tv U.S. Senate CSPAN June 28, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT
the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: madam president, reserving the right to object, i will not object, but insofar as many were planning to be here for the 12:00 scheduled vote, would the senator from florida tell me how long he wishes to take? mr. rubio: five minutes. mr. leahy: i will not object, madam president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. thank you, senator. over the last two weeks, we have had a deepening divide between the white house and the congress over libya. it's a clash that has been both completely avoidable and also quite frankly counterproductive. first, let me say that for the life of me i don't understand why this administration did not bring this this issue to the congress from the outset. in the early days of the libyan rebellion, the president should have come to congress and informed us that the rebellion had arisen, that the rebels were asking for our assistance in establishing a no-fly zone over libyan airspace so they could take care of the dictator themselves, and this that with our support, he intended to work with our allies to establish
such a no-fly zone. if this president had done that then, i believe that he would have found support here and that by the way qadhafi would have been gone a long time ago. but instead this administration waited, and while it did, qadhafi re-established momentum and then began to carry out a new level of atrocities unprecedented even by his own murderous standards, and then only when the qadhafi mercenaries were on the outskirts of benghazi threatening to massacre thousands of innocent civilians did the president finally agree to participate. but even that was botched. first we ceded most of the operation over to our nato allies, and god bless them for trying but we do not have the military capability to finish the job. second, the president never consulted congress, again ignoring a co-equal branch of government unnecessarily. and then when he finally was pressed under the war powers act, he claimed that the united states is not involved in hostilities in libya. why we have reached this point is something history will have to explain. suffice it to say that it didn't have to be this way, and the reason why it is is 100% the
result of the president's failure to lead. now, with all that being said, we need to decide what to do next. and this is not about hawks versus doves or interventionists versus isolationists or any of the other labels that people throw around around here. and this cannot be about how upset we are at the president for botching the handling of this matter. what we need to do next should be decided based on what is in the best interests of our country, and here is the reality. whether you agree with it or not, the united states is engaged in a fight and it is a fight that only has two possible endings. it can end with the fall of a brutal criminal antiamerican dictator or it can end with the dictator's victory over our allies and us. i would suggest that given these two choices, the best choice for america is the first one, the fall of the antiamerican dictator. so going forward, how can we do this? first, we should officially recognize the tranadditional national council. second, we should provide additional resources to support the council, including access to libya's frozen funds here in the
united states. and by the way, we should also make sure that those frozen funds are used to reimburse us, the united states, for the cost of the operation. third, we should intensify strike operations to target the qadhafi regime and get rid of this guy once and for all and as soon as possible. and then fourth, we should go home and allow the libyan people to build a new nation and a new future for themselves. now, i understand that rightfully so many here in congress and across america are weary of more war and more overseas engagement during a time of severe budget restraints here at home, but the fact remains that whether you agree with it or not, we are already involved. we are already involved in libya. we have already spent a considerable amount of money there and we're going to let all this go to waste? are we prepared to walk away and get stuck with a lose-lose proposition? we spent all the money on libya and qadhafi is still around. it is in our national interests to get this over with already. this afternoon, the foreign relations committee will meet to consider a resolution on this
matter. i am concerned that rather than push the president to do what is necessary to bring this conflict to a successful conclusion, some are pushing to restrict our campaign. no matter how you feel about the original decision, we must not -- we must now deal with the situation as it now stands, and a the bottom line here is that if we withdraw from our air war over libya, it will lengthen the conflict, it will increase the cost to american taxpayers and raise doubts about u.s. leadership among friends and foes alike. here's what withdrawal will mean in real terms. the coalition would quickly unravel. qadhafi would emerge victorious, even more dangerous and determined to seek his revenge through terrorism against the countries of nato and the arab league that tried and failed to overthrow him. we would see a bloodbath inside libya. this killer qadhafi will unleash unspeakable horrors against the libyan people. and the ripple effects will be felt all across the middle east. for example, the pro-democracy movements in places like syria and iran -- iran and syria would conclude that they, too, might
be abandoned and the dictators they oppose would be emboldened. our disengagement would also irreparably harm the nato alliance. i fully understand, i do, the frustrations at the way the president has handled this situation, but the answer to any problem is not to make it worse. now, some may think that what we do here this afternoon or later when we return on the resolution is largely symbolic. simply intended to send a message to the white house. and yes, it will send a message to the president, but it will also send a message to qadhafi and those around him. and here is the message that i fear we may send. that the coalition is breaking and that qadhafi's regime might yet win. i know that's not anyone's intention around here, but it is the very real risk we run. there is a better, more pragmatic way forward. let's pass a resolution backing these activities. for those frustrated with the president's failure to adequately make the case for our involvement, our job in congress is to push the administration to do a better job explaining our effort in libya. and here's the good news.
the tide in libya appears to be turning against qadhafi. and at the same time the qadhafi regime has been shaken by further defections -- the presiding officer: the senator has consumed five minutes. mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent for one more minute. 30 seconds. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: libya is at a critical juncture, and for the united states, there is only one acceptable outcome. the removal of the qadhafi regime, and with it the opportunity for the libyan people to build a free and democratic society. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: madam president, i would yield back all remaining time and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
nomination. all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. the question occurs on the monaco nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid on the table. the president shall immediately notify -- shall be immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate shall resume legislative session. under the previous order, the senate stands in recess until senate stands in recess until >> this morning in the senate the chamber took up three nominations including james colt
to be deputy attorney general. members are now on a break for their weekly party meetings, and when they return, they'll work on a bill to return the way certain legislative aides are vetted and appointed certain jobs. nominees would be allowed to bipass senate consideration and go directly to the senate floor. we'll have more coverage of the u.s. senate when senators return here at 2:15 eastern on c-span2. earlier today senators tom coburn and joe lieberman unveiled their bipartisan proposal aimed at reducing medicare deductions, seeks to reduce $600 million from medicare costs. from the senate radio and tv gallery, this is about 20 minutes. [inaudible conversations] >> well, good morning, and
thanks for being here. i won't surprise anybody in this room if i say that there are a lot of issues on which dr. tom coburn and i disagree. but there are two big things that we agree on that bring us here together this morning. the first is that we both love our country, and we can see it heading over a fiscal cliff unless people like tom coburn and me come together to get our government's books back in balance. the second thing is we both love our children and grandchildren, and we don't want to leave our country to them in such an economic mess that they won't have the same opportunities we had growing up in america. that's why tom and i are making this proposal that will cut our national debt and preserve medicare as a government program for current and future seniors.
there's not much disagreement about the basic fact of america's current fiscal crisis. our national debt is over $14 trillion and growing by more than a trillion dollars every year. the biggest but not the only drivers of the debt are entitlements including medicare. so if we don't cut entitlements, we're never going to balance our budget again. almost 50 million americans depend on medicare now, and about 20 million more people will go on medicare during the next ten years. mostly because of retiring baby boomers. each medicare beneficiary, each medicare enrollee will, on the average, take almost three times more out in medicare benefits than they contribute in payroll taxes and premiums.
the number varies based on income and family structure, but that's basically what it is. about three times more out than you put in. that's why we say that the status quo in medicare is unsustainable. and what we mean is that if but do nothing, medicare will go broke and take our government down with it. medicare part a, which is for hospital insurance, will be bankrupt by no later than 2024 according to the congressional budget office and as soon as 2016, five years from now, according to some experts. parts b and d for doctors' services and prescriptions drugs will continue to drain increasingly large and unsustainable amounts from our federal treasury adding to our already enormous debt.
these facts lead tom and me to two painful but unavoidable conclusions. the first is we can't balance our budget without dealing with mandatory spending programs like medicare. the second is we can't save medicare as we know it. we can only save medicare if we change it. and that's what the medicare reform plan that senator coburn and i are proposing today will do. it will save over $600 billion in medicare costs over the next decade. extend the solvency of medicare for america's seniors by about 30 years, maybe more. and reduce medicare's 75-year unfunded liability by about $10 trillion. our plan contains some strong medicine, but that's what it will take to keep medicare alive. we believe our plan administers the medicine in a fair way.
