|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.