EPW Business Meeting Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a business meeting to consider S. 3051, America’s Conservation Enhancement Act; Robert J. Feitel, to be Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and 19 General Services Administration resolutions. Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“We have 19 General Services Administration resolutions on our agenda, as well as the nomination for Robert Feitel to be Inspector General of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Before I begin, I will say that I am encouraged our committee is moving expeditiously to advance this nomination.

“We cannot be complacent when it comes to nuclear safety, and we need to ensure that our nation’s nuclear industry is held to the highest standard. That means we need a strong and independent NRC Inspector General. I believe Mr. Feitel is well qualified and prepared to take on this important responsibility.

“I also want to use this opportunity to focus on the bipartisan legislation we have before us today: America’s Conservation Enhancement, or ‘ACE’ Act. This Congress, our committee has examined a number of wildlife conservation challenges, including invasive species and wildlife disease. At each hearing, our witnesses emphasized the need for federal action to address these conservation challenges. After weeks of negotiation, Chairman Barrasso and I introduced the bipartisan ACE Act late last week to enable some of those actions. In addition to creating innovative new programs, the ACE Act will reauthorize existing wildlife and habitat conservation programs that have a demonstrated history of success. Many of these programs leverage private dollars and local partnerships, and several create tremendous opportunity in my home state of Delaware.

“One example is the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which has, in the 30 years since its enactment, led to the conservation of more than 30 million acres of wetlands and wildlife habitat nationwide. That’s 30 million acres, in 30 years. Most impressively, contributions from partners have tripled the government’s investment in these projects – providing $3 dollars for every one federal dollar.

“Another example is the Chesapeake Bay Program, through which Delaware receives approximately $2.5 million every year to help offset the cost of doing our part in restoring the health of the Bay. Although this funding is just a small part of the overall Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, in our state, that funding spurs big improvements in nonpoint source pollution control and habitat conservation.

“Similarly, another provision reauthorizes the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Foundation plays a key role in helping First State communities and agricultural industries improve water quality.

“The Foundation also administers the Delaware River Restoration Fund and the Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund, which advance restoration and conservation efforts in our region.

“By reauthorizing these programs that work and others of national significance, the ACE Act will ensure outdoor recreation opportunities abound for future generations.

“Before closing, I would be remiss not to mention that the programs reauthorized in this bill are, once again, leveraged by private funding. This private funding is often secured by the outdoor recreation community, and we owe these dedicated individuals a great deal of thanks for their hard work to better conserve our nation’s wildlife.

“Let me end with this. As our Chairman and many of our colleagues know, I enjoy serving here the most when we can find common ground to get things done. This bipartisan bill is an excellent example of that. By showing that we can compromise on policy without compromising our principles, I hope our committee is serving as a good example for some of our colleagues on other committees in the Congress.

“Our country is facing some tough challenges right now. We owe it to our constituents to find common ground and accept the compromises that can begin addressing those challenges.

“Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. Let’s get to work.”