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NFC: Fw: River Policy Update, Week of March 5, 2001
American Rivers' Policy Update
Week of March 5, 2001
IN THIS WEEK'S UPDATE:
* Water Resources
* Status of Major Legislation
* Congressional Calendar
* Take Action
Tax cut debate dominates congressional agenda
Although work on the budget will begin to move forward this week, the
debate over tax cuts will most likely dominate the congressional
agenda. In the House, members will take up a $958 billion income tax
measure that passed the House Ways and Means Committee on a party-
line vote last Thursday. House Democrats will push for a $900
billion across-the-board tax cut to replace President Bush's $1.6
trillion tax cut proposal. House appropriators are scheduled to hold
several hearings this week, and the House and Senate Budget
committees will collect testimony from Cabinet secretaries ready to
begin outlining the details of Bush's budget outline.
Budget hits energy and environmental agencies funds
Bush's budget for FY'02 released last week will greatly reduce
funding for most federal agencies including the departments of
Interior, Energy and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection
Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers. While many of the details
of what agency programs will be cut are not yet known, the cuts make
it unlikely that the Bush budget will be able to provide sufficient
funding for an array of environmental programs, including clean
water, clean air, and endangered species listing and recovery.
Interior: The Interior Department will receive $9.8 billion in
FY'02, a 4% decrease from this year.
EPA: The EPA is set to take a $500 million hit from this year's
budget. The EPA will be funded at $7.3 billion next year, down from
$7.8 billion this year.
Corps: The Army Corps of Engineers, receiving $4.5 billion this
year, is slated for $3.9 billion in FY'02, a 14% reduction. The Bush
administration says that no funding will go for new Corps projects
because new projects would only add to the backlog of underfunded or
unfunded projects that have not gotten off the ground, nor would they
fund ongoing projects that are not justified, are environmentally
damaging, or violate other established policies.
DOE: Despite the current West Coast energy situation, the Department
of Energy is slated for $700 million reduction for FY'02, a decrease
from this year's $19.7 billion to $19 billion.
NOAA: The budget highlights few specific funding details for the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It is unclear how
the budget for the National Marine Fisheries Service, which
administers salmon recovery on the Columbia River, Snake River, and
elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, will look. American Rivers will
be working to encourage ample funding for northwest salmon recovery
in the Columbia/Snake River Basin, Puget Sound basin, and elsewhere.
USDA: The USDA's budget will drop from $19.4 billion to $17.9
Energy policy delayed further
Late last week Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham indicated that the
White House energy task force would delay its release of a
comprehensive energy policy for another 60 days. Initially, the task
force was scheduled to present Bush with a comprehensive energy plan,
similar to the National Energy Security Act of 2001 introduced last
week by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK), by
the end of March. Vice President Dick Cheney, Chairman of the energy
task force, gave no reason for the delay.
House members share views on electricity and energy policy reform
The House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a
hearing for House Members to share their ideas on electricity and
energy policy reform before forming their comprehensive energy plan.
Only lawmakers can testify at this hearing scheduled for Tuesday,
Renewables and efficiency and the energy debate
The House Science Committee held a hearing last week to collect
recommendations for improving renewable energy sources and energy
efficiency programs. Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-
NY) has made it his goal this year to develop and implement a
national energy policy that is created with the assumption that
renewable energy sources and energy efficiency programs are the key
to our energy future. The hearing also focused on ways to encourage
the public to utilize energy efficient products.
On February 26, Senate Energy Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK)
introduced the National Energy Security Act of 2001. Portions of the
bill have been split into separate tax measures, S. 388 and S. 389.
The national energy bill includes language from Sen. Larry Craig that
would roll back environmental protections at hydropower dams
regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This
language would undermine the ability of federal resource agencies to
require those projects to meet modern environmental standards. For
additional details on the bill, see February 26 River Policy Update.
Army Corps of Engineers Reform
Last week the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water
Development held a hearing to question the Army Corps on Engineers
about allegations of manipulating studies to justify a $1 billion
project to expand locks on the Upper Mississippi River. Last
December, the Corps' Inspector General and a Corps economist publicly
concluded the Corps manipulated data to justify an expensive
Mississippi River locks expansions project. The Army secretary under
President Clinton, Louis Caldera ordered Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, the
Corps' Chief of Engineers, to submit response on how to correct
problems named by the inspector general and others. The deadline for
an interim response has already passed. The final response is due in
180 days. Flowers stated that he does not feel comfortable issuing a
response until a new secretary and Corps civilian leader are in place
and have considered the matter. Subcommittee Chair Pete Domenici
expressed displeasure that the Corps was delaying their plans for
improving their cost-benefit analysis.
Last week the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee
heard testimony from state officials on issues related to the Clean
Water Act. The EPA's total maximum daily load (TMDL) rule, allowing
states to designate allowable pollution levels, dominated the
discussion. Chairman of this committee, John Duncan (R-TN), asked
the officials that testified to return with specific suggestions to
amend the law.
STATUS ON MAJOR LEGISLATION
The Conservation and Reinvestment Act:
Latest Action: On February 14, Representative Don Young (R-AK) and
nine cosponsors introduced H.R. 701, a bill similar to the CARA bill
that passed in the House last year. For details on the bill, see
February 26 River Policy Update.
Ways and Means:
Hearing on Electricity Markets
Monday, March 5 at 12 p.m. in the Chautauqua County Legislative
Chamber in Mayville, New York
Energy and Commerce:
Hearing on Electricity Markets
Tuesday, March 6 at 1 p.m. in Rayburn House Office Building 2123
Hearing on Public Lands and Energy Policy
Wednesday, March 7 at 10 a.m. in Longworth House Office Building 1324
Hearing on NPS Natural Resources Program
Thursday, March 8 at 10 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building B308
Hearing on DOT Management
Thursday, March 8 at 10 a.m. in Rayburn House Office Building 2358
Environment and Public Works:
Markup of Brownfields Bill
Thursday, March 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building 406
Hearing on Coalbed Methane Drilling
Saturday, March 10 at 10 a.m. at Montana State University
Follow the latest American Rivers' Action Alerts and Press Releases!
Take action to help save America's rivers. Visit
American Rivers currently has a number of job openings. See our
employment page for the following opportunities:
* Online Community Manage
Contact Jamie Mierau, Assistant to the Vice President for
Conservation, at 202-347-7550.
Legislative information taken from sources including: Environment
and Energy Daily, Greenwire, Congressional Green Sheets, and members
of the American Rivers conservation staff.