tv Hearing on Plastic Pollution Impacts CSPAN November 2, 2019 1:12pm-2:32pm EDT
inquiry against president trump. follow the impeachment inquiry page ateb c-span.org/impeachment. it's your fast and easy way to watch c-span's unfiltered time.ge any >> actor and environmental danson was on capitol hill for a hearing on the environmental impacts of pollution. he currently serves as a board member for oceana, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization. the hearing also included testimony from other environmental advocates and a plastic industry representative. >> subcommittee on water, oceans and wildlife will come to order.
i may look like congressman huffman, but i'm not. shock, i'm a andressman lowenthal congressman -- is back in sonoma dealing with the wildfires there was never able to get back here to washington. so we're all hoping that, you that -- that the fires subside and that, you know, many people are safe and that mr. huffman returns soon. that, the subcommittee on water, oceans and wildlife will come to order. subcommittee is meeting today to hear testimony on a sea of problems. impacts of plastic pollution on oceans and wildlife. rule 4f, anyee the opening statements at hearings are limited to the chairman, the ranking minority member, the vice chair and the ranking member. this will allow us to hear from
and helpsses sooner keep -- help members keep to ieir schedules so therefore, ask unanimous consent that all other members' opening be made part of the hearing record if they're submitted to the subcommittee by 5:00 p.m. today, or the close of the hearing, whichever first. hearing no objections, so ordered. open it up now and i want to welcome all the witnesses and today, we are here to discuss a pressing environmental issue and that is pollution. certainly single use plastics have made life easier. materials come at a much higher cost than many would like to admit. last for centuries in the natural environment, and are on ourearly everywhere planet. last year, i witnessed the pollution onstic wildlife in antarctica, one of
the few places on earth that has relatively untouched by human activity, but certainly, the scourge ofy plastics. personally, i've been involved tackle the growing plastic crisis for over 20 years. constituent and friend, captain charles moore, the scientific research organization algalida did some of the early research on the plastic garbage -- there's an estimated tons of plastic that enter the oceans each year at a rate of about one garbage minute, threatening biodiversity and accumulating in the sea food that we eat and in we drink.that plastics have even been found in there in the right capitol visitors center. plastics are also making climate change worse. global life cycle emissions
from one year's plastic production throughout the united states are about the same as 462 coal-fired power plants per year rising. number is plastic production is an environmental justice issue also. petrochemical factors and incineration facilities are in low-income communities where local health impacts and air quality impacts are quite significant, but frequently are ignored. this subcommittee we need to look at solutions to deal with, for example, ghost fishing gear, fishing gear at sea, butlost continues to catch fish, marine mammals, turtles, birds and corals. higher recycling commitments and on single use plastic items can be part of the ourtion, but we must expand tools to address this growing environmental and public health
problem. in this committee, we switched to reusable pitchers and glasses water rather than the disposable plastic water bottles see so often around the capitol. but not every switch is as easy the option.yone has burden of cleaning up pollution should not be the taxpayers. it's imperative that the companies that manufacture and products take ownership of their environmental impacts. step up.needs to it is for this reason that i've been working on comprehensive senator udall,h our legislation seeks to create a more circular approach by putting in place an extended program,responsibility implementing recycling content phasing out well as certain single use only items that have more sustainable
alternatives. i'm excited to announce that we should have a discussion draft this legislation quite soon, which we will disseminate i encourage all of you to let me know your thoughts release.nts after its some federal agencies are also doing their part. noaa's marine debris program new projectsed 14 addressing aspects of this problem. however, the $2.7 million provided to these projects close toven come addressing the scale of the ocean plastic problem. line is this. we need to do more. we need to look at a broader solutions that are going to prevent wildlife from being strangled and to keep microplastics from ending up on our plate. toh that, i look forward hearing more from our witnesses
ideas and i will now invite the ranking member to share his remarks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. subcommittee meets today to hear testimony on plastics and oceans.pact on our from the tenor of the written testimony, it appears the blaming american consumers for the plastic waste that reaches our oceans and is proposing to place restrictions on them that will dramatically reduce the convenience and of life thaty plastics have contributed to our modern society, while increasing costs dramatically. blaming america first seems to recurring theme, but the facts paint a very different picture. in 2017 study published in the environmental science and technology magazine found that between 88-95% of all the plastic debris that enters our from 10 rivers, none of which is anywhere close to the united states. eight of those rivers are in asia and two are in africa.
