Delaware • New Jersey • Pennsylvania
New York • United States of America
For Immediate Release
June 24, 2004
(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) - The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today announced that the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this week approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2004 (WRDA) directing the federal government to pay its 20 percent share of the commission's annual budget.
"We applaud the efforts of Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), who serves as a member of the committee, for the critically important role he played in securing this language in the bill," DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier said. "We know that there are still several steps ahead in the legislative process before this bill can be signed into law and federal funds are actually received, but we are very encouraged that Senator Carper has achieved this important milestone in the fight for the future of the DRBC."
The federal government, New York State, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania agreed to support the DRBC's annual budget when President Kennedy and the four governors signed into law the compact creating the commission in 1961. However, the federal government since 1996 has ignored this agreement by failing to fund its 20 percent "fair share" of the DRBC's annual budget while remaining an active voting commission member possessing the same powers and authority as the other signatory parties.
"We are still facing very serious, imminent program cutbacks unless Washington can be convinced that the commission is deserving of federal dollars to support our important work in partnership with our five signatory parties as envisioned by President Kennedy and the 87th Congress 43 years ago," Collier said.
According to Senator Carper's office, the legislation is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate later this summer. The House of Representatives already approved its version of the WRDA bill last year that would authorize, but not require, the Secretary of the Army to fulfill the equitable funding requirements of the DRBC compact.
Other efforts are continuing to restore DRBC federal funding into appropriations bills now being considered by the Congress. The House Appropriations Committee did not include DRBC funding in its Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill which is awaiting full House consideration. Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a staunch stalwart of restoring DRBC funding, has pledged to restore federal funding for DRBC's operating budget in the Senate bill still being drafted by the committee and to push for its adoption in conference with the House.
"On behalf of the DRBC commissioners and staff, I would like to thank those federal legislators who favor federal funding restoration as well as the many individuals and organizations who have written letters and voiced their support of the commission," Collier said.
The passage of the compact creating the DRBC marked the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency. Commission programs include water quality protection, watershed planning, water supply allocation, regulatory review, water conservation initiatives, drought management, flood control and recreation.
For more information about the budget crisis, visit the DRBC's web site at www.drbc.net.
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Clarke Rupert, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260
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