SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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OCEAN AND COASTAL ISSUES
PLEASE NOTE: The following transcript is a portion of the official hearing record of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Additional material pertinent to this transcript may be found on the web site of the Committee at [http://www.house.gov/transportation]. Complete hearing records are available for review at the Committee offices and also may be purchased at the U.S. Government Printing Office.
WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
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TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
JULY 9, 1997
Printed for the use of the
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTUCTURE
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania, Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTHOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JOHN L. MICA, Florida
JACK QUINN, New York
TILLIE K. FOWLER, Florida
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RAY LaHOOD, Illinois
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JACK METCALF, Washington
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
ROY BLUNT, Missouri
JOSEPH R. PITTS, Pennsylvania
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Jr., Mississippi
KAY GRANGER, Texas
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
WILLIAM O. LIPINSKI, Illinois
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
BOB CLEMENT, Tennessee
JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ROBERT E. (BUD) CRAMER, Jr., Alabama
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of Columbia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
PAT DANNER, Missouri
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES E. CLYBURN, South Carolina
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCORRINE BROWN, Florida
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
BOB FILNER, California
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
JUANITA MILLENDER-McDONALD, California
ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, Maryland
EARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
MAX SANDLIN, Texas
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
JAY W. JOHNSON, Wisconsin
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York, Chairman
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota Vice Chairman
DON YOUNG, Alaska
THOMAS E. PETRI, Wisconsin
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHERBERT H. BATEMAN, Virginia
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
JAY KIM, California
STEPHEN HORN, California
BOB FRANKS, New Jersey
JACK QUINN, New York
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio
SUE W. KELLY, New York
RICHARD H. BAKER, Louisiana
FRANK RIGGS, California
ROBERT W. NEY, Ohio
JO ANN EMERSON, Missouri
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
BUD SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
ROBERT A. BORSKI, Pennsylvania
JAY JOHNSON, Wisconsin
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia
GLENN POSHARD, Illinois
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
FRANK MASCARA, Pennsylvania
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCEARL BLUMENAUER, Oregon
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
BILL PASCRELL, Jr., New Jersey
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
JAMES P. McGOVERN, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
JAMES L. OBERSTAR, Minnesota
Benoit, Jeffrey R., Director, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, DC
Davis, Michael L., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC, accompanied by Barry Holliday, Chief, Navigation and Dredging Program
Forbes, Hon. Michael P., a Representative in Congress from New York
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Freidel, Rav, Director, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, Montauk, NY
Romero-Barceló, Hon. Carlos A., a U.S. Delegate in Congress from Puerto Rico
Smith, Rear Admiral Louis M., Director, Facilities and Engineering Division, U.S. Navy, Washington, DC
Stahl, Jane K., Assistant Director, Office of Long Island Sound Programs, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT
Treadwell, Hon. Alexander F., Secretary, New York Department of State, Albany, NY, accompanied by Bill Sharp, Esquire, Principal Attorney, New York Department of State, and Peter Gemellaro, State of New York's Office of Federal Affairs
Wayland, Robert H., III, Director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, accompanied by Suzanne Schwartz, Director, Our Oceans and Coastal Protection Division
Westerson, Grant W., Executive Director, Connecticut Marine Trades Association, Essex, CT
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Forbes, Hon. Michael P., of New York
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Oberstar, Hon. James L., of Minnesota
Pallone, Hon. Frank, of New Jersey
Poshard, Hon. Glenn, of Illinois
Romero-Barceló, Hon. Carlos A., of Puerto Rico
PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED BY WITNESSES
Benoit, Jeffrey R
Davis, Michael L
Smith, Rear Admiral Louis M
Stahl, Jane K
Treadwell, Hon. Alexander F
Wayland, Robert H., III
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SUBMISSIONS TO THE RECORD
Benoit, Jeffrey R., Director, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, DC, responses to post hearing questions
Borski, Hon. Robert A., a Representative in Congress from Pennsylvania, Mayaguezanos por la Salud y el Ambiente, Inc. (MSA), letter, June 27, 1997 and letter, February 24, 1997
Davis, Michael L., Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, DC, accompanied by Barry Holliday, Chief, Navigation and Dredging Program, responses to post hearing questions
Freidel, Rav, Director, concerned Citizens of Montauk, NY:
Letter to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, from Arthur J. Rocque, Jr., Assistant Commissioner, Air, Waste and Water Programs, Department of Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut, April 22, 1996
Responses to post hearing questions
Smith, Rear Admiral Louis M., Director, Facilities and Engineering Division, U.S. Navy, Washington, DC, responses to post hearing questions
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Stahl, Jane K., Assistant Director, Office of Long Island Sound Programs, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT, responses to post hearing questions
Treadwell, Hon. Alexander F., Secretary, New York Department of State, Albany, NY, accompanied by Bill Sharp, Esquire, Principal Attorney, New York Department of State, and Peter Gemellaro, State of New York's Office of Federal Affairs, responses to post hearing questions
Wayland, Robert H., III, Director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, accompanied by Suzanne Schwartz, Director, Our Oceans and Coastal Protection Division, responses to post hearing questions
ADDITIONS TO THE RECORD
Action for the Preservation and Conservation of the North Shore Of Long Island, statement
Chase, Thomas J., Director of Environmental Affairs, American Assocation of Port Authories, Alexandria, VA, statement
Pomales, Benjamin, Executive Director, Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Aythority, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, letter, July 8, 1997
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thatcher, John H., Jr., President, Fishers Island Conservancy, letter, July 8, 1997
OCEAN AND COASTAL ISSUES
WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment,
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:13 a.m. in room 2167, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. BOEHLERT. The hearing will come to order.
I apologize first of all to the staff, who is always on time and well-prepared, and to my colleagues and to our guests. The majority party had a conference this morning that delayed us somewhat. But good morning, and welcome to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee.
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Today's hearing is on ocean and coastal issues, particularly issues relating to the Ocean Dumping Act.
For many Americans, summer time is vacation time, and that often means a trip to the beach or shore. The stresses from population, pollution, and natural forces, such as erosion, can take their toll on the water quality and health of our oceans and coasts. As a matter of fact, just the other day I was reading the paper coming down in the plane and there was a story, ''Environmentalists say beaches still polluted.'' This is something that has to concern us all.
Tourists, residents, fisher-people, portsin short, all of ushave a major stake in the health of our marine environment, as well as the continued vitality of our coastal and national economies.
Over one-half of our Nation's population lives within 50 miles of the coastline. That's hard to believe, but it's a fact. Ocean and coastal waters are protected under a variety of laws. Besides the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act, one of the primary laws for protecting coastal resources is the Ocean Dumping Act. This ambitious, multi-faceted statute includes a variety of roles for Federal agencies. It is also a balancing act. For example, the need for dredging and the location of dredged material disposal sites must be weighed against significant undesirable effects on ocean and coastal resources.
Ports, coastal communities, fisher-people, environmentalists, and regulators can and often do disagree on the testing, disposal, and use of clean and contaminated sediment. The result can be gridlock, or, if you'll pardon the pun, mudlock and litigation. Such gridlock does not serve the interest of society or the environment.
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Representative Michael Forbes will testify on his experiences with dredging and disposal in Long Island Sound and on his bill, H.R. 55. A panel of State and local representatives, including New York's Secretary of State, Alexander Sandy Treadwell, will also testify on the bill.
Federal agencies will discuss various programs relating to ocean dumping and coastal pollution. One promising area is the beneficial use of clean dredged material. Examples include beach re-nourishment and the reclamation of critical wildlife habitat.
Delegate Carlos Romero-Barceló will also testify on a separate issue: the opportunity for a community in Puerto Rico to apply for EPA for an alternative to secondary treatment under the Clean Water Act if certain conditions and environmental safeguards are met. And this is not a precedent-setter. It has been done before, and it's something we look forward to hearing about.
While the Ocean Dumping Act is the primary focus of today's hearing, authorization of a new and improved Clean Water Act remains a high priority for this subcommittee, including the ranking member and myself, although not as immediate as the priority to reform and reauthorize Superfund.
In the coming weeks, additional hearings on nonpoint source pollution, both inland and coastal, will be scheduled.
Now it is my pleasure to turn to our distinguished ranking member, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Borski, for any comments he may have.
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Mr. BORSKI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Today, as part of the subcommittee's oversight responsibilities, the subcommittee receives testimony on ocean and coastal issues related to water quality and environmental protection. This subcommittee has a long history in protecting ocean water quality through its jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act, the Ocean Dumping Act, and the Oil Pollution Act. In addition, the subcommittee made sure that dumping of sewage sludge and industrial waste came to an end through the Ocean Dumping Ban Act.
For too long we saw the oceans as a convenient dumping ground for the waste associated with human development. As we have learned, those earlier practices were a mistake, which we continue to correct to this day.
Many of the issues surrounding coastal water quality can be traced to a legacy of inadequate control of pollution associated with industrial point sources during the industrialization of America. Although such sources are now largely controlled through the Clean Water Act, we live with a legacy of contaminated sediments in our harbors, estuaries, and lakes. Unfortunately, we continue to allow pollution to enter our waters through runoff associated with rain and melting snow.
Whether it's uncollected runoff from urban and rural areas, the nonpoint source pollution, or collected runoffs through storm sewers, we continue to allow sediments to enter our waterways and carry their pollution with them.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Too often when we discuss addressing coastal and ocean issues we talk about treating the symptoms but not the cause of the problem. Unless and until there are aggressive steps to address the pollution sources in our coastal areas, urban runoff, storm sewers, municipal sewage treatment plants, and agriculture, we will continue to see our coastal areas under stress.
Further, within the past two weeks the National Resources Defense Council reported that in 1996 there were at least 2,596 individual beach closings and advisories, with 83 percent of the closings due to bacteria levels exceeding water quality standards. Unfortunately, human activity is responsible for these bacteria levels.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that we can agree to work together to develop effective programs under the Clean Water Act to address these remaining water pollution problems.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. Unless other colleaguesone at a time. My colleague, I yield.
Mr. MENENDEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, as you know, I rarely take the opportunity to speak at an opening statement on an issue, but this is an issue that I have followed for 5 years and I just want to make some observations.
I welcome our colleague from New York to the prosaic world of dredging. This subcommittee is highly knowledgeable on this particular issue and topic, and I am personally familiar with the political and other pressures that are generated, for example, in the New York harbor.
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I understand the reasons behind your legislation and, after struggling with this for over 5 years, let me explain some of the questions that I think your well-intentioned bill raises, at least in my mind. And we look forward to working with you.
Current law already prohibits the disposal of dredged material with more than trace contaminants, and the requirements of the bill appear to be a restatement of the law and regulations but may, in fact, further complicate what is already a rather murky legal status of the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuary Act and its relation to section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
If a bill is going to end the disposal of dredged material in Long Island Sound by decree, then it would seem to me to violate the letter and spirit of the Coastal Zone Management Act, which is a delicate balancing of Federal interests with those of the coastal States in which coastal States have used those provisions, in fact, to ensure the water quality of their beaches.
