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Public Statements

Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the chairman for yielding.

I rise with great affection for my friends from New York, both Mr. Bishop and Ms. Slaughter; but I have to set the table on what this is about.

The Coast Guard has been promulgating a Federal standard in line with the international maritime standard for the discharge of ballast water. And despite what people say--they say a new invasive species comes into the lakes every 28 days. That's true; but they don't come in in the ballast water of ships because industry, governments--both American and Canadian--and the States have worked hard to make sure that that does not occur.

But in the face of that, an organization called the New York Department of Environmental Conservation proposed regulations, as Mr. Bucshon said, that when fully implemented would be a thousand times more stringent than the IMO standards. And what that effectively means is--and when you talk to these folks they say, Well, that's the great mother of invention. If we put these standards out there, the great mother of invention, they're going to invent something. But sadly for New York, their vendor--the one that they were counting on for this technology--said they are not even willing to have it be tested by a third party for verification that it works. So this amendment and those proposals would basically shut down waterborne commerce in the United States of America.

Mr. BISHOP of New York. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. LaTOURETTE. I will yield to you in just a second.

But here's the skinny: New York's regulations are more obnoxious because they cover just passage. You don't have to take a drop of ballast water in if you're in New York waters, and you don't have to discharge a drop. Just the mere fact of sailing through New York waters--which you have to do in the Great Lakes--would cause these regulations to come into effect.

Now, I had to go to the extraordinary length of offering an amendment in the Interior appropriations bill that said if New York continues on this crazy course, that they get no money out of the Interior appropriations bill. Now, that wasn't designed to cheat our friends in New York out of funds. That was designed to get their attention. We have their attention. We have to work together to solve this in a bipartisan way. This amendment and the next amendment are not going to do that.

I am happy to yield to my friend.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. Again, I rise with great affection for both Mr. Dingell and Ms. Slaughter, who are wonderful colleagues and friends in this House.

But this amendment is the Bishop amendment on steroids. So this amendment, unlike the Bishop amendment, would go back and remove the requirement that's in the bill, and New York would be free to go about its business and shut down waterborne commerce in the Great Lakes.

Now, the sad thing for the State of New York--and I know the people in New York think that they are pretty important and they run the whole place, but they don't. And, sadly, we have five Great Lakes that flow through and touch a number of States, Ohio being included in that. And just a couple of observations.

You know, this isn't a bunch of people that don't like the Great Lakes versus a bunch of environmentalists that want to protect it. The very first piece of legislation I had signed into law by President Clinton--and it's tough to get a bill signed into law by a President of the other party--was the reauthorization of the National Invasive Species Act, coauthored by John Glenn in the United States Senate.

I know invasive species. But I am going to tell you, because of the work of John Glenn and because of the work of a lot of good people, since 1995, I challenge anybody offering this amendment to come up with one invasive species that has gotten into the Great Lakes--and this notion that it's 28 days--yes, they come in on boats; they come in in people's boots; they come in swimming from other places. The biggest threat that we've got is the Asian carp. It's not coming in ballast water. It's swimming up the Mississippi, and we have got to fight with the President about whether or not we have an electronic barrier that keeps these awful fish out of the Great Lakes.

Now, the longshoremen don't like what New York is doing. Labor is not onboard with what Ms. Slaughter and Mr. Dingell are attempting to do. A July 2011 evaluation by the United States Environmental Protection Agency--so fresh off the charts--determined that the technology does not exist, does not exist. Even if a ship owner had a gazillion dollars and wanted to buy something off the shelf, it doesn't exist to meet the water quality level stipulated by New York.

For this reason, the maritime industry, together with labor, believes that these regulations are unworkable and if left unchanged will cause economic harm when they come into effect, resulting in complete cessation of commercial maritime commerce in New York waters.

Now, at a time when everybody around the country is screaming about jobs, what are we going to do? All the longshoremen, you don't have to work anymore. The guys that drive the boats, you don't need to work anymore. The folks that unload the boats, no, you don't need to work anymore. Why? Because one State out of the eight States that border the Great Lakes has decided to come up with something not passed by their legislature, passed by this New York environmental council. It's crazy.

We, again, in a good bipartisan way need to work together to fix this problem. Let's find the right way to keep the zebra mussel and the round goby and the sea lamprey and the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. But to allow New York to go down this path with the passage of this amendment is destructive to jobs in the Great Lakes, and I hope that the amendment is defeated.


Mr. LaTOURETTE. I thank the gentleman. It's mutual. And Louise likes me too.

But listen, here's the deal: There's not going to be anybody recreating on Great Lakes, fishing, and all the wonderful things we get to do on Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron, because nobody's going to be working. And so without jobs, people are not going to have the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of 28 percent of the world's freshwater.

Again, sadly, people in New York have decided they want to come up with a standard that nobody can meet. Now, in 2013 when fully implemented, what does that mean? That means a boat comes down the St. Lawrence Seaway and travels into New York, and if you can't meet their standard, 1,000 times more stringent than the international standard, guess what? You can't sail. The people can't sail on the ship. The people can't put goods on the ship.

Now again, despite my affection for the authors of this amendment, I've talked to the longshoremen. I've talked to the Canadians. I've talked to the people on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and they say that the problem with invasive species today in the Great Lakes isn't ballast water, it's the Asian carp swimming up the Mississippi River, and it's things brought in from other sources. It's not ballast water. It's not ballast water because Republicans and Democrats, since the beginning of my time here, 18 years, have worked together to get this right. This is wrong, and I urge it to be defeated.

I thank the gentleman for yielding to me.


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