it asks just about everyone to give something to help preserve medicare. but it asks wealthier americans to give more than those who have less. and our plan for the first time in medicare history will offer to protect seniors from paying more than $7500 out of their pockets for health care in any one year because of a serious medical crisis or long-term illness. here are some other details in brief of what we propose. we're going to require higher-income americans to pay more for their share of medicare part a, b and d. for parts b and d, we will ask wealthier americans to pay 100% of premium costs. we simply do not believe that tax dollars should be used to pay premiums for those who can afford to pay on their own. we will replace medicare's
current complicated cost-sharing requirements with a unified deductible of $550 and limit medigap coverage of medicare's cost sharing to encourage wiser use of health care services. we will increase the eligibility age for medicare over a 12-year period from 65 to 67 to reflect real-life gains in life expectancy. which has increased since 1965 when medicare began from less than 70 to just about 78 years now. and we will make clear that as eligibility, as the eligibility age for medicare increases two months each year, so, too, will the access to the exchanges created under the affordable care act. we will increase the premium to 35% of the program's cost for part b for doctors' services and d for prescription drugs for enrollees. premiums from beneficiaries now
cover only 25% of the costs of parts b and d. the rest is paid by the taxpayers. even though when president johnson signed medicare into law in 1965 he made clear that the intention was that the government would pay half the cost and beneficiaries would pay the other half. we will provide a three-year paid-for sgr or doc fix designed to bring stability to the medicare provider system. the sgr is in need of a permanent fix, and the three years should provide congress with enough time to come up with one. and we're going to include the fast act introduced by senator coburn and senator carper and others to root out the waste and fraud in medicare. we know that each part of our proposal will make some group of people unhappy and will provide easy target for attack by those
who understandably want to preserve the status quo. but the status quo only leads to the collapse of medicare and fiscal disaster for our country. we're way past the point when we can save medicare and cut the debt while keeping all the interest groups satisfied and all of our constituents happy. if there ever was a time in american history for elected officials to stop thinking about the next election and start thinking about the next generation, it is now. i'm really pleased to have worked with tom coburn on this. he's got a longtime record of thinking about the next generation and not the next election. he's built up tremendous expertise in the area of government financing. if you ask how did we come together, after i voted against the ryan plan when it came for a
vote in the senate, i said to myself, okay, i've done that, but the alternative now is not to do nothing because if i do nothing more, medicare's going to go bankrupt. so i set out to try to figure out how we could change medicare to, basically, preserve it as a government system. i wrote an op-ed in "the washington post." tom read it, called me up, and he said i appreciate what you're doing, and i want to see if we can work together on something, and i'm really proud that we did work together. we came up with this program which i hope, and i believe tom does too, creates a bipartisan beachhead, if you will, around which, perhaps, the gridlock and the breakdown in the discussions about dealing with the debt ceiling and our debt overall can occur. senator coburn. >> thank you. well, let me say what a pleasure it's been to work with joe on this. you know, the time to put a
smoke alarm in the house is not when the fire's raging. it's to put it in before the first vestiges of an inferno would start. and the real question that we have out in front of us that people aren't coming to grips with is it doesn't matter what politician's standing up here or who's the administration. five years from now, medicare won't be the same because we can't borrow enough money to keep it the same. we won't have the capability of doing that. so the time to fix medicare is now, and the time to put it on a footing that will truly, you know, save $10 trillion, markedly reduce the unfunded liability for it and markedly increase its life expectancy. i won't go into the details of what we've outlined. joe has done that. but i believe what we have to do is act, and if the longer we wait to act, the more painful it's going to be for the very
people that are most dependent on these programs. and rather than to come down to a time in which we actually make drastic cuts in the available care for american citizens, the time now is to preserve that and do it in a way that will cause a better utilization with the same or better outcomes and guaranteeing that they have access to the health care that they were promised. we'll take your questions. >> senator, you talked about wanting all americans to share the pain in your plan, but i notice you didn't ask the pharmaceutical companies to share any of the pain by requiring that medicare part d be able to negotiate for drug prices. why not? >> we didn't ever have that discussion. it didn't come up. there's a, that's a contentious issue because there are a lot of people that think the government can buy cheaper than what's been supplied so far. i'm not sure i believe that. the question, you know, it actually goes to a broader question. right now we're losing half of our medical device industry in this country.
we're going to lose a large portion of our pharmaceutical industry. to say that they can't have a profit when they're competing for many -- for medicare, under part d what happened, it's one of the rare instances where the cbo estimated something and got it totally wrong, right? is they got it totally wrong of the cost of the program. even though nobody contributed to the $12 billion liability for part d. what we want to do is move in a bipartisan way. is that an issue that markedly divides democrats and republicans? yes. why would we asked something that doesn't give that much -- i know what the projections are, but there's no foundation to those projections. my belief is -- that doesn't mean it's right, it's just my belief -- why would we add that to make it harder to get a bipartisan resolution to medicare? >> yeah, tom summed it up well. i voted against part d, one of
the reasons was i thought the government ought to be able to negotiate drug prices with the drug companies as we do in other programs such as the va. but, you know, people want to put that on the table as part of this and have a discussion, that's what the process is all about. >> senator lieberman, this plan has a lot of things that democrats would find painful, raising the retirement age to 67, higher premiums for all enrollees, you know, democrats have generally been okay with some kinds of means testing. how do you get 'em do accurates to -- democrats to sign onto a plan like this when other than senator coburn they haven't been willing to come to the table? >> well, two things. if you'd asked me five years ago, certainly ten years ago, would i have been supporting a plan like this to change medicare, i couldn't have imagined doing that. but as i study the numbers, it seems to me the alternative to this plan is not to continue to go along with the status quo. the status quo leads to the
collapse of the entire medicare program and, really, terrible suffering by the people who depend on it. and now it's almost 50 million americans going up close to 70, over 70 million in the next decade or so. so what i would say to democrats about some of the parts of this that are strong medicine, as i said, yes, they are, but what's on the other side of it is that this program is going to get very sick if we don't take this medicine. the other thing to say is that tom and i had some very good discussions, and while you can't say that there are tax increases in here, incidentally, the health care reform act already did increase the medicare tax on, um, americans who makeover $250,000. but this has some pretty progressive parts to it. i mean, we're asking wealthier americans to pay more than people who don't have as much money. and we do it within the medicare
system. and i think that's a fair way to go. >> senator, you lay out in here the different brackets that they're going to be paying for out of pocket costs, and my question is you give dollar amounts, so won't these have to change constantly with how the economy is swinging? or with inflation in general? >> it will have to change with inflation, and that'll be a detail we'll discuss when we actually write the legislation. >> okay. >> but the answer, we're going to have all sorts of questions like this gentleman just asked. what is the option? you know, the option is not to do nothing. the option is how do we find a way forward that preserves a medicare in a way that we can get it through congress that also preserves the country? what's our -- in the long term, what's going to be our largest cost for the federal government? it's going to be medicare. it's the biggest. and if you don't go after the
biggest first and try to make sensible reforms to it, nobody's going to like this plan. we understand that. but nobody wants the present medicare advantage and those that are absolutely dependent on it to not have anything. just think about it. let's say if trustees are right in 2016 part a trust fund's belly up and we haven't solved our other problems. what's going to happen? do you think we're going to come in with, you know, a pail of water to douse the fire and fix it then? how much more painful will it be then if question don't make some of these smaller adjustments now? the other thing is we have to -- look, you'll never control the cost of health care in this country until you reconnect some of the purchase of that health care with the individual. and it just doesn't work because everybody thinks somebody else is paying for their health care. and it doesn't -- that's not just in medicare, it's everywhere. and that's one of the reasons we don't have any control on the
costs of it. one out of three dollars spent on health care in this country doesn't help anybody. and the reason it doesn't is because there's not a market force. and we're just putting a little bit of market force in this, but we're saying everybody gets to share in trying to solve the problem. from the very wealthy to even those, the only ones that won't will be the dual eligibles. >> the trillion dollars goes to the three year doc fix. seems to me you won't have that much left over to shore up long-term finances. >> no. the total ten-year fix is about $275 billion, but most of that, you know, that grows each year as we have more and more people in it. the numbers actually are fairly small for the first three years compared to that total number. josh, what was it? >> it was 40 -- >> 40 billion for the three years. >> senator -- [inaudible] the continuation of the health
care legislation that passed last year? is. >> yes. >> [inaudible] how do you reconcile that? >> for example, we have in here the age progression to social security age. if it's repealed, then we put an exception to that in our bill. so that we won't, if affordable care act continues, then that age requirement will go up, and we have the ability to put it in and exchange it. but if it goes away, we're not doing it. >> so there are no exchanges? so where would those folks get insurance? >> well, we don't change the age, so they have the same. it doesn't change. >> ah, i'm sorry. okay. >> senator lieberman? >> yes. >> you outline inside "the washington post" op-ed people making over $250,000 a year, is that gone now? >> it is. and that was part of the negotiating process. i mean, that was, would have been an increase in income tax on people making over $250,000, and in the negotiations we
conducted, you know, i think we agreed that we could agree on finding other ways to ask wealthier people to give more to preserve medicare. and we've done it, for instance, by requiring them to pay 100% of the premium costs for part b and d, the doctors and prescription drugs which taxpayers pay most of now. and we have a much higher maximum out-of-pocket on part a for wealthier americans. and, again, i want to stress that because the 2.9% medicare tax now covers all income, it's a progressive tax, and the health care reform bill made it even more progress i have by adding another -- progressive by adding another .9%. so that was the process of bringing us together today. >> how do you make it part of
the debt discussions going on today, or is that maybe the vehicle for this? are you considering making an outside cushion and try to make -- discussion and try to make passage that way? >> we're going to send copies to all the members of the senate. many think we should do the first step to the press conference, try the get a couple of other senators to join us, and that's pretty direct. [laughter] but at least in the midst of time here, i tell you, i find that a lot of our colleagues are, um, i hate to use the word depressed, i don't mean it in a clinical way, but they're downcast -- because i'm a lawyer, not a psychiatrist. but they're really downcast about the failure of the process here as we head toward the debt ceiling vote. and perhaps we offer a little hope that at least two of us can get together across party lines, but i think there are a lot of others, i hope, who will want to
do something similar. at a minimum, maybe we have offered some ideas here that the vice president's process or now the president's will want to consider as part of an ultimate agreement. do you want to -- >> last question. >> do you think there will be significant overhaul of medicare as part of the debt ceiling -- [inaudible] >> well, as tom said and i said in my opening statement, you're simply -- this, the medicare, the mandatory spending of our entitlements are the biggest drivers of our debt as we go forward. already unbelievably high, $14 trillion. so we're not going to get anywhere near back to balancing our federal budget unless we deal with the entitlements. so, you know, it's just a question of when. the sooner the better because if we don't do this, when we finally have to and if it's in the middle of a financial meltdown, it's going to be impossibly painful for individual enrollees in medicare
and for our country. so the sooner you take the strong medicine, the sooner you'll get healthy again. if you don't take it, you know, the results are not so, not so good. but here i'm going over to the doctor's area of expertise. >> well, i just, look, medicare has to be fixed. we have to change it. you can live and love our land and say, no, it's going to stay the same. it isn't going to stay the same. even if congress doesn't do anything, it isn't going to stay the same because we're not going to be able to borrow the money to afford it. and what people don't realize, there's a debt wall coming in the world. it's going to hit next july where the world's demand for sovereign debt is $13 trillion, and the world liquidity to fund it is $9 trillion. if we don't have our house in order at that time, every american -- whether you're in medicare or not -- is going to suffer precipitously. we need to be about fixing this.
