Mr. Chairman, thank you for having this hearing, and, Mr. Johnson, we appreciate your being here today.
I would like to start by saying thank you for the hard work conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency over the past almost 6 months since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.
The EPA has played a crucial role in the response and clean-up efforts in Louisiana through testing and monitoring air and water quality throughout the disaster area. The key to Louisianans moving back to New Orleans is security through stronger hurricane protection but it is also important that the environment is safe for human health. EPA has been very involved in ensuring a safe environment as Louisianans return home.
Even after 5 months, there is still much to be done to recover and rebuild the areas destroyed by the Hurricanes especially in the area of debris removal. Mr. Johnson, I look forward to continuing to work with you and appreciate your commitment to cleaning up Louisiana.
Another example of an area where EPA’s work in Louisiana is very important is Lake Pontchartrain, one of America’s significant bodies of water. In 2000, Congress passed the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Restoration Act, which was my first bill to pass Congress. EPA is the chief federal agency involved in the program and I look forward to EPA’s continued involvement to further promote efforts to improve the water quality of Lake Pontchartrain. Again, thank you Mr. Chairman. I look forward to asking questions.