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

Floor Speech

Location: Washington DC


Mr. LaTOURETTE. I move to strike the last word in opposition to the amendment.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, you know, if a little green man from outer space came and landed and watched this debate, he'd be puzzled. If the gentlemen on the other side were so concerned about the Culberson amendment, I'm puzzled why they didn't request a recorded vote in the committee. This was adopted in the committee, full committee markup, by a voice vote.

But beyond that, nobody wants another Deepwater Horizon. But this language that the gentlemen are objecting to says that this new agency will report quarterly to Congress on the status of permitting and why permits were rejected. Now why would the gentleman not want to have transparency and oversight over an agency to which we appropriate dollars?

Now this wouldn't puzzle me if we just hadn't come off of 4 years of a majority that was preaching to us about transparency and oversight and openness. Why wouldn't you want some report issued by the agency that tells us what they are doing with the money that we appropriate to them and what's the status and why a permit was rejected. That's a reasonable question.

Just to move to a different agency--you may not know this, Mr. Moran. I've lived in Mr. Moran's district for a period of time when I'm here in Washington, D.C., and I never saw anybody grazing and I never saw anybody moving livestock. But in my area, I will tell you that we're the nursery capital of the world. We are very much concerned with the guest worker program.

Under this administration, applications for guest worker applications have been denied at an alarming rate. When we ask the Department of Labor how many have been denied and how many have been appealed and how many appeals have been successful, they keep those records. You know why? Because that's a reasonable inquiry by a Member of the Congress, a member of the public, a guy who's growing arbor vitae in Perry, Ohio. So to describe this as somehow burdensome and crippling and somehow going to lead to a another Deepwater Horizon disaster is just ridiculous.

The guys on the other side, Mr. Chairman, are great Members and great advocates for a lot of things, but this argument doesn't even pass the straight face test. And I would respectfully urge that it be defeated.

Mr. MORAN. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. LaTOURETTE. I yield to my former Congressman, the gentleman from Virginia.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Reclaiming my time, I can appreciate the pressure that the gentleman found himself under. There are over 200 amendments. We're approaching 200 amendments on this particular piece of legislation.

I recall sitting in another full committee markup where the gentleman asked for a recorded vote on whether or not we could use Styrofoam containers in the House cafeteria. So clearly, the gentleman has to be as concerned about knowing what it is this new agency is doing relative to permits as he is about Styrofoam containers in the cafeteria.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Reclaiming my time, I appreciate it. I know the gentleman said ``comity,'' not ``comedy.'' I think it's comedy with a ``d'' that reigns here. I trust that the gentleman has had his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek as he made that observation.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. CULBERSON. I would be happy to yield to my friend from Ohio.

Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the gentleman very much for yielding.

The reason that this is the greatest deliberative body in the world is that sometimes during the course of a very intelligent discussion the truth and facts come out. Now, both the gentleman from Washington and the gentleman from Virginia have been able to cite chapter and verse of how many applications have been applied for, where they are, and what has happened to them. So, to suggest that somehow this is going to create some additional burden, you've got to add a line: ``We denied it because ..... ''

So I trust that, based upon the sunshine that has now been brought forth to the good facts by the distinguished ranking member, perhaps we can get past this amendment, in the interest of comity, without a recorded vote as we did in the committee.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk occurring on page 65, line 5. I actually have three amendments all on the same subject, but one amendment touches line 21 and one amendment touches line 73. In the interest of comity, I would ask unanimous consent that I be permitted to offer all of those amendments en bloc.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the Chair.

There's a lot going on in Washington, Mr. Chairman, and I would tell you that people back home think we can't get along, but this is a great example of how we're going to get along, and I'm going to become the second member of this subcommittee to say something nice about a member of the Democratic Party, and that's the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

President Obama became the first President of the United States in history to recognize that we needed to put real money into Great Lakes restoration. Those of us who live in the region selfishly know it, and those around the world know it as about 20 percent of the world's freshwater.

We've nickeled-and-dimed and sort of moved along with some nice legislation in this House, some of it written by one of our former colleagues, Mr. Ehlers of Michigan, the Great Lakes Legacy Act, but it wasn't until President Obama, and I suspect that his then-Chief of Staff, the new mayor of Chicago, Mr. Emanuel, was whispering in his ear because he was certainly conversant with these issues, that we need to address the Great Lakes as an ecosystem and make sure that we deal with it appropriately.

