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Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GILCHREST. I thank the gentleman from Utah for yielding.

I want to thank the gentleman from Maryland, the other gentleman from Maryland, for working on this project, the Gateways and Watertrails system. It is a system, Mr. Speaker, that provides, as the gentleman from Maryland described, public education about the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay and what an individual can do not only to enjoy the landscape, not only to explore and paddle the landscape, but to understand the landscape.

Now, a lot of discussion here recently has been about energy, fossil fuels, should we drill for more oil? The issue of the Gateways is about education. A quote from Norman Cousins, the editor of the Saturday Evening Post some 30 or 40 years ago, said, ``Knowledge is the solvent for danger.'' So let's focus on a little bit of information, knowledge. The United States can never become energy independent if it continues to be dependent on fossil fuel. There is simply not enough here. We peaked in the 1970s. Energy from fossil fuels has created the situation we now call ``climate change'' or ``global warming.'' Global warming creates a transition for the Chesapeake Bay. This is not a geologic transition. This is not a natural forces transition from a changing ecology. This is a human-forced transition for the Chesapeake Bay that will continue to degrade the water. What can we do about it? One of the things is a source of education, a source of knowledge.

The Gateways program involves the public in understanding some amazing things. Number one, the geology of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Why is the Chesapeake Bay here? Why is the Delmarva Peninsula here? An understanding of how geologic forces created this magnificent estuary over millions of years.

Number two, Gateways helps people understand the ecological evolution of the Chesapeake Bay. Why are there forests here? Why is there a whole range of song birds or water foul or marine life? It is a magnificent place unknown anywhere else on the continent but the Chesapeake Bay. The ecological evolution of the Chesapeake Bay.

And the other thing the Gateways program does is help us understand human history, when the first Native Americans got here about 10,000 years ago, to John Smith 400 years ago, to the transition that we see today in the Chesapeake Bay. The Gateways and Watertrails program is an educational program.

To understand the transition that the bay is now going through is not a geological change. It's not an ecological change. It's that human activity is not compatible with nature's design. And this program helps us understand those views so we can be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.

I urge my colleagues to vote for the bill.

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