5:27 PM EDT
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would decrease the Corps of Engineers' operations and maintenance account by $6,801,000 for the Tolchester S-turn straightening project in my district.

Mr. Chairman, similar to the amendment that we debated just a few minutes ago, this particular project, this straightening of a natural channel, would cost the taxpayers $13 million. Now, as the Corps has run through its process to analyze the cost benefit to the taxpayers in this country, this particular project in the First Congressional District of Maryland dealing with the Tolchester Channel does not meet the Corps' own justification to do. The Corps of Engineers has not met the threshold

to benefit the taxpayers in the United States.

So my colleagues have come to Congress to get this project, I guess I would say, pushed through. This project, the Tolchester S-turn, does not meet the cost-benefit analysis to benefit the taxpayers anywhere, including Baltimore City. The project, therefore, is not necessary.

Let us take a look at the environmental impact of this particular project. The channel right now is a natural channel. It is the old Susquehanna Riverbed that flows from Pennsylvania out to the Chesapeake Bay. This is a natural-flowing channel. There is a natural scouring in this particular area, so very little dredging is necessary. If we straighten the Tolchester Channel, the likelihood of an increased cost for dredging is there.

Now, when the channel is straightened, it will change the direction of the flow of water. And when the direction of the flow of water is changed, great damage will be done to one of the largest oyster bars in the Chesapeake Bay. This oyster bar just off Tolchester is 300 acres, and it is a very active site.

[Time: 17:30]

When one changes the flow of the water, one will slow the water down over the oyster bed. That means it will silt up. Now, if one straightens the channel and ships can flow faster through this channel, which they will do, one will increase the wake. When one increases the wake, one will do several things.

One, it will cause more erosion on the shore. It has already caused significant damage to people's property, whether it is a garage, cars, docks, you name it. But the third thing, which is really a safety hazard, the wake will increase the danger of children playing on the beach that have already found it difficult to play on the beach. When one of the ships goes by, these young people could be washed into the Chesapeake Bay and potentially drown.

Now, the question will arise that we are dredging this new channel for safety purposes that has been asked for by the Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers. When that issue comes up, let me say this, I had a direct face-to-face conversation with the Corps of Engineers, the District Engineer in the City of Baltimore. I asked them that question: Does this rise to the threshold of a safety hazard for shipping through the Tolchester Channel. The answer, Mr. Chairman, was no, it does not rise to a safety

hazard through the Tolchester Channel.

The only reason we are dredging the Tolchester Channel is because we are dredging the whole northern route, the Brewerton Extension, the Tolchester Channel, the C&D Canal.

We have already talked about the C&D Canal, and we know that is not necessary to dredge. So if it is not necessary to dredge the northern route, if it is not a safety hazard, which the Corps of Engineers in Baltimore said it is not a safety hazard, and the Coast Guard if you ask them direct, the Coast Guard will say that the Tolchester S-turn, since over 6,000 ships have passed through there in the last 6 years with no incident, that the Tolchester S-turn does not rise to the level of a safety

hazard with their office. [Page: H5233]

Now, can one make it safer? Sure. Can one dredge the Tolchester S-turn and make it a straight channel? Sure. Would it be safer if it were straight? Sure. But what damage will be done if one does that if it is not a safety hazard? The damage that will be done as a result of that S-turn is great.

I ask my colleagues to support my amendment.

5:32 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, very quickly, this is about dredging. It is contrary to the letter that all of us signed receiving it as a State project in 1986. No doubt about it. This was not perceived by any of the delegation to be a local project. It was a Statewide project, which is why all eight Members of the delegation signed.

In the letter that I reference, we also strongly supported and urged the inclusion of the straightening of the S-turn, the Tolchester Channel. Why did we do that? July 14, 1998, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) says he has talked to the Coast Guard. Now, with all due respect to the gentleman, until 4 hours ago, I did not know of any of this. My office was not talked to. I got no information. I did not know about his conversations with the Coast Guard. I do not think the committee

knew about his conversations with the Coast Guard. Maybe they did.

