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Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEWIS of California. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to express my deep appreciation to the chairman of the subcommittee as well as the ranking member, especially for the number of public hearings they had reviewing all of the programs of this subcommittee, taking us back to regular order in almost unprecedented form, making sure the public had a chance to talk to us about their view as to how these programs were working.

As we meet today, the country is faced with a crisis regarding our debt. Should we raise the national debt ceiling or not? That debate is swirling around whether we should reduce spending or we should increase taxes to fund additional spending desired by the administration and the former majority. It's very, very important to know that we are at a crisis point in terms of spending. With that backdrop, we can hear the same debate taking place in this very committee discussion. People complaining about not enough money for EPA, for example.

The fact is that most of these programs are over-funded relative to just a few years ago, and the debate and the concern is an expression about a desire for more spending or a lack of increased funding above and beyond the wish list of many around here. The fundamental issue ought to be discussed in terms of how programs have worked and not worked.

I've heard many complaints about air quality questions today by the other side. It was, Mr. Chairman, my privilege to write the toughest environmental laws in the country relative to improving air quality. Years ago, as we discussed implementing those policies in my State of California, the center of the discussion was to make sure we focus upon the real problems.

We can solve the problems of stationary sources, we said then, very quickly, very easily--up to 97 percent-plus of their pollution. The real problem lies with the automobile, doing something serious about that. What people do driving their cars is the key to the question.

The EPA has failed us in many, many a way in dealing with these major challenges, and I would suggest that any number of issues that might be raised is illustrated by the one endangered species I'd mentioned. That endangered species is the desert tortoise.

The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. SIMPSON. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. LEWIS of California. We could have solved that problem years ago by planting endless numbers of eggs in the East Mojave. Instead, the EPA decided to ignore and the environmentalists decided to ignore that potential, saying it took too long to plant those and have them grow to adulthood. The fact is, over the last 15 years, had we done that, we would not have that endangered species any longer. Recently, we learned the only healthy population of the desert tortoise was on the National Training Center Army base where they took care of the animals versus what we did in the environment. Indeed, the EPA deserves some serious review as well as reauthorization.


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