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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007

Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, in 1991, the Texas legislature authorized the establishment of the Texas Institute of Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) at Tarleton State University. Congress quickly recognized the merits of the effort and since 1992 has provided an average of $500,000 a year and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has added $4.5 million dollars. These dollars have been effectively leveraged, and when added to state and private funds, total funding has exceeded $45 million. This project is an excellent example of how critical federal support can effectively trigger matching funds to help meet the needs of this country.

The mandate for the organization has been to:

Conduct applied research on environmental issues that have public policy implications

Provide a setting for environmental studies that focuses on the interface between government and the private sector

Provide national leadership on emerging environmental policy

Establish programs and partnerships with public and private institutions of higher education, governmental agencies, or private entities to develop and implement new policies, technology, strategies, relationships and sources of funding.

The organization's mission statement is: ``TlAER conducts scientific research, economic inquiry, and institutional, statutory and regulatory analyses to address pressing environmental issues facing the state and nation and assists public entities in developing and implementing policies that promote environmental quality.''

STRONG ECONOMY, HEALTHY EARTH

TIAER continues to fulfill its mission by assembling and supporting a multidisciplinary research staff. TIAER houses economists, engineers, attorneys, agricultural scientists, mathematical modelers, communication specialists, water quality scientists, graphic artists, computer scientists, and water quality monitoring specialists to address the next generation of Clean Water Act initiatives.

TIAER was among the first to recognize that emerging environmental issues in agriculture required new policy. TIAER developed the Planned Intervention

Microwatershed Approach (PIMA) to address landscape-based, polluted runoff issues. PIMA uniquely links USDA voluntary programs with EPA programs in a manner that is tailored to the needs of production agriculture. PIMA protects privately-held lands from government intrusion.

TIAER operates a one-million-acre outdoor laboratory, the Bosque River watershed, which consists of cropland, ranch land and, in the upper reaches of the North Bosque, a 250,000-acre watershed that is home to one of the largest concentrations of dairy farms in the Nation. The Bosque River watershed provides TIAER with a cross-section of agricultural lands and enables TIAER to address many of the environmental issues that production agriculture will face over the next quarter-century.

INDUSTRY-LED SOLUTIONS (ILS)--LEADERSHIP TOWARD ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS

A major focus of TIAER's work began with the conception of ``Industry-Led Solutions'' (ILS) in 1999. TIAER has hosted four national workshops and two regional Gulf of Mexico workshops with leaders of animal agriculture, the row crop industry, environmental groups, and government to explore ways that agriculture can proactively address environmental initiatives that will enable agricultural producers to be good stewards of the land while maintaining the economic viability of the industry. The intent is for ILS to serve as a ``think-tank'' for agricultural environmental issues.

The Nation is at a strategic point in determining how agriculture can meet Clean Water Act objectives. ILS is TIAER's response to the need for agriculture to become proactively involved in both policy initiatives and developing science-based programs that will lead to sustainable agricultural practices that provide for a strong economy and a healthy Earth.

Agricultural producers and TIAER work together in a unique manner. Agricultural producers lead all ILS initiatives. TIAER provides staffing for ILS programs. The multidisciplinary staff of TIAER enables ILS to address all issues related to resolving environmental issues in agriculture. TIAER is unique in other ways:

TIAER recognizes that the U.S. economy must remain strong in order to have a healthy Earth--``Strong economy, healthy Earth.''

TIAER has the capacity to move quickly to address new initiatives. The TIAER Director reports directly to the Tarleton State University President. In addition, TIAER staff work full-time, further enabling TIAER to move quickly. The institute operates in an entrepreneurial manner. TIAER has no permanent funding. Therefore, the institute must address issues that are seen by TIAER clientele as pertinent and useful in addressing problems and issues they face.

As a proponent of ILS, TIAER brings together the distinct concerns of entrepreneurs and environmentalists to develop effective public policies and cooperative, science-based solutions.

In the past 30 years, efforts to improve the Nation's waters focused on cleaning up point source discharges--with great success. Now, however, water quality efforts will increasingly address nonpoint sources for the next increments in water quality improvements. The Clean Water Act of 1972 provided little insight into how agriculture would address polluted runoff from crop and ranch lands. It has become evident over the past decade that agricultural lands are in the crosshairs of the EPA and environmental groups. The challenge lies in developing programs that are specifically tailored to the needs of agriculture. At this fifteen-year anniversary, TIAER looks toward facilitating future successes in improving our Nation's air and water quality. That is a laudable goal, and it is made possible by congressional appropriations support that triggers valuable matching dollars. I hope my colleagues will continue to support successful efforts like this--responsible federal funding triggering additional financial support. That is a partnership that makes sense.

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