So President Obama proposed $475 million a couple of years ago for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. However, as so many things occur around here, that went from 475 to 300, and now in this bill we find it to be $250 million. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is designed to mitigate toxic substances in the Great Lakes, to reduce the impact of invasive species, to improve nearshore health and reduce nonpoint source pollution, improve habitat and reduce species loss, and improve information engagement and accountability in the program overall.

I just want to focus on one of those, and that is the invasive species, and not the invasive species that come in ballast water. This is an invasive species that is swimming up the Mississippi River, the Asian carp. The Asian carp and I have something in common: The Asian carp can eat 20 percent of its body weight a day, and this Asian carp, if it is successful in breaking through the electronic barrier and getting into the Great Lakes, will devastate that entire ecosystem. This is important.

I know that there are some Members who are going to say, well, I love the Great Lakes; I love the fact that the President made this designation; you're right, we need more money, but what doesn't need more money in this bill, and the account from which I'm taking it, climate change, but if we don't take care of the Great Lakes, 20 percent of the world's freshwater, we're not going to have to worry about climate change because we're all going to be dead. We need to make sure that we protect this valuable resource. And on this instance, Ms. Jackson, the administrator at the EPA, has been really a great partner in implementing these programs. She has over 300 projects under way at this current time.

I know this is a heavy lift, I know that it's selfish, but I would tell you that it's not selfish because the Great Lakes continue to be the treasure of the world, and there's going to come a time when water is the new oil when it comes to an important resource. I urge Members of the House to please support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Will the distinguished chairman yield?

Mr. SIMPSON. I would be more than happy to yield.

Mr. LaTOURETTE. If I seek to amend my amendment to say ``Great Lakes Restoration Fund/Climate Change,'' will the gentleman give me my 50 bucks?


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Will the gentlelady yield?

Ms. McCOLLUM. As the chairman says, with great risk, I yield to the gentleman.

Mr. LaTOURETTE. No, no, no, you're going to like this. Actually, the deer tick is misnamed because it really doesn't come on deer. It comes more on the little gray mouse because the gray mouse is closer to the ground. And if you treat a cotton ball with an appropriate substance, you can relieve the deer ticks not only in Minnesota but here in Virginia and also in Ohio.

Ms. McCOLLUM. I thank the gentleman for sharing that. I know how to remove leeches, deer ticks, fish hooks. Yes, I've been out there. But I really do think the Members should reject this amendment and leave the dollars where they are. We need to work harder to put more dollars into our environment, not only for its natural beauty and to leave a valued treasure to our children, but also because it has a direct impact on the economy of many of our States.
[From the StarTribune, July 13, 2011]

More Deer Ticks, Fewer Loons: Climate Change on the Great Lakes

Isle Royale in Lake Superior used to be too cold for deer ticks. But not anymore.

The ticks, which carry Lyme disease, have been found for the first time on the island off the coast of northern Minnesota. And by the end of the century, nesting loons may disappear altogether from most of the Great Lakes.

Those are some of the findings of a report on the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes' five largest national parks.

It was the latest in a series of studies they have conducted on the current and future effects of a warming global climate on national parks from California to Virginia.

The report, the authors said, provides an early look at what's to come if the Republican-led Congress continues to thwart federal efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Republicans this week tried and failed to repeal new standards for more energy efficient lightbulbs, and are resisting the new federal rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions expected later this summer. They say the rules are unnecessary intrusions on freedom, and job-killers.

``We have an increasing partisan divide on this,'' said Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and a former national parks official with the Department of the Interior. ``If people pay attention to how the places they know and love respond to climate change, I hope that makes people aware of what we should be doing differently.''

The authors analyzed a century's worth of temperature trends for the Great Lakes area drawn from two weather stations on Lake Michigan, and found that both show more rapid change than the global averages. The one near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, near Chicago, showed that in the last decade average temperatures have increased by 1.6 degrees, and the one near Picture Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan showed an average increase of 2.7 degrees.

Lee Frelich, a University of Minnesota researcher who studies the effects of climate change in the Upper Midwest, said the analysis used widely accepted climate models and data, and the findings are right on the mark.