this is a component, and we need to start doing what's best for the country, not what's best for any party or who's going to get in power. it's not going to matter who's in power when that happens. we're going to be told what we're going to do if, in fact, we want to fund any of the basic things that we have. so, you know, it's critical that we -- and it's critical that people like joe and i come together and give up, you know, he gave up something, i gave up significant things. when you see my $9 trillion program, you'll see where i really would like -- [inaudible] but we, we think walking together, talking and calling it the truth about what it is, you have to fix medicare and if you don't, you can't fix our country, now's the time to do it. and now's the time to do it in a bipartisan fashion. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations]
>> senators lieberman and coburn are expected will join their senate colleagues when the senate returns from their break for their weekly party lunches this afternoon. today the senate's expected to work on a bill to change the way certain legislative aides are vetted for federal jobs. that bill would amend senate rules to allow some nominees to bypass senate committee consideration and go directly to the senate floor. live coverage when the senate returns at 2:15 eastern here on c-span2. today a senate environment subcommittee held a hearing looking at the natural resource damage from the gulf oil spill. a trustee told the committee the damage assessment studies could be at risk if bp stops funding. state representatives admitted that bp is primarily the sole funding source for determining
damage in the wake of that bp deepwater horizon oil spill. this portion of the hearing is about an hour, ten minutes. >> i'll take -- mr. chairman, while the panel's coming forward, it's my pleasure to introduce a fellow member of the alabama bar, mr. shadegg. mr. shadegg currently serves as legal adviser to governor robert bentley of alabama. in that capacity he was selected to serve as chairman of the executive committee of the trustee council. so we get to hold him responsible for everything, i suppose. um, but actually, i am a little concerned that i don't think any of our leaders have a lot of executive power. they just have collegial power in this process. prior to joining the bentley administration, cooper was a practicing attorney in tuscaloosa, a good law firm.
in addition, he served as adjunct professor of law at the university of alabama school of law. one of the top law schools in the america, i'm proud to say. he is a bar commissioner for the sixth circuit which was elected by his fellow bar members. he's currently member of the alabama state bar foundation board of trustees, a member of the tuscaloosa bar where he's served as president previously. a bachelor degree in economics, he has, from georgia tech and a doctorate from alabama. he and his wife, christine, live in tuscaloosa, they have four daughters. he's been an associate pastor at first united methodist church there. thank you for coming, and i'll also note he is, his mother is a good citizen, former citizen of my hometown of camden, alabama, a little community and a great family, and i'm proud of cooper to be serving on this important position with governor bentley.
>> mr. shadegg, welcome. >> senator vitter? >> thank you, mr. chairman. as i mentioned, garrett graves is here today as a louisiana trustee, and he also serves as the chair of the coastal protection and restoration authority of louisiana. that's a state cabinet-level position over all of coastal restoration and protection. before that i was honored to have him on my staff serving with me, and he served many members of louisiana's congressional delegation over several years. he was intimately involved in virtually every water resources, coastal restoration-related bill going through this process while he was up here. a very, very able and i know louisiana's interests are in very good hands. >> doctor thank you. senator whitehouse? >> >> i just want to recognize dean
lie 9/11. this is, as i said earlier, a banner day for the uri graduate school of oceanography with both a graduate in the first panel and a former dean on this panel. the dean was kind enough to return to the graduate school of oceanography for the 50th anniversary celebration, and if my timing is right, i think she was actually dean of the graduate school at the time that my wife got her ph.d. in marine science from the graduate school. so in any event, she was a good friend during her years as dean in rhode island, and i'm delighted to have her here. unfortunately, we've lost her to florida in the meantime, but there's always hope. [laughter] >> and dr. voss could have been introduced also by senator vitter since he's a native of louisiana, but now he's a marylander, so i will take the honor of introducing dr. born. he's been a -- bosch. he's been a strong advocate for
us in the maryland, part of the university of maryland center of science, he's been a personal adviser to me on in of the environmental issues, and he comes to us as a member of president obama's oil spill commission. dr. boesch examined the causes of the explosion and recommended improvements to industry practices and laws to both prevent and mitigate future spills. he has a strong background in biological and ocean issues, and it's a pleasure to have you once again back before our committee. and we have another marylander, dr. eric rifkin, cowomans -- who comes to us through the national aquarium in baltimore. dr. rick is the interim executive director of the national aquarium conservation center which partnered with mote marine laboratories in florida and johns hopkins university to study new technologies for
measuring low levels of oil spill contaminants. i think this is cutting edge information that helps us better assess the amount of damage that's actually been done. he's been able to actually develop techniques that are more sophisticated in determining areas that we thought were not affected which, in fact, were affected by the bp oil spill. so, dr. rifkin, it's also a pleasure to have you here and also another marylander on the panel. we'll start with dr. boesch and work our way down. >> thank you, senators. i'm very appreciative of the opportunity to testify today. i ask that revised testimony just changed to include some more specific references, sources be included -- >> it will be, and all of your statements will be include inside the record. you may proceed as you wish, thanks. >> i was very actively engaged in if scientific research on the long-term -- >> is your mic on? >> okay. here it is. i was very actively engaged in
scientific research on the long-term issues in the gulf of mexico and the impacts of offshore oil and gas development before leaving louisiana 21 years ago to, as senator cardin indicated, head the university of maryland's center for environmental science. i suspect it was for this reason my familiarity with the issues surrounding the oil spill that the president appointed me to serve as one of seven members of the national commission on the bp deepwater horizon oil spill and offshore drilling, so my perspectives are really those of the commission that i'll present today. the natural resources damage assessment was not central to our investigation. in any case, it was still in the very early stage as we completed our report in january. nonetheless, the commission's report does discuss and offers some recommendations concerning the ongoinger in da. the goal of nerda is to make the environment and public hold for injuries to natural resources and service resulting from this oil spill. these injuries are quantified by
reference to conditions that would have existed had the incident not occurred. now, we recognized on the commission that establishing such baseline conditions is challenging not only because of the paucity of background data and natural variability, but because many gulf coast habitats b have been substantially degraded over decades from pressure from industrial, agricultural, commercial and residential development. to illustrate this long-term degradation, i included in my written testimony a simple graph that shows the rate of wetland loss in louisiana and how it spiked during the '70s when we had a very aggressive program of dredging canals and wetlands for oil and gas exploitation as well as transportation. the oil spill commission recommended that the trustees insure compensatory restoration under nerda process is transparent, appropriate and to the degree possible apolitical
by, as senator cardin mentioned in his introduction, appointed scientific auditor to insure the projects are authorized on the basis of their ability to mitigate actual damages by the spill. secondly, in any potential settlement agreement providing for long-term monitoring and assessment of the affected resources for a period of at least three years and for enhancement of the damages beyond the baseline. and thirdly, as closely as possible to the in close and kind principles to insure that the injured public resources are made whole to the fullest extent possible regardless of state or federal boundaries. the recent agreement to support early restoration presents a promise being opportunity to begin to restore impacted resources without waiting years for full compensation when the damage restoration may prove less effective. however, it also presents opportunities for misallocation
and misallocation of these resources. from the beginning it allocates early restoration funding equally among the states and federal trustees. disparities -- despite the fact there are disparities among these natural resource damages. this potentially, if this principle continues, could compromise the in-place, in-kind principle in a way that concerned the commission. the framework agreement, also, states that early restoration projects must be consistent with the oil pollution act in meeting criteria for making the public whole for injuries from the oil spill. to avoid politically expedient approaches that might miss the mark in terms of compensatory restoration, appointing a scientific auditor or review board to insure that projects are authorized on their basis to mitigate actual damages caused by the spill to the degree possible. would be presume. a scientific audit could also
independently evaluate the degree to which the natural resource damage offsets, to be credited against the damages due to the responsible party for these projects. measured, calculated and documented using the best available science. the impacts of the deepwater horizon oil spill come, as i mentioned, on top of longer-term keg degradation of important habitats and resources of the gulf of mexico including lost of coastal wetland, recurrent high pox ya, the so-called dead zone, overfished populations and endangered species. the oil spill commission identified that a restoration effort that is well funded, scientificically grounded and responsive to public input would be very consistent with the recommendations that secretary of the navy ray mabus made earlier last year. the commission recommended that congress dedicate for this purpose 80% of the clean water act penalties, as senator vitter
mentioned earlier in his discussion of legislation, a gulf ecosystem restoration task force chaired by epa administrator lisa jackson and co-chaired by mr. graves is developing a gulf of mexico ecosystem restoration strategy due in october of 2011. legislation to dedicate the funds and establish the council to administer them has seemed to me, at least, stalled in congress in part because of a lack of consensus among the gulf states over the scope and permissible uses of the funds, and once again allocation among the states. senator vitter's announcement that some mark up will take place is a hopeful sign that we may see some progress on that. the oil spill commission in looking at this issue, um, concluded that it was most compelling from are a national perspective if application of these funds focused on ecosystem restoration and that we argued that the criteria should be national significance, contribution to achieving ecosystem resilience and the extent to which national
policies such as flood control, oil and gas development, agriculture, navigation directly contribute today the environmental problems that required the restoration. so thank you very much. >> thank you, dr. boesch. dr. leinen? >> thank you, mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee. i'm pleased -- my name is margaret leinen, i'm the vice chair of the gulf of mexico research initiative research board. i'm also associate provost for marine and environmental initiatives at florida atlantic university and executive director of harbor branch ocean graphic. my remarks today were prepared by dr. rita caldwell, chairman of the gulf of mexico research initiative and one of your constituents, senator cardin. >> yes. >> in may 2010bp committed $500 million over a ten-year period to create an independent research program to study the impacts of the deepwater horizon oil spill on the gulf of mexico.
