Mr. Chairman, Senator Jeffords, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today as the nominee for the position of Assistant Administrator for Water at the United States Environmental Protection Agency. I am grateful to President Bush, Administrator Leavitt, and to this Committee for considering me for this position and its challenging and exciting responsibilities.
Since 1985, I have been blessed with several opportunities to serve in the House of Representatives as Counsel to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Environmental Counsel for the House Science Committee. Since 2002, I have been at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While in these positions, I have poured most of my energy into enacting, overseeing, and now implementing key pieces of America’s landmark water laws – the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, Ocean Dumping Act, and the Water Resources Development Act.
It is my honor to appear before this Committee because, through it all, you and your colleagues have articulated the vision, forged the coalitions, and overseen the progress in protecting the environment, and providing the infrastructure and jobs to keep America strong and healthy. I aspire to do the same at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water, should I be confirmed.
On the waterfront, so to speak, we have seen dramatic progress, but we face complex challenges. Nonpoint source runoff and other “wet weather flows” including sewer overflows and stormwater discharges, and protective yet affordable drinking water regulations, will continue to demand attention, innovation, and flexibility.
Administrator Leavitt has articulated a “better way” for the Agency that will accelerate the environmental progress being realized over the past thirty years while maintaining our national economic competitiveness. Collaboration and innovation are two of several key components, and the National Water Program will continue to advance both. Regional collaborations, such as those in the Great Lakes and the National Estuaries Program, and water quality trading are prime examples. Such efforts will also continue.
Administrator Leavitt has recently articulated a 500 Day Plan for water that focuses on three key areas: monitoring, wetlands, and coastal watersheds. Since assuming the position of Acting Assistant Administrator for Water in December, 2003, I have also emphasized monitoring, conservation, and restoration. For me, conservation means not only conservation of wetlands but also water use efficiency. I look forward to progress in sustaining America’s infrastructure through conservation, full-cost pricing, and other mechanisms – including the Agency’s emerging “Water Star” program, modeled on Energy Star, to encourage voluntary labeling of water efficient products and appliances. Restoring watersheds and coastal waters is also a priority of mine – particularly when one considers that over half of the country’s population lives near the coast and one of every six jobs in the U.S. is marine related.
Mr. Chairman, I commit to you and your colleagues my complete energy and enthusiasm in working to keep America’s waters clean, safe, and secure and in the pursuit of what Administrator Leavitt characterizes as the “productive middle” – using collaboration and innovation to achieve sustainable results.
Lastly, and no doubt most importantly, I want to thank my family and friends, many of whom include current and former staff, for their support and endurance. Managing water is truly a team effort.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to any questions you and your colleagues may have.