therding to a 2015 study top 20 marine plastic prosecutors produced as much as metric tons of water-worn plastic debris. justnited states generated 0.11 million metric tons, barely 1%. indeed, the entire united states water borneless plastic pollution than north korea so who does the majority blame for this? american consumers. but as dean kilpatrick once observed they always blame america first. according to the epa, americans have increased plastic recycling tom 20,000 tons in 1980 3.1 million tons in 2015. a 155-fold increase. greatan consumers go to lengths to responsibly dispose of plastic waste and the numbers show that. american consumers are heroes, not villains in this fight
against the plastic pollution of our oceans. we should be celebrating them and not punishing them. yet that is just what draconian restrictions on plastic use starting with the 1.7 million families who depend plastics manufacturing to put food on the table, roofs over their heads and taxes in our coffers.t the single largest state employer remains my home state where 80,000 californians are directly employed in the plastics industry. object of the left'sire appears to be single use plastic containers, the tube, the sam to bottle, the plastic bag. they criticize them as wasteful plastic is used once and discarded and yet takes between years to decay. well, if they were properly and americansf do, i have to ask what exactly problem? the most common single use packaging of the ancient world
progressed from animal skins and gourds was the amphora of ceramic. in rome isill discarded amphori -- begs the question if we are going to ban single use plastic containers exactly what them?eplace how about your toothpaste? before plastics, toothpaste collapsible metal tubes. the opponents of plastics find this a more environmentally friendly container? the toothpaste tube was invented to protect consumers from the practice of getting toothpaste in glass jars and dipping your toothbrush into them. we return to glass jars? before that toothpaste came in cardboard boxes and wax paper which required mixing a batch every time you teeth.to brush your plastics have largely replaced
aluminum as the best container to protect food against food spoilage. before aluminum it was tin. takes four pounds of bauxite and seven and a half kilowatts of electricity to make one pound of aluminum. do the plastic critics really think an environmentally friendly alternative is to return to the era of metal containers? metal containers, glass was commonly used. glass takes roughly 1 million to decompose. 1,000 times longer than the plasticestimate for decomposition. i suppose we could go back to cardboard and paper, but i a decadethe campaign ago to ban paper bags as wasteful and environmentally we dutifully replaced them with plastic bags theireave now attracted of the environmental left. single use plastics properly disposed of mean greater convenience and lower prices for american consumers and a much smaller environmental footprint than all of the different packaging materials that they
have replaced. ini'm very interested hearing today why americans who exemplary record of responsible plastic disposal and recycle register to blame for the excesses of other people in other countries and why those same americans should now be punished with higher prices, less convenience and a lower standard of living. knowly, i would like to what are the plastics critics proposing as an alternative to plastic containers that they rejected overy the years? back. to ask unanimous consent that the gentle person mexico, representative hallen be allowed to sit on the today's participate in
proceedings. without objection, that is ordered. now, i'm going to introduce our witnesses. our first witness is mr. ted danson. you may know him better as the good place or sam ischeers, but mr. danson also the vice chair of the board oceana where he has been closely involved since inception. our next witness will be mr. juan paris, who is the founder and executive director environmental justice advocacy service or tejas. following him we'll hear from of environmental engineering at the university of georgia and the lead author of a study on plastic. last witnessour rasoszewki, the
president and ceo of the association. let me remind all the witnesses that they must limit their oral to five minutes. but that their entire statement hearingear in the record. when you begin, the lights on the witness table will turn green. after four minutes, the yellow light will come on. your time will have expired when red light comes on and i'll ask you to please complete your statement. i'll also allow the entire panel to testify before questioning witnesses. the chair now recognizes mr. danson to testify. our committee. >> i would like to thank the andr and ranking member members of the committee for the opportunity to testify on plastic pollution. the vice chair of oceana's board of directors. oceana is the largest international advocacy
organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. i've been working on ocean years.for more than 30 in the late 1980s, i cofounded the american oceans campaign, joined with oceana in 2002. testify today about the growing problem of public pollution that is threatening oceans. almost from the moment we wake bed,til the time we go to -- and when we wash our shampoo and conditioner from plastic bottles. the rest of our daily routines include one or several coffees in cups with plastic lids. take-outplastic containers with plastic utensils and grocery stopping where plastic is unavoidable. there isn't a place on earth untouched by the pollution from all this plastic. the list of marine animals
pollutiony plastic grows. plastic has been consumed by an estimated 90% of seabird species and eaten by every species of turtle. even our corals are threatened. in addition to polluting the marine environment, plastic poses a risk to human health. oure now seeing plastic in andr, our food, soil, air, bodies. plastic particles have been found in everything from honey and beer to salt and tea. affecting ouro climate. if plastic was a country, it would be the planet's fifth emitter of greenhouse gases. production rates anticipated to increase, so will plastic's effects on the climate oceans. the most important thing to remember about plastic is that for centuries. this is what makes single use
flawed. so profoundly they are created from a material forever, but are designed to be used once and away. simply improving recycling rates will not solve the plastic crisis. of all the plastic waste ever 9% has beennly recycled. that means the vast majority was a landfill, incinerated or polluted our natural environment including our oceans. recycling is like trying to mop up water from an overflowing faucet isile the still running. we need to turn off the faucet the production of plastic. companies need to significantly of single useunt plastic they are putting onto offer consumers plaque-free choices for their products. companies aren't doing enough and that's why we need your help.