But at any event, let me read a letter, 26 August 1994, signed by Rear Admiral Eckart of the United States Coast Guard, Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. I quote a part of that, Mr. Chairman. ``The S-turn in Tolchester Channel presents one of the most difficult navigational challenges to a large ship within the Fifth Coast Guard District, not just within Maryland, not just within the Chesapeake Bay, but within the entire district.'' Yes safety is going to be raised.

Now, July 14, 1998, some 2 years later, this is a Vice Admiral, United States Coast Guard, then Commander, I am not sure whether he is still Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. A letter referring to the Tolchester Channel. ``With increases to vessel size, the severity of the turns have caused difficulty with maneuvering. The Coast Guard would prefer to be proactive in preventing any potential serious mishaps. The removal of the S-curve in the Tolchester Channel would be a significant

step.''

Now, I do not have a subsequent letter from the Coast Guard saying, no, we did not mean that. Apparently they have had a personal conversation with the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) who claims this is in his district. Technically I suppose, if one surrounds waterways, they are in one's district, but the fact of the matter is I would again reiterate this is perceived by the State legislature, by the governor, and by the majority of our delegation as an issue of our State and of

our port.

Mr. Chairman, the 1996 water bill directs the Corps to expedite review of potential straightening of the channel, Tolchester Channel S-turn. It came out of a committee of which the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) was a member.

If determined to be feasible and necessary for safe and efficient navigation, and I have just read my colleagues two letters of the Coast Guard that indicated it was necessary for the safe and efficient movement of vessels through this channel, to implement such straightening as part of the project maintenance.

Now, earlier the gentleman said he was not opposed to maintenance dredging. Now, I am not sure what maintenance dredging he refers to, but the fact of the matter is he tried by saying that, if we had ships going through, then children were going to drown. I do not know that any children had drowned, and that would be a serious problem we would have to protect against, apparently in anticipation of the safety argument that somehow making the water flow faster could be dangerous. I have not heard

the oyster problem before, but we ought to look at that problem as well.

But the fact of the matter is this is essential. In two letters from the Coast Guard, I do not have a more recent letter telling me they were wrong, the 1994 and 1998 letters say it is a safety issue. It is a problem. It is not only a problem, it is the worst problem in the Fifth Coast Guard District. That is why they believe this project is absolutely critical.

I know the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) is going to speak on this. We have a bipartisan position on this issue, I think. In fact, the committee has included this money at the request of the administration, this is not an add-on project, this has been a planned project that is moving ahead to provide for safer navigation. It is essential.

We would ask our colleagues to reject this amendment which, again, is designed to stop dredging. I understand that that is the objective of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST). I agree with him to stop dredging if it is entirely harmful. But until that finding is made, then we need to proceed to make sure, A, the economic viability of the port and, B, directly related to that the safety of the vessels using the channels that access and egresses the port of Baltimore.

5:32 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, very quickly, this is about dredging. It is contrary to the letter that all of us signed receiving it as a State project in 1986. No doubt about it. This was not perceived by any of the delegation to be a local project. It was a Statewide project, which is why all eight Members of the delegation signed.

In the letter that I reference, we also strongly supported and urged the inclusion of the straightening of the S-turn, the Tolchester Channel. Why did we do that? July 14, 1998, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) says he has talked to the Coast Guard. Now, with all due respect to the gentleman, until 4 hours ago, I did not know of any of this. My office was not talked to. I got no information. I did not know about his conversations with the Coast Guard. I do not think the committee

knew about his conversations with the Coast Guard. Maybe they did.

But at any event, let me read a letter, 26 August 1994, signed by Rear Admiral Eckart of the United States Coast Guard, Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. I quote a part of that, Mr. Chairman. ``The S-turn in Tolchester Channel presents one of the most difficult navigational challenges to a large ship within the Fifth Coast Guard District, not just within Maryland, not just within the Chesapeake Bay, but within the entire district.'' Yes safety is going to be raised.

Now, July 14, 1998, some 2 years later, this is a Vice Admiral, United States Coast Guard, then Commander, I am not sure whether he is still Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. A letter referring to the Tolchester Channel. ``With increases to vessel size, the severity of the turns have caused difficulty with maneuvering. The Coast Guard would prefer to be proactive in preventing any potential serious mishaps. The removal of the S-curve in the Tolchester Channel would be a significant

step.''