All Federal projects must be consistent with the approved State coastal zone management plan, so questions arise to me: Is dredging and the disposal of dredged material on Long Island Sound consistent with the State's coastal management plan? Has the State made a consistency claim on any proposed Federal project? Does the State of New York plan to modify their coastal zone plan?
In passing this bill, it would appear to be a direct affront to the State's rights in this matter, so that's a concern for me.
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This committee has also been very critical of environmental good science, legislation which is not based on good science. I would raise those questions, as well.
The Long Island Sound national estuary program is conducting an extensive survey of sediment quality issues in the sound, and since all of these national estuary programs rely heavily on local input, do we want to totally bypass the product of such a local study?
And lastly, and I think important for the committee to consider beyond the scope of our colleague's proposed legislation, is the question of a national dredging policy and also the question of cost. You know, eliminating ocean disposal options for dredged material, which I know is probably universally shared by all of us, even which meets current environmental standards is not without cost.
For example, in New Jersey we are closing the mud dump, which I support, and I have participated in. But one of the issues we do not address is the fact that there will be a cost to the alternatives, and we have not addressed those costs, and those costs are not only in terms of the increased costs to alternative methods of disposal, but they are also in terms of the commerce of the ports of the Nation, for which 95 percent of all of this Nation's commerce goes through portsa little-known fact, but a real, very significant one to our economic lifeline.
And so unless we preserve the ports of the Nation against enormous competition from places like Halifax, Canada, you will have two consequences: number one, the international trade that we seek to promote will be choked; and, secondly, consumers will face higher prices because the goods that come to the ports and are then distributed through them and the goods that are taken through those ports to be sold elsewhere throughout the world will be affected in terms of price.
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So one of the things, at a time that the harbor maintenance tax has been struck down by the Supreme Court, that we, in essence, have less resources for the type of maintenance dredging that we're seeking, and for the alternatives to both have beneficial reuse and for the higher cost that will be involved is the whole question of cost.
So as we look at this question, Mr. Chairman, I hope that we will be focusing on some of those issues so that we can have a national dredging policy that meets the environmental goals we all share in but also protects the Nation's commerce at a time that we are trying to create greater expansion of economic opportunity, greater employment, and greater opportunities for consumers to effectuate lower cost.
And I'd ask that my full statement be entered into the record, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered. Thank you very much, Mr. Menendez, for that contribution.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Pascrell?
Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I ask for unanimous consent that a statement by Congressman Pallone be entered into the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PASCRELL. Thank you.
[The prepared statements of Mr. Pallone, and Mr. Poshard follow:]
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Chairman, I also have a unanimous consent request that the statement of the ranking democrat of the full committee, Mr. Oberstar, be placed in the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. We look forward to it without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Oberstar follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Now, unless there are any otherDr. Ehlers?
Mr. EHLERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Very briefly, I just want to thank you for conducting this hearing and thank you for your continued good leadership on this subcommittee. The issue we have before us is one that is hard to match in terms of its incredible complexity when discussing the issue and the environmental aspects. It involves, as you know, the Clean Water Act and some of its aspects. It involves coastal issues. It involves territorial rights as it relates to the ocean.
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It's something that is going to take a considerable amount of wisdom and insight on the part of this committee to address, and I appreciate your leadership and willingness to tackle this, because I think it's extremely important and has to be dealt with, in spite of its very great complexity, and I encourage the subcommittee to grapple with it and deal with the issues that are here.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
I would suggest that the committee is endowed with considerable wisdom and foresight, as is evidenced by the opening statements of my distinguished colleagues.
Mr. LOBIONDO. Yes, Mr. Chairman. Just a brief statement.
I want to thank you for conducting this hearing today. As a Member whose District is surrounded on three sides with water, it's extremely important to me what takes place with these different issues, and it's extremely important to the State of New Jersey.
We've come through some very difficult times in the 1980s with some red tides and green tides and all kinds of crazy things that have closed our beaches, and water quality rules are extremely important.
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I'm looking forward to the testimony and working with all of my colleagues on these important issues.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Dr. Ehlers once again?
Mr. EHLERS. May I just add one parenthetical comment? I've discovered, since coming here, that when discussing coastal issues almost everyone here assumes we're talking about ocean coasts, and I should point out, as a representative from the State of Michigan, which has more coastline than any other State, including California, but with the exception of Alaska, that there are a great many coastal issues involved in the Great Lakes, as well.
I'm sure Mr. Johnson and others here would join me in that concern, Mr. Poshard.
Far too little attention is paid to the coastal issues of the Great Lakes, in my judgment, in the Congress, so I would hope that we would include consideration of that in our discussions here.
Mr. BOEHLERT. My colleague can be assured that the subcommittee views coastal issues across the range, not just ocean, but on our Great Lakes.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before turning to our first panel I would like to make one observation. Our colleague, Ms. Tauscher, has an outstanding little presentation in front of her that her 6-year-old daughter made for her, and I wonder if she might share it with the subcommittee to show us what it is right there.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. I want to thank the chairman.
My 6-year-old daughter is in camp this week, and she made me this little box.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That's great.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Would you congratulate her on her skill and craftsmanship? Thank you very much.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you very much.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Now for our first panel we are privileged to have two of our colleagues, Congressman Michael P. Forbes of the great State of New York, the Empire State, and Congressman Carlos Romero-Barceló of Puerto Rico.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We welcome you gentlemen. Your full statements will appear in the record in their entirety. We would ask that you try to summarize.
I will go first to my fellow New Yorker, Mr. Forbes.
TESTIMONY OF HON. MICHAEL P. FORBES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM NEW YORK; AND HON. CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, A U.S. DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM PUERTO RICO
Mr. FORBES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and to the ranking member, Mr. Borski, and the distinguished members of this panel.
I think it is important for all of us to note that over the last decade or so that this panel, in particular, has shown a particular bipartisan spirit that has allowed the Congress to take some creative measures in protecting our coastline and our waterways in this country, and I do thank the panel for their leadership on this over the last several years, in particular.
I am particularly pleased that you are holding this hearing today. Before I begin my comments, I would say to my colleagues, particularly my friend from New Jersey, that I take the comments that you made in the spirit in which they're offered, and it is my intent hopefully to find some middle ground in which we all can agree that the intent of the Clean Water Act, the Ocean Dumping Act is, frankly, adhered to when it comes to government needing to dredge, in this case in Long Island Sound, and we can come to some middle ground.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I by no means am here today to advocate an end to any kind of dredging in Long Island Sound, and it was the purpose of my legislation to establish, working with a cross-section of groups that depend on Long Island Sound, whether it's a marine operators, the boaters, the host of environmental groups that care very dearly about the health and vitality of the sound, to make sure that our legislation does take into consideration the needs of those who live and work on the sound and yet doesn't become so constrained that we, in fact, don't accomplish what we really need to accomplish, and that is the intent of Congress to end the dumping of contaminated sludge, particularly, into the sound.
It is clear under Ocean Dumping and the Clean Water Act that the intent of Congress, I would suggest, was to make sure that some of these onerous practices of the past do not occur, and I would just hope that, as this Congress has attempted to do, that we would allow government to follow the edicts that we are requiring the private sector to follow when it comes to the Ocean Dumping Act and the Clean Water Act.
Particularly, I want to thank also my good friends from New York who have traveled here today to make clear their own views on the importance of protecting Long Island Sound, which is one of the 28 significant estuaries in this country. And it is Congress' intent over the years, clearly, to clean up Long Island Sound, and that's why the taxpayers of this country have paid upwards of $1.5 billion to ensure that the onerous practices of the past not only were ended, but that we restored the health and vitality of this very important waterway and habitat.
I do want to thank Alexander Sandy Treadwell, who is the distinguished Secretary of State for the State of New York, and Rav Freidel, who comes here from Montauk Point, probably one of the people here today who comes a distance to make clear not only the concerns of the citizens of Montauk's views, but his own as a leading environmental activist on Long Island. He cares dearly about this issue, and I thank them for being here.
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Basically, members of the committee, in December 1995 the United States Navy began dumping over a million cubic yards of contaminated sediments as part of the overall Sea Wolf submarine project into Long Island Sound. Attempts to negotiate with both the Department of Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers were for naught, and the dumping occurred, despite the concerns that were raised by a host of Long Island residents, including the Secretary of State, who joins us today, as well as Rav Freidel and the Fisher's Island Conservancy and John Thatcher and many othersthese concerns, as you will hear about later on.
It was my concern, frankly, and the need to offer the legislation, H.R. 55, which we call the Long Island Sound Preservation and Protection Act because it was clearly, in my understanding of Congress' intent and the tenets of the Ocean Dumping Act and the Clean Water Act, that Congress did want this waterway to be cleaned up and to make sure that, in fact, requirements that we were placing on the private sector to meet certain prescribed requirements were not in some way waived when it came to the needs of whether it was the Department of Navy or the Army Corps of Engineers to do the kind of dredging that they felt was necessary.
I am hopeful that, working with the members of this committee and your distinguished staffs, that we can come to some accommodation so that we can ultimately meet the requirements that Congress laid out under these two important acts and that we can again have an equal standard for both Government, as well as the private sector, in protecting Long Island Sound.
I appreciate the committee's indulgence, including the full text of my statement in the record and those of participants who couldn't be here today.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Forbes. I wanted to commend you for your diligence. I know you individually have contacted members of this committee to be a strong advocate for protecting the future of the sound. Once again, let me commend you for your leadership in this issue.
Our distinguished colleague, Mr. Romero-Barceló from Puerto Rico.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, Mr. Borski, and fellow Members of Congress.
I appreciate the opportunity to be here before you today to testify on our proposal to an amendment to section 301(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act that would allow Puerto Rico's sewer authority to apply for a waiver from certain wastewater treatment requirements affecting its facilities in the largest city on the west coast of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez.
Under existing law, the EPA is not allowed to accept new applications for waivers from secondary treatment requirements. Our proposal does not alter the rigorous criteria for issuing a waiver, nor does it override the judgment of EPA. Our proposal reflects the goal of both Congress and the Administration to find innovative, alternative, and less-costly ways to apply existing statutes without compromising the environmental objectives underlying existing law.
Many scientists and experts agree that plans to construct deep ocean outfalls at locations can provide the best environmental and economic alternative for wastewater treatment, and the plans would not only preserve but would even improve the coastal environments where these discharges occur.
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PRASA, the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, proposes the construction of a deep ocean outfall that would release primary treated wastewater miles from shore at a depth and location that will have no adverse impact on human and marine life. As a matter of fact, it's four miles offshore.
This alternative would improve the coral environment where the current outfall discharges and would save the government of Puerto Rico between $28 and $72 million over 20 years that can be spent to address other water supply and infrastructure problems affecting the island plus, at the same time, reduce the use of energy because the secondary treatment plan requires use of much more energy than the outfall in the deep ocean.
