WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced projects critical to Louisiana were prioritized in the Senate Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill and the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2016. In addition, Dr. Cassidy helped block funding from going toward implementing Obama Administration’s proposed mandates.
“The Obama administration’s mandates targeting our energy industry threaten Louisiana jobs. My seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee allowed me to stop these mandates and push for policies to help strengthen jobs, protect our coasts and support priorities important to Louisiana families.”
Initiatives secured include:
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill
- Prevents the Obama Administration from implementing its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which defines which streams, rivers, ponds, wetlands, ditches, and waterways are subject to federal oversight under the Clean Water Act.
- Directs the EPA to not decrease the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone lower than the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) unless 85% of counties (or parishes) are compliant with the existing standard.
- Secured language requiring more time for scientists, engineers and experts to weigh in on the requirements for offshore Blowout Preventer and Well Control systems.
- Prevents the Obama Administration’s Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) from moving forward with its overreaching proposal to incorporate the effects of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions into their environmental assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
- $35.145 million allocated for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund (NAWCA). NAWCA is a voluntary, non-regulatory conservation program that has been very successfully utilized in Louisiana to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
- $27.31 million allocated for EPA’s National Estuary Programs (NEP). A portion of this will go toward helping preserve the critical Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine complex in Louisiana. Estuaries provide critical ecosystems services that protect human health and public safety, including water filtration, flood control, habitat enhancement and restoration, shoreline stabilization, erosion prevention and the protection of coastal communities during hurricanes and storms.
- $61.41 million is provided in the bill for the Historic Preservation Fund— a $1 million increase over last year’s funding level. Historic Preservation funding has been a proven driver of economic growth and job creation in Louisiana, particularly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. State Historic Preservation Officers, working diligently with local government officials and preservation commissions, have been successful in preserving and restoring numerous culturally historic buildings in New Orleans and elsewhere across the state that were critically in need of renovations. In fact, through the utilization of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit and other financing mechanisms, Louisiana is the largest beneficiary (on a per capita basis) of Historic Preservation dollars in the U.S.
- $13.293 million provided under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Coastal Programs that provide technical and financial assistance to coastal communities and landowners to protect and restore fish habitat on public and private lands. Louisiana utilizes this program to build coastal resilience in communities along the Louisiana coastline through public-private partnerships that benefit threatened and endangered species, migratory birds, inter-jurisdictional fish, certain marine mammals, and species of international concern.
Homeland Security Appropriations Bill
- Secured language to prevent the Obama Administration from moving forward in implementing a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.
- $98 million allocated under FEMA for the National Domestic Preparedness Center (NPDC). The NPDC provides critical training to first responders and emergency management professional across multiple disciplines at state, local, tribal and territorial levels. LSU receives approximately $22 million of this funding for its training of first responders and emergency management personnel.
- $18.1 million provided for the procurement of U.S. Coast Guard Small Response Boats. These boats are manufactured by Metal Shark Aluminum Boats in Jeanerette, LA. This funding level will enable the Coast Guard to procure an additional 53 Small Response Boats in FY 2016. Funding will ensure the Coast Guard keeps pace with its acquisition timetable and fulfill the requisite operational requirements.
- $15.81 million allocated under the DHS’s National Protections and Programs Directorate for Cybersecurity Education. A portion of these federal dollars go to the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC) in Bossier City, LA and Louisiana Tech University in Reston, LA.
- Secured language under Customs Border and Protection (CBP) that will require the agency to develop a report on imported shrimp regime and directs CBP to work with the International Trade Association to increase their anti-dumping enforcement activities.
- Retained Jones Act provisions to prohibit foreign built or foreign flagged vessels from engaging in coast-wide trade within the United States. Critical to Louisiana’s maritime industry, this provision requires all vessels shipping cargo between U.S. locations to be U.S. built and majority U.S. owned. In addition, at least 75% of the vessel crew are required to be U.S. citizens.
- Secured language to provide resources under FEMA for a more robust and timely Community Rating System nationwide program.
- Secured language requiring the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service to do a comprehensive audit of the H-2B Visa program to address the ongoing issues Louisiana seafood producers and processors have been experiencing with regard to securing visas for their workers.
- Secured language asking the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) to do a fee study on processing applications and whether it should be updated by regulation.
- Directs Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to develop a new, more effective sex offender release database. This report language will utilize an existing DOJ Sex Offender Notification system to notify localities and victims of an alien’s release with a National Sex Offender Registry alert.