Date: 04/18/1996 04:48 pm (Thursday)
From: PATRICIA SCOTT
-MARTIN,BUIE-LYNDA,BURGAN-BARRY, . . .
Subject: Legis Update - 4/16
Upcoming Earth Day Event
Sec. Babbitt is walking from Harpers Ferry to Georgetown over the
next four days (Wed- Sat) to bring attention to the flood
destruction along the historic C & O Canal. There will be a
rally in Georgetown on Sat. morning (Washington Harbor at 9:30
am). After a walk to Fletcher's Boathouse, Babbitt will give his
Earth Day speech. ( A 5-mile run also begins at 8:30) You can
call 1-800-NAT-PARK for more details!!
*********************** Legislative Update********************
The House and Senate are back in session this week after the
Easter/Passover holiday recess.
With the current CR due to expire on April 24, Congress is
expected to finish work on an omnibus appropriations bill to fund
EPA, and the other agencies without appropriations, for the
remainder of the fiscal year. According to the Washington Post,
President Clinton has threatened to veto any more interim
spending bills. Just before the recess, the conferees agreed to
raise spending for EPA $6.4 billion, which is only about $240
million short of EPA's FY'95 funding (after recession). The
Administration reportedly has asked for $200 million in
additional funds for Boston Harbor cleanup, climate change
programs and the Environmental Technology Initiative.
On March 19, OMB sent a letter to the key appropriators,
indicating that the President would veto any bill that was below
the Senate-passed levels and that failed to eliminate
"unacceptable language" provisions. The Administration objects
to several riders attached to the bill, including the elimination
of EPA's $ 404 (c) authority to override COE wetland permits and
other riders relating to timber salvage and the Tongass National
Forest. Before recessing, the conferees agreed to accept Senate
language to allow for "emergency listing" of endangered species.
A previous rider placed a moratorium on all new listings. The
conferees are expected to resume work today, Tues (4/16).
(In a speech in Florida over the weekend, Vice President Gore
noted the importance of EPA's 404 (c) authority, arguing that if
EPA had not vetoed a COE permit in the Everglades back in 1988,
even more $ would be needed to clean up the Everglades).
The Administrator is scheduled to testify today, (4/16) before
the House VA. HUD and Independent Agencies subcommittee, which is
looking both at FY 97 funding and EPA reforms. On Wednesday, the
Administrator is also expected to join Bill Ruckelshaus, former
EPA Administrator, and current chairman of Browning-Ferris
Industries, and Bruce Alberts, chairman of the National Research
Council of the National Academy of Sciences, for their testimony
about changes to the agency.
Ruckelshaus is working with Congressional leaders, agricultural
interests, environmentalists, business leaders and others on an
"Enterprise for the Environment," which will make recommendations
in early 1997 on how EPA can be better managed.
The Committee may also hear testimony about GAO's studies on the
Superfund and the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) programs.
GAO went ahead with the SRF study, even though it was requested
under H.R. 2099, the appropriations bill which was vetoed by the
President. The GAO study seeks to address concerns by Congress
that states cannot make loans fast enough to keep pace with
annual appropriations in Congress. The GAO report is also
expected to address the issue whether or not fund could become
self-sufficient by 2004.
Hearing on Farm Bill Funding
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture,
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related
Agencies will hear testimony from several agricultural groups who
are requesting that Congress fully fund the conservation
provisions in the newly signed farm bill. Because the farm bill
was signed into law after the Administration submitted its FY '97
budget request for USDA, there may be a need for additional
funding. Dr. Norm Berg of the Soil and Water Conservation
Society and Ernie Shea from NACD are two of the scheduled
Senate action may occur S. 605, the Omnibus Property Rights Act
of 1995, in early May. The bill, which will compensate
landowners when their property has been devalued by 33% or more
due to government regulations, is pending on the Senate calendar.