EPA and the Department of Justice have agreed to enter into a consent order with PRASA that provides for deep water ocean outfall alternative to a secondary treatment plant. However, this alternative cannot even be considered without this legislation; and under the terms of the consent order in the Federal court, this alternative can only be considered if this legislation is enacted by August 1, 1998.
PRASA is currently conducting an environmental impact statement review to assess relative benefits of the two treatment alternatives. The environmental impact statement will be completed before August 1, 1998, and will help EPA determine which alternative is preferable.
If the legislation is enacted, EPA will have its choice. If it is not enacted, there will be no choice, regardless of the environmental or economic consequences. This is what this proposal would accomplish. It is a sound approach to environmental regulations and it is imperative to stress the fact that this is only a limited and technical amendment that allows PRASA to refile under section 301(h). PRASA would be required by EPA to meet the same stringent legal and scientific tests, conduct the same environmental studies, and implement the same monitoring program applicable to existing recipients of section 301(h) waivers.
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This amendment would not assure that a waiver would be granted. The decision would remain entirely within EPA's discretion. EPA will be the ultimate decisionmaker and will determine if PRASA's proposed alternative is feasible and environmentally beneficial.
If, after the review, the alternative is acceptable, then PRASA will immediately begin construction on the facility with discharge location approved by the EPA. If EPA finds this alternative unacceptable, then PRASA will proceed with construction of the secondary treatment plant.
Puerto Rico is not asking for preferential treatment; rather, we are only requesting that EPA balance the cost of constructing a secondary treatment facility against the environmental, economic, and social benefits of constructing an outfall at a deepwater location. As a matter of fact, it will be in the Mona Channel, which has very, very strong currents, and it will be four miles out, and it's over 300 feet deep.
There are precedents for such limited amendment to section 301(h), recently for San Diego during the 103rd Congress. In the instance of San Diego, legislation was enacted to permit EPA to consider a section 301 waiver application proposing a similar alternative to secondary treatment. I believe we deserve the same opportunity to implement alternatives and seek a section 301(h) waiver.
My environmental record speaks for itself. As a governor, I implemented the coastal zone management laws and coastal zone management plan for Puerto Rico, and I think I have undoubtedly the best environmental record of any as a governor in Puerto Rico, and I'm very proud of it. And I would not support any measure that I believe would compromise our resources or the environment of the island.
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I urge my colleagues to consider this proposal and its common-sense approach. The proposal is limited and targeted. It provides for an efficient process. It does not modify existing standards, and would be implemented by EPA only if environmental and economic objectives are accomplished. I am hopeful that it will receive favorable Congressional action at an early date.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I want to commend you for your patience and persistence and for the manner in which you've worked with this subcommittee and the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, and I would assume that we're going to see a legislative proposal fairly soon as a result of your hard work and persistent efforts. We are well aware of the record you established while serving as governor.
I want to say to both of my colleagues, you personify what the term ''representative'' really and truly means, and I want to thank both of you for your statements before this subcommittee and for your diligence in pursuing your respective causes.
Unless any of my colleagues feel compelled to offer any questions, we will
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. BOEHLERT. Yes, Mr. Borski.
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Mr. BORSKI. I have copies of letters from MSA, a community organization in Puerto Rico, expressing concerns about the proposed secondary treatment waiver, and a letter from PRASA, the local sewer authority, in support of the proposal, and I ask unanimous consent that each be placed in the record.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, so ordered. This is the type of valuable information that is most helpful to the subcommittee.
[The letters follow:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. I want to thank both of our colleagues for your appearance here this morning, and we will proceed to the next panel.
Mr. ROMERO-BARCELÓ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. FORBES. Thank you.
[The prepared statements of Messrs. Forbes and Romero-Barceló follow:]
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. Our second panel consists of Mr. Michael Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for civil works with the Corps of Engineers; Robert Wayland, III, director, Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds from the Environmental Protection Agency; Jeffrey Benoit, director of Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management for NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and, representing the Department of the Navy, the director of Facilities and Engineering Division, Rear Admiral Louis M. Smith.
I would advise all of our panelists that their statements will appear in the record in their entirety at this juncture. I would ask that you try to summarize in 5 minutes or less, and that will leave us ample time for questions and we can flesh out some of the details of your testimony during that question and answer session. And I would suggest that we proceed in the order in which you were announced, which means that first up lead-off hitter is Mr. Davis.
TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL L. DAVIS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE ARMY FOR CIVIL WORKS, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, WASHINGTON, DC, ACCOMPANIED BY BARRY HOLLIDAY, CHIEF, NAVIGATION AND DREDGING PROGRAM; ROBERT H. WAYLAND, III, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WETLANDS, OCEANS & WATERSHEDS, U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, WASHINGTON, DC, ACCOMPANIED BY SUZANNE SCHWARTZ, DIRECTOR, OUR OCEANS AND COASTAL PROTECTION DIVISION; JEFFREY R. BENOIT, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF OCEAN & COASTAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION, WASHINGTON, DC; AND REAR ADMIRAL LOUIS M. SMITH, DIRECTOR, FACILITIES AND ENGINEERING DIVISION, U.S. NAVY, WASHINGTON, DC
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure to be back before your committee.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am Michael Davis. I'm the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works. I am pleased to be here today, along with Barry Holliday, who is the chief of the Corps of Engineers' navigation and dredging program.
I would like to talk about some of the Corps of Engineers' progress relating to ocean and coastal issues, as you requested. Specifically, I will mention the program for implementing the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, commonly referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act. I will also provide comments on H.R. 55, the Long Island Preservation and Protection Act, and recent efforts related to beneficial uses of dredged material and remediation of contaminated sediments. I will summarize my complete statement.
Under the Army's regulatory program, the Corps of Engineers regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into the waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, something this committee is very familiar with. We also regulate all work and structures in the navigable waters of the United States under section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. We regulate the transportation of dredged material to ocean disposal sites under section 103 of the Ocean Dumping Act.
Under the Ocean Dumping Act, the Army and the Environmental Protection Agency have distinct but very complementary responsibilities. The Army is responsible for making determinations regarding the need for ocean disposal, evaluating alternatives, and compliance with section 102 ocean disposal criteria developed by EPA.
Our responsibilities begin with an evaluation of a proposed project to determine whether the dredged material meets the ocean disposal criteria. It also includes evaluation of all necessary documentation, including sampling plans and test results, and where a determination is made regarding the contaminant status of the dredged material, as well as practicability of dredged material management alternatives.
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After completion of an application, the public notice and public input phase begins. This process typically requires a minimum of 30 days for public input and allows interested and affected groups, including Federal, State, and local agencies, to comment. Based on this detailed technical review, public comments, and consultation with EPA, the Corps will then make a decision on the ocean disposal permit.
You've asked us to also comment on H.R. 55, the proposed legislation that Congressman Forbes just discussed. This is the Long Island Sound Preservation and Protection Act, which would add a new provision to the existing section 106(f) of the Ocean Dumping Act.
The Long Island Citizen Advisory Committee is currently considering dredging and disposal issues in the sound. Before legislative action is taken to amend section 106(f), we recommend that this process be allowed to be completed to help us address and identify recommended activities related to dredged material disposal in the sound area.
We are concerned about the intended effect of the bill's language. It is unclear whether H.R. 55 intends to confirm the need for compliance with current ocean dumping regulations on Long Island Sound or to create a new substantive requirement.
If the intent is to confirm the need for compliance with ocean dumping regulations, we do not see the need for a change, given the already existing provisions of section 106 of the act. If the intent is to create a new substantive requirement, we are concerned that it will create implementation difficulties due to its vagueness and resulting legal uncertainties.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The bill will also require EPA to certify in the ''Federal Register'' that there are no significant undesirable effects, including the threat associated with bioaccumulation. This duplicates the existing Corps of Engineers' procedures that are officially and effectively used to meet public notification requirements with little expense or delay.
H.R. 55 appears to change the Ocean Dumping Act requirements very little and, in our opinion, adds no environmental protection. It will, however, add cost and potential delays to dredging projects.
Before I close, Mr. Chairman, I would like to mention one of the many environmental programs the Corps implements that helps protect and restore our coastal waters and other waters of the U.S.
The Corps has employed informally the concept of beneficial uses of dredged material within its dredging program for many years and as a formal policy since 1968. Traditional beneficial uses include wetland and upland habitat development, beach nourishment, strip mine reclamation and solid waste landfill cover, shoreline stabilization and erosion control, and construction aggregate and industrial use.
Today, approximately 30 percent of the 300-plus million cubic yards of material we dredge each year is used for beneficial purposes. Using this material, we have protected, restored, and created over one million acres of wetlands.
More recent beneficial use efforts include capping of contaminated material with clean material, reclaiming dredged material from upland disposal sites, and the manufacture of soils for resale by private interests. Research conducted under the Corps' dredging opportunities and environmental research program will help address remaining technical, management, and ecological concerns with the beneficial use concept.
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Using marginally-contaminated dredge material for wetlands habitat development is one promising area. This effort is being tested and carried out in the Thames Beach Confined Disposal Facility in Buffalo, New York, and at the Corps-EPA fill verification site in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The vegetation in both wetlands is growing and appears to be thriving on the dredged material. Both sites are currently being evaluated to determine the migration of contaminants from the sites.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, since our earliest responsibilities to construct, operate, and maintain the Federal navigation system, the Department of the Army has sought to balance all public interest factors. Maintaining navigation continues to be vital to the economic well-being and national security of the Nation. Environmental cleanup of contaminated sediments in our waterways and the restoration of aquatic resources are also important priorities for the Corps of Engineers today.
We believe that the Corps and EPA have developed appropriate testing and management approaches that allow critically-important navigation dredging to proceed, while providing environmental protection from contaminated sediments.
As the Nation's environmental agenda for testing, regulating, and managing contaminated sediments evolves, the Army stands ready to meet its responsibilities and help solve this important problem.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my statement. I'll be pleased to answer any questions.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
Mr. WAYLAND. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. I'm Bob Wayland. I'm pleased to be back with you again. I'm accompanied by Suzanne Schwartz, director of our Oceans and Coastal Protection Division at EPA.
Your opening statements all recognize the importance of this Nation's oceans and coastal waters and the resources they contain. These waters provide some of the most diverse and biologically-productive habitat in the country. My testimony describes a number of efforts to help ensure the continued viability of our ocean and coastal waters, which I'll briefly summarize.
EPA's coastal and ocean programs operate under a number of laws, including the Clean Water Act, the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, the Marine Plastic Pollution Research, Control Act regarding marine debris, and others.
I would like to note that this year is the 25th anniversary of both the Clean Water Act and the MPRSA.
Under the MPRSA, as amended by the Ocean Dumping Ban Act and Water Resources Development Act, EPA has statutory authority for developing environmental criteria and issuing permits for materials dumped in the ocean waters, except for dredge material, which is permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers subject to EPA concurrence.
