I quote, and this has to do with the letter that I signed approving this project some years ago. And after some investigation and a closer look at the project, I would like to quote Justice Felix Frankfurter. Here is what he said: ``Wisdom so often never comes. When it does, we ought not to reject it merely because it's late.'' And in this particular situation, I think

that is appropriate.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

5:59 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a comment about the S-turn and the pilots. The S-turn was not made to accommodate ship traffic. The S-turn is a natural channel, as the old Susquehanna River bed that is a natural channel. It is naturally deep.

Now, when we straighten out that S-turn, we are going to do a number of things, one of which is to increase the cost of dredging because many of those areas will be filled in.

Now, we are talking about $6 million, $13 million dollars, to complete a project that we asked the Corps to look [Page: H5236]

into. When the Corps looked into this project, their answer to do this project was no. It is written down no. I have talked to Colonel Berwick that the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CUMMINGS) has referred to, and Colonel Berwick, from the Baltimore district, said, number one, it does not rise to a safety hazard, it is a challenge to

get through there, but it is not a safety hazard for ships to pass through and this particular channel is an environmental problem if we dredge this channel.

So the Corps of Engineers said no. So what does Congress say if this amendment fails? The Corps of Engineers, through their study that we say we ought to trust, we hold on to their study, the Corps says no, for sound fundamental reasons. Congress says yes.

I strongly urge my colleagues in the House to be fiscally responsible, environmentally smart, and consider the safety hazard of the people on the shore because of the increasing wake that will result from these bigger ships that will go faster through this straightened Tolchester channel.

One other quick comment. There is at this point in time no Environmental Impact Statement that has been concluded by the Corps of Engineers on this project.

5:59 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a comment about the S-turn and the pilots. The S-turn was not made to accommodate ship traffic. The S-turn is a natural channel, as the old Susquehanna River bed that is a natural channel. It is naturally deep.

Now, when we straighten out that S-turn, we are going to do a number of things, one of which is to increase the cost of dredging because many of those areas will be filled in.

Now, we are talking about $6 million, $13 million dollars, to complete a project that we asked the Corps to look [Page: H5236]

into. When the Corps looked into this project, their answer to do this project was no. It is written down no. I have talked to Colonel Berwick that the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CUMMINGS) has referred to, and Colonel Berwick, from the Baltimore district, said, number one, it does not rise to a safety hazard, it is a challenge to

get through there, but it is not a safety hazard for ships to pass through and this particular channel is an environmental problem if we dredge this channel.

So the Corps of Engineers said no. So what does Congress say if this amendment fails? The Corps of Engineers, through their study that we say we ought to trust, we hold on to their study, the Corps says no, for sound fundamental reasons. Congress says yes.

I strongly urge my colleagues in the House to be fiscally responsible, environmentally smart, and consider the safety hazard of the people on the shore because of the increasing wake that will result from these bigger ships that will go faster through this straightened Tolchester channel.

One other quick comment. There is at this point in time no Environmental Impact Statement that has been concluded by the Corps of Engineers on this project.

5:59 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a comment about the S-turn and the pilots. The S-turn was not made to accommodate ship traffic. The S-turn is a natural channel, as the old Susquehanna River bed that is a natural channel. It is naturally deep.

Now, when we straighten out that S-turn, we are going to do a number of things, one of which is to increase the cost of dredging because many of those areas will be filled in.

Now, we are talking about $6 million, $13 million dollars, to complete a project that we asked the Corps to look [Page: H5236]

into. When the Corps looked into this project, their answer to do this project was no. It is written down no. I have talked to Colonel Berwick that the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CUMMINGS) has referred to, and Colonel Berwick, from the Baltimore district, said, number one, it does not rise to a safety hazard, it is a challenge to

get through there, but it is not a safety hazard for ships to pass through and this particular channel is an environmental problem if we dredge this channel.

So the Corps of Engineers said no. So what does Congress say if this amendment fails? The Corps of Engineers, through their study that we say we ought to trust, we hold on to their study, the Corps says no, for sound fundamental reasons. Congress says yes.

I strongly urge my colleagues in the House to be fiscally responsible, environmentally smart, and consider the safety hazard of the people on the shore because of the increasing wake that will result from these bigger ships that will go faster through this straightened Tolchester channel.

One other quick comment. There is at this point in time no Environmental Impact Statement that has been concluded by the Corps of Engineers on this project.

6:01 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I know he has mentioned that a couple of times.

As I think he knows, that is not a unique situation of this project, but that statement is applicable to a number of the safety-related projects in this bill as well as previous bills.

6:01 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I know he has mentioned that a couple of times.

As I think he knows, that is not a unique situation of this project, but that statement is applicable to a number of the safety-related projects in this bill as well as previous bills.