Now, I do not have a subsequent letter from the Coast Guard saying, no, we did not mean that. Apparently they have had a personal conversation with the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) who claims this is in his district. Technically I suppose, if one surrounds waterways, they are in one's district, but the fact of the matter is I would again reiterate this is perceived by the State legislature, by the governor, and by the majority of our delegation as an issue of our State and of

our port.

Mr. Chairman, the 1996 water bill directs the Corps to expedite review of potential straightening of the channel, Tolchester Channel S-turn. It came out of a committee of which the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) was a member.

If determined to be feasible and necessary for safe and efficient navigation, and I have just read my colleagues two letters of the Coast Guard that indicated it was necessary for the safe and efficient movement of vessels through this channel, to implement such straightening as part of the project maintenance.

Now, earlier the gentleman said he was not opposed to maintenance dredging. Now, I am not sure what maintenance dredging he refers to, but the fact of the matter is he tried by saying that, if we had ships going through, then children were going to drown. I do not know that any children had drowned, and that would be a serious problem we would have to protect against, apparently in anticipation of the safety argument that somehow making the water flow faster could be dangerous. I have not heard

the oyster problem before, but we ought to look at that problem as well.

But the fact of the matter is this is essential. In two letters from the Coast Guard, I do not have a more recent letter telling me they were wrong, the 1994 and 1998 letters say it is a safety issue. It is a problem. It is not only a problem, it is the worst problem in the Fifth Coast Guard District. That is why they believe this project is absolutely critical.

I know the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) is going to speak on this. We have a bipartisan position on this issue, I think. In fact, the committee has included this money at the request of the administration, this is not an add-on project, this has been a planned project that is moving ahead to provide for safer navigation. It is essential.

We would ask our colleagues to reject this amendment which, again, is designed to stop dredging. I understand that that is the objective of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST). I agree with him to stop dredging if it is entirely harmful. But until that finding is made, then we need to proceed to make sure, A, the economic viability of the port and, B, directly related to that the safety of the vessels using the channels that access and egresses the port of Baltimore.

5:32 PM EDT
Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, very quickly, this is about dredging. It is contrary to the letter that all of us signed receiving it as a State project in 1986. No doubt about it. This was not perceived by any of the delegation to be a local project. It was a Statewide project, which is why all eight Members of the delegation signed.

In the letter that I reference, we also strongly supported and urged the inclusion of the straightening of the S-turn, the Tolchester Channel. Why did we do that? July 14, 1998, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) says he has talked to the Coast Guard. Now, with all due respect to the gentleman, until 4 hours ago, I did not know of any of this. My office was not talked to. I got no information. I did not know about his conversations with the Coast Guard. I do not think the committee

knew about his conversations with the Coast Guard. Maybe they did.

But at any event, let me read a letter, 26 August 1994, signed by Rear Admiral Eckart of the United States Coast Guard, Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. I quote a part of that, Mr. Chairman. ``The S-turn in Tolchester Channel presents one of the most difficult navigational challenges to a large ship within the Fifth Coast Guard District, not just within Maryland, not just within the Chesapeake Bay, but within the entire district.'' Yes safety is going to be raised.

Now, July 14, 1998, some 2 years later, this is a Vice Admiral, United States Coast Guard, then Commander, I am not sure whether he is still Commander of the Fifth Coast Guard District. A letter referring to the Tolchester Channel. ``With increases to vessel size, the severity of the turns have caused difficulty with maneuvering. The Coast Guard would prefer to be proactive in preventing any potential serious mishaps. The removal of the S-curve in the Tolchester Channel would be a significant

step.''

Now, I do not have a subsequent letter from the Coast Guard saying, no, we did not mean that. Apparently they have had a personal conversation with the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) who claims this is in his district. Technically I suppose, if one surrounds waterways, they are in one's district, but the fact of the matter is I would again reiterate this is perceived by the State legislature, by the governor, and by the majority of our delegation as an issue of our State and of

our port.