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Materials currently authorized for ocean dumping include dredge material, processed fish waste from one facility in American Samoa, the disposal of human remains, and the disposal of vessels used for target practice by the U.S. Navy.
EPA also has statutory responsibility for the designation, monitoring, and management of all ocean dumping sites.
Section 404 of the Clean Water Act gives EPA responsibilities with respect to dredged material management in inland waters through the development of environmental criteria and review of applications for Corps permits.
In December of 1994 the inter-agency working group on the dredging process published a report to the Secretary of Transportation containing a proposed national dredging policy and an action plan for improving the dredging process. As part of the implementation of this plan, the inter-agency Dredging Team (NDT) was established in 1995. It will help promote national and regionally-consistent dredging practices and provide a forum for conflict resolution and information exchange. The NDT is co-chaired by EPA and the Corps of Engineers and includes members from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maritime Administration, NOAA, and the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA, as well as Jeff Benoit's office, the Office of Coastal and Resource Management.
Regional dredging teams have also been created to provide a forum for local and regional issue resolution, to foster information exchange with stakeholders, and provide liaison with local dredged material management planning groups.
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The amendments to the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 included, among others, changes to the Ocean Dumping Act to provide for the final designation of dump sites by EPA by January of this year, and development of site management plans for dump sites in conjunction with the Corps.
In March of 1996 EPA and the Corps jointly issued national guidance on site management plan development, and at present, of the 105 designated sites, 43 have final approved site management plans.
WRDA '96, in recognition of the potential for using dredged material beneficially instead of disposing of it, provided authority to the Secretary of the Army to select a method of disposal of dredged material that does not need to be the least-cost method if it's determined that the incremental costs of the chosen disposal method are reasonable in relation to the environmental benefits, including the benefits to the aquatic environment to be derived from the creation of wetlands and the control of shoreline erosion. We strongly support the beneficial use of dredged material whenever possible.
Mr. Chairman, Army, EPA, and other Federal agencies have been working very closely to try to resolve difficult issues associated with dredging in New York/New Jersey Harbor. These issues are described at some length in my prepared statement, but in the interest of time I'll turn to some additional issues that are important to us and will be assuming larger public interest in the coming weeks and months, we hope.
The first of these is beach water quality standards. You made reference to the annual NRDC report, the most recent of which was released just a few weeks ago. In May of this year EPA Administrator Carol Browner announced EPA's new Beaches Environmental Assessment Closure and Health Program, the Beach Program, through which we'll be working with States and tribes to assure adequate standards are in place and that State, tribal, and local governments have monitoring programs that indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms and inform the public of potential health risks.
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A long-term research plan will help develop faster and more accurate methods to confirm contamination and methods to predict when and where contamination may occur in order to advise the public before they're exposed to potentially harmful contaminants.
In addition, we have a number of efforts underway to address nonpoint source pollution, stormwater pollution, and combined sewer overflows, which are the underlying causes for beach closure.
The national estuary program was touched on earlier by Congressman Forbes. It was established by Congress to address the complex problems associated with estuary management. The NEP currently consists of 28 programs, and it seeks not only to protect and restore the health of estuaries and their living resources, but also to support human and economic activities by promoting planning and management measures that address a full range of resource concerns.
EPA believes that this approach has been successful and that it will continue to improve the health of the 28 estuaries now in the program, but we're also working to actively ensure that we use what we have learned in those 28 programs to protect and improve the health of all coastal ecosystems.
We have efforts underway to address marine debris, one of the more visible pollution problems in our ocean and coastal waters. The national debris monitoring program, an effort coordinated by the Center for Marine Conservation and supported by EPA, is a scientific monitoring protocol designed by an inter-agency work group of EPA, NOAA, the National Park Service, and the Coast Guard to address the amounts and sources of marine debris on our Nation's shores.
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We anticipate that the data collected will be useful in identifying sources of debris and developing control measures.
The Clean Water Act was amended in the last Congress in a very narrow way to provide for the development of uniform national discharge standards for Naval and Coast Guard vessels. EPA and Navy are working closely on the development of these standards and at the present time are consulting with States and a variety of others on the development of those standards.
The importance of coastal and ocean resources is evident to the world community as well as domestically. The year 1997 is the international year of the reef. A number of activities are going on around the country to call attention to the degradation of these fragile resources.
In addition, the United Nations has declared 1998 the year of the ocean. While the U.S. is just beginning to formulate plans for participating in the year of the ocean, we do anticipate a two-fold effort, first by the Federal agencies to identify and assess issues of global importance regarding the oceans, and secondly an effort to raise public awareness of oceans and ocean issues collaboratively involving other private and non-Governmental parties.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This concludes my summary statement.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much.
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Admiral SMITH. Thank you. Again, I am Rear Admiral Lou Smith, Civil Engineer Corps of the United States Navy, the Director of the Facilities and Engineering Division in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
I appreciate this opportunity this morning to speak to you on dredging as a key component of ocean and coastal issues.
My statement discusses the process the Navy uses at some length for dredging port facilities, turning basins, and channels to allow our ships safe access from our waterfront piers to the oceans of the world and back again.
I will not go into detail, but rather in summary.
We decide from an operational point of view in the Navy what Navy bases are preferred for home-porting our different classes of ships. Where dredging is needed to support the draft requirement of these particular ships, we look to my friends here at the table, their counterparts in the State and local governments, as well as the general public to help us find the best alternative to both do the dredging and dispose of the dredged material. We do both maintenance and new construction dredging in this manner.
We use the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, process, including the preparation of environmental assessments, or more detailed environmental impact statements, as our vehicle for bringing all relevant information together and focusing the discussion of impacts expected from the proposed dredging. Of course, the Corps of Engineers must always grant us a permit before we can even begin dredging.
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I believe that there are suitable checks and balances in the current system to ensure that we arrive at the best decision, one that balances a host of competing concerns, including risk, affordability, environmental impact, and the need to perform mitigation to minimize that impact. I believe the Navy has an outstanding long-term record of responsible and environmentally acceptable dredging projects.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I welcome your questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Admiral.
Mr. BENOIT. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee.
I am Jeffrey Benoit, director of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Research Management of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is a pleasure for me to appear before you today at today's hearing on ocean and coastal issues and summarize NOAA's important contributions towards ensuring the protection of our Nation's oceans and coasts.
At this point let me also say that NOAA greatly appreciates the strong support of Chairman Boehlert and Congressman Borski during last year's reauthorization of the CZMA. Thank you, and we hope to work with you in the future to successfully reauthorize the coastal nonpoint pollution control program.
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NOAA's role toward ensuring sustainable ocean management is unique. This is primarily due to NOAA's Federal stewardship responsibilities for our Nation's invaluable coastal and marine resourcesresources which contribute billions of dollars annually to our Nation's economy and that enhance the quality of life for millions of Americans.
NOAA conducts a wide range of significant research, monitoring, and management activities under several statutory authorities that separately and cumulatively respond to the many challenges presented by dredged material disposal.
NOAA is also a member of the national dredging team, a matter of direct relevance to this subcommittee.
This morning I would like to give you a brief overview of these important activities.
Environmental stewardship of our Nation's irreplaceable ocean and coastal resources is a primary NOAA mission. Understanding this mission is fundamental to recognizing NOAA's vital role and contributions concerning ocean disposal activities. NOAA's stewardship mission seeks to promote healthy coastal ecosystems and economic prosperity through integrated coastal management that ensures balance, sustainable development, with the protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity.
An essential tenet of NOAA's stewardship mission is that the best science and information available be used to guide responsible and credible marine management decisions, especially those concerning dredging and dredged material disposal activities.
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NOAA operates under a number of distinct and complementary authorities such as the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Marine Protection Research and Sanctuaries Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act that allow us to provide consultation and coordination on dredging and disposal activities. A more complete listing of these authorities is provided in my written statement.
The State role is also important to NOAA. NOAA's stewardship mission recognizes that coastal States possess board trustee responsibilities for fish, wildlife and plants, and that collaboration and cooperation with States is critical.
NOAA also has the capability to provide comments on dredging and disposal activities at the local level through its regional office of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
I have provided several examples in my written statement describing how NOAA's stewardship mission influences ocean dumping and disposal issues, but let me provide the subcommittee with a couple of examples this morning.
For instance, the Coastal Zone Management Act details Federal policies to ensure the sound management and use of our Nation's coastal resources for future generations. The CZMA is implemented through the national CZM program, a partnership between NOAA and participating coastal States.
NOAA's role is to provide broad national leadership and guidance, policy development, and technical assistance to the States and other Federal agencies. Of particular note, coastal States with federally-approved CZM programs gain what is known as ''consistency authority.''
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In general, this requires most Federal activities or federally-permitted activities to be consistent with the State's CZM program. In essence, this authority provides States with a very powerful tool to use with the Federal Government regarding disposal of dredged material.
Also very important to NOAA's stewardship responsibility are the national estuarine research reserves, also authorized under the CZMA, and the national marine sanctuary program authorized under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. Both programs authorize direct resource management activities of marine and coastal resources.
The reserve system was created to augment the Federal coastal zone management program and promote more applied research, monitoring, education, and informed resource management regarding the Nation's estuarine resources within the successful Federal/State CZM partnership model.
NOAA's sanctuary management authority is distinct from the consultative role specified for NOAA under other statutes. The primary mandate of the sanctuary program is to protect the natural and cultural resources of the special marine protected areas and require careful management with regard to the disposal of dredged material.
In addition to marine protected area of management, NOAA monitors concentrations of chemical contaminants in mussels and oysters collected at about 250 sites along coastal and estuarine areas of the United States. Samples of surface sediments have been collected at these sites, as well, to estimate the spacial extent of sediment toxicity in major U.S. estuaries.
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Since 1984, NOAA has monitored, on a national scale, spacial and temporal trends of chemical contamination and biological responses to that contamination.
Finally, let me briefly discuss NOAA's role in the dredging process. NOAA participates on the national dredging team and on the working committee. National dredging team efforts have improved inter-agency coordination and understanding at the national level, and we're beginning to see similar results at the regional level.
This type of cooperation is a positive step toward improving the permit process for dredging projects, and NOAA considers this to be an effective forum to minimize the impacts of dredged materials on our marine and coastal resources through coordinated advanced planning based on the best available science and information.
Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by noting that I've only touched the surface of the many NOAA programs and activities related to ocean dumping and dredged material disposal. NOAA is committed to working with Congress, other Federal agencies, the States, and other entities to carry out our critical Federal trustee and environmental stewardship mission authorized under a number of legal authorities.
Balancing the economic and environmental priorities necessary to minimize and mitigate the effects of the disposal of dredged materials and other waste materials can best be achieved by working in collaborative partnerships and by using the best science available.
NOAA looks forward to working closely with the subcommittee over the coming months as it considers these vital ocean and coastal issues.
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Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be pleased to answer any questions that you or other Members may have.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much. I want to thank all of our panelists, and I want to particularly commend the Navy for its military precision. The green light was on at the end of your testimony.
