STATEMENT OF SENATOR GEORGE V. VOINOVICH
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CLEAN WATER ACT
OCTOBER 8, 2002
you, Mr. Chairman, for conducting this hearing to commemorate the 30th
anniversary of the Clean Water Act. In
celebration of this anniversary, I
The law, its amendments, and the early 75/25 money that was made available has been very important to Ohio and has helped us make a real impact on improving water quality and restoration of Ohio’s waters, particularly Lake Erie, our Great Lake.
Over thirty years ago, Lake Erie was dying and the Cuyahoga River, which is a major river flowing into Lake Erie, caught on fire as a result of an oil slick. Lake Erie’s decline was heavily covered by the media and became an international symbol of pollution and environmental degradation. I remember the British Broadcasting Company – the BBC – even sending a film crew to make a documentary about it.
In the late 1960s, the northern boundary of my district was Lake Erie. I made up my mind that I would go to the State legislature and fight what I refer to as the second battle of Lake Erie – to bring the lake back and reclaim it. I worked to amend our air and water pollution legislation. I remember Bill Ruckelshaus asking me to go out as a member of the State legislature to Cheyenne, Wyoming to talk to Rocky Mountain legislators about the importance of clean air and clean water, and not to sacrifice their economy on the altar of degrading air and water.
I also worked with legislators from four States to develop Environmental Protection Agency legislation, and I was the prime mover in getting that done in Ohio. Michigan, Ohio, New York all wanted to drill for oil in the bed of Lake Erie, but I worked to get the governors to stop it.
Throughout my career, I have continued to fight for Lake Erie
Today, Lake Erie has improved substantially.
Ohioans celebrate Lake Erie’s improved water quality. [ We are making amends for our past mistreatment of
the great natural resource that forms Ohio’s northern border.] I know that the Lake is healthier, because I
can walk to the shore and see the improvements: clearer water; clean,
accessible beaches; a revived boating industry; and the best sport fishing
anywhere. [cite any scientific
or use facts? E.g. people can swim in
it again, rated drinkable by the authorities and it wasn’t 30 years ago, etc.]
federal Clean Water Act and state water pollution laws have contributed greatly to the progress
that has been made
in this country to improve the
quality of the nation’s waterways .
Due to the cooperative efforts between
the federal government and the states Because of in the last three decades, our
waterways are once again safe for fishing and swimming.
Unfortunately, Members of this Committee know that we have not provided enough money to get the job done. It is interesting that President Nixon and President Reagan both vetoed clean water legislation over money.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, we tried to deal with that problem this year, and a lot of folks were optimistic that we would increase the money for the State Revolving Loan Fund programs. It fell apart because many people, including the folks that implement the laws, felt that we were too prescriptive. They also knew that a lot more money would not be forthcoming, and they would be left with more mandates and no money. Also, t
I am very interested in hearing from Senator Mitchell and Senator Stafford on how they got together and worked things out. We have spent a lot of time in the last year and a half on legislation that would clean up our water and the environment, but we have gotten very little done. It seems that the reason for this inaction is because we have not been able to sit down, compromise, and work together to make progress.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate all of the time you have spent this year in trying to improve the environment. I am hopeful that regardless of who is in leadership in the Senate next year, all of us on this Committee will sit down at the table with all interested parties to figure out how we can compromise and move forward on some of these areas that are so important to the future of our country.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.