Congressmembers warned consolidation could impact important water projects across Western New York
Representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Collins won approval for an amendment to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act 2014, which prohibits any funds in the bill from being used to consolidate or move functions performed by the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo or Chicago sectors.
Late last month, Higgins and Collins sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers commanding general laying out formal objections to a proposal to move Army Corps personnel out of Western New York. Higgins also sent a Freedom of Information request seeking materials related to the proposed relocation of functions out of the greater Buffalo region.
In remarks on the House Floor, Higgins said, "When it comes to protecting the safety, health and future of our waterways, there is no substitute for having a team of qualified people on the ground. Taking key staff out of Western New York will only hinder the delivery of high-impact projects in progress. And any plan to turn the Buffalo or Chicago districts into mere satellite offices is a wrongheaded decision to disinvest in our Great Lakes."
"The Army Corps of Engineers continues to play a critical role in the success of several projects along the shoreline of the Great Lakes and other regional waterways," Collins said. "The plan to move the Buffalo-based personnel out of Western New York is shortsighted, and I am pleased this bipartisan amendment to help prevent that move passed the House. The Army Corps has yet to substantiate the savings it claims this relocation plan will achieve, and commonsense tells you that moving key personnel far away from regional project sites could end up costing taxpayers more money."
The Buffalo District oversees 38,000 square miles from Massena, N.Y. to Toledo, Ohio, and is responsible for planning, construction, and operating water projects to reduce flooding, maintain navigation, protect the shoreline and support water quality efforts.