Mr. Chairman, the 1996 water bill directs the Corps to expedite review of potential straightening of the channel, Tolchester Channel S-turn. It came out of a committee of which the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) was a member.

If determined to be feasible and necessary for safe and efficient navigation, and I have just read my colleagues two letters of the Coast Guard that indicated it was necessary for the safe and efficient movement of vessels through this channel, to implement such straightening as part of the project maintenance.

Now, earlier the gentleman said he was not opposed to maintenance dredging. Now, I am not sure what maintenance dredging he refers to, but the fact of the matter is he tried by saying that, if we had ships going through, then children were going to drown. I do not know that any children had drowned, and that would be a serious problem we would have to protect against, apparently in anticipation of the safety argument that somehow making the water flow faster could be dangerous. I have not heard

the oyster problem before, but we ought to look at that problem as well.

But the fact of the matter is this is essential. In two letters from the Coast Guard, I do not have a more recent letter telling me they were wrong, the 1994 and 1998 letters say it is a safety issue. It is a problem. It is not only a problem, it is the worst problem in the Fifth Coast Guard District. That is why they believe this project is absolutely critical.

I know the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) is going to speak on this. We have a bipartisan position on this issue, I think. In fact, the committee has included this money at the request of the administration, this is not an add-on project, this has been a planned project that is moving ahead to provide for safer navigation. It is essential.

We would ask our colleagues to reject this amendment which, again, is designed to stop dredging. I understand that that is the objective of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST). I agree with him to stop dredging if it is entirely harmful. But until that finding is made, then we need to proceed to make sure, A, the economic viability of the port and, B, directly related to that the safety of the vessels using the channels that access and egresses the port of Baltimore.

5:38 PM EDT
Sherwood L. Boehlert, R-NY 23rd

Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the amendment of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), and I would like to ask him a question, and then I would like to have him expound a little bit more on that.

I ask the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST), is there an environmental impact statement on this project, because that is something that should concern us all.

Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. GILCHREST) for a response to that question.

5:38 PM EDT
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York (Mr. BOEHLERT) for yielding to me.

There has been no environmental impact statement done on this particular project. I have talked to the Corps of Engineers from Baltimore City, along with the Coast Guard, along with numerous other people involved in this in Chestertown, Maryland once again, and the Corps cannot tell us how high the wake will be when it hits the shore except that it is going to be higher.

The Corps cannot tell us whether or not that slow down in the current will have an impact on those oysters because they have not done the study.

I would like to, if I may, just respond to some of my colleague's comments. This is not a maintenance project. We do maintain the Tolchester Channel. The Tolchester Channel is maintained on a regular basis. This amendment has no impact on normal maintenance of the Tolchester Channel. This is considered new work.

Now, the Corps of Engineers has stated that this is not appropriate nor proper when considering it as a safety project. Because since 1994, there has been 6,700 ships pass through the Tolchester S-turn without an incident. There has been some groundings north of the Tolchester S-turn and there has been some groundings south of the Tolchester S-turn, but there has been no groundings in the Tolchester S-turn.

Now, as far as the Coast Guard saying that this is the biggest navigation challenge in this particular Coast Guard district, well, that is correct. This is a challenge. But apparently the pilots and the captains have met that challenge, and they have not had an incident in the Tolchester S-turn.

So since they have not had an incident, a safety hazard incident in the Tolchester S-turn, what are we talking about here? We are talking about straightening the channel where there has been no incidents of safety problems reported.

Then we are creating a safety hazard for people on the banks that are less than 1,000 feet from these huge ships that pass by that cause major wakes and potential problems with young children on the shore. Plus the fact we are then going to increase the cost to homeowners' property. Remembering now there is no safety hazard in the S-turn, there is a challenge to the pilots, they pass through there all the time. But a safety hazard, has it risen to the legality of a safety hazard by the Coast

Guard or Corps of Engineers? The answer is no in their documents.

So I would urge the Members of this House to think two ways, to think fiscally, conservative, as to why we do not want to throw good money down a sink hole when a project is not necessary; and when a project is not necessary, why do we do it to create another safety hazard and another environmental hazard?