6:02 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I know he has mentioned that a couple of times.

As I think he knows, that is not a unique situation of this project, but that statement is applicable to a number of the safety-related projects in this bill as well as previous bills.

6:02 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, reclaiming my time, and I will close with this comment, the other problem with this, it is a much broader issue than the Sandy Canal or a safety concern for the Tolchester area.

The whole northern route that would be dredged by my colleagues would involve 18 million cubic yards of dredge material being dumped overboard in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

I guess we could get into a dispute whether or not that is actually in my district or in the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. CUMMINGS) or anybody else's district. It does not matter. That 18 million cubic yards is 2 million pounds of ammonia, 700,000 pounds of phosphorus. It is the equivalent of putting a sewage treatment plant the size of the city of Annapolis right there in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, and I do not think that is what we want to do.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

6:03 PM EDT

Jerrold Nadler, D-NY 8th

Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, first let me join in the encomiums to the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee for his great work over the years and the decades, and we will miss him.

Let me say that it is true that part of the port of New York is now bustling again and part of it still needs major development. The channels we are talking about are in the district of the gentleman from New York (Mr. FOSSELLA), and I appreciate his leadership on this project.

I rise on this because I believe this project is vital not only to the district of the gentleman from New York (Mr. FOSSELLA) but to the entire port region of New York and New Jersey.

The Kill Van Kull is the boundary between Staten Island on the south and Bayonne on the north and leads from New York Harbor to New York Bay, and we are presently dredging that to achieve a depth of 45 feet, blasting through solid rock to get to 45 feet.

If achieved or when achieved, I should say, this will open up access to the ports of Newark and Elizabeth. The Arthur Kill is an extension of the Kill Van Kull where the shore of Staten Island turns a little south, and that has to be part of the same project. That will afford access to Howland Hook and Staten Island.

Without that part of it, the Kill Van Kull project helps New Jersey but does not help New York.

With that part, the Kill Van Kull project helps both States.

It was always anticipated and intended that the ports of New York and New Jersey would be for the benefit of both States, and the little added piece of the Arthur Kill is critical to enabling the New York as well as the New Jersey side of the port to be accessed by the existing Kill Van Kull project.

So this project has to be looked at as a unified whole, and the Arthur Kill as an extension of the existing Kill Van Kull project. When completed, the project together will afford the ability of bigger ships to get to New York, Elizabeth, and Howland Hook and will give us a leg up on retaining our port business in the United States as against the port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is not in the United States, obviously.

So I appreciate the cooperation of the gentleman in helping us to achieve this dual nature project.

6:03 PM EDT

Albert Wynn, D-MD 4th

Mr. WYNN. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague from Maryland for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to join most of my Maryland colleagues certainly in strongly opposing this amendment. We have looked at this issue thoroughly and, as has been indicated through today's testimony, we are near unanimous agreement that this amendment is inappropriate.

We have here fundamental safety issues with respect to Tolchester, and we ought to acknowledge that fact and then act upon it and not implement this amendment, which would, in effect, overturn a lot of the work that has already been done.

This is a channel that has many shifts and turns in order to accommodate the traffic and, also, to accommodate safety concerns. Straightening the channel is a desirable objective. That is an objective that we are pursuing through, I say, the majority of the Maryland delegation. We have studied this issue thoroughly. As was indicated, Environmental Impact Studies are underway and we certainly cannot pre-judge them to be in the negative.

Under the circumstances, I think it is both prudent and sound that we proceed with the position that the delegation has taken and reject this amendment. I would urge the membership to do so.

6:03 PM EDT

Albert Wynn, D-MD 4th

Mr. WYNN. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague from Maryland for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to join most of my Maryland colleagues certainly in strongly opposing this amendment. We have looked at this issue thoroughly and, as has been indicated through today's testimony, we are near unanimous agreement that this amendment is inappropriate.

We have here fundamental safety issues with respect to Tolchester, and we ought to acknowledge that fact and then act upon it and not implement this amendment, which would, in effect, overturn a lot of the work that has already been done.

This is a channel that has many shifts and turns in order to accommodate the traffic and, also, to accommodate safety concerns. Straightening the channel is a desirable objective. That is an objective that we are pursuing through, I say, the majority of the Maryland delegation. We have studied this issue thoroughly. As was indicated, Environmental Impact Studies are underway and we certainly cannot pre-judge them to be in the negative.

Under the circumstances, I think it is both prudent and sound that we proceed with the position that the delegation has taken and reject this amendment. I would urge the membership to do so.

