Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
H.R. 1205, as amended, would reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act through fiscal year 2012 and give the Federal Government, States and territories additional tools to protect and conserve coral reefs. I commend the gentleman from American Samoa, the Honorable ENI FALEOMAVAEGA, for sponsoring this legislation and for his hard work to move it forward.
H.R. 1205 was referred to the Natural Resources Committee and the Science and Technology Committee. I'm including in the Congressional Record an exchange of letters between Chairmen Nick Rahall and Bart Gordon asserting both committees jurisdiction in H.R. 1205. Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon gracefully agreed to allow this bill to come to the floor today.
H.R. 1205, as amended, broadens and improves the definition of ``coral reef ecosystem'' to include mangroves and sea grass habitats. Additionally, the bill gives the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior the authority to cover related costs for damages to coral reefs in U.S. waters located outside national marine sanctuaries.
Mr. Speaker, more than 70 percent of the coral reefs under the jurisdiction of the United States are found in the Pacific, including Guam. Regrettably, coral reefs worldwide remain imperiled and deserving of greater protection. I am a proud cosponsor of this legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support the bill, as amended.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES,
Washington, DC, September 26, 2007.
Hon. Bart Gordon,
Chairman, Committee on Science and Technology, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: Thank you for your willingness to allow floor consideration of H.R. 1205, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2007, to proceed unimpeded.
I appreciate your willingness to waive rights to further consideration of H.R. 1205, even though your Committee shares jurisdiction over it and has received an additional referral. Of course, this waiver does not prejudice any further jurisdictional claims by your Committee over this legislation or similar language. Furthermore, I agree to support your request for appointment of conferees from the Committee on Science and Technology if a conference is held on this matter.
As you requested, I will insert our two letters in the Congressional Record as part of the consideration of the bill on the House floor. Thank you for the cooperative spirit in which you have worked regarding this matter and others between our respective committees.
With warm regards, I am
Nick J. Rahall II,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY,
Washington, DC, September 27, 2007.
Hon. Nick J. Rahall II,
Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
Dear Chairman Rahall: I write to you regarding H.R. 1205, the ``Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2007.'' This legislation was initially referred to both the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Science and Technology.
H.R. 1205 was marked up by the Committee on Natural Resources on June 28, 2007. I recognize and appreciate your desire to bring this legislation before the House in an expeditious manner, and, accordingly, I will waive further consideration of this bill in Committee. However, agreeing to waive consideration of this bill should not be construed as the Committee on Science and Technology waiving its jurisdiction over H.R. 1205.
Further, I request your support for the appointment of Science and Technology Committee conferees during any House-Senate conference convened on this legislation on provisions of the bill that are within the Committee's jurisdiction. I also ask that a copy of this letter and your response be placed in the Congressional Record during consideration of this bill.
I look forward to working with you as we prepare to pass this important legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 1205, the Coral Reef Conservation Amendments Act of 2007. We thank the gentleman from American Samoa and, once again, my friend from Guam and also the gentleman from Puerto Rico for their work on this legislation.
Coral reefs are truly a treasure, but they mean the world to the aquatic life in those areas. This legislation authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to undertake coral reef conservation activities. It does involve matching grants, and it provides it in areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior.
At this time, though, Mr. Speaker, I would like to yield such time as he may consume to my friend from Maryland (Mr. Gilchrest).
Mr. GILCHREST. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1205 today, and I want to thank my good friend from American Samoa (Mr. Faleomavaega) for his effort in reauthorizing the Coral Reef Restoration Act.
I want to thank the chairman of the subcommittee, Ms. Bordallo, for her work in helping us facilitate a number of provisions in this bill; Mr. Rahall, of course, and certainly Mr. Young and Mr. Brown. This Coral Reef Restoration Act brings a number of different agencies; once again to thank Mr. Faleomavaega for helping make this happen. The coordination between various Federal agencies in ensuring that the restoration process continues and does so
in a very timely fashion is admirable.
