Westerman Opening Statement from Water Resources, Environment Hearing

June 25, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) gave the following opening statement during a Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing, titled “Protecting and Restoring America’s Iconic Waters:”

“The Subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on regional watershed programs and water bodies and areas that are part of EPA’s National Estuary Program.

“Estuaries are unique and highly productive waters that are important to the ecological and economic bases of our nation. Fisheries, wildlife, recreation and tourism are heavily dependent on healthy estuarine systems. For example, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin in Louisiana is home to 22 essential habitats, and its fisheries provide much of the seafood harvested along the Gulf Coast. Yet despite their value, most estuaries in the United States have experienced stress from physical alteration and pollution, often resulting from development and rapid population growth in coastal areas.

“EPA’s Estuary Program identifies nationally significant estuaries that are threatened by pollution, land development and overuse, and provides grants that support development of management plans to protect and restore them. This program is designed to resolve issues at a watershed level, integrate science into the decision-making process, foster collaborative problem-solving and involve the public.

“Unlike many other EPA and state programs that rely on conventional top-down regulatory measures to achieve environmental goals, the Estuary Program uses a framework that focuses on stakeholder involvement and interaction in tailoring solutions for problems that are specific to that region. This approach helps achieve protection and restoration goals.

“We need to be sure that the individual estuary programs continue to effectively implement their management plans for protecting and restoring estuaries. We also need to be careful not to add new layers of programmatic bureaucracy on any of the programs that could divert valuable resources away from actually implementing their plans.

“I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today and learning about the progress that’s being made in these estuaries and watersheds.”

Click here to watch Westerman’s full remarks.