(House of Representatives - March 21, 2000)

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[Pages H1142-H1143]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Camp) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, just 30 years ago, the Great Lakes had been 
all but pronounced dead. Lake Erie was filled with garbage, and rotting 
fish regularly washed up on the beach. The Cuyahoga River, which flows 
into Lake Erie, was so polluted that in 1969 it caught fire. Lake trout 
in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron were all but wiped out. The Federal 
Government even banned the consumption of walleye because of the high 
levels of toxic mercury.
  Today, however, we can say that through dedication and hard work, the 
Great Lakes are one of environmentalism's most dramatic success 
stories. Lake Michigan's fish population has recovered with steelhead, 
salmon, and brown trout. Lake trout and lower Huron and Superior are 
recovering rapidly as well. We have our Great Lakes back, but now we 
are facing a new threat.
  Water scarcity is becoming a worldwide problem. Over 166 million 
people in 18 countries are suffering from water shortages. Almost 270 
million more in 11 additional countries are considered water stressed. 
Experts predict that by 2025, one-fourth of the world will suffer from 
lack of water. Given the pressures of population increase and dropping 
water tables, present-day water usage cannot be sustained. Some are 
trying to change fresh water from a resource to a commodity.
  Given these disturbing statistics, it is not surprising that there 
are now proposals to withdraw bulk quantities of water from the Great 
Lakes Basin. After all, the Great Lakes compromise one-fifth of the 
earth's fresh water resources, but we still do not know the effects 
that bulk water exports would have on the Great Lakes system.
  In an effort to examine the environmental, economic, and social 
impact of bulk water removals from the Great Lakes, the United States 
and Canadian governments asked the International Joint Commission to 
report on this matter. Last week, the IJC released its final report.
  The IJC reported that removals of water from the Great Lakes basin 
could reduce the resilience of the system and its capacity to cope with 
future and unpredictable stresses. Despite its vastness, over 6 
quadrillion gallons of water, the system is also extremely vulnerable 
to disruption. Any hydrological changes to the water system, even small 
changes, could have devastating ecological consequences.
  Due to these environmental concerns, the IJC recommended a moratorium 
on such exports should be imposed for 2 years, to give the Great Lakes 
governors time to collect further data and assess the environmental 
impact of such removals. Most importantly, the IJC recommended that 
decisions regarding bulk exports should remain in the hands of those 
that are closest to this great resource, the State governments of the 
Great Lakes Region.
  I grew up in Michigan and I know firsthand how important these lakes 
are to the States around them. They are not just a water resource. They 
are a way of life; from shipping to hydro power to tourism and 
recreation. Our Great Lakes communities rely on these water resources 
to support vital sectors of their economy. That is why I have 
introduced legislation, H.R. 2973, to not only protect our Great Lakes 
but also to ensure that those with the most vested interest in their 
future, the people who live in the Great Lakes States, are the ones who 
make the decisions about how they are managed.
  For the past 15 years, the governors of the Great Lakes States, in 
consultation with the Canadian premiers, have effectively managed the 
basin. What we need to do now, and what my legislation will do, is 
impose a moratorium on bulk exports to give the governors the time that 
they need to effectively evaluate how and if any bulk exports from the 
Great Lakes basin should proceed.
  We do not want to transfer management of the Great Lakes from the 
governors to the Federal Government. That is not the direction we 
should take.
  Lake levels are at an all-time low. The Washington Post recently 
reported that Lake Superior is at 9 inches below its long-term average. 
Michigan and Huron were 18 inches below average. Erie was 9 inches 
below and Ontario was 5 inches low.
  Now is the time to act on this matter. Prudent management of our 
natural resources means looking ahead and planning for the future. As 
we begin this century, we must be responsible stewards of our 
environment, to ensure that our children are not denied the resources 
that we did are able to enjoy.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge members of the Great Lakes States and all Members 
of Congress to join me in following the IJC's report and enacting H.R. 

[[Page H1143]]

                              {time}  2000
                            OPEC'S DOORSTEP

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Pease). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Moran) is recognized for 5 
  Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, 3 years ago this month I made my 
first speech on the House floor, highlighting the importance of 
domestic oil production and our dangerous reliance upon imported oil. 
At that time oil was just under $15 a barrel and gasoline was around 80 
cents a gallon.
  Within the following 12 months, the price of crude would fall to 
$7.75 per barrel for western Kansas crude and would remain under $10 
per barrel for most of the next year. As a result of the dramatic price 
decline, since 1997 more than 136,000 wells were shut in and more than 
41,000 jobs were lost in the oil and gas industry in our country. This 
amounts to 136,000 wells and 41,000 people not producing oil to meet 
our country's energy needs.
  It was during that time that I introduced legislation aimed at 
reducing the cost of production for independent oil and gas producers. 
The bill seeks to boost domestic production by lowering the tax burden 
on small producers, increasing the credit for advanced oil recovery and 
calling for a strategic plan that would include additional research and 
development on secondary and tertiary oil recovery to address our 
national security needs.
  While the focus now is on the cost of energy paid by the American 
consumer, the solution for today's consumer is the same as the solution 
for the problem of the independent oil and gas producer. We must 
encourage production in our domestic industry and limit our dependence 
on foreign supplies of petroleum.
  The U.S. is currently importing around $100 billion of oil a year, 
one-third of our country's $300 billion trade deficit. High oil prices 
are a burden that we all bear. Kansas is a transportation-dependent 
State with normally cold winter weather. Whether it is the Kansas 
farmer preparing his field for spring planting, the trucker hauling 
wheat to the elevator, or the Kansas City commuter on her way to work, 
we all pay when our dependence on foreign oil becomes too great.
  While we may be upset about the current situation, we cannot say that 
it comes as a surprise. In the last 7 years, U.S. oil production has 
fallen by nearly 20 percent, while oil consumption has risen by almost 
15 percent. During the 25 years since the last oil crisis, our reliance 
on foreign oil has increased from 37 percent to nearly 60 percent 
today. America is now at its lowest oil production since World War II. 
We are importing 10.5 million barrels of oil a day, and that pattern is 
expected to only get worse. The Department of Energy predicts that by 
the year 2010, a mere 10 years from now, we will import nearly 80 
percent of our energy needs.
  Today's higher crude prices alone are insufficient to increase 
domestic production, particularly in the short run. Kansas producers 
have lost much of their equity and find it very difficult to convince 
lenders to take the necessary risks to explore and develop new leases. 
When prices are dependent upon the actions of OPEC rather than only 
free market forces, the ability to take those risks necessary to find 
and produce new sources of oil are limited.
  Does the small Kansas producer invest the necessary money, not 
knowing what the world price will be tomorrow? In Kansas the average 
daily production is 2.2 barrels per day per well. The cost per barrel 
is very high and the price received from that barrel determined by 
foreign suppliers. The stability which comes from greater control of 
our own destiny through increased domestic production is what is 
  The current situation is a clear signal for congressional action. The 
U.S. is producing less and less oil. Oil rigs and production have 
fallen by 77 percent since 1990. It is our obligation in Congress to 
develop tax policies, regulatory policies, and research funding that 
will allow us to raise domestic production to meet the future demands 
of the U.S. economy.
  Our strategy for dealing with our future energy needs must be 
something more than simply begging at OPEC's doorstep.