6:04 PM EDT

Albert Wynn, D-MD 4th

Mr. WYNN. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague from Maryland for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to join most of my Maryland colleagues certainly in strongly opposing this amendment. We have looked at this issue thoroughly and, as has been indicated through today's testimony, we are near unanimous agreement that this amendment is inappropriate.

We have here fundamental safety issues with respect to Tolchester, and we ought to acknowledge that fact and then act upon it and not implement this amendment, which would, in effect, overturn a lot of the work that has already been done.

This is a channel that has many shifts and turns in order to accommodate the traffic and, also, to accommodate safety concerns. Straightening the channel is a desirable objective. That is an objective that we are pursuing through, I say, the majority of the Maryland delegation. We have studied this issue thoroughly. As was indicated, Environmental Impact Studies are underway and we certainly cannot pre-judge them to be in the negative.

Under the circumstances, I think it is both prudent and sound that we proceed with the position that the delegation has taken and reject this amendment. I would urge the membership to do so.

6:06 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, this project was approved by Congress even though the Corps said in their analysis it did not rise to the cost benefit analysis that was necessary to do a project like this. But, nevertheless, this has been approved by Congress. But we have not started this project. We continue the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we have not started this new work project which I am so adamantly opposed to.

Now, I do want to sincerely thank the chairman of this committee, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), for working with me on this issue and many other dredging issues in the past dealing with the Chesapeake Bay.

I wish the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) a long, successful, joyous retirement. And at this particular point, I am thinking about that myself. So if I am ever out in San Diego, Mr. Chairman, I would like to do a little kayaking in the Pacific Ocean out there. But I do want to thank the chairman for being a gentleman with all these various issues.

Now, as far as the delegation is concerned, the delegation is not united on this. There is no unanimous agreement on this particular issue. The gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. MORELLA), the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. BARTLETT), and myself are all opposed to this particular project. We are going forward with the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we do not want to deal at this point, because all the evidence points against it, with the widening of the Tolchester S-turn;

and we do not want to do that because there is no need to dredge the northern route at this point because it is not a safety hazard, it is not necessary for increasing commerce, it has nothing to do with jobs in the city of Baltimore.

This has everything to do with spending the taxpayers' dollars unwisely. This has everything to do with an environmental project that is not wise to do and all the environmental groups are opposed to it.

6:06 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, this project was approved by Congress even though the Corps said in their analysis it did not rise to the cost benefit analysis that was necessary to do a project like this. But, nevertheless, this has been approved by Congress. But we have not started this project. We continue the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we have not started this new work project which I am so adamantly opposed to.

Now, I do want to sincerely thank the chairman of this committee, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), for working with me on this issue and many other dredging issues in the past dealing with the Chesapeake Bay.

I wish the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) a long, successful, joyous retirement. And at this particular point, I am thinking about that myself. So if I am ever out in San Diego, Mr. Chairman, I would like to do a little kayaking in the Pacific Ocean out there. But I do want to thank the chairman for being a gentleman with all these various issues.

Now, as far as the delegation is concerned, the delegation is not united on this. There is no unanimous agreement on this particular issue. The gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. MORELLA), the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. BARTLETT), and myself are all opposed to this particular project. We are going forward with the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we do not want to deal at this point, because all the evidence points against it, with the widening of the Tolchester S-turn;

and we do not want to do that because there is no need to dredge the northern route at this point because it is not a safety hazard, it is not necessary for increasing commerce, it has nothing to do with jobs in the city of Baltimore.

This has everything to do with spending the taxpayers' dollars unwisely. This has everything to do with an environmental project that is not wise to do and all the environmental groups are opposed to it.

6:06 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, this project was approved by Congress even though the Corps said in their analysis it did not rise to the cost benefit analysis that was necessary to do a project like this. But, nevertheless, this has been approved by Congress. But we have not started this project. We continue the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we have not started this new work project which I am so adamantly opposed to.

Now, I do want to sincerely thank the chairman of this committee, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), for working with me on this issue and many other dredging issues in the past dealing with the Chesapeake Bay.

I wish the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD) a long, successful, joyous retirement. And at this particular point, I am thinking about that myself. So if I am ever out in San Diego, Mr. Chairman, I would like to do a little kayaking in the Pacific Ocean out there. But I do want to thank the chairman for being a gentleman with all these various issues.

Now, as far as the delegation is concerned, the delegation is not united on this. There is no unanimous agreement on this particular issue. The gentlewoman from Maryland (Mrs. MORELLA), the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. BARTLETT), and myself are all opposed to this particular project. We are going forward with the maintenance of the Tolchester Channel, but we do not want to deal at this point, because all the evidence points against it, with the widening of the Tolchester S-turn;

and we do not want to do that because there is no need to dredge the northern route at this point because it is not a safety hazard, it is not necessary for increasing commerce, it has nothing to do with jobs in the city of Baltimore.

