Friday, March 13, 2009

Amendment means more money for ‘green’ sewer plan

Yesterday, I was able to win approval of an amendment that would designate 20% of the $2.5 billion dollars devoted to funding municipal Combined and Sanitary Sewer Overflow plans in the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1262), to green solutions.

This strikes a reasonable balance between green infrastructure and traditional control systems, as both have a role in creating a sustainable and workable solution to sewer overflows.

Chairman James Oberstar (MN-08) of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-03) of the Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee agreed to incorporate the amendment into the manager’s amendment offered on the Floor of the House. Inclusion in the manager’s amendment increased the chances of passage and I would like to thank Chairman Oberstar and Chairwoman Bernice Johnson for embracing this amendment and advocating for its inclusion in the bill. Their help was crucial in achieving passage of this important measure.

As many of you know, in order to comply with the Clean Water Act of 1972, the City of Kansas City has developed a plan that will cost $2.4 billion over 25 years. The Combined Sewer Overflow plan represents the largest capital project the city has ever undertaken. Last May, I was very public in urging the Mayor and City Council to adopt the “greenest plan possible.”

When I encouraged the City to include more ‘green’ solutions in its Combined Sewer Overflow Plan, I promised the City that the path to ‘green’ would yield more opportunities for federal funding. This is the first step in keeping that promise. I said I would fight tooth-and-nail for money if the City advanced the vision of a healthier, more sustainable and greener future. This amendment makes Kansas City’s commitment to green pay off with a better chance at millions of federal dollars. I would like to thank the Kansas City Council, and particularly the hard work of Councilwoman Jan Marcason, for leading the City towards a greener future.

The Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1262), including my amendment, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 317 to 101 and now moves to the Senate for approval.