ICYMI: Kennedy asks audience about Army Corps of Engineers energy and water appropriations – Press releases
Watch Kennedy’s remarks here.
WASHINGTON — Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, emphasized taxpayer interests today during a hearing of the subcommittee focused on the Army Corps of Engineers.
“Hurricane Katrina, as we all know, was a Category 5 hurricane. It hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, not just New Orleans, it affected all of southern Louisiana. . . . This caused unprecedented losses. We had 1,800 dead, $125 billion in damage. There was a 28 foot storm surge, 85 foot waves.
. . .
“The Corps has upgraded approximately 70 miles of indoor hazard reduction structures in the levee that encircles the New Orleans metro area. Among the Corps’ technically advanced engineering solutions, HSDRRS [Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System] now includes a 1.8 mile long surge protection wall. It is an engineering marvel. It’s the biggest civil engineering design and construction project in your history, one of the – maybe the biggest in the history of America.
“HSDRRS also includes the largest drainage pump station in the world. HSDRRS works and has already saved lives and property, saved taxpayers in my area millions of dollars through costly storm recovery. Last year, Hurricane Ida hit us. Category four storm. It hit southeast Louisiana. Its surge would have passed our levees before your good work.
Kennedy also had the following exchange with Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
Kennedy: “With the exception of a very small number of projects, less than one percent, is it not true that Congress does not authorize the construction of projects proposed by the Corps without a thorough study which may take up to years, to determine if the project is economically justified? Is that correct?”
sortmon: “Yes sir.”
Kennedy: “This study must also show that the project is environmentally friendly, right?”
sortmon: “Yes, sir, that is correct.”
Kennedy: “Technically feasible, is that correct? »
sortmon: “Yes, senator.”
Kennedy: “So somebody can’t just call you up at the Corps and say, ‘I have a project, and I want it, and you better do it. It doesn’t work that way, does it?
sortmon: “That’s right, senator. It’s not.”
Kennedy: “Good. And, in your years in the Corps, what percentage of all Corps projects have been cleared for Congress – by Congress – for construction without passing this three-part test?”
sortmon: “Sir, I have been in the Corps for six and a half years. I don’t know of any.
Kennedy: “Any? Each project had to be economically justified, ecologically rational and technically feasible, based on an objective study?”
sortmon: “Senator, that is correct.”
Kennedy: “Not by politicians?
sortmon: “It’s correct.”
. . .
Kennedy: “Okay. And, not to dwell on it too much, but one of the things that the Corps is looking at in this study, which can take years, is whether taxpayers are getting a return on their investment. In other words, the benefits should more than outweigh the costs. Is that correct?”
sortmon: “Yes sir, that is correct.”
Video of Kennedy’s comments is available here.