This has everything to do with spending the taxpayers' dollars unwisely. This has everything to do with an environmental project that is not wise to do and all the environmental groups are opposed to it.

6:09 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, this is an issue on which Maryland is not divided. The Governor of Maryland opposes this amendment. The State Legislature opposes this amendment, not because they voted on this particular amendment, but because they support the Tolchester Channel straightening.

Why? Because it is a safety issue.

The pilots have been lobbying this very heavily. The Coast Guard, in two letters I read to my colleagues, said this is a significant safety issue, it needs to be resolved.

The gentleman says we have not had any accidents. Well, the Exxon Valdez [Page: H5237]

had an accident where there had been no accident. Very frankly, we have a pipeline down on the Patuxent River which for 40 years carried oil without an accident. But there is going to be an accident here, and the consequences may be very significant.

The chairman of the committee and the ranking member of the committee have heard this issue, they have gone the regular process, and they have approved this project. The majority of the Maryland delegation opposes the amendment of the gentleman.

One of our former colleagues has worked very hard on this issue, Helen Bentley, a Republican; and I, as a Democrat, have worked hard on this issue. I share absolutely the concern of the gentleman about the environmental impact of dredging. We ought not to dredge if we cannot do so environmentally safely, period. That is a given.

But we ought not to by this amendment with, and I reiterate, 4 hours' notice to the Maryland delegation that this amendment was going to be offered, defeat this project, which has been worked on since 1996, actually before that, with the participation of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST).

Now he has changed his mind. Let us not change our minds. Oppose the Gilchrest amendment. Support the Maryland delegation, the bipartisan Maryland delegation.

6:09 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, this is an issue on which Maryland is not divided. The Governor of Maryland opposes this amendment. The State Legislature opposes this amendment, not because they voted on this particular amendment, but because they support the Tolchester Channel straightening.

Why? Because it is a safety issue.

The pilots have been lobbying this very heavily. The Coast Guard, in two letters I read to my colleagues, said this is a significant safety issue, it needs to be resolved.

The gentleman says we have not had any accidents. Well, the Exxon Valdez [Page: H5237]

had an accident where there had been no accident. Very frankly, we have a pipeline down on the Patuxent River which for 40 years carried oil without an accident. But there is going to be an accident here, and the consequences may be very significant.

The chairman of the committee and the ranking member of the committee have heard this issue, they have gone the regular process, and they have approved this project. The majority of the Maryland delegation opposes the amendment of the gentleman.

One of our former colleagues has worked very hard on this issue, Helen Bentley, a Republican; and I, as a Democrat, have worked hard on this issue. I share absolutely the concern of the gentleman about the environmental impact of dredging. We ought not to dredge if we cannot do so environmentally safely, period. That is a given.

But we ought not to by this amendment with, and I reiterate, 4 hours' notice to the Maryland delegation that this amendment was going to be offered, defeat this project, which has been worked on since 1996, actually before that, with the participation of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST).

Now he has changed his mind. Let us not change our minds. Oppose the Gilchrest amendment. Support the Maryland delegation, the bipartisan Maryland delegation.

6:11 PM EDT

Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, in our closing comments, when we look at each issue of dredging or straightening or deepening one at a time, it is not an environmental problem. When we take the cumulative impact of all of these projects throughout the Chesapeake Bay, it is an environmental problem.

And, no, there are many people throughout the State of Maryland that oppose this particular issue. Every environmental group in the State of Maryland opposes this widening. My constituents, especially those that have property on the shoreline, oppose this widening and straightening of the Tolchester S-turn. And, believe it or not, my colleagues, the Corps of Engineers opposes this straightening with their cost benefit analysis because it does not rise to the threshold necessary to benefit taxpayers.

The Environmental Impact Statement is not complete and there are many environmental hazards that we are considering.

The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. HOYER) mentioned the problem with the oil tanker, the Exxon Valdez. 6,700 ships have passed through here in the last 6 years without one incident. And there are no rocks here. One of the reasons the Corps of Engineers said it was not necessary and one of the reasons the Coast Guard says it is a challenge but it is not a safety hazard is because there is nothing but sand here, nothing but sand and mud.

If anything runs aground, and they have not, they will slowly move into the sand bar and it is probably because the tide is down and when the tide comes up, they will move along.

This is not about safety, my colleagues. This is about convenience. This is about convenience.

The Corps of Engineers, in their statement, said this is about time saving. And so, we have not paid enough attention as Members of Congress, as our oversight responsibility, to some of these issues.

So I urge my colleagues to vote for fiscal responsibility, to vote for an environmentally sound amendment, and to vote for the average constituent that needs a voice in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

[Time: 18:15]