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Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2006

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Location: Washington, DC


ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 24, 2005)

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Mr. KIND. Mr. Chairman, I thank the ranking member for yielding me this time, and I commend him and the chairman of the subcommittee for producing a very good appropriation bill. I echo the sentiments that the gentleman from Wisconsin (Mr. Obey) just gave on the floor and appreciate the hard work that has gone into it.

I think the rule, however, could have been a little stronger if the Schwartz amendment would have been made in order so we could have had further discussion about the need for increased investment in alternative and renewable energy technologies. I do not think that the energy bill that is working its way through Congress goes far enough, and this was another appropriation measure that could have been a vehicle for that increased investment.

I do appreciate the work that is being done on the Yucca Mountain funding, however. We have two nuclear facilities that are storing a lot of nuclear waste in the upper Mississippi River region right now. Many of us feel it makes sense to have a single, isolated nuclear waste repository in this country, and the studies that have gone into Yucca Mountain and the funding that this committee is providing, it seems to me to be a reasonable and practical approach dealing with the nuclear waste issue.

I especially want to commend the committee for the full support they have given to a very important program for the upper Mississippi River basin, the Environmental Management Program. This was a program that was created in the mid-1980s to strike balance on the multiple uses of the Mississippi region in the upper States. It is a multiple-use resource. It is incredibly valuable economically, quality of life, recreation and tourism. We have commercial navigation that uses the upper Mississippi along with the important recreation and tourism aspect, and the Environmental Management Program really has a twofold mission. One is habitat restoration for the upper Mississippi basin and the other is long term resource monitoring, to monitor the effects that sediment and nutrients are having in the basin.

One of the first things I did as a new Member of Congress was help form a bipartisan Mississippi River Caucus so we could work together from both the North and the South in order to draw attention to the resources that are needed along the Mississippi River.

We have made substantial progress, and I commend the committee's recognition that full funding of the EMP is appropriate at $33 million. This is a program that has received wide bipartisan support, multi-state support. The five upper States of the Mississippi River basin have been fully supportive of this program, as have the Governors and the respective legislatures, and I commend the administration who has consistently submitted their budget requests calling for full funding of the Environmental Management Program.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would commend to my colleagues and include for the RECORD an article that just appeared in the Washington Post Sunday edition under the Travel section called "Lolling on the River." It describes the quality of life and unique beauty that the upper Mississippi River basin has for all of us in that region.

In it the author of the article, Bill O'Brian writes: "The Mississippi, the river of Mark Twain, who once wrote, 'It is not a commonplace river, but on the contrary is in all ways remarkable.' The river of LaSalle, Marquette and Joliet, of B.B. King, Bob Dylan and the Doobie Brothers. Of Faulkner, Fitzgerald and T.S. Eliot. Of historian Stephen Ambrose who not long ago wrote, 'The river is in my blood. Wherever, whenever, it is a source of delight. More, it is the river that draws us together as a Nation.' "

EMP is a small part of the importance of this great natural resource which is of vital importance to our Nation. I commend the subcommittee and work they have done in recognizing by fully funding EMP the importance of this vital natural resource.

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