|4:40 PM EDT||
Steven C. LaTourette, R-OH 14th
Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the Chair.
There's a lot going on in Washington, Mr. Chairman, and I would tell you that people back home think we can't get along, but this is a great example of how we're going to get along, and I'm going to become the second member of this subcommittee to say something nice about a member of the Democratic Party, and that's the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
President Obama became the first President of the United States in history to recognize that we needed to put real money into Great Lakes restoration. Those of us who live in the region selfishly know it, and those around the world know it as about 20 percent of the world's freshwater.
We've nickeled-and-dimed and sort of moved along with some nice legislation in this House, some of it written by one of our former colleagues, Mr. Ehlers of Michigan, the Great Lakes Legacy Act, but it wasn't until President Obama, and I suspect that his then-Chief of Staff, the new mayor of Chicago, Mr. Emanuel, was whispering in his ear because he was certainly conversant with these issues, that we need to address the Great Lakes as an ecosystem and make sure that we deal with it appropriately.
So President Obama proposed $475 million a couple of years ago for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. However, as so many things occur around here, that went from 475 to 300, and now in this bill we find it to be $250 million. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is designed to mitigate toxic substances in the Great Lakes, to reduce the impact of invasive species, to improve nearshore health and reduce nonpoint source pollution, improve habitat and reduce species loss, and improve information
engagement and accountability in the program overall.
I just want to focus on one of those, and that is the invasive species, and not the invasive species that come in ballast water. This is an invasive species that is swimming up the Mississippi River, the Asian carp. The Asian carp and I have something in common: The Asian carp can eat 20 percent of its body weight a day, and this Asian carp, if it is successful in breaking through the electronic barrier and getting into the Great Lakes, will devastate that entire ecosystem. This is important.
I know that there are some Members who are going to say, well, I love the Great Lakes; I love the fact that the President made this designation; you're right, we need more money, but what doesn't need more money in this bill, and the account from which I'm taking it, climate change, but if we don't take care of the Great Lakes, 20 percent of the world's freshwater, we're not going to have to worry about climate change because we're all going to be dead. We need to make sure that we protect this
valuable resource. And on this instance, Ms. Jackson, the administrator at the EPA, has been really a great partner in implementing these programs. She has over 300 projects under way at this current time.
I know this is a heavy lift, I know that it's selfish, but I would tell you that it's not selfish because the Great Lakes continue to be the treasure of the world, and there's going to come a time when water is the new oil when it comes to an important resource. I urge Members of the House to please support this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.