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Member Speeches :: April 23, 2009

Chairman Gordon’s Floor Speech on H.R. 1145, the National Water Research and Development Act of 2009


As prepared for delivery 
I rise in strong support of HR 1145, the National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009. Thirty-six states expect to experience significant water shortages by 2013. Diminished supplies of water and intense competition for limited resources are forcing local water agencies to make tough decisions on water allocations and limiting access to needed water by businesses and families.
When severe water shortages occur, the economic impact is substantial. In 2007, the Tennessee Valley Authority was forced to shut down a nuclear reactor due to a lack of acceptable cooling water in the Tennessee River.
According to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), each of the eight water shortages over the past 20 years from drought and heat waves resulted in $1 billion or more in monetary losses. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) reported in April 2008 that California is now losing income and jobs due to the state’s water supply crisis.
Over twenty federal agencies carry out research and development on some aspect of water supply, water quality or water management. Despite spending millions of dollars on research at each of these agencies, an increase in the number of water shortages and emerging conflicts over water supplies suggest that we are still inadequately prepared to address the nation’s water management issues. 
A new commitment is necessary to ensure that the United States can meet the water challenges over the next twenty years and onward.
As the Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, I have tasked the Committee with advancing this issue through hearings and with legislation to address technological and strategic deficiencies at the federal level. 
Our Committee held hearings in 2008 and 2009 to examine the problems associated with dwindling water supplies across the nation and to receive testimony as to how the federal government can help meet these challenges.
I am proud of the bipartisan support and collaboration that resulted in H.R. 1145. 
Ranking Member Ralph Hall has been a champion of produced water utilization legislation, and this bill incorporates research to pursue the goals established in his bill, H.R. 469. We were happy to accept constructive amendments from our Minority, and the bill was reported out of Committee in a strong bipartisan manner. 
H.R. 1145, will coordinate national research and development efforts on water and provide a clear path forward to ensure adequate water supplies for generations to come. This bill will ensure that we have an effective national water strategy that uses federal research and development dollars efficiently and eliminates redundant programs.  
H.R. 1145 has been endorsed by the National Beverage Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Water Innovations Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Water Environment Research Foundation, Council of Scientific Society Presidents, Food & Water Watch, Water Research Foundation, Alliance Environmental, and Clean Water Action.
In tough economic times, it is imperative that we use every dollar we spend effectively.  Coordination of federal agency activities and a stronger partnership with state, local and tribal governments will ensure that federal programs are focused on areas of greatest concern, and that our efforts are complementary and effective. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.
I am offering this amendment to make important changes to H.R. 1145. A number of my colleagues joined me in drafting language for this amendment, and I applaud them for their good ideas and collaborative efforts. I want to thank Reps. Adler, Bean, Cardoza, Connolly, Halverson, Inslee, McCarthy, McCollum, Betsy Markey, Minnick, Moore, Pingree, Polis, Scott, and Titus.
H.R. 1145 establishes a planning process for federal research and development efforts on water. This amendment clarifies that that the plan should be revisited and revised as progress is made on the goals identified in the bill.
The bill as reported from Committee contained conflicting information about the length of authorization. This manager’s amendment corrects this discrepancy and authorizes the Initiative for 5 years.
In addition, this amendment identifies additional external groups that the Interagency Committee and its Coordination office should work with, including consumer-related businesses, water managers, and public-private collaborations. The amendment also adds a number of new research outcomes for the Committee to investigate, including - polluted coastal waters, changing patterns of water availability, the impacts of invasive species, and emerging contaminants of concern, such as endocrine disruptors. 
This amendment also provides additional oversight procedures to the Initiative to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent in a more effective manner.
These are important additions to H.R. 1145, and I ask for my colleagues’ support on the amendment.

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