So I would urge my colleagues in the House to vote for this amendment.

5:42 PM EDT
Bob Ehrlich Jr., R-MD 2nd

Mr. EHRLICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, again, with great deference and respect to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Speaker, countries probably watching, tuning in today are saying ``S-turn, what S-turn?''

This S-turn is important in Tolchester Channel because it is part of the approach to the Canal, the C&D Canal. Ships change course five times within 3 miles, often beginning a new turn sometimes in the opposite direction before completing the previous turn. With ships approaching 1,000 feet in length, it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate the channel, especially in winter, especially in poor weather with the wind and tide conditions.

The gentleman from Maryland talked about pilots and the pilots association. Well, the pilots association is on record. It has urged for a number of years that this channel S-turn be modified as soon as possible to avoid potential ship groundings.

As my friend from southern Maryland has stated on numerous occasions in this year's Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, Congress appropriated $6 million for the S-turn.

The project was also authorized in 1999 as part of the operations and maintenance program. In order to complete the job, we need $6.8 million dollars. The project is totally 100 percent Federally funded.

Now, we have talked about safety, and that is the primary reason to get this job done. We can reduce the likelihood of an accident. But the project also produces economic benefits, many economic benefits.

The economic consequences of a serious accident, for instance, were one to occur, would be significant, something we certainly do not want to visit. Accordingly, the avoidance of such an accident, while not easily quantifiable, contains economic benefits.

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, since this project was approved by the Corps and authorized by this Congress, the Corps has reserved the environmental assessment. In fact, the Corps is finishing the environmental assessment for the project. It will be circulated in July and approved in settlement or October at or near the beginning of fiscal year 2001.

[Time: 17:45]

My friend and colleague from Maryland is someone for whom I have great respect on these issues. We disagree from time to time when it comes to dredging issues. But the majority of the Maryland delegation is letting this House know that this is an important project for the economic engine, which is the Port of Baltimore, the economic engine that drives the State of Maryland.

Congress recognized this fact by appropriating these funds last year, and all we are asking this House to do is to complete the job. Accordingly, I urge all of my colleagues to oppose the Gilchrest amendment.

5:42 PM EDT
Bob Ehrlich Jr., R-MD 2nd

Mr. EHRLICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, again, with great deference and respect to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Speaker, countries probably watching, tuning in today are saying ``S-turn, what S-turn?''

This S-turn is important in Tolchester Channel because it is part of the approach to the Canal, the C&D Canal. Ships change course five times within 3 miles, often beginning a new turn sometimes in the opposite direction before completing the previous turn. With ships approaching 1,000 feet in length, it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate the channel, especially in winter, especially in poor weather with the wind and tide conditions.

The gentleman from Maryland talked about pilots and the pilots association. Well, the pilots association is on record. It has urged for a number of years that this channel S-turn be modified as soon as possible to avoid potential ship groundings.

As my friend from southern Maryland has stated on numerous occasions in this year's Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, Congress appropriated $6 million for the S-turn.

The project was also authorized in 1999 as part of the operations and maintenance program. In order to complete the job, we need $6.8 million dollars. The project is totally 100 percent Federally funded.

Now, we have talked about safety, and that is the primary reason to get this job done. We can reduce the likelihood of an accident. But the project also produces economic benefits, many economic benefits.

The economic consequences of a serious accident, for instance, were one to occur, would be significant, something we certainly do not want to visit. Accordingly, the avoidance of such an accident, while not easily quantifiable, contains economic benefits.

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, since this project was approved by the Corps and authorized by this Congress, the Corps has reserved the environmental assessment. In fact, the Corps is finishing the environmental assessment for the project. It will be circulated in July and approved in settlement or October at or near the beginning of fiscal year 2001.

[Time: 17:45]

My friend and colleague from Maryland is someone for whom I have great respect on these issues. We disagree from time to time when it comes to dredging issues. But the majority of the Maryland delegation is letting this House know that this is an important project for the economic engine, which is the Port of Baltimore, the economic engine that drives the State of Maryland.

