(Remarks as prepared for delivery)

We are here today to consider President Obama's nominations for three important leadership positions at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

I would like to start off by welcoming Jo-Ellen Darcy, who is nominated for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Jo-Ellen has served as professional staff on this Committee with distinction, and has most recently served as an advisor to Senator Baucus on the Finance Committee.

The Army Corps has a direct impact on jobs, lives, and communities across this country. As Hurricane Katrina made clear, people truly depend on the Corps to safeguard their lives and livelihoods.

In my state of California, the safety of thousands of Sacramento residents depends on a system of Corps flood control projects. The Corps also maintains harbors, such as San Francisco, Oakland and Long Beach, facilitating the flow of much of our nation's commerce. And many of the nation's most ambitious efforts to restore degraded ecosystems, such as the Everglades and the coast of Louisiana, are led by the Corps.

Last Congress, we passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2007, which authorized many important new projects and brought about reforms in the way the Corps does business. Strong leadership is needed to implement these reforms and ensure that the Corps is meeting today's needs.

I would also like to welcome Peter Silva, who is nominated to be Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. This office works to ensure that families have safe drinking water and to keep our nation's rivers and lakes clean.

Mr. Silva comes from my state of California, where he is a Senior Policy Advisory for the Metropolitan Water District, which provides drinking water to nearly 19 million people.

Protecting our nation's waterways has been made much more challenging by Supreme Court cases - Rapanos and SWANCC -- that have undermined the historic scope and application of the Clean Water Act. I look forward to moving ahead with a legislative solution to this serious problem as quickly as possible.

Your expertise will also be essential in implementing the innovative clean water and drinking water programs that this Committee will be voting on in an upcoming business meeting.

It has been over 20 years since we have reauthorized the Clean Water Revolving Fund, and more than 12 years since we reauthorized the Drinking Water Revolving Fund. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this important legislation forward.

It is also critical that safe drinking water standards for contaminants like perchlorate are finally adopted, and that drinking water and waste water requirements are regularly updated to reflect the latest science.

Finally, I would like to welcome Stephen Owens, who is nominated to be Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, which helps to prevent pollution before it is created, to promote safer chemicals, and to provide leadership in the EPA's scientific decision-making on chemical management issues.

Mr. Owens brings his experience at the Environmental Council of the States and as Director of Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality.

I am pleased to see that Mr. Owens has a clear record of working to protect children from dangerous chemicals. He launched Arizona DEQ's Children's Environmental Health Project and established an Office of Children's Environmental Health. We have a duty to protect our children, and when we do, we will protect the rest of us as well.

I will be working with my colleague Senator Lautenberg and members of this Committee to update the toxics laws, which do not reflect the most current science on these issues.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today.

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