|4:10 PM EDT||
Pete Visclosky, D-IN 1st
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the gentleman's amendment. Without this amendment, the bill would result in increased implementation costs to both the Federal and State resource agencies, as well as to the regulated community, increase delays in the implementation of important public works projects and protracted litigation on the disparity between existing Federal regulations and the two court decisions.
Clearly, the Army Corps of Engineers cannot exceed its congressional authority. But it's certainly necessary that the law and regulations be clarified, given the Supreme Court decision. There is a purpose to the Clean Water Act. It is to protect the Nation's waterways. And all of the environmental and economic benefits these aquatic ecosystems provide are at risk if some elements are protected and others are not.
We certainly need to make sure that the definitions are predictable and manageable. The definition of waters protected by the Clean Water Act should be clear, understandable, well-supported, and transparent to the public. I am concerned if the language currently in the bill is not removed that that will not be the case. It is certainly needed to promote consistency between the Clean Water Act and agricultural wetland programs. We need the identification of waters covered by the Clean Water Act
and the Food Security Act. And operational elements of implementing programs should reflect consistent, predictable, and straightforward decision guidelines. We ought to be precise on exemptions as well.
My further concern is that the provision now contained in the bill does not apply simply to the coming fiscal year; it applies to any subsequent energy and water development act, ensuring uncertainty continues indefinitely.
So I am in strong support of the gentleman's amendment and would be willing to yield time to him.