Hearing Of The Subcommittee On Insular Affairs, Oceans And Wildlife Of The House Committee On Natural Resources - H.R. 1672, The Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization Act Of 2009 and H.R. 2548, The Keep America's Waterfront's Working Act Of 2009
Nearly half of the population of the United States lives along our Nation's ocean and
Great Lakes coastlines. It is projected that by 2015, our coastal population will reach 165
million. Rising population pressure presents new threats of environmental degradation and
heightens the competition for valuable and finite coastal resources. The bills we will consider
today would provide new tools for coastal managers to meet this challenge.
The first bill, H.R. 1672, introduced by my colleague from Washington State,
Congressman Rick Larsen, would extend the authorization of the Northwest Straits Marine
Conservation Initiative in the north Puget Sound region of Washington State. The Initiative,
originally authorized in 1998 to support organized citizen involvement in the protection and
restoration of marine, coastal and island resources of the Northwest Straits, is now recognized as
an innovative, "bottoms-up" management approach that produces real results. I will be
interested to learn more about the Northwest Straits Commission and its ongoing activities, and
importantly, whether the Commission should continue to receive Federal funds without a
statutory nexus to any Federal marine conservation program.
The second bill, H.R. 2548, introduced by my colleague from Maine, Congresswoman
Chellie Pingree, would address the escalating competition over limited space within our coastal
communities who are hard-pressed to preserve access to beaches, shorelines and waterways for
water-dependent industries, such as boat yards and commercial fishing terminals.
H.R. 2548 would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act to establish a new
competitive matching grant program intended to preserve, protect, and expand coastal access for
commercial water-dependent uses. This bill would not only further advance the existing policy
under the CZMA of preserving water-dependent uses, it would more importantly preserve the
historic character and economic vitality of many working waterfront communities from Maine to
the Island of Guam.
I would like to commend my colleagues, Congressman Larsen and Congresswoman
Pingree, for their leadership in pursuing these new innovations in coastal management, and I
look forward to hearing from our witnesses.