Congress recognized this fact by appropriating these funds last year, and all we are asking this House to do is to complete the job. Accordingly, I urge all of my colleagues to oppose the Gilchrest amendment.

5:42 PM EDT
Bob Ehrlich Jr., R-MD 2nd

Mr. EHRLICH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, again, with great deference and respect to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Speaker, countries probably watching, tuning in today are saying ``S-turn, what S-turn?''

This S-turn is important in Tolchester Channel because it is part of the approach to the Canal, the C&D Canal. Ships change course five times within 3 miles, often beginning a new turn sometimes in the opposite direction before completing the previous turn. With ships approaching 1,000 feet in length, it is becoming increasingly difficult to navigate the channel, especially in winter, especially in poor weather with the wind and tide conditions.

The gentleman from Maryland talked about pilots and the pilots association. Well, the pilots association is on record. It has urged for a number of years that this channel S-turn be modified as soon as possible to avoid potential ship groundings.

As my friend from southern Maryland has stated on numerous occasions in this year's Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, Congress appropriated $6 million for the S-turn.

The project was also authorized in 1999 as part of the operations and maintenance program. In order to complete the job, we need $6.8 million dollars. The project is totally 100 percent Federally funded.

Now, we have talked about safety, and that is the primary reason to get this job done. We can reduce the likelihood of an accident. But the project also produces economic benefits, many economic benefits.

The economic consequences of a serious accident, for instance, were one to occur, would be significant, something we certainly do not want to visit. Accordingly, the avoidance of such an accident, while not easily quantifiable, contains economic benefits.

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, since this project was approved by the Corps and authorized by this Congress, the Corps has reserved the environmental assessment. In fact, the Corps is finishing the environmental assessment for the project. It will be circulated in July and approved in settlement or October at or near the beginning of fiscal year 2001.

[Time: 17:45]

My friend and colleague from Maryland is someone for whom I have great respect on these issues. We disagree from time to time when it comes to dredging issues. But the majority of the Maryland delegation is letting this House know that this is an important project for the economic engine, which is the Port of Baltimore, the economic engine that drives the State of Maryland.

Congress recognized this fact by appropriating these funds last year, and all we are asking this House to do is to complete the job. Accordingly, I urge all of my colleagues to oppose the Gilchrest amendment.

5:46 PM EDT
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding. I just wanted to make a couple of points very quickly, if I can.

The last comment: Whose district is the Tolchester Channel in? I do not think it really makes a difference whose district the Tolchester Channel is in. It happens to be in my district, though, and I will show my colleagues on the map. Not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) and not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. HOYER).

If my colleagues will look at this map, it is a little busy, a little hard to see, but if we look at the map, the C&D Canal channel comes down the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay along the Eastern Shore, and the area we are talking about is Kent County on the Eastern Shore. Following this line coming down here, we can see the C&D Canal approach the channel. Down in this area, what do we have right here, less than a thousand feet off the shores of Kent County, in a pretty little place called

Tolchester? The Tolchester Channel.

Now, in the Tolchester Channel is the Tolchester S-turn, which we have already concluded is not classified as a hazard but a challenge. So just a quick clarification. The Tolchester Channel, the Tolchester S-turn is contained within the first congressional district.

Now, since we are reading letters, I want to read something from the report of the Corps of Engineers that was recently put out about the Tolchester S-turn. Here is what it says. ``The benefit for straightening the Tolchester S-turn is based solely on transit time savings.'' It might be a challenge to get through the Tolchester S-turn, but well over 6,000 ships have done it since 1994 without one incident in the Tolchester S-turn.

What are the hazards for straightening the Tolchester S-turn? As we can see right along here, the shores of Kent County in the first congressional district, the hazards apply to the people on the shore. The hazards apply to those watermen who want to catch the few remaining oysters in the Chesapeake Bay that will be silted over, which is about the largest oyster bar in the Chesapeake Bay, well over 300 acres.

One last comment. The only reason they would straighten the Tolchester Channel, the Corps of Engineers, is if it was a benefit to the taxpayers; and they have concluded that it is not a benefit to the taxpayers. There is no financial justification for it. And the other one, is it really a safety hazard? And we have concluded that it is a challenge. The safety hazard lies with those residents on the shoreline.

