Date: 05/14/1996 06:02 pm (Tuesday)
From: PATRICIA SCOTT
MARKE SMITH",BELEFSKI-MARY,BOYD-JOYCE,BRADY-DONALD, . . .
Subject: Legis Update - May 14
Legislative Update -- Week of May 13
The House will be in recess for the Memorial Day holiday from May
23 until May 29. The Senate will be in recess May 27 through May
The target adjournment for the 104th Congress is October 4 (very
This week both the House and Senate are scheduled to consider
separate budget resolutions designed to balance the budget by
2002. While the resolutions contain overall blueprints for
spending, they are not binding and do not require the president's
signature. The appropriations committees will later release more
specific numbers, known as 602(b) allocations, shortly after the
budget resolution goes through conference and is passed by the
On Friday, May 24, the Administrator is scheduled to testify
before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and
Independent Agencies on the Agency's '97 Budget Request (
Chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO)).
Clean Water Act Reauthorization
With only limited legislative days left in the 104th Congress,
action on CWA is looking less and less likely. Even if the
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee successfully
reports out a bill, a conference agreement with the House-passed
bill, H.R. 961, will be extremely difficult, especially with
elections looming. Nevertheless, Senator Chafee (R-RI), chair of
the Senate EPW Committee, continues to say CWA remains one of his
priorities -- just below Superfund and ESA reforms. Chafee,
however, says he is interested in a much more limited bill than
H.R. 961, which would focus on SRF reauthorization and stormwater
and wetlands reforms.
Coastal Zone Management Act Reauthorization
H.R. 1965, Rep. Jim Saxton's (R-NJ) bill to reauthorize the core
CZMA, unanimously passed the House on April 23 by a vote of 407
to 0. The bill 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 Senate is expected to either act on the free standing Saxton
bill in the next few weeks, or possibly act on S. 1142, a NOAA
Last week, H.R. 3322, the Civilian Science Authorization bill,
which would have significantly curtailed NOAA's budget, was
pulled from the House calendar. NOAA Administrator Baker is
scheduled to address the Appropriations Subcommittee this week
about the need to adequately fund NOAA in order the protect the
environment and assure economic growth.
S. 605, the Omnibus Property Rights Act of 1995 sponsored by Sen.
Dole, is still pending on the Senate calendar and may be
brought up before Memorial Day. Opposition to the measure is,
however, growing. Last week, Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-LA), one
of Dole's close allies in regulatory reform, wrote a letter to
the majority leader asking him not to bring the bill to the
Senate floor. Sen. John Kerry ( D-MA) also claims there are
enough Senators (41) opposed to the measure to sustain a
The bill would compensate landowners when their property has been
devalued by 33% or more due to government regulations and would
direct federal agencies to implement clean water and species
protection laws that achieve the "least impact" on private
There is also a possibility that Dole may offer a more moderate
version, perhaps similar to the takings bill that passed the
House last year.
Safe Drinking Water Act
The House Commerce Committee is working on a bipartisan safe
drinking reform bill that may be marked up by both the
subcommittee and full committee this week if both sides can reach
consensus. The leadership hopes to bring the bill to the floor
the week of May 20. However, some remaining differences over
standard setting and source water protection provisions may delay
swift action. Community "right-to-know" language to require
water systems to disclose contaminant levels even if the systems
are in compliance with health standards and "polluter pays"
language to allow public water systems to take legal action
against source water polluters are two other outstanding issues.
The environmental community, however, has been very critical of
the GOP draft bill, arguing it weakens basic health protections.
Last week, EWG and NRDC released a report showing that more than
45 million Americans were exposed to drinking water containing
contaminants at levels above federal health standards. Several
water associations, including the American Water Works & the
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, called the report
"misleading" and accused the environmentalists of using it to
block negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.
The Senate passed a SDWA bill last year with considerable
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA)
The House Subcommittee on Transportation is holding its first
hearing this Thursday on ISTEA reauthorization. The law, passed
in 1991, expires at the end of FY '97. The law contains a number
of environmental provisions to help mitigate environmental damage
from highway and other transportation projects. The subcommittee
is planning on as many as a dozen hearings. Witnesses at Thurs.
hearing will include DOT, GAO, IRS and CBO.
Interior Appropriations Hearing
Sec. Babbitt is scheduled to testify this week before the Senate
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. He is expected to outline
the Administration's FY '97 budget request, which includes
increases for Everglades Restoration (+$105.9 million),
Endangered Species Act Programs (+$34 million) and timber
harvesting and Jobs in the Woods Programs, which are part of the
Northwest Forest Plan (+$23.9 million).
On Friday, DOI lifted the moratorium on new species listings
under the ESA, which was imposed during the budget debate.
Oversight Hearing on Fish and Wildlife Foundation
On Thursday, the House Resources Committee is holding an
oversight hearing on the work of the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation. The foundation uses federal monies to leverage
private donations for conservation projects. To date, the
foundation has funded 1,212 projects, including the North
American wetlands programs, conservation education, and a
wildlife and habitat program. Funding authorization for the
program does not, however, expire until Sept. 30, 1998.
Witnesses will include Amos Eno, the executive director of the
foundation; Georgia Pacific; Champion International; Phillips
Petroleum; representatives from the Administration and private
Forest Health Bill
The Senate Energy and Nat'l Resources Committee is scheduled to
markup S. 391, a comprehensive forest health bill, on Wed. Sen.
Larry Craig (R-ID), the bill's sponsor, has joined in
negotiations with Democrats over the measure. The Democrats are
seeking to have the timber salvage rider eliminated and set aside
$ from salvage timber accounts to buy out timber contracts.
EPA staff are beginning to work with USDA staff on rules to
implement the new Farm bill.
Fund for Rural America (provision I forgot to mention in
The farm bill creates a new Fund for Rural America to augment
existing resources for agricultural research and rural
development. Funding is authorized from the Commodity Credit
Corporation for $50 million in FY '96, $100 million in FY '97,
and $150 million in FY' 98.
Non Indigenous Species Legislation
OCPD is preparing comments for the Administrator's signature on
Sen. Glenn's bill, S. 1660, which seeks to prevent the
introduction and spread of non indigenous species in waters of
the US. EPA was asked to provide comments by Senator Chafee and
Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD), chair of the Senate Commerce, Science
and Transportation Committee.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings/Events
Thurs May 16
Meeting on Lake Onondaga with Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) and staff
Friday, May 24
Press Event - Rep. Jim Saxton - Ocean Water Quality Sampling
(Muszynski, DRA - Region II)
Please call me at 202/260-1956 for copies of any legislation,
transcripts, floor statements, etc.