Congresswoman McCollum's Remarks at the House Natural Resource Committee Hearing on Asian Carp
Thank you Chairman Fleming, Ranking Member Sablan, and Members of the Subcommittee for having this important hearing today.
Invasive species are something that affects communities across our nation. These environmental invaders include Burmese Pythons, Purple Loosestrife, Kudzu, Hydrilla, Brown Tree Snakes, Emerald Ash Borer, Zebra Mussels, Gypsy Moth, and Asian Carp. We realize that different communities are facing different threats. And each species may require a different solution.
The United States has no coordinated to strategy to prevent, control and ultimately eliminate these pervasive plants, reptiles, insects, and fish. We need to come up with solutions that include a comprehensive approach that brings together our broad federal resources to tackle a problem that is larger than any one state because invasive species know no boundaries.
Congressman Mike Kelly and I represent the Great Lakes region, and our communities are confronted by the devastating current and potential impacts of Asian Carp. That is why we decided to introduce the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act.
Since the 1970s, Asian Carp have been taking over sections of the Mississippi watershed. Today, four species of Asian Carp are quickly expanding into the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River basins. They are devastating native plant life and fish populations.
Invasive species not only destroy local ecosystems, but they also devastate local industries and destroy recreational opportunities. The spread of Asian Carp in the Upper Mississippi and Ohio River is a challenge that requires all levels of government, private sector, and nonprofit organizations partners to work together. That is why it is important that the federal government have a coordinated national strategy.
The bill before us requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lead a multi-agency effort that includes the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. If we want to stop the spread of Asian Carp while we still can, we need these federal agencies to work in partnership with state and regional efforts and to provide high-level technical assistance, and best practices. This bill ensures that the federal government fulfills its responsibility to be an engaged, effective, and accountable partner with our communities and states on this issue. More than 50 local and state organizations have endorsed this legislation.
In a letter by the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, they state that the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act “provides a good start by which Congress can set direction for a more concentrated federal response to the devastation created by Asian Carp throughout the Mississippi River ecosystem.” On the Senate side, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) have introduced an identical version of this bill. During the floor debate on the Water Resource Development Act, the Senators successfully offered this bill as an amendment. It passed unanimously.
Now it’s time for the House to act.
Last year, taxpayers spent an estimated $100 million to limit the spread of Asian Carp outside the Great Lakes. Clearly, if Congress stands by and does nothing the threat of Asian Carp will increase and the cost to taxpayers will only grow along with it. I ask that this Subcommittee pass the Strategic Response to Asian Carp Invasion Act to develop a national strategy that targets our resources and invests in effective solutions. Only by working together can we begin to take the first steps to slow the dangerous spread of Asian Carp.
Thank you again for your time and I am happy to answer questions.