the program known as the gulf of mexico research initiative or gri is directed by an independent research board. the research board is responsible for identifying the research priorities, preparing requests for proposals, enabling an open and transparent process for review, selecting proposals for funding based on that review and reviewing annual progress for a continuation of funding. although the gri was announced in 2010, it was not until march 14, 2011, that the master research agreement was signed. that agreement between bp and the gulf of mexico alliance provides the operational structure for the gri. as stated in that master research agreement, the gri is an independent scientific research program and is separate from the natural resources damages assessment process, and
bp agrees that the participation of the alliance in this agreement shall not result in a credit against or defense to any claims for natural resource damages or assessment costs. so we're independent of nerda. the objectives of gri are to study the impacts of the oil, dispersed oil and dispersant on the ecosystems of the gulf of mexico and affected gulf states. in a very broad context of fundamental understanding of the dynamics of these events, the associated environmental stresses and public health implications. the gri will also support the development of improved oil spill mitigation, oil and gas detection characterization and remediation technologies. ultimately, the goal is to improve society's ability to understand and respond to events like this and to understand the effects on coastal ecosystems
with an emphasis on gulf of mexico. we have established and are implementing peer-reviewed, competitive grant programs that will support researches that advance this understanding in five years. first, physical distribution, dispersion and dilution of petroleum, its constituents and associated contaminants such as dispersants under the action of physical ocean o graphic processes, air/sea interaction and tropical storms. second, the chemical evolution and biological degradation of petroleum-dispersant systems and their subsequent interaction with coastal, open ocean and deepwater ecosystems. third, environmental effects of the petroleum dispersant system on the sea floor, water column, coastal waters, beach sediments, wetlands, marshes and organisms. the science of ecosystem recovery. fourth, technology developments
for improved response mitigation, detection, characterization and remediation associated with oil spills and gas releases and, fifth, fundamental scientific research integrating results from the four other themes in the context of public health. the research board has released two requests for proposals which we call rfp1 and rfp3. we anticipate issuing another request for proposals later this year. the first of these, rfp1, was announced on april 25th of this year. through this program a minimum of 37.5 million per year will fund approximately four to eight research consortia to study the effects of the deepwater horizon incident. it is anticipated that each grant will be for up to three years and will range between one million and seven and a half million per year. the research will be conducted
through these consortia and must address one or more of the five areas that we've described. the proposals are being accepted until the 11th of july, and we anticipate announcing the results of this competition august 30th. the second rfp will be for funding smaller research teams. it will focus on individual investigators with up to three co-principal investigators, a maximum of seven and a half million per year will be available for those dprapts. and earlier this year the research board recognized the need to provide short-term or emergency funding to sustain some data collection that had already begun over this summer. on june 7th we announced the availability of $1.5 million of emergency funding and are conducting an expedited review of proposals that we have
received. we anticipate announcing the results of that competition at the end of this week. so the gri supports research that contributes to our understanding of how the gulf of mexico was influenced by the deepwater horizon oil spill and how this rich and dynamic environment is recovering. this information will undoubtedly be useful and informative to the nrda program, and we expect it to provide valuable insight for the long-term analysis of ecosystems since it lasts for fen years. thank you -- for ten years. thank you very much for the opportunity. >> thank you very much, dr. leinen. dr. rifkin? is. >> good morning, chairman cardin, ranking member sessions and remaining members of the subcommittee. thank you very much for inviting me to testify today. on july 27th of 2010, approximately one year ago, the national aquarium was invited to
testify before this senate subcommittee on a hearing titled "assessing natural resource damages resulting from the bp deepwater horizon disaster." at that time i emphasized the importance of independent research to address concerns related to our ability to accurate ri quantify potential chronic damages to natural resources in the gulf. the rationale for this view was and still is based on the concern that the current nrda process is not using a meth logical -- method logical approach which measures contaminants, and this is important because small amounts of contaminants in the water and in the sediment pore water through a process called bioconcentration or biomagnification increase exponentially. more specifically, my testimony and the written testimony of the other researchers on the panel at that time suggested that the vices called passive diffusers
can be used to measure low levels of petroleum in order to characterize ecological risks and impacts. since the last hearing, as senator cardin mentioned earlier, the national aquarium conservation center in collaboration with the marine laboratory and johns hopkins university has deployed sophisticated petroleum contaminant samples as deployed well over a decade ago using, excuse me, semipermeable devices, spmds. they provide unpair rell -- unparalleled, time-imminent data. by using these spmds, we were able to measure low levels of individual pahs in the water column and in the pore water in areas impacted by the bp spill. our preliminary findings support the contention that data
obtained by these devices when incorporated into bioconcentration models will provide a far more accurate assessment of chronic damages in the gulf and the standard approach using grab samples for water and sediment. our samples came from impacted areas off the coasts of louisiana, alabama, mississippi and florida. a number of months ago we had an opportunity to meet with representatives from the environmental protection agency so that we could share our preliminary results with the agency and obtain advice and guidance from their research scientists. at our meeting and subsequent conference calls, epa scientists support the view that there was value in if using these passive diffusers to monitor levels of these so-called pahs. we refined our methods and once again deployed these devices in louisiana, as you all know. the results of these recent efforts should provide values which can be used to model the bioconcentration of contaminants
in the food chain, provide data which can be use today assess and quantify chronic damages and reduce the level of uncertainty when assessing chronic damages from exposure to oil from the bp spill. the ramifications of our findings should not be underestimated. today the vast majority of grab samples obtained for the nrda have resulted in pah concentrations as being reported as nd or nondetect. nondetect equates to zero. so the assumption has been made that there are insignificant damage toss natural resources from the released pahs. however, the pah value is below detection and predetermined benchmark values from grab samples doesn't mean pahs are absent or present at levels which are not harmful. the nrda protocol supports the use of benchmark values as the basic determinant for when concentrations of organic
contaminants constitute an ecological risk. however, benchmarks are meant to be used for screening purposes only. they are not regulatory standards or criteria. benchmarks cannot be value candidated for all sites, they can be defended only in terms of regulatory precedent, and while epa provides broad guidelines for the assessment, specific end points are not identified. a meaningful nrda must be able to incorporate empirical data in economic models in order to accurately assess chronic damages and injury to natural resources in the gulf. this perspective should certainly apply here given the magnitude and scope of this oil spill. there are reasons to give serious consideration to expanding the use of these passive diffusers in the impacted areas of the gulf as soon as possible. this will increase our ability to assess caudalty between the -- causality and/or lost human use of those resources and services.
