CRIST ADVOCATES FOR PINELLAS PROJECTS BEFORE ENERGY & WATER SUBCOMMITTEE
Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which oversees funding for Army Corps infrastructure and environmental projects, about the importance of continued Congressional support to move key Pinellas projects forward. Crist advocated for shore protection efforts, navigation projects, and Everglades restoration that help preserve the local environment and strengthen the economy.
Rep. Crist: Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water
Chairman Simpson, Ranking Member Kaptur, and Members of the Subcommittee,
It is a great honor to appear before you today. As you may know, this is my first chance to testify before an Appropriations Subcommittee.
For me, it is a special opportunity because your former colleague and former Chairman of the Full Committee - and someone I hold in the highest esteem, the late Congressman Bill Young – who served with you for so many years.
During his time in Congress and on the Committee, he did many great things for our nation, our state, and our Pinellas community.
Many of those projects live on today and I want to talk about a few of them.
First is the Pinellas County Shore Protection Project.
The Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Florida, Pinellas County, and our local communities have been tremendous partners in maintaining our 20 beautiful miles of coastline and to protect the people and property along it.
Much of the support for this project was generated by the Committee, for which I am grateful. And I am here to ask for your continued backing.
The funding you provide for the Army Corps is critical in delivering the resources Pinellas County needs for our beaches.
Beach nourishment not only protects public and private infrastructure; it is a great economic generator for our entire region.
A second request I would make of the Subcommittee – related to FY 2017 - is to help us finish a project Congressman Young started back in 2002.
The seven members of our Tampa Bay Area delegation are sending you a letter asking the Committee to help us break through a bureaucratic “New Start” deadlock that has stalled construction of the Port of Tampa’s congressionally authorized Big Bend Channel navigation project.
This deepening and widening project will improve the movement of goods through the Port to the I-4 corridor - Florida’s fastest growing part of the State.
It will set the standard for public-private partnerships by turning a mere 20 percent federal stake in the project into a $55 million economic development initiative that will create 8,000 jobs for the region.
My Tampa Bay colleagues and I are not requesting any funding for this project.
Instead, we seek language in the FY 2017 bill you are finalizing to clarify that if construction appropriations remain available for an authorized navigation project in 2017 – and I mean any authorized navigation project - that no “New Start” decision shall be required to initiate construction.
This does not provide any preference to Port Tampa, but would simply allow the Port - and other similar projects - to compete for Work Plan funding.
Third, I want to briefly mention my strong support of the Everglades restoration program in Florida.
The Everglades is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the country – home to dozens of threatened or endangered species and the source of drinking water for one-third of our State.
I am incredibly grateful for the consistent backing by this Subcommittee for America's Everglades. And I respectfully ask that it continue.
As former Governor, and now a Member of Congress, I am committed to working with this Subcommittee and our entire Florida delegation to continue efforts to restore our precious River of Grass.
And finally, a small community in my District - the City of Gulfport - is engaged with the Army Corps on a Continuing Authorities Program, Section 103 study of its municipal shoreline.
I urge the Subcommittee to appropriately fund not only Section 103, but all CAP programs, as they are excellent resources for local communities.
Thank you for your time and your attention to these issues. And thank you for allowing me to testify before you today. I appreciate your work on behalf of the Congress and our Nation.