Mr. BOEHLERT. That being the case, let me give the first softball question to you, Admiral.
Please comment on the level of testing, if any, conducted for dioxin, as well as radioactive materials, at the New London disposal site.
Admiral SMITH. Sir, when the permits were obtainedbefore we did the SEAWOLF dredging, which I imagine is what you're referring back to
Mr. BOEHLERT. You imagine correctly.
Admiral SMITH. Yes, sir. The environmental process there, which involved doing a full environmental impact statement for the home porting of that ship and looking at many alternatives, both for how much to dredge, where to dredge, and how to dispose of that dredged material, took something like 14 months, I believe, from start to finish.
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During that time, we tested for a lot of different substances, from heavy metals up through PCBs throughagain, I don't have a total list. I could get that for you from the historical record. But it was
Mr. BOEHLERT. Incidentally, I would appreciate following through with a written response.
Admiral SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. BOEHLERT. With more complete, because I don't expect instant recall to be able to give us all the details.
[The information received follows:]
Admiral SMITH. Yes, sir. And I would confess my memory is not that good. I'm not sure I remember enough from my organic chemistry even to pronounce some of those terms any more.
But we went through all of those protocols and when we obtained our permits from the Corps of Engineers to dispose of the dredged material we had addressed everything that they said needed to beand, matter of fact, not just the Corps, but, if I remember correctly, also the EPA said that we had tested for everything that needed to be looked at in the basin of the Thames River before we disposed of that dredged material.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Is there agreement with the Corps and EPA on that, Mr. Wayland?
Mr. WAYLAND. Yes, Mr. Chairman. A 404 permit was issued for the dredging, but, consistent with particular provisions pertaining to Long Island Sound, EPA concurred in the permitting decision, which is not something we would do typically under 404 but is an MPRSA requirement.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Davis?
Mr. DAVIS. Yes, we concur.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Okay. Now, I'm going to ask all the panelists a question that is rather general in nature but it requires more specific response, and I don't expect you to be able to do it off the cuff, so I would suggest that you follow through in writing.
But the question is this: what specific goals and measures are each of your agencies pursuing under the Government Performance and Results Act with regard to protecting ocean and coastal resources and improving regulatory and permitting procedures?
Now, I will give you this question in writing, and I would appreciate a response in writing. There's no sense trying to wing it now because you'll be incomplete, and I understand that, but we do want something for the official record that we can share with all the members of this subcommittee.
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Is that satisfactory with all of you?
[Witnesses nodding assent.]
Mr. BOEHLERT. I notice thatthe record will show that there are four nods of four heads.
[Additional responses accompany panels prepared statements.]
[The information received follows:]
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Borski?
Mr. BORSKI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Wayland, let me start with you. You're familiar with the National Resources Defense Council report in which was listed nearly 2,600 individual beach closings and advisories. This seems to me to be unacceptably high. Are we on a path to eliminate these high instances of pollution in our ocean and coastal areas, or is there a need for new and more-effective programs to address water pollution problems?
Mr. WAYLAND. Mr. Chairman, actually I think this is the third Congressional hearing at which I've testified shortly following an NRDC report, and I wish I could say that we are on a path to eliminate the sources of the bacteriological contamination that cause beach closing. I think we need to significantly strengthen some of our programs before I could give you that assurance, however.
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I believe that the measures that EPA has underway to address combined sewer overflows will make an important contribution. This is a cause of many of the closures. However, we have a long way to go to adequately address stormwater runoffthat is, not sewage directly running off as a result of rainfall events, but contamination associated with stormwaterand, more particularly, other forms of nonpoint source pollutionpolluted runoff from suburban lawns and agricultural fields, confined animal feeding operations, and others.
Mr. BORSKI. Mr. Benoit, would you like to comment on that?
Mr. BENOIT. I would agree with Mr. Wayland. I think, particularly from our role of looking at the nonpoint pollution efforts that are underway, a real need to make sure that we hold tight on efforts to make sure that that program is fully implemented, and we see that as one of the significant sources, really, of much of the pollution in the near coastal waters.
Mr. BORSKI. Okay.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Let me ask you, following up on the, Mr. Wayland, are you going to have some specific recommendations for legislation from the agency, because this is an issue of deep concern to both sides of this podium up here. Mr. Borski has articulated very well something that concerns me, also.
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Mr. WAYLAND. Mr. Chairman, in the first term of the Clinton Administration we did formulate some legislative proposals, and made some recommendations. Unfortunately, as you recall, in the last Congress the efforts to address the Clean Water Act were unacceptable to the Administration in a number of respects.
Mr. BOEHLERT. To the Chair of this subcommittee, too, I might add.
Mr. WAYLAND. Yes. And we appreciate your resolute position in favor of a Clean Water Act that would achieve the purpose of restoring and maintaining our Nation's waters.
We do believe that there is more effective control that can be wrung out of the frankly somewhat limited statutory authorities we have with respect to polluted runoff. We're committed to doing the best job we can, in cooperation with other Federal agencies and the States to do that, but those tools are quite limited.
Admittedly, they need to be different from the approach that we take in addressing the discharges of major municipalities and industry, but we, at present, rely on a voluntary, hortatory, incentive-based approach to dealing with polluted runoff, and the lone exception to that is in the coastal nonpoint source control program, which we implement jointly with NOAA, where we begin to have some ability to put some rigor behind nonpoint source requirements.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOEHLERT. That will be the subject of an additional hearing, as I've just been reminded by counsel.
Well, we're going to revisit the Clean Water Act in this Congress, probably the next session, not this session, because Superfund has the highest of priority with both Mr. Borski and me. And I look forward to working with you, because let's hope that the next time the Clean Water Act comes on the floor of the House we have something that improves upon what was recommended last time so that we can get something passed by both houses and signed into law to do what we want to doprotect the environment, protect the public.
Thank you very much.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. No questions.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Ms. Tauscher?
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, I represent California's 10th Congressional District, which abuts the San Francisco Bay, and we have the stewardship of the delta area, and in the last Congress, which I did not have the pleasure of serving in, I understand that this subcommittee looked at the issue of ballast water and a whole opportunity to perhaps revisit the voluntary measures that ships are under now.
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I know that Mr. Wayland has just testified about the uniform national discharge standards for the armed services' ships. We have a plague in the delta area of my District by a proliferation of non-indigenous plant and aquatic life, specifically egeriadensa, and I would respectfully request the opportunity to revisit this whole issue of the voluntary measures and to also look at the whole Invasive Species Act as it pertains to these things, and would really respectfully request the opportunity for perhaps a field hearing in the bay area about this issue.
The wonderful Members from the Great Lakes area have made sure that we can never forget the zebra mussel, but we have certainly a like plague in this plant life that has completely choked many areas, not only making sure that we don't have any recreational opportunities, but really damaging commercial fishing and shipping industry and obviously our clean water.
Mr. BOEHLERT. The gentlelady's memory is correct. We did address this in the last Congress, and wish to particularly commend a member of our subcommittee, Mr. LaTourette, who provided some inspired leadership. And I would suggest that you two can work well together because you share a similar interest.
The beauty of this subcommittee, from my standpoint, is that we work well together across the center aisle. This is not, you know, the other side or the left or the right; this is somethingBorski and I typify it. I mean, we're good friends, in addition to being colleagues, and I think that's the way things get done around here. Come, let us reason together.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And so we look forward to the contributions you might make.
The Invasive Species Act is now the law of the land, thanks to the leadership provided by Mr. LaTourette, but also on a bipartisan basis.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. The gentlelady may continue.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. I was hoping that perhaps Mr. Wayland could discuss briefly the opportunity for these uniform national discharge standards. What is the procedure for them? What is the time line? And how actually could they perhaps be transferred to the private sector? And what are the plans for that?
Mr. WAYLAND. The opportunity to develop new technologies and transfer them to the private sector we think is one of the important advantages of this legislation.
EPA and Navy are right now in the process of identifying and characterizing the various discharges that are associated with military operational vessels, many of which don't, quite frankly, occur, fortunately, with civil vessels.
Following our characterization of the discharges, we'll make an evaluation of the extent to which those discharges can be controlled by a marine pollution control device, and that device actually can be a pollution prevention approach in which material substitution or process modification, rather than a control device, might be the specified device.
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We'll be proposing in phase one for public comment the list of discharges, and in phase two proposing the list of marine pollution control devices.
It isthere is a time line specified in the statute. It's an ambitious one. EPA and Navy are working very hard on this. However, the consequences of failing to meet the deadline are not particularly severe. The objective of the legislation was to make sure that Naval vessels which transit from port to port are not having to meet different discharge requirements in different States, and so the legislation is preemptive of State discharge standards for Naval vessels.
On the other hand, States have not adopted such standards, so we think it actually will succeed in raising the level of protection associated with these incidental discharges and have the added benefit of some technology transfer for some processed wastes which are common to both military and non-military vessels.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Just one closing question. Would you be hopeful for the opportunity to make this technology transfer? And what would the type of options be for both enforcement and detection to make sure that people are actually using these devices?
Mr. WAYLAND. The requirements of the uniform national discharge standards will only applyonly be mandatory under current law for Naval vessels. They will not be required of civil vessels.
And I have to refresh my memory, very frankly, on what the enforcement mechanisms are. We, of course, have great confidence, based upon the can-do spirit being shown in the development of the regulations, that the Navy will implement them and operate them appropriately once they are implemented.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. Okay. Thank you. And I thank the chairman for his remarks.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Lampson?
Mr. LAMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm curious to know some things about applications for dredge permits, particularly from the Corps.
Is there a backlog? Is there a long delay in having these applications approved? Can you give me some indication of what's happening, particularly in the Gulf, but anywhere with them?
Mr. DAVIS. Congressman, I cannot give you specific examples in the Gulf of problems, and certainly they haven't bubbled up to my level, sonormally when there's a problem it eventually gets up to our office.
If you look around the Nation, there are certainly areas where we've had some problemsNew York/New Jersey harbor is one that comes to mind quickly where we've had an unacceptable backlog and series of delays. I think we are managing to work through those and we're seeing a lot of progress.
Other parts of the country, though, my sense is that things are starting to move or have been moving a little better, but if there are specific issues or cases that you have concerns with, I'd certainly be glad to look into it.
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Mr. LAMPSON. Okay. We'll talk about that.
We have fairly significant erosion problems in my District of Texas. Is therecan you tell me anything that might be being done to assure that any beach quality material is, indeed, used for beach re-nourishment? Is there a procedure that is to be followed in determining the quality of the material that is being dredged and an effort made to assure that that material is geared or is aimed toward beaches, rather than some ocean site or some other less-expensive site, perhaps?
Mr. DAVIS. That is one component of our overall beneficial uses program, and we use about 30 percent of the total material dredged each year for beneficial uses, and beach nourishment could be one part of that.