years we've been impacted by hurricanes katrina, rita, gustav and ike. and took an extraordinary toll on our state. i tell you that because our coastline is very different from the other 35 coastal states and territories in this country. it's a very fragmented coastal area, a lot of nooks and crannies. if you measure the shoreline from mississippi to texas, you get about 800 miles. but if you actually measure the actual title shoreline it's much closer to about 8000 miles. so it's a very, very different coastline, trying to protect that area from oil is an extraordinary challenge. at the same time this is very productive. u.s. fish is caught most productive ecosystem on the continent. approximate 90% of the marine species in the gulf of mexico are dependent upon that estuary for at some point in the life for survivability. 98% of the fisheries and shellfish that are harvested in
the gulf of mexico are dependent upon coastal louisiana wetlands and our unique estuary. 90% of the fresh water comes through our state. at the same time this area is home to 5 million waterfront, 25 million songbirds and is the largest wintering habitat for migratory songbirds and waterfowl. so again very, very productive area. it's home to 70 we are threatened and endangered species, and the coastal wetlands that we lost plate and a portal just not in terms of services but also in terms of keeping a buffer between the gulf of mexico and are populated communities. we saw the impact of that after hurricane katrina. on the economics side, mr. chairman, if you collectively look at the five gulf states, gdp of those areas if it were compared to a nation that comprise the seventh largest economy of the world. so much economic activity ongoing. coastal louisiana alone with five of the top 15 ports and approximate 20% of the commerce
comes to our ports and river systems. which is hundreds of billions of dollars annually. and at the same time this area produces more transports approximately one-third of the oil and gas consumed in the united states. so for him and economic side, it's very, very important. though we've had these challenges, these historic challenges, we've been able to make progress in recent years. the state of louisiana has made unprecedented investments. in recent weeks, a report indicated it appears we have created approximately 200 square miles of land while the historical loss rate has been anywhere from 11 to 16 square miles over average of last eight years. we in the last three years have great up to 200 square miles. we are making progress. this oil spill came in the worst place because of the productivity of this ecosystem. it came at the worst time because we were rebounding, that
refers, we reverse the loss or the trend that had been ongoing for decades. to give you a few spill statistics, 92% of the heavily and moderate of shorelines are in louisiana. even today 100% of the, opa 909% of moderately, 81% of the light and about 96% of very light shorelines are still in coastal louisiana today. over 60% of the marine species, birds, mammals, fish that were collected, that were injured, sick were collected in louisiana. so incredible impact in our state. i'm going to flip over to respond in the nrda site quickly. bp is to be commended for coming to the table with their checkbook. i think it's a very, very important thing to keep in mind. they came to the table with mental health dollars, tourism funds, and marketing. we appreciate that. i want to paint the box we're in
today. as you very well know better than i do, this country is facing fiscal challenges. our state is facing fiscal challenges. there's a 1 billion-dollar cap on the trust fund to fund oil spill response activities, including nrda. 1 billion-dollar cap. we are over $900 million in expenses from this disaster so far. so the only source of money for us in this case is bp. it's the only source of funding to a large degree. defund nrda operations. mr. chairman, i think that equation needs to be flipped over. i think the public should be in the driver's seat. by been able to control the checkbook you can control what's in these work plans, how the nrda assessments are being conducted. that timeline, perhaps losing access to data because of the negotiations ongoing with these work plans. bp at the same time has hired armies of attorneys, marketing firms, pr campaigns, lobbyists,
scientists, consultants and other experts. we have to compete with it. the states do, the federal government does. and as long as we're not provide access to the funds that are needed for us to truly put up a strong case for the public, it perhaps provides a situation where the publics resources, the public's trust is not properly represented. i think that equation needs to be entirely flipped over. three other quick points. i think it's important, it's a question and in the senator sessions, you have an extensive legal background. what other situation to have with the defense is allowed to govern or rain in the plaintiffs in terms of the activities they carry out their exercise or governance of the funding? i don't know of any other scenario. the nrda process does take too long and has been noted, legislation was filed to required down payment. i think that's critical. our citizens and economy have
been criticized. for allowing for 20 a process for recovery of that comment is unacceptable. for the statutory to allow for that, i think that needs to be revisited. you know, we need to have accurate science, senators, mr. chairman, but at the same time we can't allow these resources to sit in this state for decades but it's inexcusable. the last point i would like to make as i know this committee has jurisdiction over clean water act. i think i represent all those states in sync we strongly support the recommendation of the national oil spill commission. i don't think it's appropriate for the federal government to profit from the losses that occurred in the gulf coast. thank you. >> thank you very much for your testimony. mr. shadegg? >> thank you, chairman garden, ranking the recession, members of the subcommittee. thank for the opportunity to speak today. thank you to senator sessions for that most gracious
introduction. i won't bore you with statistics for the significance and the size of the oil spill which we all know too well. suffice it to say it was unprecedented. it is impacted by states along the gulf coast and the gulf of mexico itself which is one of the united states greatest resources. impact to the gulf include commercially important and aquatic life, endangered or threatened species of turtles, birds and marine mammals, habitat use, migration patterns and erosion, and most significantly the loss of use of these resources. the gulf is an essential habit of for countless species of fish and shellfish, contains numerous species of marine mammals, many of which are protected or endangered. turtles, marshes that provide eating and nested habitat for offshore, nearshore and marsh birds. and the presence of oil in these habitats may lead to decreased habitat use in the area altered
migration patterns, altered food availability, and disrupted life cycles. the oil may also cause plants to die, and thus lead to erosion. this is not to mention the loss of use of these resources which were alabama, led many of the other states along the gulf coast is a significant factor. travel related expenditures in just one of our counties has been reduced by $500 million as a result of the impact of the oil spill. commercial seafood landing as senator sessions pointed out are down 50% from 2009. the response to this spill for natural resources perspective has also been unprecedented. the nrda trustees have secured a billion dollars from bp for early restoration projects in the gulf. the fact that the trustees and responsible party had even attempted to address earlier restoration of this magnitude is extraordinary. it is larger than the entire nrda restoration process for the
exxon valdez spill. under the framework for early restoration, each trustee, the five states and the department of interior and know it will intimate $100 million in projects with remaining $300 million user projects selected i know and the department of interior from proposal submitted by the state trustees. disagreement would not been possible without the combined and concerted efforts of all of the trustees working together. with so many resources and agencies involved in this daunting but a credit important task, it's essential to ensure continuing cooperation and coordination to guarantee that restoration of our natural resources is carried out to the benefit of all. both from an early restoration perspective and for the long-term benefit of the gulf as a whole. in order to manage these early restoration processes and continue the assessment that's been ongoing for some time, the trust accounts and has formed an
executive committee. the committee is made up of representatives from each of the trustees. we've also created subcommittees dedicated to specific tasks as part of our charge. each which is represented, each of which is chaired by representative of the trustees. the executive committees and the committees themselves we work together to make sure that each trustee is represented in an equal and balanced manner, to ensure that the priorities and goals of all trustees are achieved. the resource assessment process and early restoration project selection present many challenges given the magnitude of this disaster. its widespread impact and the number of parties involved. each state was impacted differently, and all may have unique priorities for the needed restoration, as make each federal agency. even within a state or agency there'll be different approaches and ideas about how to meet these and achieve these goals. after all, restoration on this scale has never been done before. all of the different
perspectives and ideas have the potential to lead to many disagreements over how best to assess the damages sustained, and how best to spend the funds to restore our national resource. such disagrees could easily manifest themselves between the states, between the states and the federal government, and between the different federal agencies, or between democrats and republicans. we must be reminded the natural resources do not share our notions of boundaries and borders. a fish doesn't realize what across as in the waters of mississippi into alabama or from state waters to federal waters. wetlands do not begin and end indiscriminately at state borders, but instead cross them. and oyster does not know whether it sits in the waters of a red state or a blue state. just as it was necessary for us to find our initial discussions in fairness for the common good of all, we will be challenged to eliminate disputes based on our boundaries and maintain our focus on the ultimate goal of restoring the gulf of mexico's natural resources and hold the responsible party responsible.
but we have created that while loss to accomplish just that. from the beginning of this disaster it was essential that the state and federal government work together to the response and cleanup process, and we did. we began to mondale task of assessing the extent of the interest our natural resources, the need for cooperation became pronounced. we have done just that. obtaining $1 billion for early restoration projects, set new standards for our ability to tackle obstacles, and succeed by uniting for a common good. the cooperation between the five states is unprecedented, and the cooperation and support between the states and the federal agencies has likewise been unprecedented. and the need continues. we simply must remain united against the responsible party to see that the damages caused by this disaster are indeed corrected and restored. the communication and cooperation has and will continue as we select early
restoration projects. though the full extent of the damages to the resources is not yet known, all agreed that there must be a nexus between oil spill, the entry and the projected benefits of the project. cooperation is not only necessary for the selection of the projects, but the implementation of them as well. i'd like to report that the process is going well. we have challenged ourselves to some fairly demanding timeline. our plan is to select an initial set of early restoration projects in july of this year. even as early restoration projects are selected, negotiated and implemented, the nrda process will continue in order to determine the full extent of the damage our resources and our long-term restoration plan. thus far the nrda process must be measured as a tremendous success. we have secured a historic sum of money within a year of the tragedy which created this assessment, and a monumental task continues as to what will undoubtedly result in the most widespread and thorough analysis
of a significantly large ecosystem, as has ever been attempted. all of this is unprecedented. we rest assured if the successes of this process is to continue, such cooperation that we've experienced between the state, federal government and all of the agencies affected will not be a luxury, but will be a necessity. i am confident it will continue, and everything that has made this process unprecedented will create a precedent by which future cooperative efforts will be possible. thank you. >> thank you, mr. shattuck. since i'll be chairing the remainder of the drink we will therefore by definition be here until the end. i will not, my disdain which ranking member way to my question but will allow, i yield to him so he may proceed. >> thank you mr. chairman. we have done this before. the judiciary subcommittee that you and i have participated in. ranking and chair.