policies governing the and use of single-use plastic are effective. and these policies are becoming more common around the world and across this country. the european ultimately comprehensive u.s. action is needed. this committee should use its authority to tackle the problem. i applaud you just top using plastic water bottles and committee hearings. unfortunately, the policy has been reversed. the committee should make our other federal and lands and waters into single use plastic free zones. federalongress to pass legislation that significantly reduces the production of this
everlasting pollutant, and hold corporations responsible for this global crisis and enable states and cities to continue to lead the way don't fall to the false promise of recycling. please don't stoop to incineration. we must stop the runaway increase in plastic production and reduce the amount of plastic companies are hoisting on us. we have no more time to waste. thank you. >> thank you. the chair now recognizes mr. perez to testify for five minutes. >> thank you chairman lowenthal and drinking member. we have been working on environment justice issues for
over 60 years. we work at the intersection of's -- of human rights and social justice issues. it is also the largest city. other infrastructures can be built on the fence line. derived fromc is fossil fuels. they are derived from gas or oil. the explosion in natural gas products has led to an increasing demand for gas liquid. it is another key element of plastic reduction.
-- we are already exposed to a dangerous mix of toxic pollutants. over the last several years that chemical complex has been expanding. emissions anding related to ans ever-growing market in plastics. around one thing, the production of plastics. we now understand the major economic impact oil and gas is undergoing.
as they expand, so do -- so too did the instability. 37 people were injured, some with third-degree burns. -- workers were initially evacuated [inaudible] they've malfunctioned during the event and community members in the end variable quality data to protect their health. recent disasters, the exxon over eight sailors were
held hostage under a chemical plume. on july 31st, 37 workers were injured and one september 20 to 2019 or 9 chemicals collide after the storm. in a recent report for environmental law, if oil consumption continues as expected, the consumption of oil by the sector will account for 20% of the total consumption by 2050. the reasons to be uncovered the facilities in the region and violated air pollution control over the last five years and were subject to environmental enforcement. but they were not penalized.
>> thank you chairman and ranking member. and the rest of the subcommittee subcommittee. i'm honored to be here to testify. i'm a professor of environmental engineering at the university of georgia and national geographic fellow i've been conducting research for 23 years with related projects for 18 projects regarding location and spatial analysis and global management. sailing across the atlantic in 2015 and it was funded by the program in 2011 where over 2 million items have been lost by people all over the world. i previously testified to the senate on this issue. i'm also a participant in the international information program with the u.s. state department and this has brought me to 13 different countries and economies around the world to engage with
governments, academics, ngos and citizens on this issue. my opinion based upon my background and experience conducting research. i spoke to educate and raise awareness that we now know we have a major problem with plastic ending up in the environment and in the ocean. it is used for the packaging and single use items and 6. 3% had become waste by 2015 for what have we done with that and how do we manage it? another 12% have been incinerated as a 79% have ended up either in a landfill or the open environment. it is fragmented into smaller and smaller pieces you've heard the number in the science paper
in 2015 we estimated the global plastic entering at 8 million tons in 2010 the quote about a dump truck of plastic entering every minute. in the intervention framework i developed in 2016 we start all the way upstream with reducing waste generation especially in places with highs per person like here in the usa is a the waste generation rate is two to six times i've thought of many countries around the world it is with individual choice and industry lead changes. for the end-of-life management of the materials currently the waste management system had to deal with whatever comes their way. this is one factor to the historical practice of 50% of the recycling to others primarily those of lower income. they make sure every voice is heard someone reminder i always have to give there are people behind all the numbers i gave so