Most of the material that we dredge, fortunately, is suitable for beneficial uses. We find that only about 1 to 3 or 4 percent of all of the material we dredge each year is contaminated to the point that would not be allowed to use for beach nourishment or habitat restoration or other sources.
But beach nourishment, as you described, is one part of our overall beneficial uses program and would be considered as something we could do.
Mr. LAMPSON. We have a specific problem that I don't know if this committee isthis subcommittee might be of some assistance. We will be talking about some of those in time. But there is alet me just mention, in the Jefferson County part of the 9th District in Texas, there are significant amount of wetlands that are owned by the Federal Government, and they are in danger of being lost because of only a very small ridge of dune to protectthere is no dune in some areasto protecting those wetlands from encroachment of saltwater. That is going to be, once that saltwater gets into our marshes and begins to kill the marshes, then it won't be too long before the Intercoastal Canal will also be threatened.
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So those are some areas of particular concern on my part, and we may be addressing some of those in time.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first address something to Mr. Davis.
Mr. Davis, I represent the southernmost portion of Mississippi, and a while back we approached your Mobile Corps office about coming up with a plan ahead of time for the beneficial use of dredge spoils, just an overall game plan of those federally-managed channels to take the dredge spoil and predesignate sites, working with the EPA, have the permits in hand that, should you ever have to do emergency dredging you've got a site to put the spoil ahead of time rather than holding things up.
Let me first mention that the Mobile Corps was not even aware of the language for the beneficial use of dredge spoils.
Now, having said that, let me turn right around and say, once we made them aware of that, they have been very helpful in coming up with this overall game plan.
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So my first request of you would be that we try to get the message out to every Corps office that this is the law of the land. It did only become law last year, and I'm sure that the Code of Federal Regulations is thick enough to where they're not going to know every line of it.
Second thing is I really think there ought to be a national program, because I guarantee what the gentleman from Texas said is occurring in every coastal State of the Nation. There is some place that could use the dredge spoil.
Usually emergency dredging comes along, and in the need to get something done in a hurry to maintain navigation they say, ''Oh, if we go through all the EPA permits to put it here it will just take too long, so therefore we'll just dump it out in the ocean.''
So I would really think the national program ought to be to predesignate sites for every federally-maintained channel and have the permits in hand for this type of scenario. I just think it ought to be a good national policy.
Again, I want to commend your Mobile Corps for working with us on that.
Mr. Davis, you caught my attention when you were talking about nonpoint pollution, and I'm afraid we could build the next Wall of China on Federal studies, and particularly some environmental studies that never go to fruition. We identify a problem, but we spend not much money solving the problem.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think one of the things that has been discovered between your two agencies is that at outfalls, be it for just regular drainage, if we were to construct marshes there, that it's a great way of filtering the water. It's a low-cost solution. It's a possible beneficial use of dredged spoil.
And I really don't see the EPA, on a regular basis, trying to do that. I see them spending a lot of time studying upland sources of pollution, very little timewe know what's causing it, but we're spending very little time addressing the problem. And I do think that's a low-cost solution, and I would hope, under your leadership, that would be something that we try to do on a regular basis.
Here in town something that has certainly caught my attention is the Anacostia Riveris an open trash pit. Every street which drains in Washington, D.C., empties into the Anacostia River. The Army Corps has three or four vessels out there on a daily basis picking up trash.
Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to build some containment nets out the outfalls and catch it there, rather than picking it up piecemeal?
I think there are some little things that we can be doing as a Nation up front that are a whole lot easier than solving problems down the line.
I hear both of you talking about the beneficial use of dredged spoils. I pass over the Anacostia River every day, one of the most polluted rivers in America, and see the marsh flats that I would think, with not a great deal of effort, could be planted with some sort of vegetation to start absorbing some of that organic pollutants that are in that river.
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Again, I would encourage youI don't know who said it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. I would encourage both of you all to try to light some candles and give us some success stories to report to our constituents back home.
I'd welcome your comments on either of those things.
Mr. WAYLAND. I'd like to follow up with you on that, Mr. Taylor.
I certainly agree that opportunities to filter sediments before they reach waterways, to process nutrients through wetlands, are and should be a component of our nonpoint source efforts. We have providedthrough the $100 million a year grant program, we have to support State efforts to address nonpoint sources, there have been a number of restoration efforts, stream-side riparian buffer restoration efforts.
I'm sure Mike can talk about the Kenilworth Gardens wetland restoration effort the Corps is leading on the Anacostia, part of a large, multi-agency effort to address many of those problems that you've noted on the Anacostia. But you're on track and I think we're in agreement about trying to use restoration to complement pollution control and pollution prevention approaches.
Mr. DAVIS. I would just like to echo Mr. Wayland in that we are strong believers that we've got to turn the tap off in terms of the contaminants. We're inheriting these contaminants in the dredged material, and we need to have more effective programs to keep that stuff out of the harbors and out of our rivers.
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We are, in fact, working on the Anacostia River, as Mr. Wayland indicated. We have kind of a demonstration-level project there in the Kenilworth Marsh where we've used dredged material to create some additional marsh, and it's working very well. I took a canoe trip about a year ago down through there, and it looks pretty good.
We have an overall watershed-level type study underway right now in the Anacostia basin looking at ways to help clean that river up.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Johnson?
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, if I may, real quick?
Mr. Davis, I would sure like to see your demonstration project that you all have.
Mr. DAVIS. We'd be glad to take you out there.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, sir.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Okay. Mr. Johnson?
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have similar questions. In fact, I was going to follow up, and I'd be interested in just hearing responses to Mr. Taylor's program. In fact, I was at a dredge disposal site at the Port of Green Bay just last Friday, and standing there near the muck and mire and wondering about the possible reuses and good uses of that.
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You said we strongly support, Mr. Wayland, the beneficial uses of dredged material wherever possible. Is there a percentage of dredgings that we know are beneficial that are able to be reused?
Mr. WAYLAND. There are two primary obstacles, maybe three obstacles, because I'll concede Mr. Taylor's point about lack of planning in advance for restoration opportunities, and I think that's something we hope that the regional dredging teams will address.
There need to be plans both for appropriate management of clean material that can be used beneficially and for contaminated material that may not be appropriate for open water discharge.
But, beyond that, there are materials that may not be appropriate for beneficial uses because they are contaminated and they need to be managed in a more-protective way than trying to build a marsh. And there are cost differentials. And I think, frankly, that that has been, in the past, the greatest obstacle to beneficial use.
Not in all cases do you need to place the dredged material with great care in order to be able to create a marsh or other habitat, but in many cases you have to transport the material some distance in order to be able to do that, and there were, I think, built-in biases, some perhaps originating in the law, some perhaps originating in regulation, that tended to move in the direction of the least-cost alternative. Of course, virtually all Corps dredging projects are now cost-shared by a local sponsor and, to the extent that costs are increased in order to realize a beneficial use, those are costs that the private sponsor is concerned about, as well as the Federal Government.
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But I'll let Mike enlarge on this if you would like.
Mr. DAVIS. No. I think you covered our program very effectively there.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Do we know a percentage, though, of dredgings that may be in the process of being used right now, of the total amount of dredgings that we're looking at?
Mr. DAVIS. We dredge in the Federal Government around 300 million, maybe a little more, cubic yards annually. We believe that about 30 percent of that currently is being used for beneficial use purposes.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Marketable pay-back use?
Mr. DAVIS. Or environmental uses.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Or environmental. Any of these that you found in other places that you have successfully transferred this knowledge and used elsewhere? Are there any studies on this? We're particularly interested. We have one that is a unique study. I think we got a $150,000 grant with EPA and working with the Corps to reuse potentially some of the dredging materials, and I'm wondering if there are others elsewhere thatother coastal areas, whether they're Great Lakes coastal areas or ocean coastal areas, that are looking at for potential reuse for the dredged material, and those studies applying to these other areas.
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Mr. DAVIS. I'd be pleased to put together some information on our program and submit that to you.
We are having, by the way, a conference at the end of this month up in Baltimore on beneficial uses. We're bringing in some of the national leaders and people that have actually applied this out in the real world on the ground and bringing them together to talk about the program and look at the issues that we have and the successes that we have.
Mr. WAYLAND. If I could just add to that, that will be the second national conference. Mr. Davis' predecessor and I kicked off a conference in New Orleans about 4 years ago, which was the first national beneficial use conference in which we brought together practitioners, EPA and Corps field staff, and States to look at the successes and some of the problems so that we could learn from them and to try to generally raise the level of awareness about how to appropriately pursue these efforts. And we are jointly developing some beneficial use guidance through the national dredging team mechanism, as well.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. Thank you very much. I look forward to that conference and maybe hearing some more from you.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.
One last question for Mr. Wayland. Your testimony describes the status of dump site designations and site management plans. Why do only 43 of the 75 final sites have approved site management plans? And do any of the sites in Long Island Sound have site management plans?
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Mr. WAYLAND. The applicabilitythis is another interesting question as to the applicability of certain provisions of the NPR, say in the Long Island Sound, which otherwise would typically be Clean Water Act waters.
I don't know if there is an SNMP for Long Island Sound, any of the Long Island Sound sites or, frankly, if we've determined that there should be. I think that's a question as to how we read Clean Water Act and MPRSA together. I'd like to respond to you further on that.
Mr. BOEHLERT. In a timely fashion, I would hope.
Mr. WAYLAND. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Okay. Fine. Sure.
Mr. WAYLAND. With respect to why there are still some 30 final sites for which there are not yet SMMPs developed, it, frankly, is partially a resource issue. We had a relatively small program with respect to site designations, and when the WRDA provision came along we, frankly, weren't anticipating it, and the pace of new site designations had dropped off such that we had to get our people to kind of scramble to try to meet the December 1996, deadline.
I'm hopeful that we'll increase the number well beyond the 43, and it is possible for those sites to continue to be used after the December deadline once a SMMP is developed, but our intention is that all of the finally-designated sites will have site monitoring and management plans.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. When? Do you have sort of a time table in mind?
Mr. WAYLAND. Well, we were very much hoping we could meet the December 1997, date, and it appears we fell somewhat short of that, but I'm sure that some of the remaining sites will bewill have their SMMP done by this December, and some will be done after that, but we'll be pursuing it with the intention of doing it as quickly as resources allow.
Mr. BOEHLERT. I understand the problem, because it sort of boggles my mind that some of my colleagues want you to do more with less. I'm not one of those, incidentally, and I look forward to those site management plans.
Thank you all very much. I want to express the appreciation of the subcommittee for your excellent testimony. You are valuable resource for the subcommittee, and I appreciate it.
Our next panel consists of The Honorable Alexander Sandy Treadwell, Secretary of the New York Department of State; Ms. Jane Stahl, from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection; Mr. Rav Freidel, director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk; and from the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, the executive director, Mr. Grant W. Westerson.
I would advise the panel that your statements will appear in their entirety in the record at this point. We would appreciate any summary that you might be able to provide the committee, and we'd like to keep it to the five-minute summary.