5:46 PM EDT
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding. I just wanted to make a couple of points very quickly, if I can.

The last comment: Whose district is the Tolchester Channel in? I do not think it really makes a difference whose district the Tolchester Channel is in. It happens to be in my district, though, and I will show my colleagues on the map. Not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) and not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. HOYER).

If my colleagues will look at this map, it is a little busy, a little hard to see, but if we look at the map, the C&D Canal channel comes down the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay along the Eastern Shore, and the area we are talking about is Kent County on the Eastern Shore. Following this line coming down here, we can see the C&D Canal approach the channel. Down in this area, what do we have right here, less than a thousand feet off the shores of Kent County, in a pretty little place called

Tolchester? The Tolchester Channel.

Now, in the Tolchester Channel is the Tolchester S-turn, which we have already concluded is not classified as a hazard but a challenge. So just a quick clarification. The Tolchester Channel, the Tolchester S-turn is contained within the first congressional district.

Now, since we are reading letters, I want to read something from the report of the Corps of Engineers that was recently put out about the Tolchester S-turn. Here is what it says. ``The benefit for straightening the Tolchester S-turn is based solely on transit time savings.'' It might be a challenge to get through the Tolchester S-turn, but well over 6,000 ships have done it since 1994 without one incident in the Tolchester S-turn.

What are the hazards for straightening the Tolchester S-turn? As we can see right along here, the shores of Kent County in the first congressional district, the hazards apply to the people on the shore. The hazards apply to those watermen who want to catch the few remaining oysters in the Chesapeake Bay that will be silted over, which is about the largest oyster bar in the Chesapeake Bay, well over 300 acres.

One last comment. The only reason they would straighten the Tolchester Channel, the Corps of Engineers, is if it was a benefit to the taxpayers; and they have concluded that it is not a benefit to the taxpayers. There is no financial justification for it. And the other one, is it really a safety hazard? And we have concluded that it is a challenge. The safety hazard lies with those residents on the shoreline.

5:46 PM EDT
Wayne Gilchrest, R-MD 1st

Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding. I just wanted to make a couple of points very quickly, if I can.

The last comment: Whose district is the Tolchester Channel in? I do not think it really makes a difference whose district the Tolchester Channel is in. It happens to be in my district, though, and I will show my colleagues on the map. Not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. EHRLICH) and not the district of the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. HOYER).

If my colleagues will look at this map, it is a little busy, a little hard to see, but if we look at the map, the C&D Canal channel comes down the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay along the Eastern Shore, and the area we are talking about is Kent County on the Eastern Shore. Following this line coming down here, we can see the C&D Canal approach the channel. Down in this area, what do we have right here, less than a thousand feet off the shores of Kent County, in a pretty little place called

Tolchester? The Tolchester Channel.

Now, in the Tolchester Channel is the Tolchester S-turn, which we have already concluded is not classified as a hazard but a challenge. So just a quick clarification. The Tolchester Channel, the Tolchester S-turn is contained within the first congressional district.

Now, since we are reading letters, I want to read something from the report of the Corps of Engineers that was recently put out about the Tolchester S-turn. Here is what it says. ``The benefit for straightening the Tolchester S-turn is based solely on transit time savings.'' It might be a challenge to get through the Tolchester S-turn, but well over 6,000 ships have done it since 1994 without one incident in the Tolchester S-turn.

What are the hazards for straightening the Tolchester S-turn? As we can see right along here, the shores of Kent County in the first congressional district, the hazards apply to the people on the shore. The hazards apply to those watermen who want to catch the few remaining oysters in the Chesapeake Bay that will be silted over, which is about the largest oyster bar in the Chesapeake Bay, well over 300 acres.

One last comment. The only reason they would straighten the Tolchester Channel, the Corps of Engineers, is if it was a benefit to the taxpayers; and they have concluded that it is not a benefit to the taxpayers. There is no financial justification for it. And the other one, is it really a safety hazard? And we have concluded that it is a challenge. The safety hazard lies with those residents on the shoreline.