we need to come up with creative, socially and culturally appropriate solutions. i'm optimistic we can do that and i will continue to work hard on science to inform the policy and everyone has an important role to play. i want to try to experiment. first for the next 24 hours take note of everything you touch that is plastic. it makes you reflect upon when and where to use the material. you won't likely have to go far and each message the figurative or sometimes literal message in a bottle of three questions. one, what is
we are all here today presenting to you, i will continue to work hard on signs to inform policy that everyone has an important role to play. trynt to encourage you to two experiments. take note of everything you touch that is plastic. it makes you reflect upon where and when are the right time and places to use this material. second, go outside for a scavenger hunt later. find as ach item you message for you. yourself three questions, what is it, how did it get here,
and what are we going to do about it? i believe questions like these can empower citizens, ngos, corporations and policy tickers .ike you >> the chair now recognizes the chair to testify. welcome to the committee. >> good afternoon, chairman and ranking member mcclintock and members of the subcommittee can give for having me here today. i am the president and ceo of the plastics industry association. we call ourselves plastics for short and use the term probably. developed by john wesley heights in the 20th century as a replacement for billiard balls. it was expensive into the
process of collecting it was gruesome and inhumane. the story of plastics from the genesis through today they make surgery is less invasive, receptive and affordable and in a century and a half they made cars, trucks and planes more efficient or affordable or friendly and ultimately safer. plastic pipes take wastewater away for treatment in the most economical and environmentally sustainable way. they've also made food last longer across the world. the plastics industry employed 990,000 people in the united
states and with the largest number is california where 79,700 men and women are directly employed by the industry. i can say with confidence none of them got into this business to pollute waterways and i can also say with confidence they enter with a passion to improve the safety and quality of a lot of people. our products end up where they shouldn't accept me and the people that work in the industry i'm sure feel the same way but it's a fact. it's also affects 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the world's ocean each year 90% of which the remaining 10% comes from elsewhere around the world and that is a great deal of value when the products end up in lakes, rivers and oceans.
the industry agrees there is a plastic waste problem urgency of the situation cries out for a solution more thoughtful to the material that lowers greenhouse gas emissions and efficient to produce than other materials like metal, paper and gas and has delivered numerous benefits to society as a whole. study after study including one conducted recently by the water board showed banning plastic products drives consumers and other materials and there's a minor impact on lettering if any at all in the free-market society the consumers decide what provides the best performance into so many applications the chief characteristics of plastics is a lower weight, but ability, flexibility and versatility we need to move in the opposite direction for the values that are too much to waste. we continue to support the legislation that will provide grants the industry itself stepped up to the challenge by innovating like it always has chemistries into the recngways o energy and create the supply to meet the demand. perhaps i can sum up the position of a quote from the
prime minister. we should not treat it as an enemy or ostracized those who use it. what is needed is the management of trash and solutions through innovation. on a personal note, i love this industry. i've worked for it for nearly 40 years and i sincerely believe plastics are among the greatest innovation is and to deliver and enormous benefits to public health and congress over the world. we need to learn to live with these materials because i can
assure you we would never want to live without them. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> i'm going to remind the members of the committee the role imposes a five-minute limit on questions. have questions to ask members of the panel of witnesses and i'm going to recognize myself for five minutes of questions.
i first question goes to jan and i want to follow-up on something that you said but also something that the ranking member spoke about in his introduction where he said there is no problem here in the united states. the real amount of plastics in the ocean that come from other countries, asian countries and african countries. you know in your work how much of a waste is entering from china, vietnam and other countries. can you tell us is this the real picture of the origins and can you tell us more about the full impact of the united states contributing to the ocean's degree and has been partially hidden by the reliance on exporting or waste to primarily asia? can you try to help us respond to that?