The bill directs federal agencies to implement clean water and
species protection laws that achieve the "least impact" on
Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)
Rep. Jim Saxton's (R-NJ) bill, HR 1965, which would reauthorize
the core CZMA, may come to the House floor on April 24. Saxton
hopes to bring the bill up under suspension of the rules ( no
amendments -- up or down vote -- must pass by 2/3 majority)
During markup, Saxton offered an amendment to reduce the funding
levels in his original proposal to make them more in line with
the amounts appropriated for FY '96. The bill now provides $ 50
million for each of the next five fiscal years for
administration, resource management and coastal zone enhancement
grants. The bill also authorizes about $4.5 million each of the
next five fiscal years for the National Estuarine Reserve System.
The Resources Committee has sole jurisdiction over the bill at
this point; however, Rep. Young added a provision at markup
allowing states to use natural resource damage funds in
developing state resource reserves plans that could also give
jurisdiction to the Transportation Committee.
In the Senate, NOAA's reauthorization bill (pushed by Senator
Stevens and Hollings) is similar to Saxton's bill except that the
Stevens bill includes $ 6217-(would reauthorize $ 6217 in 4
years) Apparently, there is a hold on the bill by the majority
leader until final resolution of the Commerce dismantling
Sen. Chafee (R-RI), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public
Works Committee, recently announced that ESA reauthorization will
be one of his committee's top priorities for the remainder of the
legislative calendar ( along with Superfund reauthorization). It
appears there is bipartisan support for reauthorization language
to encourage Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), which are not
explicitly authorized under current law, but are being strongly
promoted by Sec. Babbitt. HCPs are part of Interior's "no
surprise" policy. Landowners who enter into HCPs are guaranteed
that they will not be subject to any additional land
restrictions if additional conservation measures are required in
the future. $ 7 consultation and recovery plans are other
issues the committee hopes to tackle.
The House Resources Committee may hold monthly hearings on ESA in
an effort to keep the heat on. This week the committee is
holding a hearing on federal, state and local funding issues.
Chairman Don Young's ESA bill, H.R. 2275, however, (which passed
out of committee) is viewed by many, including the House
leadership, as too extreme for floor consideration.
Safe Drinking Water Act
House Republican and Democratic staffers are trying to reach
consensus on a Safe Drinking Water Act reauthorization bill, and
the House leadership hopes to have a bill on the floor within a
month. Negotiations began last Friday over the majority and
minority proposals put together by Commerce Committee members.
In December, the Senate passed a comprehensive SDWA
reauthorization, which received considerable bipartisan support.
It overhauls the current standard setting process, increases
monitoring flexibility, and authorizes a $1 billion SDWA State
Revolving Loan Fund. The bill also authorizes a new source
water quality protection partnerships program to encourage
"locally-driven, voluntary incentive-based efforts" by public
water systems, local governments and private parties.
Bob Perciasepe testified before two House Committees on the SDWA
reauthorization at the end of January. He emphasized that the
Administration would oppose any bill that did not make "public
health protection" its number one priority.
Recent Bills Signed Into Law
Line Item Veto signed into Law ( P.L. 104-130) - I understand it
does not become effective until next year.
Farm Bill Signed into Law (P.L. 104-127).
On April 4, the President signed the farm bill into law.
Although the President expressed reservations about the bill's
payment system, he "wholeheartedly" endorsed the bill's
Some of the key environmental provisions include:
Conservation Reserve Program (CRP): The CRP provides payments to
farmers to convert active highly erodible agriculture lands into
less intensive uses, such as growing grass, trees or other
long-term cover. The bill would allow up to 36.4 million acres to
be enrolled at any one time. Operators who entered into a
contract before 1995 could terminate contracts on certain acres
after giving written notice. Those contracts must have been in
effect for at least five years. Lands with high environmental
values are not eligible for early release.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program: The program establishes
conservation priority areas where significant water, soil and
related natural resource problems exist. Livestock and crop
farmers can enter into 5- to 10-year contracts that will provide
technical assistance and pay up to 75 percent of the costs of
conservation practices, such as manure management
systems, pest management and erosion control.
