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Senate passes water infrastructure bill

Environmentalists not happy

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Though not unanimously approved by environmentalists, a bill funding a wide range of US water infrastructure projects received bipartisan support in the Senate, according to McClatchy:

The Water Resources Development Act, the first law of its kind in six years, would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and coastal storm protection.

The $12.5 billion bill drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told colleagues that she was gratified.

“This type of a bill is not easy to get through,” Boxer said. “Every state has its own needs. We were able to meet the needs of the entire country.”

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The bill includes language that would expedite the environmental review process that many critics say leads to unnecessary delays and added costs in such projects. But it drew objections from environmental groups and the White House, which argued that it would undercut longstanding environmental laws. After the vote, some voiced their disappointment.

“Unfortunately, language in this bill undermines the bedrock environmental principle that the federal government should look before it leaps,” Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement.

“This bill must be fixed before the president signs it into law,” he added.

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