>> that is a good question, but certainly when we first did the calculations of plastic into the ocean we could take into account the import export aspect, so what we did see where these factors to rapidly develop where the infrastructure to manage the waste that comes with increased waste generation and that comes with economic growth but infrastructure was lagging behind. the areas that have been referred to hear many of them are developing in terms of contribution to the global plastic, we are a major contributor. what has become an issue in terms of the recycling to make it easier we can put everything into one main. that meant commodities. they need the material becoming the manufacturing hub of the
world that sets up a rapid increase in exporting the recycled materials and for me we looked at recycled plastics so over half of that has been going to china and caused a cascade impact on the industry within the u.s. itself so that was a major problem because we were relying on the lower income countries with china having managing their own and exploring on top of that so that contributes to pollution in the countries as well.
it's interconnected and complex but i hope that clarifies. >> we know about the waste of the plastics and how much is going into the ocean, but the question is how does this impact the species. so the first question, the report that was released earlier this year that included a plastic pollution as a threat to the marine biodiversity said it's seen as a threat.
next question, do you know if plastic is affecting the species that are in danger of extinction and we understand how it gets into the ocean but what are some of the impacts? >> turtles, every species is either on the endangered species list or close to it and each has adjusted. plastic doesn't go away completely yet it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. so purple or sea mammal or another animal may ingest plastic. they think that they are full because their stomachs are full of plastic so they stop eating. they end up something they like to eat in the water but that's plastic and defeated to their -- they feed it to their child
little bird and they starve to , death so it's having an impact on whales and many species. >> thank you. my time has been up so i am and call upon representative graves, who looks very good sitting on the democratic side. number of youra members. >> are you coming to my district this weekend? note.ant to make the people that i represent, the communities that i represent, why i said the things that i do. took him all over the place.
all sorts of things. i do want to thank you. see if we can talk some wisdom into those people. >> thank you. friendship.ate the i appreciate all of your efforts . i very much represent one of the top commercial and recreational fishing destinations and producers in the united states. a really important part of our culture, community and economy.
there is a huge part of the waste stream that exists right now. what do we do right now, just putting the long term aside? the current way stream that is supposed to be recycled with the china band creating some problems with where it goes, what do we do with the plastic that is in the ocean? what would you do? >> i would reduce single use plastic. it is designed to live forever yet you use it once and throw it away.
you have plastic that has been singularly used. inther it is in our oceans shipping or somewhere where it dogoing to be recycled, how we handle that way stream? >> i'm not sure you can. it's like oil, once you get it in the water column you are not going to be able to get it out. cleanup, butach compared to the amount of plastic that is going to be produced in the next 30 years, you just can't compete with the amount of plastic production. >> plastic is actually made to
be disposable, it seems like. it is affordable because it is plastic. people don't consider it as trash, so they get rid of it. actually either charging more for the production of plastic. >> i want to talk about the existing load that is they are. please. >> what is probably the easiest thing to grab our nest? the problem with what already exists is the diversity of plastic, that there are the challenges with recycling that. most of it is getting landfilled here in the u.s..
that is not the best thing that we wish. >> the four value components of ,ur chain from manufacturers processors and users are all actively engaged in recycling and products, ranging from used inand plastics developing technologies that can sort out the other materials and develop a way stream so they can be used in applications. the other technology being used are chemical recycling, where we can take the chemical back to their basic form and use it again in food contact packaging.
>> i represent the case for five minutes. asked twoking member questions. he asked what is the problem and the second question is why should americans take the blame for the excesses of the rest of the world? the first question, a couple of examples. we have the largest marine monument in our country. tons. around 52 metric why is that a problem? it degrades into smaller parcels that are ingested by the marine life. they get trapped in this debris and die.
where he cannot take that kind of i went on my first, june 1 of this year to the north shore where i try to clean up with sustainable coastlines one of the grassroots organizations across the country to do something about it on a micro level. the beach i used to walk on that was pretty white is now all different colors, green, yellow, red. very small particles of plastics don't have a level of marine life. that's what the problem is. now as to the ranking members second
question why should we take the hit and the rest of the world isn't doing anything about it is a legitimate question because it reminds me of the debate over climate change where essentially the same question as posed by should we reduce emissions when the rest of the world is not doing that and that leads to international agreements and what i see as one of the only ways to get at this problem from an international perspective. do they partner with international organizations to words international solutions to curb the plastics used from several perspectives are you partnering with the rest of the world to plan those international agreements? >> there are literally thousands or
at least a thousand groups around the world working on plastics. this is a united effort i can get more specifics when i talk to the staff. we haven't talked about climate change and greenhouse gases but plastic is such a huge part of that story. i don't see how we can not address our plastic and greenhouse gas emissions and if we don't do that how we expect the rest of the world to follow along. >> thank you very much. >> you stated in the testimony that you are supportive of save the oceans 2. 0 which is a bipartisan bill introduced in both the house and senate and that callsthe senateand that
calls for greater incentives at the federal level and also for pursuing international agreements that would curb plastic use around the world. search testimony sounded to be inconsistent. are you supportive of pursuing international agreements whereby the entire world would agree to the reduction of dumping plastics into the ocean's? >> i would say that we are involved in and working with the organizations to find solutions to the problems that exist today. we are engaged with the industry associations working in a consortium with them to find the ability to minimize the waste in the ocean and in the
land as well. >> that doesn't sound like what i'm talking about it sounds like you are working with the plastics industry around the world to manage it going into the oceans but not necessarily reducing it. reducing or reusing or recycling there's a lot of different options we are looking at him the many parts of it that we do like in other parts we would still like to negotiate with. >> thank you and i will recognize the ranking member for five minutes. >> i was referring specifically to this post posted in landfills and none of which gets into the ocean. we know that america accounts for less
than 1% of the plastic marine pollution so even if we went to the extreme of banning all plastics in the united states and in addition to having a devastating effect on the economy. you asked a very intriguing question talk about how much you touch everyday. isn'tevery day. isn't that an indication of how useful it is becoming in our daily lives? >> absolutely. if you look at what has been replaced in the past whether it is class, paper, steel, aluminum the reason why there's so much as the best choice in terms of the applications. >> isn't the question also a warning of how our quality of life would decline if left in restricting or banning its? >> a love of them would be taken for granted not only to the americans on the east and west coast but in other areas as well to get food to different parts of the world because of the lower transportation costs and food stays safer and hold dear
and pressure are all reasons across the world it has increased. >> the question also begs to correlate let's think about everything that we touch every single day, everything is either mind or ground. i don't know of a single exception to that. and that all then begs a new question and that is what is the alternative. i use the example of the toothpaste tube would be the alternative to that? >> in the original testimony you mentioned what it used to be and the only thing we could do is go back to what it was that i would be in glass bottles and glad i think is what was used in toothpaste tubes because of the softness so you go backwards if you talk about material with a higher carbon footprint and more energy to produce and the
transportation costs also increase and you have that aspect as well. >> disjuncture in the technology and science and advanced and offense but if the civilization, plastics are the most environmentally friendly alternative that we have if we are to engage in the commerce that makes the civilization possible is another. >> i go back to the point that the food packaging. the ability to get a proper us anyplace anytime because it is wrapped in plastic and it makes it accessible to everybody. all of those are getting product to the shelf economically. >> i'm curious how are we going to get our toothpaste for example how do you propose we package our toothpaste if you want to ban plastic containers and go back
to the tubes were glass jars. that is a problem. i haven't heard a single alternative offered by the critics of plastics and i think it has become very clear we found them to be a far better solution economically and environmentally to the materials that we have used in the past. it's funny how tell me how the ban would impact the overall economy. >> i think that it would be detrimental. it could have an effect of putting people out of work. i don't think that there is a quick response to the supply and demand the marketplace created for these products that you would have a shortage of goods and economic decline because of the lack of innovation of materials that were seen in the industry. what would happen to the consumer price prices? >>
that they would go up. it is a simple supply and demand. >> art automobiles for example looking at peace right now they are plastic and in the previous data they were much more expensive and harder on the environment. to meet the standards is the incorporation of high-performing plastics to do the same performance. >> so once again it is a blame america first and then arm of the american consumer even though the american consumer is responsibly disclosing plastic products and without any alternative. to me that almost sounds childlike. i will yield back. >> thank you, ranking member. i will now call upon mr.
representative cunningham for five minutes for questions. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for holding the hearing on an issue that is near and dear to my heart and also our constituents in the first district of south carolina which stretches from charles de gaulle the way to help and. this issue is certainly on the minds of south carolina and if any of them to keep their free time to support local beach cleanups in an effort to preserve our beautiful god-given natural resources and i'm proud to represent so many of these conservation leaders. the local foundation chapter in my congressional district hosts beach cleanups almost every single weekend coming and we also have andrew wimberly, the charleston water keeper who's who has made it his likelihood to protect and restore the quality of the waterways while
fighting for the rights to drinkable and fishable water. and today actually came up here from charleston with some of the plastic treasures that were recently found on offshore winds over the weekend from the goose creek reservoir which is the source of the water supply so we will see what we've got here today, and this was just found this weekend. we've got plastic water bottles here. a single use plastic bag and this looks like it has been shredded or enable one or more then likely ingested
by some kind of marine wildlife so what is left of it right now. another straw and we've all seen the pictures of sea turtles and the damage that causes. and a potato chip bag, plastic. this is an abnormal unfortunately, it's become the norm of what washes up on the shorelines or enters the waterways every single weekend and a lot of people in the room are aware of it and in fact earlier this year, noaa published a report on the economic impact of the marine debris and i would like to, without objection i would like to enter this report for the record. not surprisingly the report found getting rid of debris from the beaches can have a significant impact that's kind
of a no-brainer. every year the international coastal cleanup report shows the most frequently found items on the beach, 2017 data showed for the first time that the top ten most commonly found items were all made of plastic. the trend continued in 2018. so, what items, what you saw today is this simple but the items typically found in beach cleanups in your experience, and how does this come out of these discoveries help shape the policy? >> they are all single use plastic's which is something we would like to reduce. they are all very convenient and easy for us to use in our everyday lives but lives that create incredible problems everything from greenhouse gases to see animals die from ingesting them. so, that is our disposable lifestyle
of which i am part of. it's very hard to live without. everyday. people are coming up with solutions. there's a toothpaste that now comes in a little jar it's a powder and you add water and it creates jobs and money and taxes, so there are alternatives we need to find. it's been incredibly useful and don't become incredibly dangerous, and i think that is the argument, not a the left or the right has any monopoly on being smart about things. this is a problem for all of us and we need to find ways to do it and i do believe that we are capable. >> i appreciate you all being here today. unfortunately, my time is coming to a close but i know there's been some discussion today of course where the united states is as far as polluting and clean up and everything that
i think we should all agree that the united states of america is the leader and we should lead on this issue and no matter where we fall on the list of polluters, we should be leading by example and being more responsible, being more than the norm if you will. just you know, being out in the front on this and recognizing that this is not sustainable and we have to do every single thing in our power to make that come to an end, so i appreciate what you all are doing it at the time here today and with that i would yield back. >> thank you mr. cunningham and i now recognize that congressman for five minutes of questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, for holding today's hearing. in my first few months here in congress by first year, i had
this naive thought if there was a possibility for some committee members to get on an airplane and fly over this garbage bits in the pacific now it has a new name actually it is the great pacific garbage pass and it's located just a little north of hawaii and right next to a place place. i come from a part of micronesia micronesia. there's a lot of small islands together. you take all of those islands together, all of them come up with them together and it's hardly a large part of this past past. we have in the islands that are conservation islands and unless you are a scientist with a permit you can get on this island there have been
scientists that have gotten permits and found to their dismay they had to collect bags and bags of garbage, plastic garbage. i don't mean any disrespect to all of you. thank you. thank you very much for so many. i have so many wonderful hours of great entertainment. i enjoyed your shows. i also noticed among the witnesses on the table -- call me tony, how about that. >> among the witnesses you are the only one with a plastic bottle of water. you really are for your product. >> if i could comment on -- >> i'm not asking for a comment, just it is an observation. you
didn't have to bring that because there are glasses of water in front of you. but you see, this island, yeah we've probably contributed to some of this debris, but we are not responsible for that debris into that is floating and growing and it's one day going to cover. micronesia is an area the size of 48 states so what do we do about that? allege effort and resource would you think that it would be to clean up this garbage patch? >> so, what is floating out there is only about
3% of what we think is going in every year. so it's not a large amount, but you're absolutely right in that what is floating often ends up on islands like yours that sort of interest to those curtains. to be honest, the best way to sort of get that out is if it is ending up on land and then cleaning that like they do in hawaii. there are folks that are trying to design systems to collect out in the great pacific garbage patch but there's a lot of resources that go into that and that is similar to the analogy of mopping up your bathroom floor while the tap is on. >> just imagine what it would be like for hawaii is garbage gets any closer and just keep scrolling. i don't have an answer to the problem, i really don't. i do have a serious concern because you know, i eat
a lot of fish, brief and to and everything. i agree things get in to the fish and what i eat most likely, but i don't know. i don't have an answer i'm not as smart as the four of you at the witness table. but we do need to take some steps and get something going and try to find a way to resolve this and maybe i don't know, find an alternative to plastics. that's not going to hurt people's jobs. there has to be something. we are a much better nation than we think we are again we give ourselves credit for. my time is up, thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you.
