U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today issued the following statement regarding H.R. 1495, the reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act.  The bill included a needed one-year extension of Section 214 authority, which allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to accept and spend funds from non-federal public entities to expedite infrastructure improvement permit applications.  

“I am pleased that Congress passed a reauthorization of WRDA which included a one-year extension of Section 214.  I have advocated for the permanent extension of this provision for some time, which has provided an effective tool for municipalities and ports in Washington state to expedite the permitting process for improvements to our infrastructure.  I will continue to work for a permanent extension of Section 215 in the next reauthorization bill,” Smith said. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides permits for infrastructure improvements undertaken by local governments.  In many parts of the country, this process faces huge backlogs of permit applications.  To expedite the handling of these applications, the Corps is allowed to accept Section 214 funds from outside entities and hire additional workers to process the applications.  Local governments across the country, and particularly in Washington State, utilize the process spelled out in Section 214 to keep their permit applications moving. 

Smith had hoped for a permanent extension of Section 215, which, prior to this extension, was scheduled to expire on December 31, 2008.  The extension included in the WRDA reauthorization extends the Corps authority to accept and use these funds through 2009.