FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 25, 2018
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
Sen. Paul Applauds Confirmation of R.D. James as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul congratulated Kentucky native R.D. James on his confirmation as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and thanked him for his commitment to review specific issues facing Kentucky.
Prior to Assistant Secretary James’ confirmation, Sen. Paul communicated his ongoing efforts to address several current issues involving the Army Corps and Kentuckians, and asked for his assistance in resolving these issues if confirmed.
“I am pleased to congratulate R.D, James on his confirmation as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and appreciate his commitment to review the specific issues with the Army Corps facing the Commonwealth, such as those at Rough River Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Western Kentucky’s small harbors,” said Sen. Paul. “I look forward to his assistance in addressing the issues facing these communities and working together to ensure Kentucky’s land and waterways are not subject to overzealous government regulation.”
Sen. Paul has been leading efforts to address the following current issues between Kentucky communities and the Army Corps:
Rough River Lake Flowage Easement Encroachment Resolution Plan: This plan, which the previous Army Corps director signed in the final days of the Obama administration, has been a bureaucratic and financial nightmare for residents around Rough River Lake. Last year, the Corps notified hundreds of residents that their homes are in or below the Corps’ easement around the lake, and that the residents are each responsible for paying thousands of dollars in administrative fees, survey fees, and possible costs of structural relocation to comply with the Corps’ demands related to the easement. This is due to the Army Corps improperly measuring their easement around the lake in the 1950s, allowing decades of construction around the lake without any notice to residents, and waiting until 2017 to tell residents that their homes were in violation of their easement.
- For any homeowners who built or lived in homes without notice of the easement, the Corps needs to absorb any costs faced by residents to comply with the Plan, and ensure that residents’ homes are not condemned through eminent domain.
Lake Cumberland: For many years, the Army Corps has been attempting to begin a process which will lead to fees on surrounding cities and businesses that use Lake Cumberland for their water supply. A major concern is that entering into long-term water supply contracts with the Corps will result in unaffordable costs being passed onto residents around Lake Cumberland—the $600 million price tag of rehabilitating Wolf Creek Dam is still fresh on their minds. This has been an issue at other lakes around the state, too, including Laurel River Lake and Barren River Lake.
- The Corps needs to seriously consider and determine if there are alternative solutions that do not involve long-term, expensive water supply contracts.
Water levels: Kentuckians from the communities around lakes across the Commonwealth have expressed that lake recreation and tourism would be greatly improved if the lakes could stay open even one week longer before the Corps lowers the lakes to their winter pool levels.
- The Corps districts should allow greater flexibility in keeping the lakes at summer pool levels for economic development in local communities.
Small harbor dredging: Around Paducah especially, there are several smaller ports that the Corps used to neglect dredging. While over the past few years the ports have been more consistently dredged, this is a continuing priority for Kentucky’s river communities.
- There needs to be a continued commitment to dredging small harbors around Kentucky to ensure the reliability of Kentucky’s waterways industries.