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Marine Log

November 4, 2007

Bush vetos WRDA

President Bush on Friday vetoed the Water Resources Development Act, a bill strongly endorsed by the American Waterways Operators and the American Association of Port Authorities among others.

The bill addresses a seven year backlog of water infrastructure projects as well as a number of post-Katrina programs in the New Orleans area to deal with hurricane protection and measures to protect eco systems such as the Florida Everglades.

Bush vetoed the bill despite its being passed by "veto-proof" majorities. The Senate passed WRDA by a vote of 81 to 12 and the House passed it by a vote of 381-40.

In a statement on the veto, the President said:

"This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns to the Nation and each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) main missions. However, this authorization bill makes promises to local communities that the Congress does not have a track record of keeping. The House of Representatives took a $15 billion bill into negotiations with a $14 billion bill from the Senate and instead of splitting the difference, emerged with a Washington compromise that costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete."

The bill will now be returned to Congress, where a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate will be required to override the veto. Those votes are expected in the House and Senate next week.

A growing number of organizations are urging that the veto be overridden, including the American Waterways Operators, which sent an alert to members urging them to FAX their Senators and Representative as soon as possible and urge them to vote to override the WRDA veto.

Fax numbers for Congressional offices are available at:

The American Association of Port Authorities says "America's seaports and related port industries -- which are challenged with handling unprecedented cargo volume growth and demands from increasingly larger ships -- will mount a 'full-court press' on Congress to lock-in the first veto override of the Bush Administration.

Others calling for a veto override include W. F. Marcuson, Ph.D., P.E., Hon.M.ASCE, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) who called the veto "ill advised, and contrary to the national interest."

"We urge Congress to step forward and secure the nation's economic and environmental health by moving quickly to override the president's veto," said Dr. Marcuson. "The American public has been waiting for six years for the protection this legislation will provide. They should not have to wait any longer."

Environmental groups, too, are seeking an override.

They say the bill would provide unprecedented ecosystem restoration funding in areas like the Everglades, the Great Lakes, coastal Louisiana, and the Mississippi River. The measure includes more than $5.5 billion in ecosystem restoration funding.

"This historic legislation is crucial to the protection of some of America's most sensitive and valuable ecosystems," said April Gromnicki, Audubon's Director of Ecosystem Restoration. "The Everglades, Coastal Louisiana, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes have continued to degrade for the last five years waiting for Congressional action. Congress must stand up for these American treasures by overriding the President's veto."

"WRDA has important reforms and funding for critical projects, including directives to bolster New Orleans' levees and plug the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet," said Paul Harrison, Coastal Louisiana Project Director for Environmental Defense.