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Rowland, Hon. John G., Governor State of Connecticut
Shays, Hon. Christopher, of Connecticut
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
tion, responses to questions, and Memorandum of Understanding among
ADDITION TO THE RECORD
Resources Research Center, Dr. Kurt Stephenson and Dr. Leonard
H.R. 3313, THE LONG ISLAND SOUND RESTORATION ACT, AND H.R. 2957, THE LAKE PONTCHARTRAIN BASIN RESTORATION ACT
Tuesday, February 29, 2000
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON TRANSPOR
TATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON
D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:00 p.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. The hearing will come to order. Our members will be coming in. Governors, you know the drill. We are not always as prompt as we would like, but we thank you for being prompt.
The Subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on H.R. 3313, the Long Island Sound Restoration Act, and H.R. 2957, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Act.
While Florida has its Everglades and the mid-Atlantic States have their Chesapeake Bay, New York and Connecticut have their Sound. Of course, no government or individual has or owns the Sound or any of the other national resources. But we all have stewardship responsibilities. These crown jewels can become tarnished if not properly protected and restored.
That is what today's hearing is all about, protecting and restoring two of America's great water bodies. I plead guilty to favoritism when it comes to Long Island Sound, at least compared to other waterbodies. As Chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, I am generally expected to refrain from cosponsoring bills referred to this Subcommittee. But when it comes to Long Island Sound and when Representative Nancy Johnson, Rick Lazio, Gary Ackerman, Sam Gejdenson and others have worked so hard to draft a bipartisan bill, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor and eager to do all I can to advance the bill.
As a New Yorker, I know first-hand the environmental, economic and cultural significance of the Sound. A recent study estimated that a clean Sound's annual benefit to the economy is $5.5 billion, considering its commercial, recreational and intrinsic values.
But all is not well in the Sound. This heavily stressed urban estuary with 15 million people living in its drainage basin has its share of challenges. We have known for years that hypoxia due to low dissolved oxygen levels is a priority. In addition, we hope the recent disaster with diseased lobsters is not the symbolic canary in
a coal mine. Other threats, such as invasive species, are likely to increase at least if we settle for the status quo.
Progress is being made, however. The Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan is a blueprint targeting the key problems. Governor Pataki and Governor Rowland are providing much of the funding and resources to make it happen. But more is needed.
That is where H.R. 3313 steps in. The bill recognizes the need for a stronger Federal role, dramatically increasing Long Island Sound's authorization level to $80 million a year. It also embraces innovations in watershed general permitting and cost effective pollution prevention and recognizes the special funding needs of distressed communities.
I am honored to welcome an all star lineup of supporters, including my own Governor, Governor Pataki. And let me publicly thank you for the great leadership you are providing, not only for New York, but for the Nation on very important environmental issues. You are someone we look to and we respect.
And my former colleague, Governor Rowland, what a star you have proven to be. We knew it when you were here with us, and you are proving it every single day. So I thank both of you gentlemen for what you are doing, not just for our respective States, but for the Nation.
Let me also welcome supporters of H.R. 2957 and the overall effort to restore Lake Pontchartrain Basin. I congratulate Representative David Vitter as well as Representative William Jefferson for their leadership in moving forward with a consensus-based approach to protecting a severely stressed but critically important waterbody. I look forward to working with them and others to advance the cause.
Let me now turn to the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee, my friend and colleague from Philadelphia, Representative Borski.
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me thank you for holding this hearing on two bills that are aimed at improving water quality in Long Island Sound and Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
Both the Long Island Sound and Lake Pontchartrain Basins are precious natural resources containing numerous fish and wildlife habitat and providing a variety of benefits to the surrounding communities. However, years of increased population growth, development and agricultural pressures, coupled with inadequate water quality management, have degraded these watersheds, prompting the need for additional attention.
Yet, while these watersheds share many of the same water quality concerns, their unique locations, characteristics and sources of pollution require the development of site specific plans for successful restoration. For example, the Long Island Sound watershed is bounded by some of the most heavily utilized areas of this country, and is home to more than 8 million people. As a result, increased pressures for residential, commercial and recreational development have significantly altered the landscape and have expanded the level of pollutants being discharged into the Sound.
In contrast, Lake Pontchartrain Basin is home to approximately 1.5 million people. Significant environment issues for this watershed include water and sediment pollution from urban and agricultural sources as well as saltwater intrusions from navigational waterways and the impact of freshwater diversions from the Mississippi River. It is clear that the sources of impairment for these watersheds differ dramatically.
That is why, Mr. Chairman, I am encouraged by your decision to hold this hearing on bills introduced by members from both the Long Island Sound and Lake Pontchartrain watersheds. If additional efforts are needed to restore these areas, it is good to hear from those directly related to and affected by these watersheds to get a local perspective on their restorations. I want to join you in welcoming our distinguished guests, the great Governor from the State of New York, your Governor Pataki, and our former colleague, the great Governor from Connecticut, Governor Rowland, and all of our colleagues who are here to testify on these bills. Í assure them all, Mr. Chairman, that I look forward to working with you as always on a bipartisan basis to come to a solution that is good for the people in these communities.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We are going to move it, right?
Mr. HORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I agree with you on this legislation, it is very important. But if I might for 20 seconds have Governor Pataki's interest in this. I have held a couple of hearings in New York on the Governor's Island situation as Federal surplus property, let's say. How is that coming with the State and the city? Ms. Castro was an outstanding witness, and I just wondered what is happening up to now.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Can we go to the Governor and let the Governor give his testimony.
Mr. HORN. Okay, I didn't want to mess up his testimony on this.
Mr. BOEHLERT. He will be glad to report to you on Governor's Island where I served valiantly for the U.S. Army for two years. I know it well.
But the Governor has a good plan. He will tell you about in a moment, Dr. Horn. Do you have any opening remarks?
Mr. HORN. That is it.
Mr. BOEHLERT. All right, thank you. We will be back to you on Governor's Island.
The distinguished gentlelady from the Hudson Valley, the Congresswoman who has the privilege of representing our Governor.
Mrs. KELLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for providing this forum today for us to discuss these two proposals. I would like to thank our panelists today, including Governor Pataki, my wonderful and distinguished Governor, and Governor Rowland. I also want to thank Mr. Pepe, Mr. Miller and Mr. Atkin, all of whom have played very significant roles in advancing the cause of Long Island Sound.
As we will see today, restoring Long Island Sound is an effort of great importance to our region. The initiative being considered today represents the sort of intelligent approach that we must take in order to realize significant steps toward this effort. It is a good bill, and it is my hope that this Committee will do all it can to move this proposal through Congress.