For example, ship strikes pose, used to pose somewhat of a danger to coral reefs because of the various levels of bureaucracy. This bill codifies the Coral Reef Task Force, which coordinates those various Federal agencies to more quickly implement policies that can deal with the restoration process.
Mr. Speaker, 20 percent of America's coral reefs are dead. They are destroyed. 50 percent of America's coral reefs are in danger of dying for various, various reasons, and it is so important at this critical time that we understand the nature and the importance, the value to the ecosystem, the value to marine biological communities, and the economic value to all those States and areas that live next to coral reefs and depend upon them for their fisheries, for tourism, for coastal protection and
Coral reefs do protect coastlines, and they're valued for supporting rich biological diversity that is of immense economic value to a number of regions throughout the United States. Half of the federally managed fish species, that equals billions of dollars, spend much of their life cycle in coral reefs.
But coral reefs, as a result of coastal runoff, Overharvesting, and now the effects of climate change, these particular areas of degradation act in a phenomenally coordinated fashion to degrade our coral reefs. And so this type of legislation can ameliorate the effects of the anthropogenic onslaught to coral reefs; that's the human activity that degrades coral reefs.
Now, this bill, and I'll close with this, affects coral reefs in this manner, because there's multiple effects on coral reefs: Overharvesting, climate change, acidification of the ocean, runoff, pollution in our oceans, debris in our oceans, and a whole range of other things. That means that we have to approach this from a multiple-stressor effect. How do we deal with all these things?
To account for future effects of human activity, including climate change, this bill enables us to manage the coral reefs in something that we will call ``ecosystem resilience,'' the resilience of an ecosystem. If you look at the human body--your lungs, your liver, your kidneys, your bloodstream, your heart--the human body functions in an extraordinary coordinated fashion. It's our own personal ecosystem.
And in the ecosystem abroad, in the Nation's oceans, that ecosystem can function, if it's restored, understanding that concept of an ecosystem, of a metabolism, if you will, to restore it so it is resilient, just like the human body can be restored. But unless you have a process where you're healthy, where you exercise, where you have a good diet, et cetera, et cetera, then you will run through cycles of health and ill health.
The ecosystem of coral reefs will be managed for its resiliency so it can come back after an onslaught of overharvesting; it can come back after an onslaught of pollution; it can resist and be resilient to this unknown factor of climate change.
So for all these reasons, and for all the help we've had from the staff and the Members, I heartily endorse H.R. 1205, and ask the Members to vote in favor of this legislation.
Mr. KLEIN of Florida. Thank you, Chairwoman BORDALLO, for yielding me time and Congressman Faleomavaega for bringing this important legislation to the floor today.
Mr. Speaker, coral reefs are among the most diverse, biologically complex, and valuable ecosystems on Earth. In my home State of Florida, we are fortunate to have the third largest barrier reef in the world. Along with their natural beauty, Florida's coral reef systems serve as a critical place for fish habitat and as a potentially lifesaving barrier against hurricanes as well.
But it's only on an everyday level that coral reefs probably have the greatest impact on south Florida, serving as an important source of tourism, jobs and revenue. In Broward County alone, coral reefs contribute over $2 billion annually to the local economy.
However, coral reefs are in nothing short of a crisis. Because of a variety of threats, scientists estimate that 60 percent of coral reefs may disappear before 2050.
That's why I'm very proud to support all of my colleagues' efforts today to bring this legislation forward. H.R. 1205 will make important changes to the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000. One will be able to take advantage of the vast resources and expertise at various coral reef conservation institutions across the country, like the National Coral Reef Institute.
The National Coral Reef Institute will be hosting the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium next year in Florida, which will bring together scientists from throughout the world, over 3,000 of those scientists, to discuss coral reef issues. Harnessing their experience and knowledge and other institutions' will be a vital component of any Federal coral reef conservation plan.
Another important aspect of this legislation we're considering today will be to authorize NOAA to respond to vessel groundings. Since 1994, we've seen 12 large ships run aground on sensitive coral reef areas near Ft. Lauderdale. The last one, occurring almost a year ago, involved a freighter that left a 20-foot swath of destruction along 100 feet of a coral reef. Whatever coral that once lived there is now, unfortunately, gone.
