Thank you, Madame Chair. I just want to mention a couple of concerns I have with some of the items on today’s agenda.
S. 893, the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program Act of 2011: I agree feral swine are a serious problem because they damage private property, harm native ecosystems and spread disease. However, given the severe fiscal crisis we find ourselves in, I oppose establishing a new program within Fish and Wildlife to address this. Instead I would like to see existing Fish and Wildlife resources used to assist states in developing plans eradicate feral swine populations in their states. Thus, I will oppose S. 893 as drafted.
Next, S. 1400, the Gulf Coast Restore Act: I appreciate the time and effort that members from the Gulf Coast along with the Chair have spent in trying to address the long-term damages caused by the BP Gulf Coast spill of last April. However, as I have shared with several of the principles, I am concerned about the precedent this bill will be setting. Specifically, I do not want to send the message that fines are revenue streams, and it seems to me that S. 1400 is doing just that.
As drafted, there are several issues that I believe need to be addressed before S. 1400 can pass the full Senate. I will discuss those in greater length when we get to the bill, and I hope there will be an opportunity to work with the authors of the bill to address my concerns.
Finally, we will be considering the nomination of Ken Kopocis to be EPA Assistant Administrator for Water. Ken is a Congressional staffer who not only served at EPW as a Committee staffer but, for those of us who served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we got to know Ken as “the go-to guy” for water infrastructure. He is ideally suited for this position. Unfortunately, his nomination faces some obstacles not because of Ken but because the Obama Administration has chosen to use the Office of Water as a way to impose their view of the world on farmers and businesses through used of “guidance” as opposed to rulemaking. Until such time as we can reach some type of agreement with the Administration on their inappropriate use of “guidance,” I don’t believe that Ken’s nomination can move forward.
Thank you, Madame Chair.