mr. shattuck, thank you for your comment. i am pleased to see the emphasis on collaboration and cooperation, and openness in the process. the only flipside of that going at it is somebody in charge, can we make sure it happens on time, but you've always selected projects that would commence before the year is outcome is that correct? >> we're in the process of selecting projects. we hope to have been selected by the end of july to be implemented before the end of this year. >> and the 80 trustees, do they vote individually? is about how the decisions are made? >> yes, sir. each trustee, and their seven, one from each state, one from noaa and one from the department of interior each of the vote on selecting a project. projects are selected by majority vote and then we will move forward with the process of negotiate with bp, the offsets
for those projects. >> i got. fundamental question on the nrda process. to what extent do you consider it, and the trustees, to what extent you consider that the process to make the region entirely whole? or is it just a part of a? >> it's just a part unfortunately. it addresses only the damages to our natural resources, and that's its limit. and, unfortunately, the damages that alabama has sustained, for example, are much greater than that. though many of the damages with sustained are tied to the loss of our natural resources and the loss of use of our natural resources, the nrda process does address those economic losses for individuals, businesses or the state itself. >> well, i know governor made this was very clear on that in his report, which is really getting i suppose more with the
oil spill act damages that eventually have to be paid by bp under the oil spill act. but he noted on this section outlines a proposal for congress to create a new gulf coast recovery council that would be funded in part by civil penalties collected under the act, and which would work to facilitate environmental restoration and economic recovery, and attended health issues arising from this spill. is that what you understand? that will be the next project, or another project that could be going on contemporaneously with this project? >> yes, sir. and we hope that congress will consider giving the states as mr. graves pointed out, 80% of the clean water act funds that might ultimately be a sense to address all of those losses, whether they are environmental or economic. >> and where there has been some
language and the legislation i've seen its proposed giving states a certain proportion by states, most of the money as i've seen in the legislation will be based on an overall need process, is that what the legislation, most of the legislation says? >> that's what i understand. >> well, i would just comment on a number of things. i felt very strongly that this accident should not have happened, and i think the reports are showing that. i feel very strongly that a responsible party, that one, by law, signed no matter where the subcontractors are liable or not, they are responsible for all of the damages. and that's bp. and they are responsible for their last dollar on the corporate exist passionate existence as far as i am concerned.
i feel they have move forward and very helpful, this $1 billion i think they were not legally required to produce it this soon come is that correct? >> that's correct. >> i thought that was a positive step on their behalf. i sustained an unprecedented damage in size of this spill, and i would note a that a very unhappy that there was not the kind of capping mechanism already constructed. you would have thought the oil company would have had to shut this thing off shortly after it happened. and mr. reilly on the part of the commission, mr. vidrine, was that commission who served on with mr. reilly? you did? well, he testified here a month or so ago that there has not been designed i cap that could be put off over any blowout like
this, and it would in a matter of days be able to capture that. is that your understanding? >> yes, senator sessions. that's correct. there are two industry groups that have develop that capacity. and if you remember the controversies over the permits for re- assuming the deepwater drilling, a large part of the demonstration to meet these requirements was to demonstrate that they had this deepwater containment capability. so after those two groups developed that they have the capacity, you know, satisfactory to the assessment of the department of interior, it was at that point that i granted the permits to continue deepwater drilling. >> well, mr. william reilly, the former head of epa did testify. he thought that have the
capacity. we went 90 some odd days -- how many days? almost 90 days of pouring oil, really was the thing that's most concerning about it. so, mr. chairman, i do think that we've learned a tremendous amount from this process. the united states has benefited dramatically from the production of oil and gas from the gulf. you need that oil and gas for our economy, jobs, and growth. i hope that we will be able to continue it. we've learned from have to remediate, and i think we have learned how to stop accident if it ever were to happen again. frankly, should not have happened the first time, but i do believe we have a capability now to shut it off. so hopefully the gulf coast area is ready to go forward in the future. we want to fix our economic
problems that have been severe, and we also want to look at, use this as an opportunity, as i know you share an assessment, a baseline in future projection for more productive and environmentally positive environment on our coast. thank you for participating and allowing me to participate in this hearing. >> thank you, senator sessions. me, i think learned a lot from this incident about the status of our baseline research, along our coast and ocean. senator vitter was very eloquent a little while ago on the subject of how far behind we are on the stock assessments and how dated most of those are in areas in which coastal flooding and
weather events, increasing ocean levels and all that are affecting what can happen along the shores, and the development capacity of the shoreline and what needs to be protected. we seem to be way behind on lidar, such studies, our physical oceanography we seem to be, have a far from a robust baseline in terms of our current subcontractors. if we are going -- sub temperatures. if we're going to address the issues we face in our ocean and along our coast, how much do we need to improve our baseline research capability, our awareness of what is going on out there, and what are the best methods to do a? i will go right across the table. this is not a called specific question. this is a generic question. dr. boesch. >> i couldn't agree with you
more. we need a better information about our national ocean to make prudent decisions about it. since the commission did focus on the gulf let me make a few comments. first of all, we were shocked to see that as the industry's move into deep water over really last 20 years, quite spectacular new technology, there was not the investment by our government in understanding that environment. so the time this is taking place, the investment and studies of that over mexico environment were actually declining. to redress that, we recommend that not only for oil and gas development but for all kinds of energy development around our coast, whether it's oil and gas in the alaskan arctic, or wind power in the mid-atlantic, we should have a better capacities. we're just talking about energy issues, to understand the environment. so, our recommendation is that there should be really a modest
fee, if you will, recognizing the federal deficit problem, there should be a modest fee to the industry much like the state would have a severance tax, that would pay for the appropriate regulation and the appropriate studies to support that going forward so that you would have a predictable support base to sustain those studies. one final thing, as you know, senator whitehouse since you've been a champion of this, there's this great interest and move around our country to create and ocean observing system where we can continuously use modern technology, monitor the state of the ocean. if any part of our national ocean needs integrated ocean observing system, it's the gulf of mexico. with a great economic engine that is in oil and gas production, shipping, fisheries, all the conflicting uses, and they do have the resources within industry and we have the infrastructure, all the platforms that exist out in the gulf of mexico to have a first rate, innovative, observing
system that will help us make decisions going forward. >> thank you doctor. again with respect to the adequacy of our current research baseline on oceans and coasts in which recommend. >> i think that dr. boesch has spoken eloquently about the gulf. i will branch out further from there. that lack of ability to understand not only the conditions as they stand today, but also the processes that evolved over decades is a real hindrance to our ability to make good decisions. whether it's the decline of the winter flounder in rhode island, or whether it's the increase in diseases that we see in the wild dolphin in florida. we have very little ability to go back and understand what the causes of those features are.
when you compare this to weather, we understand how much changing weather influences the economy, but i think that we haven't realized how much of that lack of knowledge and lack of predictability about the oceans affects our competitiveness, our ability to use resources wisely, and our ability to prepare for the changes that we will see in the future. so, it's a need for bass lines. it's a need for understanding evolving processes as well. >> i will follow-up on these questions with the remaining witnesses, but my question time at this point has expired, and our chairman has returned. so i will yield to the chairman, and then perhaps the chairman will give us another round afterwards so that we can
continue this line of inquiry. >> let me thank senator whitehouse. i apologize for having to leave. we have the jim colbert nomination on the floor for the deputy attorney general eric from the judiciary committee. i added to that debate a bit on the floor. i want to continue on this baseline issue, but i would like to get the view from mr. graves and mr. shattuck as to whether you believe there's adequate resources available to you as trustees to get the type of independent technical support to make the type of assessments that we have confidence are the best that we possibly can. that baseline is a very difficult challenge. i don't know, no one denies that, but having the resources available to get the independent
type of verification review and technical assistance, deeply the trustees have adequate resources? >> well, there's never enough resources, just to be honest, but i think that, i don't think that we have been impacted or that the process has suffered in a detrimental way at this point from a lack of resources. and i think part of that is the economic incentive that bp has to see that this process is funded, which sounds sort of counterintuitive but i think ep, wisely has determined that if, if they do not find it at this point then they will pay for it in the long run and it's going to cost even more. so as long as we have economic incentive for them, we both benefit from in a way because the studies are done. but who knows? we aren't finished yet and it could be that some point we are hampered by lack of resources if bp decides to cut them off.
and our state, alabama, is strapped financially. we are in dire financial straits and we don't have the capacity to sponsor studies of the gulf of mexico or even to the resources that we have on our own. it's simply not there. >> mr. chairman, i would say that i think are resource issues, and just to lay out under the current statutory conflicts for how this would work on if we wanted to try to assess the impact on redfish in the gulf of mexico, we have to develop a work plan for how that assessment would be conducted. we have to go present that to bp and there's a negotiating process. i'm going to impose this to give you an idea but we have to go through, but during the negotiation we can so we don't like the every word you chose in this assessment. we think you ought to go to west texas. wait a minute, there was an oil in west texas. if you want the money then you need to do in west texas.