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We will go in the order introduced, but before I recognize the distinguished Secretary of State for New York I want to point out to my colleagues that we are privileged in New York to have, as a governor, someone who is deeply concerned about the quality of the environmentthe air we breathe and the water we drink. And I was privileged to work with the governor, and I might add a number of my democrat colleagues, to do something historic.
The last time the voters went to the polls, New York State passed a $1.75 billion environmental bond issue. Secretary Treadwell was very active in that campaign, but I wish you would convey to the governor, on behalf of the entire subcommittee, our appreciation for that leadership he is providing.
With that introduction, I present to my colleagues Sandy Treadwell.
TESTIMONY OF HON. ALEXANDER F. TREADWELL, SECRETARY, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF STATE, ALBANY, NY, ACCOMPANIED BY BILL SHARP, ESQUIRE, PRINCIPAL ATTORNEY, NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF STATE, AND PETER GEMELLARO, STATE OF NEW YORK'S OFFICE OF FEDERAL AFFAIRS; JANE K. STAHL, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF LONG ISLAND SOUND PROGRAMS, CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, HARTFORD, CT; RAV FREIDEL, DIRECTOR, CONCERNED CITIZENS OF MONTAUK, MONTAUK, NY; AND GRANT W. WESTERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONNECTICUT MARINE TRADES ASSOCIATION, ESSEX, CT
Mr. TREADWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for those opening comments.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm accompanied today by my colleague, Bill Sharp, principal attorney of the Department of State, and also Peter Gemellaro from the State of New York's Office of Federal Affairs.
Chairman Boehlert and committee members, thank you very much for this opportunity to describe what New York is doing to address some of its ocean and coastal issues.
Governor Pataki's commitment to Long Island Sound, New York harborin fact, to all coastal areas of the State of New Yorkis clear. In his annual message to the State Legislature last year, Governor Pataki called for action to restore the greatness of the Sound. Working in conjunction with Connecticut and the Federal Government, New York State has begun this initiative.
The Governor's promise to restore Long Island Sound went much further than just a pledge to work cooperatively. Mr. Chairman, as you stated, in June, 1996, Governor Pataki announced that he would seek approval from the State Legislature and New York voters of a historic $1.75 billion Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act. The Bond Act addresses environmental problems of the past, prevents future problems, and protects the quality of New York's water and air resources.
Since its approval by the New York voters last November, the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act has been put to work to fund locally-developed projects that will benefit our environment.
Mr. Chairman, I know you are a strong supporter of the Bond Act, and the Governor thanks you for that support.
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The Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act made important commitments. Within this Bond Act, a total of $200 million is dedicated to the improvement of Long Island Sound's environmental quality. Twenty-five million dollars will finance New York's share of projects to implement the New York/New Jersey Harbor Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan. Additional funds will be used to restore and enhance air and water quality all along New York's extensive coastline.
Governor Pataki is dedicated to protecting the quality of New York's coastal environment and improving the State's economy. He has reached out to our coastal neighbors, including New Jersey and Connecticut, to ensure cooperative actions.
Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York State is also moving forward with plans to keep our waterways open to navigation, while improving the quality of our coastal waters.
Dredging is necessary and must continue. Without it, our maritime and recreational boating industries would deteriorate.
Governor Pataki is committed to ensuring that necessary dredging will take place and that dredged materials will be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. The Governor's policy ensures that both New York's economy and environment benefit.
Governors George Pataki and Christine Todd Whitman released a plan last October outlining a bi-State agreement for disposal of dredged material from New York harbor. Using $65 million from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York will be using dredged materials for beneficial uses, such as creation of wetlands and habitat, shoreline protection, and landfill cover.
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New York is also fostering new decontamination technologies, seeking to create near-shore containment facilities, and eliminating contaminants at their sources. We appreciate the opportunity to work in partnership with Congress, neighboring States and agencies on dredging.
I want to relate to you briefly a recent experience with dredging in Long Island Sound, which involved the Navy SEAWOLF homeport project in New London, Connecticut.
In 1996, Federal agencies assured New York that the disposal of contaminated dredged materials from the SEAWOLF project would be effectively contained and not adversely affect Long Island Sound. This spring, however, a monitoring report issued by the Navy shows that 33 percent of the contaminated dredged material which was disposed in the Sound cannot be found. It disappeared.
While the project raised concerns on Long Island, Connecticut stressed the importance of safe navigation to that State's coastal economy. While New York, through Governor Pataki's leadership, is committed to working harmoniously with our neighbors, I raise this issue to emphasize the complexity of the Sound's ecology, its importance to both States, and the need for concerted Federal involvement in such issues.
Governor Pataki has committed hundreds of millions of State dollars from the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act to improve coastal water quality. Coastal waters flow past one State to the next. It makes little difference how much New York spends to clean up its coastal waters if Federal agencies do not uniformly apply testing criteria as directed by Congress.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Once again, please convey to the governor our congratulations for his leadership in the environmental area.
Mr. TREADWELL. Thank you.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Among other areas.
Mr. TREADWELL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Now our next panelist is also representing an old friend of ours and former colleague, Governor Rowland. And please convey to him our best wishes.
Jane Stahl, assistant director, Office of Long Island Sound programs, for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.
Ms. STAHL. Thank you. It is an honor to be here today.
Unfortunately, I am here to object to Representative Forbes' proposal, H.R. 55, because we feel it would unduly restrict dredging and disposal in Long Island Sound. There is still a role for open water disposal in Long Island Sound at designated disposal sites with the appropriate testing and management procedures that we have in place.
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I also feel it's unfortunate that I need to begin my testimony by saying that no one cares more about Long Island Sound, its protection, than Connecticut and its constituencies, so I'll move on from there.
I have a few points other than that to make, one of which is that there are four designated disposal sites, open water disposal sites, for dredged material in Long Island Sound. These disposal sites are on State-owned land. These are not on Federal lands. These are not territorial waters. These are not the areas that the Ocean Dumping Act was originally intended to serve.
The issues are different. The protections are already in place. So that's the first point that I would like to emphasize.
The second point that I would like to emphasize is that we've been managing our disposal sites in Long Island Sound for over 25 years, and in that 25 years over 200 scientific papers have been developed, none of which have identified adverse impacts associated with appropriately-managed open water disposal of dredged material.
I would digress from my written testimony here to assert that this includes the testing that was done for the Sea Wolf dredging project and the monitoring projects that happened after the disposal, where it was discovered that this was one of the most carefully-managed projects undertaken in Long Island Sound.
There is not lost material that was dumped in Long Island Sound. It went to a specifically-identified disposal site, to a specifically-identified location or sequence of locations within that disposal site. The discrepancies in volumes are accounted for by a series of physical changes that occur in dredged material from its composition and volume in a bucket to its composition and volume in a barge to its composition and volume when it is disposed and compacted on the bottom of the disposal site.
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Alternatively, there is no comparable body of work to establish that alternatives to open water disposal of dredged material can be effectively managed and that it's environmentally safe. Beneficial reuse is a wonderful goal. We support it. We practice it. However, the costs are considerable, both in terms of the dredging and disposal costs themselves, and the potential environmental costs. We need further study into these issues.
For example, to put dredged material, to create wetlands, you are obviously destroying another near-shore habitat. Those things need to be evaluated before we say that beneficial reuse is a viable alternative.
Not to be overly dramatic, but when we put dredged material on the upland, drastic geophysical changes happened to that dredged material. The material that was contained in the marine environment becomes more soluble and mobile, creating surface water and ground water impacts. So, once again, we may well be exchanging one potential environmental problem for another.
And the fourth point that I want to make is the cost of the testing involved under the Ocean Dumping Act for no perceived additional benefit.
We've been told recently that it's $75,000 per sample for a bioaccumulation test. As I said, we receive no additional useful information from overly-conservative tests being applied to our dredged material.
I see that the red light is on. I'm not a military person, but I will be efficient and close here, thanking you for the opportunity, reminding you that, by the way, tomorrow, if you can assert some influence on your colleagues in the Appropriations Committee, if we can get full funding for coastal management we all might have more resources to deal with these issues.
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Mr. BOEHLERT. I think that's one area that unites the entire panel.
The next witness comes highly recommended by a close personal friend of mine, Mr. Sam Pryor.
Mr. Freidel, perhaps you can shed some light on the mystery of the missing contaminated dredged material, but we'll let you proceed in any order you wish. We ask that you summarize your statement in 5 minutes or less.
Mr. FREIDEL. Thank you, sir.
With regard to your question that you just asked me, and this woman is telling you that Connecticut cares about Long Island Sound, here's a letter to Senator Joseph Lieberman from Art Rock, assistant commissioner of State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Pollution, ''I am, therefore, asking you to get directly involved in opposing this proposal'' that's Forbes' bill''and seriously considering the legislative deletion of Long Island Sound from the Ocean Dumping Act.''
Mr. BOEHLERT. That letter is from who?
Mr. FREIDEL. This is a letter from Art Rock, who is assistant commissioner, air, waste, and water programs, from the Department of Environmental ProtectionI'm sorry. I said ''pollution.''
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Mr. BOEHLERT. Yes.
Mr. FREIDEL. Directed to The Honorable Senator Joseph Lieberman.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. FREIDEL. Dated April 22nd.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Do you wish to submit that for the record?
Mr. FREIDEL. I'd be happy to make copies of anything, meet with any of your people to make copies of anything and everything that I have.
Mr. BOEHLERT. Without objection, we'll have that submitted at this juncture in the record. Thank you.
[The information received follows:]
Mr. FREIDEL. Mr. Chairman, my name is Rav Freidel. I'm speaking for the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a grassroots environmental organization with approximately 1,250 members located in Montauk, New York, a fishing community. For the past 27 years, CCOM has been protecting Montauk's future.
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I wish I could say the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy, and the Connecticut and New York Environmental Protection Agencies were also protecting Montauk's future, but in 1991 the EPA gave a negative initial review of the U.S. Navy's proposal to dredge 2.5 million tons of Sea Wolf submarine dredge spoils from the Thames River, one of the dirtiest rivers in connecticut, and dump it in Long Island Sound in an area known as ''the race.'' It's not called ''the race'' for nothing.
Whoever wrote the negative review for the EPA was apparently sent off to oblivion, and the Navy segmented their application, breaking out pier 15, then pier 17, then one million cubic yards of Thames River bottom, all highly-toxic areas adjacent to three Superfund sites, and received EPA approval for the dumping.
The fact is, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers gave approval to dump at a site which is in noncompliance with the site designation requirements under the Ocean Dumping Act. The site is also in noncompliance with the 1992 Water Resources Development Act amendments, which I also have in here, which require site monitoring and site management plans for ocean dump sites like those in Long Island Sound.
The fact is, everybody knew, including the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers, that dioxin was present on site, yet no dioxin testing was required by any regulatory agency. Why did the EPA change its tune? Why was dioxin, the deadliest chemical known to man, one so powerful that it was used to defoliate Vietnam, so toxic that it is measured in parts per trillion, not tested for? In independent tests conducted by the Fisher's Island Conservancy, dioxin and mercury were found in the capping material portion of the Thames River one mile from the dredge site.