Large livestock operations are not eligible for cost-share
assistance for waste management facilities, but are eligible for
The program is funded at $130 million in FY 1996 and $200 million
annually through 2002. Crop and livestock operators will split
the earmarked amount. Cost-share and incentive payments are
limited to $10,000 annually and $50,000 for the life of the
Conservation Reserve Program
Cost-share and incentive payments are limited to $10,000 annually
and $50,000 for the life of the contract.
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP): The program, which provides
payments to farmers for preserving wetlands, caps enrollment at
975,000 acres. Beginning Oct. 1, 1996, one-third of the total
program acres can be enrolled in permanent easements, one-third
in 30-year easements and one-third in cost-share agreements.
Individuals can choose the category for their eligible land. No
permanent easements can be enrolled until at least 75,000 acres
of temporary easements have entered the program.
The cost-sharing percentage will range between 75 percent and 100
percent for permanent easements, 50 percent and 75 percent for
30-year easements and 50 percent to 75 percent for restoration
Everglades: The law authorizes $200 million that will allow the
Interior Department to purchase endangered Everglades lands and
pursue a variety of other activities to restore the natural flow
of water in the region. Another $100 million would come from
the sale of surplus nonconservation federal properties in
Swampbuster: Swampbuster provisions require farmers who receive
farm program benefits and who drain wetlands to lose their
eligibility for payments. The law, however, revised the concept
of "abandonment" to ensure that as long as land is used for
agriculture, a certified prior converted cropland, which was
wetland before being used as agriculture land before 1985, could
keep that status. Landowners with these farmed wetlands may allow
an area to revert to wetland status and convert it back for
agricultural purposes without being penalized.
The law also gives the Agriculture Department discretion to waive
penalties for ineligibility and to grant time to restore
Conservation of Private Grazing Land: Twenty million dollars is
earmarked for fiscal year 1996 and $60 million by the third year
to provide technical, educational and other assistance to
landowners on the nation's 642 million acres of private grazing
Farmland Protection Program: Under the program, the department
would purchase easements to protect farmland that might otherwise
be converted to urban development or other nonagricultural uses.
Up to $35 million is authorized that could be used to protect
between 170,000 and 340,000 acres.
Flood Risk Reduction: Farmers can voluntarily receive one
lump-sum payments for land that is in frequently flooded areas.
The payment is equal to 95 percent of the seven-year market
transition payments. In return, the farmer agrees to comply with
wetlands and highly erodible land requirements and forego
commodity loans, crop insurance, conservation payments and
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program: The program provides $50
million in CRP funds to provide cost-sharing assistance for
developing habitats for wetland wildlife, endangered species,
fisheries and other wildlife.
President Signs Law including Small Business Regulatory Relief
(P.L. 104 -121)
On March 29 President Clinton signed legislation to raise the
Debt Ceiling, which included a small business regulatory relief
provision. The law requires federal agencies to assess the
effects of proposed rules on small businesses.
PALLONE (D-NJ) and FRANKS (R-NJ) introduced H.R. 3112, to amend
the Water Resources Development Act of 1992; relating to
sediments decontamination technology. (H2466)
PALLONE (D-NJ) and FRANKS (R-NJ) introduced H.R. 3113, to amend
the Water Resources Development Act of 1986; relating to cost
sharing for creation of dredged material disposal areas. (H2466)
GLENN (D-OH) introduced S.1660, to provide for ballast water
management to prevent the introduction and spread of
nonindigenous species into the waters of the United States.
LaTOURETTE (R-OH) introduced H.R.3217, to provide for ballast
water management to prevent the introduction and spread of
nonindigenous species into the waters of the United States.
FORBES (R-NY) introduced H.R. 3213, to amend MPRSA; relating to
the dumping of dredged material in Long Island Sound and for
FRANKS (R-NJ) introduced H.R. 3170 to provide for the disposal of
contaminated dredged sediments in a more environmentally
Please let me know if you would copies of any bills, transcripts,
testimony, etc. 260-1956.