you're a very difficult situation because the box that i tried to describe earlier as mr. shattuck indicated, states in fiscal challenges, the federal government does, there's a billion dollar cap that we're very close to hitting. so bp is too large degree the only funding source there. and if you want access to those dollars you have to have the negotiation and have to agree to fund you. >> that seems problem. dr. boesch, it seems to me your recommendation deals with that by suggesting there needs to be an independent scientific auditor unavailable to verify that, in fact, we are using independent judgment here. elaborate a little bit more on that and what do you think we are implementing that recommendation. >> i think it's going to be, i think having such audit independent assessment is viable for a number of reasons. first of all, for the public confidence that the right thing is being done, and all the way
around. secondly, as we begin the restoration efforts, there's going to be requirement to make sure, as mr. shattuck indicated that this nexus between the damage and the restoration to the degree possible is there. and that's going, having to independently evaluated and judged i think is important because imagine as indicated there are five states and each with their own independent, their unique problems and approaches to restoration which is fine, but at the end of the day and i'll have to meet that same standard. and so absent that, it becomes a problem if we want to court, to adjudication of this. not only between the trustees and the responsible party, but by third parties who might hypothetically come in and say well, you really didn't, the money that bp did he really wasn't used to redress this
damage. it was done, used for some other way. so shouldn't be counted against it, you know, the amount that bp is responsible for. all those reasons i think, the most important reason is to make sure that what we do with restoration is as effective as we can be. that independent evaluation i think is important. and you asked the question to the agencies and they do have lots of technical experts, but, of course, the technical experts work for people within the agencies. so having someone who is independent, having a group independent of that has real value and accountability in the process. >> i would just observe, a similar issue that came up in our first hearing, where we would have -- i think the process itself has an inherent conflict because of the funding source and a desire quite frankly to have a cooperative relationship with responsible party. does that make sense? you can do it and save time, save uncertainty and get things moving. on the other hand, you need to
have independence to move in the direction she think you need to. and mr. graves, you raise a very important concern as to the selection of the site. it's critical to the assessment. so, i'm not sure we have quite gotten there yet. i think there's a real commitment on behalf of the trustees to get independent scientific information, but the funding sources and the process itself is challenging. and if you don't have the adequate baseline information it's hard to make an adequate accurate assessment, and there i think dr. rifkin julie come in and provide some real substantial help on a technology and i'm glad to see epa is at least is using the information that you made available, and i hope you will be successful that will be able to get a more accurate assessment of the current damage. have you had any further indications from epa? >> well, first of all i'd like to say that the methodology that we are using was developed by
the usgs way over a decade ago and has been used by federal agencies for many years. so this isn't just something a few scientists came up with recently. it is however not being used in the gulf as part of the nrda process which is a shame. epa has acknowledged the value in using these devices, but since everyone was talking about funding, it's difficult to obtain that funding either from epa or from noaa or other organization. we're in a position now where we will have limited data which is going to be more sophisticated, and significant, more sophisticated than what is currently being used in the nrda process and very significant and attempting to quantify chronic damages in the gulf, but again we are very limited on what we can do because of lack of funding. >> senator sessions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate this opportunity, and i don't think i have another round of questions.
i believe it's an excellent panel. it is indeed an excellent panel. we are beginning to have a congressional response to the damage that the gulf has sustained. we will work our way through that hopefully sooner rather than later but and i thank you for your leadership. and senator boxer, our chairman for the full committee is also getting a good bit of her time and attention to the. her leadership can help us lead to a successful conclusion. >> thank you. i concur completely. i think it is focused on the beginning on trying to get the right thing done, and to move as quickly and as completely as we can. senator boxer has been very encouraging to this subcommittee chair to move forward on these issues. senator whitehouse. >> i just want to give the remaining witnesses a chance to answer my earlier question which had to do with what i perceived to be the inadequacy of the
baseline research, and if you agree that that is a problem, what can we be doing nationally to improve it. again, not just specific to the coast but includes the coast. >> a very difficult complicated issue. baseline for impacted areas such as sarasota bay is different from a baseline you find currently a long parts of the coast of louisiana and alabama, because a previous bill. and from my point of view nor to get an adequate baseline which is critical, the right information needs to be obtained periodically, and monitored periodically so that when they spill occurs, the baseline is there. it's too late after a spill. today that's what we are always doing. we are always trying to find a baseline someplace where the still hasn't existed, which, in fact, is not scientifically useful because that's not the area we are going to be looking at here so i think the agencies
responsible for collecting data such as noaa and epa and fish and wildlife service and other federal agencies, need to continue look and monitored, look to and monitor certain water bodies such as the gulf so if there is another disaster, that baseline will be available before, not concerns about it after the spill itself. >> thank you, senator. i often pretend to be experts in various fields of my job i certainly know that limits of my expertise. if i were asked that question, i think what are the first things i would do is turn and ask dr. boesch. if it's okay with you i would prefer to respond in writing. >> sure. i know scientist either but i think there is a fine line, you know, disasters like this give us 20/20 hindsight vision. and it would have been great of a better baseline, but we have to work with what we have.
what we learn from that is it would be great to have a more extensive baseline study throughout the country, just in case something like this happens again. but again, i know that you'll all our batting limited resources as are we, and there's a fine fine imbalance of how much can we afford to do versus more immediate plans. and that's a risky endeavour, but it's one of economics might force upon us. >> and clearly, a good deal of this research is done at the state level, and through states, through road i will recall the coastal resources management council resources. and as states find their budgets slaughtered, it's hard to imagine that this will improve, and the federal funding environment is one that is looking at cuts. and so i think it is important that we try to find new and
lasting sources of funding so that we are not as ill-informed about the actual status of our oceans and coasts, as we are right now. we are flying blind in certain areas. so i appreciate the testament of all the witnesses. the only other point that i would like to raise briefly, it hasn't come up yet and i don't know if it is a problem, there is a concern that when you get to a major incident like this, and you have a responsible party that is pretty evident, and there's a lot of money at stake, one of the first things that they do is go in and buy up all the science, put as many scientists as they can't under contract, whatever it takes to get them. and then they can dole out which ones they want, and the other ones they just buy their silence more or less. have you seen as a problem?
is that something we need to akin to? i guess i'll go to mr. graves for the. >> center, it actually is -- it actually is an issue. from the attorney we're in going back in may to some the consultants, other experts, many of them were inflicted out either by priests of contracts or certainly there was a big rush by the responsible parties to pick those folks out. it has absolutely been an issue. thankfully one of the major areas of science where we need assistance we are able to work out an agreement with the federal government to assure a consultant there. but i think it is an issue. >> again, let me thank all of you or your testimony, for your work in this area. this is a continuing interest to this committee and its oversight responsibility. obviously we've got to get this right. the stakes are very, very high for all of us. it affects our entire country, not just the directly impacted
regions. so we've got to get this right. we need to learn from how we handle previous environmental damage areas, and we need to make sure that we can justify the process at the end of the day in and the best interest at one of the encouraging signs, i would just point out, a point that you raise, dr. boesch, know what the long-term issues. it looks like as this is moving forward there is sensitivity that the final assessments include monitoring to make sure that we carry out the intended restoration that we thought. so it looks like we have made process, at least since her first hearing on the issue that that was raised immediately that they would be damaged for a long time too, that may not be quite as well defined by the time agreement are reached. but it seems like there is sensitivity among the trustees to make sure that is included in the long-term solution.
so let me can complement all of you for your work, and we will look forward to continuing to work with you. with that the subcommittee will stands adjourned. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> a quick reminder that you can watch this hearing in its entirety any time online by visiting our website, c-span.org. go to the video library. going live now to capitol hill as the senate returns to resume work o on the measure is emanatg the confirmation process for lower level executive nominations. live coverage now on c-span2.
the clerk: s. 679, a bill to reduce the number of executive positions subject to senate confirmation. the senator from utah is recognized. hatch madam president, i'm -- mr. hatch: madam president, i'd be happy to be interrupted by the managers of the bill, if they decide to come. madam president, there have been several recent warnings of large and growing risks in global markets from the european debt crisis. if greece defaults, which investors see is likely, and european officials are unable to agree on how to restructure greece's debt, lack of qualified in sovereign debt could spread.
investors could run away tbr fr liabilities from other your ozone countries or even the debt of the united states. unfortunately, the president continues his disengagement in our debt problems. the administration continues to advocate more runaway deficit spending, continuing down the path towards european-style big government. our debt financed to unsustainable debt is pushing us towards our own fiscal crisis, yet the president has failed to lead to us a sound fiscal solution. my concern about the european debt crisis is about the possible exposure of the tows a european-led contagion that could lead to catastrophe in the global market for u.s. treasury securities. the u.s. financial system has exposures to liabilities of the public sectors, the banks and the private sectors of greece, portugal, ireland, and spain -- four highly indebted eurozone countries. the extent of the exposure sun
sure but is potentially greater than a half trillion dollars. given the interconnectedness in global financial markets, ultimate risk exposure to difficult to disentangle. more importantly, i am concerned about what all this means for american taxpayers. americans have made it crystal clear they do not want more bailouts. madam president, let me remind you of president obama's prejudice when he signed the dodd-frank banking act into law last year, an act which, by the way, is turning out to be a job killer and is itself a throat tower financial markets. the president clearly stated -- quote -- "there will be no more tax-funded bailouts, period." unquote. unfortunately, that promise has proven hollow. rrecall that a democrat-led congress urged on by president obama upped the u.s. ante with the u.s. monetary fund. annual funding was provided to
the i.m.f. which can out in be used to bail out proany gatt european governments. bailouts are continuing and there are threats of even more on the horizon. madam president, let me be clear now. before any crisis hits, there can be no further bailouts of banks or foreign countries or private companies or unions or states that are funded by innocent american taxpayers. the people of utah whom i represent and the vast majority of americans want to hold the president to his promise. they are done with taxpayer-funded bailouts. the administration and the agencies responsible for the oversight of our financial system need to bring some sunshine to this situation and make clear to the american people just what the bailout risk is from the eurozone or anywhere else. i am proud to cosponsor with senator demint and several of my colleagues an amendment that will roll back the funding provided to the i.m.f. in 2009.
