* Senator Thune, I would like to start off by thanking you for holding this important hearing. As Chairman of the Superfund and Waste Management Subcommittee, you have and continue to show great leadership and consideration over new and evolving issues.
* The devastation from the recent hurricanes has been well covered in the media, but the rebuilding efforts – the positive aspects of the story have not been given the same level of attention. I hope that changes soon.
* Today’s hearing on your bill, the Gulf Coast Recovery Act focuses on another issue that has escaped the public eye –looming litigation and liability costs from trial lawyers against well-intentioned private contractors could have a significant chilling effect on disaster response and clean up.
* When the state, local or the federal government asks for help to rebuild our cities, the public expects the private sector to heed that call, and to work with the authorities. The public certainly does not anticipate that those well intending companies should be penalized simply for meeting their civic and patriotic duties.
* We should promote policies that encourage good deeds, not restrict them. Senator Thune’s bill does just that, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor.
* I look forward to hearing from the witnesses – some of whom will explain the problems that they have encountered on the ground and the fear of unknown but likely litigation and liability costs makes them think twice before doing the right thing.
* Penalizing Good Samaritans is bad public policy and bad moral policy. We cannot let that happen.