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Hoeven Urges Army Nominee to Advance Flood Protection
North Dakota Ag Connection - 11/13/2017

In a meeting with R.D. James, the nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Army -- Civil Works, Senator John Hoeven urged the nominee, if confirmed, to help advance comprehensive flood protection in North Dakota. The senator introduced James to the flood study in the Minot region and the work to secure flood protection for the Red River Valley, stressing the importance of these efforts to the long-term security and well-being of families and businesses in the regions.

"Continuing to secure support from officials and nominees is an important part of keeping this process moving forward and preventing delays for our flood protection efforts," Hoeven said. "This meeting was about ensuring Mr. James understands our flood protection needs early on in his confirmation process so that he is ready to advance these priorities for our communities right after his confirmation. That aligns with our work to ensure the Corps has the funding and flexibility it needs to build comprehensive flood protection for Minot region and the Red River Valley."

Hoeven is working as a member of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee to support regional flood protection efforts in North Dakota. To this end, the senator helped secure the following priorities in the Senate's Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 appropriations legislation and is continuing his efforts to include them in the final funding bill:

- Army Corps Construction -- Provides $125 million in funding for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects above the administration's budget request. This additional funding will help ensure that efforts like comprehensive flood protection in the Red River Valley are funded in the Corps' FY2018 work plan.

- Minot Area Flood Study -- Provides $400,000 for the Corps' feasibility study in the Souris River Basin. The study is a vital step in advancing the first four phases of the Minot area's flood protection project.

- Addressing Section 408 Delays -- Includes a provision at Hoeven's request directing the Corps to expedite processing of Section 408 packages, which are used to make changes to existing Corps projects and find alternative ways to approve project modifications. The delays are affecting North Dakota projects, including those in the Minot area and Cass County.

- Fair Treatment of Public-Private Partnerships -- Includes a provision directing the Corps to evaluate the total return on federal investment when a project secures private sector funds. This helps ensure fair treatment of public-private partnerships, such as flood protection for the Fargo-Moorhead region, during the Corps's analysis of a project's benefits and costs.

Hoeven has secured commitments from administration officials to address inconsistencies in this policy, including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Army Corps Chief Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite and Neomi Rao, the head of the administration's central regulatory authority.

In addition, Hoeven continues working with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long, who Hoeven hosted in Minot earlier this year, to ensure the agency's preliminary flood maps and the resulting flood insurance rates are accurate in the Souris River Basin. This includes making sure FEMA reevaluates discrepancies in its preliminary flood maps, provides an extended timetable for public comment on the maps and updates the maps as permanent flood protection is built.

Hoeven is also working with FEMA to identify additional funding to construct flood protection for the remainder of the Souris River Basin. The Army Corps of Engineers current project entails four phases, and federal support is needed to develop subsequent phases and ensure protection for the whole region.

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