Whitehouse Shares RI Business Story During Senate Committee Meeting

EPW Approves Re-Authorization of Water Resources Development Act

Washington, DC – Yesterday, as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee prepared to vote on a bill to re-authorize the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) used a story about a Rhode Island business to highlight the importance of the legislation.  Whitehouse spoke about Hope Global in Cumberland, which was hit hard by the floods of 2010, to make a point about improving transparency in the Army Corps of Engineers’ process for approving projects under its consideration.  WRDA authorizes civil works projects and policies for the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Speaking about Hope Global, Whitehouse recalled that during the aftermath of the 2010 floods, “I literally entered that building through its shipping entrance in a boat… It’s a manufacturing company.  It exports to China.  It really is in many respects a success story, but they’re at risk now of this flooding.  And because of the lack of transparency in the Army Corps budget, although there are programs in there to try to get the various studies and work done so [Hope Global] can know whether they’re protected from a future flood, they have no idea where they are in the priorities.  And as a business, they can’t make sensible decisions without knowing where they are in this vast cloud of un-prioritized, undone Army Corps work.  So clearing up, and putting some logic and transparency into the process over at the Army Corps I think has been a very significant achievement, and a bipartisan achievement of this [legislation].”

More specifically, the final WRDA bill as approved by the Committee includes a provision authored by Senator Whitehouse to give non-federal sponsors and other stakeholders like Hope Global a clearer understanding of the Corps’ prioritization process.

Video of Whitehouse’s remarks is available here.

The WRDA re-authorization also includes a number of other proposals advocated by Senator Whitehouse, including:

  • A re-authorization of the National Dam Safety Program Act;
  • A provision that would allow shoreline protection, in addition to navigation needs, to be considered by the Army Corps as they decide whether to repair the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge Breakwater structure;
  • A measure to safeguard communities from extreme weather events by promoting research and activities that support ecosystem restoration, which in turn protects property, infrastructure, and natural resources;
  • A provision to increase the per-project federal spending limit for Army Corps Continuing Authorities Programs to account for inflation and construction cost increases.