BACON, GARAMENDI INTRODUCE BASE PROTECTION ACT
Washington, D.C.—Congressmen Don Bacon (NE-02) and John Garamendi (CA-03) introduced H.R. 6922, the Base Applications Sped Expeditiously Protection (BASE Protection) Act, which directs the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to prioritize and expedite Section 408 permit applications that provide military installations with enhanced resilience. Section 408 is the process and criteria that the Corps uses to review requests to alter existing Civil Works projects. Section 408 permit applications are often just engineering and technical alterations that help ensure existing Civil Works projects deliver the public benefits for which they were authorized and constructed.
Through the partnership of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Corps, the bill will seek to provide consistent expedited evaluations and alterations to all existing civil works projects that protect military installations. The Act will also direct the Corps to develop and provide an annual report to Congress that shows the yearly progress made on the number of applications received and completed within the year, and the length of time it took to complete each application.
“Last spring, Nebraska faced one of the worst natural disasters in our state’s history. Not only did the March floods damage homes, communities, and businesses across Nebraska, Offutt Air Force Base was also greatly impacted,” said Rep. Bacon. “Nearly one-third of the base flooded causing 3,000 feet of runway to be submerged and 3,200 workers to be displaced. It took five years to approve a Section 408 application to raise Offutt’s levees an additional two to three feet. That should not happen, and our military bases and surrounding communities should be protected. To do this we need to reevaluate, prioritize, and expedite the levee application process so that when another natural disaster hits, our Armed Forces are prepared to respond. I am grateful for Congressman Garamendi’s partnership and expertise in this matter, and I look forward to implementing this bipartisan bill in future infrastructure and environmental legislation.”
“As Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, I oversee all U.S. military installations. I also represent one of the most flood-prone districts in the country and two critical Air Force bases,” said Rep. Garamendi.“The increasingly frequent and severe natural disasters fueled by climate change make it imperative to ensure our military installations are more resilient to floods and other disasters. The Army Corps of Engineers must prioritize levee improvements that safeguard our military installations and neighboring communities. I am pleased to work with Congressman Bacon on this commonsense, bipartisan bill. Together, we will make this a priority as Congress prepares the forthcoming Water Resources Development Act authorizing Army Corps levee projects and permitting.”
“Any effort to prioritize and expedite review of permit applications or permissions to take action affecting public projects that provide a military installation with new or enhanced resilience is welcomed and long overdue,” said John Winkler, General Manager of Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District. “The historic flood of 2019 taught us an extremely valuable lesson in that we need to expedite not only the permitting process but also the construction timeline of infrastructure projects across the country, especially as they relate to National Security and the safety of our brave men and women in the armed forces. We need to move faster, farther and smarter than our international competitors and enemies.”