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NISA Action Alert
Dear National Invasive Species Act Contacts:
The House Sea Grant Reauthorization bill (H.R. 437) is scheduled to be
on the House floor on Wednesday (June 18). The current version of the bill--a
compromise between the House Resources and Science committees--will be offered
by Rep. Saxton (R-NJ), Chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and
Oceans within the Resources Committee. The House bill includes a provision in
the Authorization of Appropriations (Sec. 9) authorizing $2.8 million of Sea
Grant funds for the study of ZEBRA MUSSELS. This section (Sec. 9 (a)(2)(A))
refers to the National Invasive Species Act of 1996, which authorizes $2.8
million for the study of AQUATIC NUISANCE SPECIES, generally. The zebra
mussel-specific language appears to be a priority of Congressman Sesenbrenner
(R-WI), Chair of the Science Committee, and a Great Lakes delegation member.
Because the zebra mussel has been specified by Congress each year since
the enactment of the 1990 Nonindigenous Species Act for these funds, over $10
million has already been devoted exclusively to their study. It is
well-established within the research and resource management ranks of the Great
Lakes region that study of the zebra mussel should continue, but in combination
with vital research and outreach on other exotic species problems, particularly
the ruffe, goby and prevention, generally.
Most of the House Great Lakes Task Force supports amending or removing
the language to assure that Sea Grant can fund other ANS research, as well.
Exceptions are members of the House Science Committee, who are indicating that
they will defer to Committee Chair, Rep. Sensenbrenner.
I believe that Rep. Sesenbrenner and others on the Science Committee are
pushing the zebra mussel-specific language because they feel it is best for the
region. In fact, the language in appropriations bills has read "zebra mussels"
for the last five years, and to the uninitiated, a change would appear to be a
loss. In addition, they believe that they are creating an authorization that
would supplement the existing authorization within NISA rahter than replace it.
Unfortunately, substitution is more likely. The language within NISA
stipulates that the Sea Grant ANS research funds must come "from funds otherwise
authorized to be appropriated, if such funds are so authorized" (translation:
other authorizations override the NISA authorization). Since the Sea Grant
provision refers to the NISA provision, they are likely to be matched together.
Finally, while the Great Lakes region is the zebra mussel epicenter, thanks to
the zeal of our poster child, proposals for zebra mussel research funds
legitimately could come from anywhere in the US, just as for aquatic nuisance
species generally. Thus, we as a region gain no advantage through zebra mussel
The Sea Grant bill's ANS research authority is redundant, and so could
be removed without affecting the priority placed on ANS research. If this
language cannot be removed or changed prior to House action, it could be removed
in conference with the Senate, which plans to drop its bill tomorrow (with no
change to the NISA authority).
Calls regarding this issue would best be directed at the following
members, who are members of the Great Lakes Task Force as well as being on the
Science Commttee (* indicates that the member either opposes changing or
deleting the zebra mussel-specific research provision within the Sea Grant bill,
or will follow Sensenbrenner's lead):
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI-9)*
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY-23)
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI-3)*
Rep. Phil English (R-PA-21)
Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN-3)*
Rep. James Barcia (D-MI-5)
Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI-13)*
Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI-8)
Calls to the following GLTF members on the Resources Committee could
Rep. John Dingell (D-MI-16)
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI-9)
Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-26)