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CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE
(House of Representatives - April 25, 2013)

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[Page H2301]
                         CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Illinois (Mr. Quigley) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. QUIGLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today because last week my district 
experienced its second ``storm of the century'' in the last 3 years, 
its third since 2008. More than 7 inches of rain turned the streets of 
Hinsdale, Elmhurst, Franklin Park, and Albany Park into rivers.
  Clearly, we need to revisit our definition of the 100-year storm; 
because, while some may doubt the reality of climate change, it is a 
fact that stronger, more destructive storms are pounding our region 
with distressing regularity and resulting in huge costs. While some 
don't believe in climate change, I hope they believe in funding flood 
control. We owe it to our constituents.
  I spent most of this past weekend touring the flooded streets and 
basements throughout my district. Everywhere I went, I encountered 
residents who had lost their homes, their belongings, and their peace 
of mind. The residents I talked to wanted to know two things: What was 
their government going to do to help, and why was this happening again 
so soon after the horrific flooding of 2010?
  I told people that my office would do everything it could to bring 
Federal disaster relief to their homes and businesses; but, 
unfortunately, Federal help for big States can be an uphill fight. Aid 
is based, in part, on a population-based formula that penalizes larger 
States like Illinois. Big States have to suffer more damage before 
meeting the aid threshold.
  This process of rewarding aid is unfair, and we need to change it. I 
raised this concern last summer with my colleagues on the 
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. I was pleased to see 
language in Superstorm Sandy legislation requiring FEMA to review its 
processes in rewarding disaster aid. But reviews and bill language are 
of little immediate consolation to people who have lost their homes or 
businesses. With 44 counties declared a disaster area after last week's 
flood, we don't need another study. The people of my district and 
others across the State need our help.
  FEMA needs to act--and act without delay--to get Illinois back on its 
feet. Every town in my district has projects that will help lessen the 
impact of the next storm. Storm sewer improvements, berms, swales, 
planting more wetlands, permeable pavers, detention ponds, and the Deep 
Tunnel Project can lessen or even prevent disaster.
  We need to find the funds for these local projects that will avert 
the next flood and ultimately save millions in tax dollars in damages. 
For the Chicago area, that means demanding the $35 million per year in 
Federal funding that is needed to complete the McCook and Thornton 
reservoirs. These reservoirs are part of a larger flood mitigation plan 
put in place over 20 years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers. The 
Federal Government is now holding up their completion because of budget 
issues.
  Local budgets are just a start, though. We also need to address the 
question of why 100-year storms are recurring so often. Climate change 
is here, and we must address it now. With a sensible energy policy, 
development of alternative energy sources, and commonsense 
conservation, we can begin to confront one of the great challenges of 
our time. If we don't, then the storms of last week in the Midwest and 
last fall on the east coast will be the new normal, and that's a normal 
none of us can afford.

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