Ranking Member, Environment and Public Works Committee
Full Committee Business Meeting
Thursday, December 10, 2009, 9:30 a.m.
I would like to thank the Chairman for holding this business meeting. Last week, we held a hearing to examine the merits of the wildlife and conservation bills before us today. Unfortunately, two of the bills on the agenda today, S. 1660, the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, and S. 1397, Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act, have not had hearings. In particular, S. 1660, the formaldehyde bill, is simply not ready for mark up. I do not oppose the intent of the bill, but I think it would have made more sense to have held a hearing first, which is the proper venue for airing and potentially resolving conflicts over the details of legislation. This bill requires further discussion and negotiation, and perhaps even adjustment, before this Committee takes action. Because of the lack of process, I must oppose voting S. 1660 out of committee at this time, and I urge the sponsors to schedule a hearing on the bill before reporting it to the full Senate.
Notwithstanding S. 1660, I am generally supportive of most of the items on the agenda and would like to mention a couple of them. I have a letter of support for S. 1397 from Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Steve Thompson that I would like to place in the record. Director Thompson agrees that the findings will help Oklahoma to safely dispose of electronic device waste.
Let me turn to two other bills before the committee. I believe strongly in H.R. 3527, the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, and was Chairman when we reauthorized it in 2006. I also strongly support H.R. 509, the Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2009. I proudly helped to create the Marine Turtle Conservation Act in 2004 with Senator Jeffords.
These programs are successful, because they leverage significant non-federal money and work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to maximize their benefits. For example, the turtle program leverages over a dollar in matching funds for every federal dollar spent.
Regarding S. 373, which is designed to ban the import and export of certain constrictor snakes, I believe we need to follow the process already established, which allows stakeholders to have input. Commonsense reforms are needed to prevent the proliferation, importation or breeding of species that would be harmful to ecosystems or human health and safety. We are setting a dangerous precedent of continuing to address these species outside of normal agency channels.
Although I will not be offering an amendment today, I will support efforts on the floor to mitigate the negative effects to those snake owners and breeders who legally acquired their snakes, but through no fault of their own now find that their property is worth nothing.