North Texas Zebra Mussel Barrier Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Rush Holt, Jr.
Date: Sept. 10, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, H.R. 6007, the North Texas Zebra Mussel Barrier Act, provides a very specific and necessary--we believe--exemption to the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981.

The Lacey Act is vital to our Nation's interests because it prevents the spread of undesirable, injurious species such as zebra mussels. In fact, zebra mussels may be a textbook example, a poster child for injurious introduced species.

These mussels are the bane of many a power plant or municipal water operator. Millions are spent each year just to keep intake and outflow pipes clear of these creatures. They harm our fisheries by crowding out native species and taking all their food, and they're driving many native mussels to extinction.

H.R. 6007 would allow the North Texas Municipal Water District and the Greater Texoma Utility Authority to transport water that contains zebra mussels from the Oklahoma side of Lake Texoma to Texas. However, all the water would be kept in closed conveyance systems, we are assured; and we are further assured that all water would be fully treated, with all zebra mussels being fully removed before being released into any water body. The biologists, the limnologists, the hydrologists, the water engineers assure us of these things.

I do want to emphasize that zebra mussels are pernicious and insidious. I am loathe, and I think many of my colleagues are loathe, to weaken or seek exemption from the Lacey Act, which controls invasive species. However, Texas needs access to this water, and the aforementioned entities have a comprehensive plan for ensuring, we are told, that these water transfers will not cause zebra mussels to spread.

So for these reasons, and with this understanding, I rise in support of H.R. 6007. I do strongly urge that this bill, which is put forward as a remedy for a very difficult and unique situation, should not be used to set any precedent for granting exemptions to the Lacey Act or in any way weakening our protections against invasive species.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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