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Why is the dumping allowed in an area of high ecological importance, with incredibly strong tides, at a dump site which is not legally registered?
Why is there no compliance with the provisions of the law that requires site monitoring and management plans to be in effect as of January 1, 1997?
Why is the Navy not implementing alternatives to ocean dumpingwhich, by the way, would create jobs, as well as protect our marine resources and our fishermen? Montauk has the largest fishing fleet in New York State.
And, most importantly, why is the public health not being protected? There are over 3,000 lobster pots in the vicinity of the dump site, and fish like to eat lobsters, toofish that we also eat. We already know how toxic the lobsters are in and around the New York site, with contaminant levels of dioxin of 30 parts per trillion, 10 parts per trillion is supposedly acceptable. This is the report on that.
It's both incredible and outrageous that the Environmental Protection Agency is spending millions of dollars on the national estuary programs to figure out why bodies of water like Long Island Sound are so lifeless, yet the very same agency is allowing tons of poisons to be disposed of in the waters they are studying. Clearly, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.
And to point out the recklessness of it all, the Fisher's Island Conservancy tells me the Navy can't find 33 percent of the volume of the muck that they've dumped from the Sea Wolf project. I can assure you it's strewn all over Long Island Sound.
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I'm not here to argue whether we need $4 billion Sea Wolf submarines to protect us from I haven't a clue what enemy. I'm here to see to it that our protectors don't put our fishermen out of work or poison our fish or the people who eat them, people like you and me.
On the east end of Long Island the environment is the economy. It has to be protected at all costs. That's why we urge you to immediately move on Forbes' bill, H.R. 55, and have it passed, and we want Congress to use its power to take a hard look at the illegalities that have occurred by the EPA, the U.S. Army Corps, the Navyagencies you entrust to implement the laws you worked so hard to pass.
Just as a post-script, there is one hero in this sad tale. Kimberly Keckler of the EPA, she did her job.
I can assure you neither you nor your children would want to put the other contaminants the Navy illegally dredged and dumped in a salt shaker and sprinkle it on your food. The entire Navy base is a Superfund site.
Now I urge this subcommittee to ask me for proof of my statements.
Mr. THUNE [assuming Chair]. Thank you, Mr. Freidel.
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Mr. WESTERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you this morning.
My name is Grant Westerson. I'm executive director of the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, and we concern ourselves with recreational marine businesses in the State of Connecticut.
Long Island Sound is our back yard. There are few people, I think, that have more concern for their back yard than we. We don't want to work in a cesspool. We don't want to work in a dump. So we are very much interested in keeping our back yard clean. It's where we earn our living and it's where we also like to recreate.
H.R. 55 effectively closes the door to any possible business expansion and threatens maintenance of existing recreational marine facilities by preventing them from doing any periodic dredging at an acceptable cost.
Current costs for the Connecticut coastline range anywhere from $6 to $12 per cubic yard, with a possible three- to four-fold increase, depending upon capping with clean materials and transportation requirements. This obviously depends upon any level of contamination.
Over the past 20 years, the testing criteria has tightened and acceptable levels of contamination has decreased.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Part of the survival of small business, as we all know, is its ability to maintain itself. Most reasons for maintenance dredging on a recreational marina are beyond the control of the business owner.
Some studies have shown that up to 75 percent of siltation at marine facilities is from outside sources well beyond that source's control. They must shoulder the entire burden of testingwhich, as we've heard, is very expensiveand disposal of any contamination; while to our mind most of the contamination is a product of society and even possibly the industrial revolution.
Most of the original sources of pollution in our area are heavy metals, and, as you know, New England was a major textile site over the past hundred years. We feel that society certainly must take a part in helping clean up the environment that society has contributed to despoiling.
Long Island Sound's Citizens Advisory Committee has struggled with the problems of Long Island Sound from the nitrogen loading and hypoxia, and the Sediment Focus Group, of which I am pleased to sit with, has held a number of work shops in recent months to look at alternatives to open water disposal.
There are alternatives. They are, in some cases, pretty exotic, but they are also anywhere from 10 to 50 times more expensive, which puts them much beyond the reach of private industry. We just don't have the ability, without public funds, to take care of our maintenance problems because of the funding.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm here to urge you to not support H.R. 55. I think the controls to protect our environment are in place already. We go through an environmental examination, testing procedures, and permit processes multi-level already. If we just flat-out prohibit any dumping, it precludes any expansion of our industry.
Again, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you this morning. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. THUNE. Thank you, Mr. Westerson.
There are a couple of questions I might ask of the panel, and I'd like to direct this to Ms. Stahl.
Could you elaborate on the regulation of Long Island Sound under the ODA rather than the Clean Water Act? And why did Congress single out Long Island Sound for regulation under the Ocean Dumping Act? And then a follow-up would be, further, are you suggesting that this provisionand by that I mean section 106(f)be repealed?
There were several questions in there, but pick your questions.
Ms. STAHL. I think I'm going to defer on the question of the ODA's applicability to Long Island Sound as distinguished from the Clean Water Act with regard to the designation of disposal sites and the need for management plans for the disposal sites.
As Mr. Wayland, I believe, explained earlier, there's still some question as to the applicability of those sections of the ODA to Long Island Sound.
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With regard to the management of or the regulation of dredging and dredged material inopen water disposal of dredged material in Long Island Sound under the Clean Water Act and the Ocean Dumping Act, in most instances the Clean Water Act covers the entire panoply of inquiry that needs to be made to determine whether or not material is suitable for open water disposal and how best to manage that material.
When the Ocean Dumping Act was applied to Long Island Sound, the specific regulatory provisions of the Ocean Dumping Act and, most specifically, with regard to bio-effects testing, were then applied to Federal projects and projects over 25,000 cubic yards.
I honestly cannot tell you why that quantity of material was chosen. The application to Federal projects I can surmise was because there is a question of the appropriateness of the Ocean Dumping Act, which was to deal with territorial seas, being applied to State-owned lands and State-owned waters, when the Clean Water Act already applied to address the pollution concerns or the water quality concerns of the same activity.
So, again, that's a supposition, not a fact.
Your question aboutwell, perhaps you can restate it.
Mr. THUNE. The question had to do with 106(f) and whether or not you were suggesting that that provision be repealed.
Ms. STAHL. I believe that the application of the Ocean Dumping Act to Long Island Sound is questionable in its legality. I believe it has not been of any use to the environment. It has not improved the environmental quality of Long Island Sound. I believe that the only thing it has done was to create more-expensive testing for certain projects and to create confusion as to what testing applies.
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My personal response to that and the recommendation that I would make to my hierarchy would be, in fact, to seek the repeal of that section. That is not an official statement from the State of Connecticut.
Mr. THUNE. Okay. Thank you, Ms. Stahl.
I would direct this question, if I might, to Mr. Treadwell.
Has New York seen a difference in how the two Federal EPA regionsand by that I mean Boston and New Yorkinterpret ocean dumping criteria? And follow-up: are the criteria being interpreted uniformly throughout Long Island Sound?
Mr. TREADWELL. Mr. Chairman, Federal agencies' interpretation of the Ocean Dumping Act test criteria results in dumping of moderately contaminated dredged materials on one side of Long Island and no dumping of similar material on the other side.
Long Island Sound is subject to the Ocean Dumping Act testing requirements; however, when Federal permits are issued, agencies appear to be using the more lax Clean Water Act standards.
And I might, if I may, just make a couple of additional points.
The Ocean Dumping Act applies to Long Island Sound, and we support H.R. 55. We support the concept of the Forbes' bill, which attempts to make clear that Long Island Sound is subject to the Ocean Dumping Act.
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None of the four disposal sites in Long Island Sound were ever designated for dredged material disposal under the Ocean Dumping Act. Ocean Dumping Act testing, though costly, as stated, is the law. Ms. Stahl said that such extensive testing has no perceived benefit; however, it tests for contaminantsdioxin, mercury, and otherswhich are not covered by the Clean Water Act testing. Also, it's more thorough testing. It has more thorough testing of contaminants.
Ms. Stahl also said that there are no alternatives to open water disposal. In fact, by 1982 there was supposed to have been a long-term plan for alternatives in place, and in 15 years there has been no such plan.
Mr. THUNE. Thank you.
And I would simply say to Mr. Freidel that any documentation that you would like to furnish the committee, we would welcome making that a part of the record.
Mr. FREIDEL. That's fine. I'llwhat do I do? Just meet with someone and copy it all, or mail a copy?
Mr. THUNE. Right.
Mr. FREIDEL. Okay.
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Mr. THUNE. We'll see that staff gets that from you.
Mr. JOHNSON OF WISCONSIN. I have no questions.
Mr. THUNE. Okay. I guess I would just involve one last question maybe I would direct to Mr. Westerson, and that is: what steps, in your judgment, if any, can be taken to assure the citizens of Long Island Sound that open water dredged material disposal is safe and necessary?
Mr. WESTERSON. I think the Corps of Engineers has done a pretty good job by their monitoring of the program for the last 22 years. The different seminars we've attended and the presentations that we've had from the people from the Corps that are responsible for the monitoring of the sites has shown that there is no problem. I mean, I thinkI'm not a scientist. I can't speak from fact. But all I can do is go by what we've been presented with, and we've had numerous cases where they've shown there is no problem with open water disposal.
We go through in the recreational industry, for ourthe amount of material that we want to dispose of, we go through testing procedures with certain windows of opportunity so that we don't conflict with fish spawning and stuff like that, and our criteria is narrowed down to six and sometimes even fewer months of the year.
It's very expensive, but from all the returns that we see between the Connecticut DEP and the Corps of Engineers, the sites are extremely well-monitored. There appears to be no adverse effects to the environment, and we're certainly comfortable with that.
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Mr. TREADWELL. Mr. Chairman, may I?
Mr. THUNE. Yes. That would be fine.
Mr. TREADWELL. I'll be extremely brief.
I just want to remind the gentleman of the Navy's report on the New London site, which did say that when compared to the volume of dredged material, the level of contaminated dredged material at the disposal site is approximately 33 percent less, and the difference of the capping material is also 11 percent less. And although they said that the differences could be the results of several factors, none of which are quantifiable, consolidation of the contaminated material is one of the possibilities, so is loss during the dredging process.
Portions of the capped material and the contaminated material may have been transported by currents after placement, and the material may have migrated out of the boundaries of the disposal site.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. THUNE. Okay. Thank you. I want to thank this panel for your insightful comments, input, for making the effort to get here and to furnish this committee with the information that's going to be very important, I think, in future deliberations on the subject.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It's obviously a subject on which there are a great many different perspectives, but we appreciate all your insightful help in getting us down the road.
Thank you very much.
With that, the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:08 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, to reconvene at the call of the Chair.]