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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (32 D California)

(WASHINGTON, DC)  House Transportation and Infrastructure Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairwoman Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing titled: “Protecting and Restoring America’s Iconic Waters:”

Today, we will discuss the importance of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) Geographic Programs and the National Estuary Program (NEP).

EPA’s Geographic Programs help to identify and assist specific areas across a region, often across multiple states. Funding for these programs has been key to protecting and restoring some of the most cherished waterways in the nation. The National Estuary Program (NEP) focuses on restoring and protecting 28 estuaries of national significance across the country.

Estuaries and coastal areas are major economic drivers, accounting for some 28 million jobs. These areas are locations for ports and harbors. They need protection since impaired estuaries can impact fishing and tourism revenues, and cause costly damage from flooding, shoreline erosion, and damaged infrastructure.

The Trump administration has proposed drastically cutting funding for the Geographic Programs and the NEP. Fortunately, Congress has restored funding for these important efforts. However, we need to renew our commitment to these programs and the protection of our nation’s waters.

Despite efforts by the States and, in some places, voluntary efforts, progress has been slow and, we need to do more to protect and restore our nation’s iconic waters. Congress needs to step up and provide funding and the appropriate authorities to the EPA to restore these watersheds.

That is why I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to prioritize and fund these programs. Congresswoman Luria has legislation to reauthorize and increase funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program; Congressman Heck has legislation to authorize a program for the Puget Sound; and Congresswoman Speier has legislation to address pollution issues in San Francisco Bay. I expect that we will see legislation later this Congress to address the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Estuary Program. I thank my colleagues for stepping up to deal with these important water quality issues.

Today’s hearing will be an opportunity to hear about current impairments, challenges, and recommendations for improving these important waters. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on the value of our nation’s waters and estuaries to our country.

Thank you witnesses for being here today.  Thank you especially to Tom Ford, Executive Director of The Bay Foundation, who is here today to talk about the Santa Monica National Estuary Program in Southern California.

I look forward to everyone’s testimony. At this time, I am pleased to yield to my colleague, the Ranking Member of our Subcommittee, Mr. Westerman, for any thoughts he may have.
 

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