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Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of the Clean Estuaries Act.
I want to particularly thank Chairman Oberstar for his continued leadership and for moving so very quickly on this important legislation. I would also like to thank Chairwoman EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Mr. Mica, and Mr. Boozman for their help on this very important issue as well. Finally, I would like to thank Mr. Bishop for his leadership and once again allowing me to join with him on an issue that we both find important and that we can make a difference with on a critical bill to keep our waters clean and to do this for future generations.
As we have heard, the bill would authorize the National Estuary Program for another 5 years, allow the program to expand protections to other watersheds and provide--and I think this is very important--greater accountability on how taxpayer money is spent, something that we should be doing more of. The bill will improve transparency, also something very important, by establishing periodic reviews of management plans and by requiring partners to demonstrate results, something, again, that is very important that we see what the results are.
Partners that fall out of compliance with their plans will lose grant funds, and that's as it should be, because they should have to produce results. These changes will improve the National Estuary Program and enhance the protection of our Nation's estuaries while ensuring that the taxpayer is getting a strong return on investment.
In my district, the Delaware estuary is home to the second largest concentration of migrating shorebirds in the Western Hemisphere, which is pretty incredible when you think about it, as well as dozens of protected species and the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world. The estuary is also home to over 5 million people and some of the largest refineries and chemical manufacturers on the east coast.
The group charged with understanding how to manage the demands of these two forces is the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. As one of the 28 designated NEP organizations, the Partnership has done an absolutely outstanding job, a tremendous job, to not only protect and enhance the Delaware estuary but also to raise the public awareness about the need to act responsibly and care for this unique ecosystem.
I want to commend the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the 27 other partnership organizations that have made the National Estuary Program so successful, and I urge all Members to support H.R. 4715.
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