Part of the solution to vessel groundings is adopting better prevention strategies, such as closing anchorage sites in shallow waters that are close to coral reefs. And I'm very proud that the Coast Guard and others have worked to achieve this objective.
But we also need to respond faster when a vessel does run aground, because the sooner coral reefs can be restored, the better chances for their survival. Expanding NOAA's authority to act will allow NOAA to utilize their experience and resources to both assess the damage and restore the reefs.
For these reasons, I urge my colleagues to adopt this legislation. I thank the sponsors on both sides of the aisle, and recommend that we move forward.
Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. It does a good thing and preserves something that is so vital to our Nation as a resource. We do need to be careful about the unintended consequences of the expansion of the term ``wildlife'' in other statutes just to give the Secretary authority over coral reefs and coral reef ecosystems, even in limited circumstances.
But with that aside, I would encourage support for the bill, and yield back the balance of my time.
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, I would now like to recognize the sponsor of this bill, the Honorable Mr. Faleomavaega from American Samoa, for 4 minutes.
(Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.) [Page: H11800]
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 1205, to reauthorize the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000.
First and foremost, I certainly want to commend the chairman of our Natural Resources Committee, the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall), for his support and commitment to this important legislation.
I also would like to acknowledge the leadership and the tremendous support that we have received from my good friend and colleague, the gentleman from Alaska, our senior ranking member, Mr. Young, for his spirit of cooperation and certainly for his support of the bill.
Last but not least, I want to recognize especially my good friend, the chairwoman of our Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife, the gentlelady from Guam (Ms. Bordallo).
And I want to also commend the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) for his support and management of the bill on the other side of the aisle.
I want to thank my good friend, the gentleman and former chairman of the Fisheries and Wildlife Subcommittee, my good friend from Maryland (Mr. Gilchrest). I can't think of a better person that knows more about wildlife than the gentleman from Maryland in the years that I've served with him as a member of the Fisheries Subcommittee.
I also want to thank my good friend, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Klein), for his support of this legislation.
I also want to note for my colleagues that the gentlelady from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is also a cosponsor of this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1205, the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2007, is an important piece of legislation because it recognizes that we need to do more now to protect the health of our Nation's coral reefs. We have coral reefs running along the coasts on both sides of the United States, continental United States, especially completely surrounding our U.S. territories.
Coral reefs are critically important, not only here in the United States, but around the world, and we should take the lead in protecting such a vital resource.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1205 has carried over key provisions from legislation that I introduced in the previous Congress which had very strong bipartisan support. This legislation will authorize funding for management assistance grants, enhance research and monitoring, implement local action strategies, and also codify the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force, which was established by an executive order issued by President Clinton in 1998.
More importantly, we have included recommendations from our experts in the current administration as well as from other Members of Congress, and also certainly to enhance the passage of this legislation. This has been a work of some 7 months in consultations. Not only did we have hearings in our subcommittee, we had a markup, also a markup in the full committee for which we received unanimous support.
Mr. Speaker, a United Nations report estimates that 60 percent of the world's coral reefs will die off by the year 2030. And with the drastic change to climate as well as the escalation of global warming, our coral reefs are in peril.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 1205 affords us an opportunity to take immediate action in conserving and protecting our coral reefs. It is not only critical for our coastal States and territories but, more importantly, for the rest of the world.
I urge my colleagues to support this legislation. And I would be remiss if I did not recognize the senior staffs of the committee on both sides of the aisle, Ms. Lori Sonken, Mr. Dave Jansen, and my good friend Mr. Dave Whaley for their support and for their work in putting this legislation in such a way that now has the bipartisan support of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Again, this is not a Democratic or Republican bill; it is a bill that will serve the best interests of our Nation.
Ms. BORDALLO. Mr. Speaker, as a new chairman of this subcommittee, I want to go on record to thank my colleagues for their input, their expertise on this particular subject. They have all spoken in support of this legislation, and I want to thank them for their bipartisan support.