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House passes WRRDA, Strain urges Senate passage

May 21, 2014

Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., hailed yesterday’s passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (“WRRDA 2014” H.R. 3080) by the U.S. House of Representatives as a major victory not only for Louisiana but for the entire nation.
“I commend the House for taking swift action on this important legislation that will directly impact our agricultural industry,” Strain said. “When this bill is enacted, it will enable economic growth of Louisiana and the nation’s trade by strengthening and maintaining a strong water resources infrastructure allowing efficient transport of goods to market.”
WRRDA legislation was developed by Louisiana’s Congressional delegation to address widening and dredging of the Lower Mississippi river to ensure continued transport of the nation’s commodities.
WRRDA highlights:
·         Provisions to exempt U.S. farms and ranches from the pending Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. The provisions will exempt aboveground oil storage tanks that have an aggregate storage capacity of less than 10,000 gallons. In addition to providing this exemption, it would allow farmers who are regulated and have less than 42,000 gallons of aboveground storage capacity to self-certify their own plans.
·         Reform the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by holding them accountable on project schedules and increasing public disclosure of internal decisions
·         Speeds up environmental and project delivery schedules
·         Authorizes the “Morganza to the Gulf” project
·         Requires Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund expenditures to maintain Louisiana’s ports and waterways
·         Authorizes six Louisiana Coastal Area ecosystem projects
·         Allows for the Acadiana Gulf of Mexico Access Channel (AGMAC) project at the Port of Iberia to continue which deepens channels for ships bound for the Gulf of Mexico from 12 feet to 20 feet
The Louisiana Nutrient Management Task Force, comprised of agricultural producers and representatives of producer groups, had the opportunity recently to discuss proposed and existing federal legislation including WRRDA directly with Rep. Charles Boustany during a roundtable discussion hosted by Strain.
The Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Nutrient Management Task Force studies the topics related to agricultural nutrient issues and evaluate their impact on our agricultural industries. The task force is charged with supporting the agency in multiple water-related issues.
Other topics covered during the roundtable discussion included the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act proposed rule to define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, Agricultural Worker Protection Standards, and the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Strain said, “I want to thank Rep. Boustany for taking the time to listen to the concerns of our agricultural producers. We are particularly pleased that the House recognized the low risk of oil spills on farms with the SPCC rule exemption for our farmers. Compliance to the rule would have been cost prohibitive.”
The WRRDA bill has passed out of the House and now moves to the Senate for consideration.