to make the president's pledge of no more tax-funded bailouts meaningful and to do what the american people are clearly demanding of congress, it is imperative to protect taxpayers from bailouts of profligate european countries through the i.m.f. american taxpayers deserve assurance now that they will not be again forced to assume risks and losses that they did not create. the taxpayers deserve to know that they will be protected from future bailouts. that is precisely what the amendment i am cosponsoring will do. it is a simple amendment, and its message is clear: no more taxpayer bailouts. if the president is unwilling to fulfill his pledge on his own, there are those of us in congress who are happy to hold him to his word. i urge my colleagues to stand up with taxpayers and vote for this critical amendment. now, madam president, so far i have been speaking about this administration's abusive power with regard to the i.m.f.
i'd like to switch gears for a few minutes and talk about another series of abuses that are no less outrage owsms i am speaking about the obama administration's labor agenda. over the last month or so, many in this chamber have expressed concern about the national labor relations board's complaint against boeing. that complaint has been almost universally criticized, if not outrighted condemned, from all corners of the country. just last week "the washington post," not exactly known for having an anti-union bias, had some harsh words for the board's case against boeing. i'd like unanimous consent to have the "post" editorial entered into the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. hatch: also, the filing of the time between the union petition and the vote to certify the union. the motivation behind this proposal is simple. the less notice the employers have regarding a union election,
the less time they'll have to make their case to their own workforce. unions and their democratic allies have sought these kinds of so-call reforms -- in quotes -- for decades. i want to be clear. through all of their talk about representing the little guy and standing for the people, these so-called -- quote -- "reforms" -- unquote -- are an affront to the spirit of democracy. they show disrespect for employees by attempting to deny them critical information that could inform their choices in these elections. their genesis is not in a concern for the common man but in the unwholly alliance between union apparatchiks who want to grow their power and union dues and the union left that depend than owes deuc dues. unfortunately, now that president obama has packed the nlrb with former union lawyers, they look poised to get these
rules. let's be clear. this is a win for union bosses, but it is a big loss for the workers they purport to represent. i have much more to say about the nlrb in the coming days. but today i want to focus on another ru run way obama agencyo is setting up priewls and procedures in order to pay back the president's union supporters. the national mediation board, which has jurisdiction over labor relations in the railroad and airline descrirks has, like the nlrb, aggressively pursued a unionization at all costs agenda. while the n.m.b.'s bein activits have not received the same attention as those of the nlrb, their actions are every bit as aagree to just. last summer, the n.m.b. changed the voting procedures for all union election elections under s jurisdiction. for 75 years an airline, a railroad union had to win the support of a majority of the
entire workforce in order to be certified as their representative. under that system, workers who did not vote in an election were counted as "no" votes. the logic of this rule was sound. unions don't seek to represent just the workers that vote in an election. a union claims to represent the entire workforce. the established rule ensured that the results of an election accurately reflected the will of the true majority of a given workforce. unfortunately, logic and common sense often standed in the waif the big -- in the way of the big labor agenda. so in 2010, they changed the rule to lower the bar. now these elections are decided by a majority of those voting in the election regardless of how many workers actually voted. in other words, under the new rule, a union could be certified even if a majority of the workers didn't support it. given the timing of this election, one can only conclude that the pro-union appointees on
the n.m.b. were specifically targeting delta airlines for unionization after its merger with northwest amplest i think it would be totally naive to assume otherwise. but here's the remarkable thing: the stage was set for a union cakewalk. shortly after the n.m.b. fixed the triewls secure a pro-union outcome, there was an election among flight attendants to determine whether they wanted to be represented by the association of flight aten dantsz or a.f.a. all the rails were greased for the union and the union still lost. the employees had three options: one, voting "yes" to certify a.f.a. representation. two, voting "no" to reject certification. or, three, writing in an alternative choice for representation. the n.m.b. did its best to fix this. they counted the write-in votes,
votes clearly supporting an option other than the a.f.a. as votes in favor of the union p. but when the dust settled with 94% of delta's flight attendants voting, the union still lost. of course the unions cried foul and have challenged the results. the n.m.b., which has shown little desire to vindicate the rights of the nonunion workers let loan those of employers, is currently investigating the a.f.a.'s claims that delta interfered in the vote. i think we can guess how this investigation will turn out. this recent election was not the only setback the unions have received at the hands of the delta employees. last fall three other delta workforces -- the ticket antiquities, the bagging agents, and the reservation agents -- all held separate union elections, all of which ended with similar results. the n.m.b. is also investigating claims of interference in those
elections, even though no substantive evidence has been presented. with these latter three elections, the union sirte was the international association of machinists, the same union whose interests the nlrb is serving with its absurd complaint against boeing. if the obama administration's commitment to serving i.a.m. is consistent between agencies -- and there's absolutely no reason-to-ssume otherwise -- i think we can predict just how those investigations will turn out. there is no time limit on the n.m.b.'s investigations. delta has no way of knowing whether it is in the clear or whether it needs to prepare for more elections. more importantly, dell t.s.a. workers who have repeatedly rejected unionization will likely see no end to the bothersome pressure that comes with union election campaigns. i think it is safe to sna safe t with the obama union in charge,
-- the n.m.b. is behaving like the bureaucratic equivalent of the scorer stable of the 1972 basketball gold medal game. they are going to give the unions as many chances as they need to win this fight. labor law and policy plays an important floal our economy. in many respects, it determines which businesses will succeed and which will fail. it plays a significant role in decisions as to whether companies should invest in the u.s. or somewhere else. sadly, it has become customary to expect pendulum swings in labor law each time the white house changes hand and appoints new government officials to lead the federal executive branch and independent agencies. while this shouldn't be the case, i don't think we've ever seen the pendulum swing as far it is a has under the obama administration. the unions represent less than 8% of the private-sector workforce. yet with president obama in office, the unions' influence
has been virtually immeasurable. this should not be surprising during the 2008 campaign, president obama addressed a gathering of members of the seiu, probably the most powerful -- politically powerful union in the country. during his speech, the president told the crowd that if he were elected -- quote -- "we are going to paint the nation purple with seiu." apparently apparently, mr. president, this is the one campaign promise president obama intends to keep. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin is recognized. mr. johnson: i would like to be allowed to speak for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. johnson: thank you. madam president, i have been here for almost six months now,
but i have been carefully watching washington for the last 32 years while i have been running my manufacturing business in oshkosh, wisconsin. watching how increasingly broken washington has become over the years. nothing i've seen the last six months has changed that evaluation. washington is broken, and america is going broke. our economy is in a coma, and people are suffering. america hungers for leadership, and it's not getting any. not from president obama, not from the united states senate. we can't afford to have a broken political process, not now, not while america is hurdling toward a financial crisis. under democratic leadership, it has been over two years since the united states senate has passed a budget, and there is currently no markup going on in the budget committee to produce
one. america is going bankrupt, and the senate refuses to cast a budget. the president's budget, the one he presented several months ago to great fanfare, remember that? four and a quarter inches thick, 2,400 pages long, and who knows how many thousands of man-hours that document took to produce? it was going to be the solution to our fiscal problems, but it was so unserious, it would have added over $12 trillion to our nation's debt. it was so unserious, when it was voted on in the united states senate, it lost by a vote of 0-97. it was so unserious that not a single member of the president's own party voted for it.
instead of rolling up your shirt sleeves and personally tackling the number-one problem facing this nation right from the beginning, president obama delegated his role in sporadic negotiations to vice president biden. now that those talks have broken down, the president is finally getting personally involved in this process. what kind of process is this? a few people talking behind closed doors, far from the view of the american public. is that the process that is going to decide the fate, the fate of america's financial situation, of our financial future? is this how the u.s. government is supposed to work? i don't think so. of course not. unfortunately, this has become
business as usual here in washington. as a manufacturer, i know if the process is bad, the product will be bad. business as usual here in washington is a bad process. business as usual is bankrupting america. it must stop. america is simply too precious to subject our financial future to washington's business as usual. now, i'm pretty new here. i don't pretend to understand everything that makes the senate work, or maybe more accurately what doesn't allow the senate to work, but i do know the senate runs on something called unanimous consent. so unless we receive some assurance from the democrat leadership that we will actually start addressing our budget out in the open, in the bright light
of day, i will begin to object. i will begin to withhold my consent. the senate needs to pass a budget. it shouldn't be that difficult. families do it every day. a husband earns $40,000, a wife earns $40,000. total family income is $80,000. that's their budget. that's what they can afford to spend. american families figure out how to live within their means. the federal government should be no different. a budget is a number. we should first pick one number and then a set of numbers that won't let america go bankrupt. so let me start the process by throwing out a number. $2.6 trillion. this is $800 billion more than
we spent just ten years ago. the $2.6 trillion, that is the amount that president obama in his budget said the federal government will receive in revenue next year. if we only spent that amount of money, we would be living within our means. what a concept, huh? if we want to spend more than than $2.6 trillion, members of congress, members of this administration should go before congressional committees and openly justify what they want to spend, how much they want to borrow and how much debt they are willing to pile on the backs of our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. they should explain just how much of our children's future they are willing to mortgage. the american people deserve to
be told the truth. unless that happens, i will begin to withhold my consent. unless there is some assurance that the senate will take up its budget responsibilities in an open process, i will begin to object. madam president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: