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NFC: Fw: River Policy Update, Week of March 5, 2001

American Rivers' Policy Update
Week of March 5, 2001


* Budget
* Energy 
* Water Resources
* Status of Major Legislation
* Congressional Calendar
* Take Action
* Jobs


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, 
March 6.  

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. 

Energy Policy

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.   

Water Pollution

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.      

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 
http://amriversaction.ctsg.com today.


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.