next, the chair recognizes you for five minutes of questions. >> thank you mr. chair and thank you for hosting this important hearing. for the topic of plastics and water it cannot be more pressing on a study by the u.s. geological survey its sound plastic was found in 90% of the rainfall samples in denver and boulder colorado which happen to be the particular area that i represent in congress among many others. an earlier study found people are swallowing an average of 5 grams of plastic about the weight of a credit card. they are suffering from this everyday but ultimately people across the nation during the same it's imperative that we address this
issue. it just happens, mr. chair, quite fittingly, literally one week ago october 16, a constituent of mine named annie from ft. collins and expeditionary learning school in my district wrote to me about this very issue, the issue of micro plastics in the world's oceans and water systems at large and in her letter she said sent on such a small part of this world and i want to do everything i can to fix this problem. i'm certainly inspired by her commitment to fixing this problem and i'm heartened by his decision to separate the hearing and fellow committee members and their attempt to address this issue and the witnesses that have joined us and their testimony. i welcome this i had a number of competing scheduling commitments from the hearing perspective as well as meetings, but i was watching the testimony and some of the exchanges on the television in our office and there was one exchange in particular that was interesting to me and i had noticed you didn't have the opportunity to
really respond to the question being posed by the gentleman from california so i would like to go back to the point that he made about toothpaste. in 1984, how old were you? if you are comfortable sharing it of course. >> i was born in 47. would you do the math for me? >> i am a lawyer, not a mathematician unfortunately that ibuti believe that that would put you at -- 43, i think that's right. in 1984 -- i'm old, go on. i don't want to get stuck on your age. what kind of car were you driving back in the 80s? 1980s, ford explorer. and i take that it probably was not an electric car. >> nova they did have the first ev one. >> and i suspect you may have been renting back then or owned a home committed
your home have solar panels? >> know they did not. >> the reason i ask, i was born in 1984, 35 today i have a daughter that is 14 months am and i think a lot about the world of if she will inherit and much of the work we do here in this committee and this congress is about fighting to make sure the world she inhabits is better than what we do. the transformative changes that happened just in the last 35 years since i was born has been dramatic. you have chosen among many other citizens in our country and of course several of the panelists here to try to make a difference to adopt strategies in your own life and the way you conduct yourself to be environmentally conscious taking advantage of the technological capabilities that have also changed. so, this notion that we can't adopt and removing micro plastics suddenly we all would be witnessed in the realities of trying to replace the plastic that carries
toothpaste to me that is a false choice. fundamentally we all collectively are going to have to adopt a strategy that enables us to move to a future in which micro plastics are not polluting our planet and in the communities they are all so lucky to call home. that's to be is what this should be about. about. this is the extent you care to respond further, i know you did talk a little bit about some of the alternatives that toothpaste containers and brushes that are non- plastic options, but if you care to also eliminate further -- pinnock just briefly i do know people will invent new things and create more jobs and not create stuff that is worse. just in general if you talk about for children virtual friend that you are talking about climate change. you just are coming and you are talking about greenhouse gases and if you are talking about greenhouse
gases and fear in the middle of a committee about ocean plastic, you have to acknowledge the plastic is coming from petroleum and chemicals and that's why spend the time of production to lying on a beach is the equivalent all of the plastic is the fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. so, if you want to take care of your children, you have to start addressing these incredibly inconvenient things that we have all gotten used to and enjoy but that are no longer good for us and they are going to land on our children and grandchildren in a huge way. >> thank you. i will yield back the balance of my time and apologize for revealing his age. with that i will yield back. >> how old are were you? >> 35. >> thank you. i'd like to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony and the men was further questions. i found
it interesting members of the committee may wish to have additional questions for the witnesses and we are going to ask you to respond to these in writing. under the committee will, members of the committee must submit what this questions within three business days following the hearing and the hearing record will be open for ten business days for the responses. before i end i want to introduce into the record a journal article from volume nine of the climate change of 2019 which was a study that showed the global lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions were conventional
plastics, which were produced in 2015 and were 1. 8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. this is approximately the annual emissions as i pointed out in my introduction of 462 coal-fired power plants. that's what we are just talking about in terms of co2 emissions and i will get back to the record. [inaudible] >> i'm just introducing something into the record. if there is no further business, without objection, the committee stands adjourned. the [inaudible conversations]
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