``Climate changes are more extreme in the mid continents,'' said Frelich, who was not involved in the report. ``If you are fairly far north you will see bigger magnitudes of climate change than other places.''

Water temperatures in Lake Superior have increased 4.5 degrees between 1979 and 2006, twice the rate of land temperatures, the report found. Between the 1970s and 2009, winter ice cover over the lakes shrunk 15 percent.

The report also documented a 31 percent increase in rain falling during big storms, and a 12 percent increase in wind speeds. Combined with less ice during the winter, those changes lead to faster erosion along the shores, putting fragile landscapes like the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes in Michigan at risk. Frelich said that he's already seen the effect on his family's cabin in Door County, Wis., where winter storms have taken out trees on the edge of his property.

The report found that temperature changes are having a sometimes dramatic effect on wildlife. A growing number of botulism outbreaks, linked to higher water temperatures, have killed hundreds to thousands of birds in recent years in the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. Meanwhile, Isle Royale used to be free of deer ticks, which can only survive in average winter temperatures of 19 degrees or higher. But a park service employee this year reported finding a deer tick on his body after he'd been there for a month, meaning he had picked it up while on the island.

The report projects that average temperatures at Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands would increase by an average of 3.6 and 4.6 degrees by 2040 to 2069, depending on the rate of future air emissions--warm enough to squeeze nesting loons into the northwest corner of Lake Superior.

Mark Seeley, Minnesota state climatologist, said it's difficult to make projections about Lake Superior using data from two weather stations in Lake Michigan. But he said the report accurately documented the extreme upward shift in minimum temperatures in the winter. ``The winter season is showing more dramatic increase in temperatures than summer,'' he said.

The authors said that the five parks in the study draw 3.7 million visitors per year, generate $200 million in spending and support close to 3,000 jobs. ``We face the financial reality that climate change may bring tremendous economic challenge,'' said Larry McDonald, the mayor of Bayfield, Wis., a tourist town on the edge of the Apostle Islands. He joined the authors of the report in a telephone news conference. ``We need to respect and protect Lake Superior,'' he said.


[From the Transportation Research Board Special Report 291, May 2007]

Great Lakes Shipping, Trade, and Aquatic Invasive Species
(By Frank Millerd, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario)


The possible impacts of climate change on Great Lakes international shipping and on nonindigenous species are examined. The expected higher temperatures of climate change are predicted to increase evaporation, lower runoff, reduce ice formation, and raise surface water temperatures in the Great Lakes, resulting in a fall in lake levels. The increased precipitation will not be sufficient to completely offset the reduction in lake levels.

For international commercial navigation in the Great Lakes the impact of lower lake levels will be restrictions in vessel draughts and tonnages carried, thus increasing the number of trips and the total costs to move a given tonnage of cargo. Estimates of these impacts are derived from a simulation of international cargo movements from and to the Great Lakes in a recent year. In other words, climate effects the economy of the Great Lakes.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the gentleman very much. I wanted you to yield because you mischaracterized the other part.

What the other piece of language in the bill does, it says to the State of New York----


Mr. MORAN. I yield to the gentleman from Ohio.

Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank you. You know there are eight States that border the Great Lakes. One State in particular, New York, has imposed ballast water exchange in innocent passage that can't be met by any technology that exists today. That set of standards will cripple, will literally cripple and bring to a halt all waterborne commerce in the Great Lakes. My amendment says, listen, if you want to impose that kind of standard, you're not going to get any money until this thing gets sorted out when the EPA and the Coast Guard come up with a uniform ballast water exchange.

But let me just tell you, since you're talking about the regional programs, the Great Lakes are unique. The Great Lakes were unique in the world. And I can remember a couple of years ago, Senator Dodd, he wanted to have Lake Champlain become a Great Lake. And I said to the distinguished Senator at the time: Lake Champlain is a good lake; but it's not a Great Lake. The Great Lakes are the five Great Lakes that every grade schooler learns on how to identify them. It is 20 percent of the world's fresh water. And if we don't take care of them, as the President of the United States recognized we needed to do in a big way, we're going to be in trouble in this country. I thank the gentleman for his courtesy.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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