April 22, 2011

Rahall, Rockefeller, Manchin Announce USDA Project Funding for Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

LOGAN, W.Va. – Promoting the economic and fiscal benefits of infrastructure investments, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), along with Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (both D-W.Va.), Friday announced the award of more than $1 million in federal grant and loan monies for water and sewer infrastructure in southern West Virginia.

“This is an investment in our future – an investment like others throughout the nation – with dividends that will help to shrink our national deficit because, ultimately, this type of spending produces not only short-term jobs but also long-term economic benefit,” said Rahall, who was the keynote speaker at the announcement in the Chief Logan State Park in Logan County.  “This spending on infrastructure – like most such spending on community and business foundations – is also about the health, safety, and long-term well-being of local families." 

In the midst of ongoing budget debates in Congress, Rahall has fought senseless spending cuts in transportation and water infrastructure proposed in the House of Representatives, arguing that such investments are critical to economic growth and deficit reduction.

 “Making improvements and upgrades to water systems in West Virginia’s smaller communities has a tremendous impact across the whole state,” said Rockefeller. “It's critical, especially on Earth Day, that we remain focused on not only protecting the health and safety of every West Virginian, but of our environment as well.  As we celebrate this special day, I'm particularly pleased that Logan County will receive this needed grant to make necessary infrastructure improvements for the community that will also help protect the area.”

“I have always been a strong advocate for safe and reliable infrastructure that will help keep West Virginia strong,” Senator Manchin said. “Investments like these are critical to ensuring our residents are well served, as well as attracting businesses and driving economic development. This announcement is great news for Logan County.”

The funding was provided by the USDA Rural Development to the Logan County Public Service District for a new phase in the area's wastewater project extension.  The funding included an $840,000 grant and a $230,000 low-interest loan.

The new phase of the project would extend wastewater service to approximately 105 additional households within the Logan County communities of Lower Island Creek Road, Cherry Tree, Whites Addition, Yuma Camp, and surrounding areas that currently use on-site septic systems or discharge wastewater directly into local streams.

The full text of Rahall’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Remarks by

U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, II

USDA Rural Development Earth Day Celebration

Logan Public Service District Phase III B-1 Sewer System

Chief Logan State Part Conference Center

Friday, April 22, 2011; 1:00 p.m.

I, for one, am very pleased to be here.  But, some in the country’s largest cities wonder why celebrate a sewer?  Some of those TV network political pundits argue, week after week, that Congress needs to raise the level of its debate out of the sewer.  Well, they are only half right.

To our big city friends, what short memories they do have.

A century back they were the first to get proper sewage systems.  Watch if their tune doesn’t change as their systems age and deteriorate and need to be replaced.  We might just see a change of heart and find some new allies to help join our cause for clean water.

And while members of Congress do need to speak with more civil tongues – and until all the families who can get waste water treatment get it – Congress needs to keep talking and funding sewer projects.

Most of you have read and heard the big talk in Congress of late has been over some tremendously huge budget numbers.  In fact, mind-boggling sized numbers.

Well, here’s a number for my colleagues in both political parties to think and talk and debate about – 330.  Yes, 330 individuals…131 families who will receive wastewater service when this phase of the new sewer system is completed.  

I have news for Washington, where some want to burn you at the stake like a witch if you mention the word, spending.  Logan PSD’s wastewater is sound fiscal spending.  It’s spending to invest in our future.

To those with too-short memories, too-shortsighted, and just too short minded to see enough of history to appreciate what’s possible for the future: this spending on infrastructure — like most such spending on community and business foundations – is also about something more than the 131 families, who are so deserving of this project. 

It’s about their health, and their neighborhood’s safety and property values.  And, four days after tax day we need to take note of those factors – that they either save spending tax dollars or increase tax revenues to drive down deficits.

This spending is also about keeping our rivers cleaner.  We all encourage and support the timely idea of a water trail on the Guyandotte.  What’s good for Island Creek is good for the Guyandotte. A cleaner river increases tourism and that means more business and thus, more tax revenues.

All this is to say that what we are celebrating here today is an investment in our future – an investment with dividends that will help shrink our deficit in Washington because ultimately this spending produces not only short term, but long term jobs.

It lays the infrastructure foundation upon which we can build more jobs.  That’s the heart of good government.

Just do a survey of Logan’s greatest needs:  Renovating, razing, or replacing worn out buildings?  Work on the city streets?  Integrating the City to the Hatfield McCoy Trail System?  And, what about a couple more wastewater water projects? What is the common thread running through all these?  Infrastructure.

We can repeat needs just like these – city by city, county by county, and state by state all across this country.

And if there are any who would dispute the benefits of a project like  Logan PSD, but multiplied maybe a couple hundred thousand times,  I welcome them to ride over to another federally funded piece of infrastructure, a US Army Corps of Engineers project known as R. D. Bailey Dam.  A dam which has prevented $266 million worth of flood damages since it was first constructed, to say nothing of its other multi-use benefits to our region’s economy.

Infrastructure remains the bedrock of the modern economy.

Now let me return for a moment to those Washington, DC, mind boggling numbers, and then conclude my remarks.

No one in Washington today argues our deficits do not need to be brought under control, that our national debt has to be curtailed.

But far too many looking at our national bottom line see a program like the Corps and with the tap of a keystroke delete it from their budget plan.  They do the same thing with Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Administration, Rural Development, Rural Utility Service, State Revolving Fund, Small Cities and Community Development Block Grants.

Many of these programs are the very ones partnering to make this four and a half million federal-state system possible

What the budget hackers fail to focus on is these are the very programs that leverage a tremendous amount of private investment in addition to the other benefits I have already mentioned, and all equal jobs.

And last week, it’s worth noting, the Logan Banner ran an AP editorial pointing out that when you short change programs like water and sewer in public budgets, the systems just back up more.  That pun was intended!  But it’s really true.

A final, important example:  There are few greater public economic engines than our National highway system to create jobs.  Think about what Corridor G has meant to this region.  

Yet just last week, the new Republican majority cut $100 Billion for this program despite the fact that both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO demanded full funding for it.

Could it be we cutting off our federal nose to spite our national face?

Well, China currently spends nine percent and India spends five percent of their GDP a year on infrastructure.  Yet, we, the United States of America, only spend 1.9 percent of our GDP a year on infrastructure.  That’s woefully inadequate as it stands.  Further cuts will destroy family-wage highway and transit construction jobs all along the way, and place us in an even less competitive position than we already are against countries like China and India.  Incredible, simply incredible.

My Friends, it’s time we invested in America again.  We must out-infrastructure, out-build, out-educate, out-innovate, out-manufacture, and out-produce our competition.

It’s time we put America back to work.  It’s time we rebuilt our national foundations for small business.  It’s time we make America’s families’ futures brighter. 

There’s no better place to begin than here in the heart of Logan’s PSD.

Thank you.