WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a business meeting to consider S.826, S.518, S.692 and S.675. Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this business meeting. I am very pleased that today we have the opportunity to work on multiple pieces of important legislation in a bipartisan way. The giving and taking leading up to today’s markup demonstrates that we can truly find consensus between our parties and honor what I like to call the 80-20 Rule, all by following the 3 C’s.

“We are considering four pieces of legislation today. 

•       S. 826, the ‘Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) Act,’

•       S. 518, the ‘Small and Rural Community Clean Water Technical Assistance Act,’

•       S. 692, the ‘Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act of 2017,’ and

•       S. 675, the ‘Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act.’

“I want to take a moment to say thank you to your staff Mr. Chairman, and to the staff of the bill sponsors, for working with my staff to make some changes that I think improve these bills. With regard to the three water bills we are considering – two of them are extremely important tools in helping communities across the country comply with the Clean Water Act. As you know, small and rural communities often have a difficult time providing sanitation and clean wastewater in compliance with federal regulation. While these communities have fewer financial resources to spend on improving their wastewater systems, they are regulated to the exact same standards as large metropolitan water systems. 

“Today, we also consider S.675, the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, which is of real importance to New York and Connecticut, and about which I am sure Senator Gillibrand will speak. Senator Gillibrand’s bill has been reported out of our Committee numerous times, and, hopefully, this year we will be able to get it across the goal line. 

“Lastly, we consider the Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver Act, or WILD Act of 2017. I am pleased that our Chairman and I – with a big assist from our respective staffs – were able to come to an agreement to address concerns in Title 2 of the bill, which deals with the management of invasive species on federal lands. I am very pleased to join my colleagues in this expression of support for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act, which protects, enhances and restores important fish and wildlife habitats on private lands through partnerships. The voluntary cost-share program offers a chance to regain some of America's most important natural resources and builds on the strength and interest of committed individuals and organizations to accomplish shared conservation goals. It is—in essence—a critical tool to demonstrate that the solutions to all our fish and wildlife challenges rest in our collective efforts.  That includes the on-the-ground knowledge and commitment of landowners and the technical capacities and financial resources of the federal government.

“I am heartened, too, by inclusion of reauthorizations of the multinational species conservation funds.  Without the elephants, rhinos, tigers, marine turtles and other iconic species protected by these laws, our world is much less home.

“I appreciate your vision, Mr. Chairman, for creating the Theodore Roosevelt Genius Prizes for prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking, promotion of wildlife conservation, management of invasive species, and protection of our endangered species. These prizes are the perfect melding of pressing need and a deep well of American ingenuity. They are a fitting complement to our recent hearing on innovation in wildlife management and invasive species control.  While we learned great things are happening, there is so much more we can, and need, to do. 

“And, finally, Title II of this Act takes direct and much needed aim at stemming the introduction and spread of invasive species on federal lands. I agree that in many cases, the threat is great and the need for action is immediate. We struggled to find a best way to accommodate the need for action without undue burden or delay, and I appreciate your willingness and the hard work of your staff, Mr. Chairman, to find the best way to meet those objectives.

“Again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important meeting. I look forward to continuing our work on these important bills in a bipartisan and productive way.”