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Laura Richardson, D-CA 37th
Ms. RICHARDSON. I rise in strong opposition to the fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes an amendment that would rescind the remaining unobligated high-speed rail funding that was originally approved in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In listening to my colleague who just spoke, I don't think anyone here on this floor disagrees that we support the farmers, we support the people who have been impacted by flooding. But the question is whether these particular funds are the appropriate funds that should be dedicated to address that particular issue.
I would venture to say that while I believe it's important that the Army Corps of Engineers has access to funding necessary to prepare for future disasters, I would say that because I am the ranking member of Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications. But when you consider our long overdue efforts to be able to develop a high-speed rail network that would create jobs and bring rail infrastructure into the 21st century for the United States, that also is a priority as well.
I am proud to be vice chair of the bicameral High-Speed Rail and Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus, and I am glad that we are working to increase the visibility on this issue. I have long fought for bringing transportation systems into the 21st century. After all, that's important to Americans' lives as well. Because if we're not able to traverse from one side of the country to the other, if we're not able to do it in an efficient manner, eventually we will also find ourselves without more jobs
and without being able to have appropriate living conditions.
Consider that high-speed rail pays for itself, significantly reducing $700 billion a year of oil purchased that could be dealt with regarding our trade deficit. High-speed rail pays for and saves lives. We are talking about lives. What about the 43,000 Americans who die each year in car accidents? What happens when we talk about that high-speed rail pays for its efficiency and mobility by being able to move people and goods without delay and waste? And also when you consider that high-speed rail
pays by improving air quality, which also helps and saves lives.
Thirteen countries around the world are investing hundreds of billions of dollars into their systems. And for years the United States has failed to keep up. Finally, we have an administration that is actually focused on this issue and has made a commitment to this funding. However, when you consider that in the United States we only have one high-speed rail corridor, that's the Acela Express, operated between Boston and Washington, D.C., and even in our one corridor the trains only reach 150
miles per hour, far below what we would really call a true world class high-speed rail.
So when we consider being in the High-Speed Rail Caucus and what our efforts are today, thankfully we are looking at a situation where we do have funding that's been allocated. So when we say it's unallocated funds, let's talk about that. Actually, what's happened is the administration has done an excellent job in considering areas that have said they are not ready to do high-speed rail at this time. So rather than our wasting money as we did in the past, years in the past, of building bridges
to nowhere, what we've said is, if a particular area is not ready, let's put the money back where it can now be reallocated. [Page: H5037]
So it's not that the funds are totally unobligated. We are now in the process of putting them in the areas that are ready to build high-speed rail now. We must be forward thinking and proactive to position our country to compete in the global economy. That's about American lives as well. Nowhere is it more important than in the area of high-speed rail to take that broad step.
It will cost about $40 billion to bring high-speed rail to areas like mine in California. But with it comes really a revolution in travel in a way that we have not touched before.
Madam Chairwoman, I cannot support this bill in its current form in light of the amendment that's been brought forward, and I urge my colleagues to vote against these draconian cuts. We had an opportunity to do more funding for Army Corps, and on this very floor many of my colleagues chose not to do so.
I yield back the balance of my time.