Tuesday, May 19, 2009
"In his budget proposal, President Obama calls for the largest amount of funding that any president has requested for Amtrak or for the development of high-speed rail in the history of the United States. The request for $1.5 billion for Amtrak and another $1 billion for high-speed rail is in direct contrast to the starvation diet that President Bush advocated for Amtrak," said Oberstar. "President Obama's commitment to Amtrak and to the development of high-speed rail in the United States is unparalleled, and it equals President Eisenhower's commitment to building the interstate highway system in 1956. President Obama's continuing support for passenger rail provides a solid foundation for the nation's long-term growth and economic prosperity, just as the Federal Highway System did a half century ago."
"For Amtrak and high-speed rail enthusiasts, this is truly an historic moment. President Obama has displayed significant foresight by making the development of a high speed passenger rail system a priority for the nation.
In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he advocated for $1.3 billion for Amtrak and $8 billion for high-speed rail," said Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. "The President understands that to be competitive globally, the United States must invest in passenger railroads and develop a comprehensive high-speed rail system that rivals, if not exceeds, those operating in other nations. This is a long overdue down payment on the nation’s future."
The President also proposes making significant investments in the Clean Water State Revolving Funds, which is the principal source of federal funding for meeting the nation’s wastewater infrastructure needs.
"The $2.4 billion for the Clean Water SRF is the largest request by any president since the fund was created in 1987. This commitment to improving the nation's wastewater infrastructure is a dramatic reversal of Bush administration policies. First, President Obama's request is approximately five times the requested funding level of $555 million in FY 2009, which was President Bush's last budget. Thankfully, President Obama's request also reverses the promise of the Bush Administration to end the federal commitment to Clean Water as of 2011," said Oberstar. "President Obama's budget request not only increases funding, but it restores the federal government’s commitment to meeting the nation’s Clean Water needs."
"The nation's wastewater infrastructure is deteriorating and is in dire need of repair or replacement. Despite the fact that many water systems have reached the end of their useful life or have been completely overwhelmed from increased use, the federal government has not made the necessary investment to ensure that communities across the country have safe drinking water and effective wastewater treatment facilities," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. "President Obama understands that our water infrastructure needs greatly outweigh current resources, and this budget request will help close that gap. I am also pleased that the budget request restores the provisions under the Superfund law that requires polluters to pay for the cleanup of damage they do to the environment."
The Obama budget request also proposes $475 million for a Great Lakes restoration initiative to address leading causes of impairment to the Great Lakes, such as aquatic invasive species, contaminated sediments, and non-point sources of pollution. It requires federal agencies that have authority over the Great Lakes to address current concerns and problems. The Environmental Protection Agency will take the lead of this cross-agency effort, but other agencies, such as the Coast Guard, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will work with the EPA to access funds to address challenges facing the Great Lakes.