Bob Gibbs on Environment
Congressional Summary:Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to exclude manure from the definition of "hazardous substance" and "pollutant or contaminant" for purposes of such Act. Defines "manure" to mean:
Opponent's Comments (Jim Ruen on AgProfessional.com, Oct. 3, 2011): Since when can a fertilizer dealer operate without concern for environmental regulation and impact? Let's face it, we aren't talking about Ma and Pa Kettle with their six milk cows and three sows here spreading a load of manure on the back 40. We are talking about CAFO units with thousands of animals and tens of thousands or more tons/gallons of manure. While a few maybe spreading on their own land, most are selling it to area farmers. At a time when fertilizer dealers and companies have to be conspicuously careful with how they handle product, why shouldn't mega-livestock operators be equally regulated as they sell their "waste" product for its nutrient and soil building value. Since when do commercial N, P and K producers or handlers get a free ride from the EPA...or Congress?
112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.
The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) to prohibit the EPA or a state from requiring a permit for a discharge into navigable waters of a pesticide authorized under FIFRA. Excepts stormwater discharges and discharges of manufacturing or industrial effluent.
Proponent's argument for bill:(Blue Ridge Times-News, April 2013): Sen. Kay Hagan announced a bill to eliminate a "redundant and burdensome" requirement that 365,000 pesticide users get a CWA permit before spraying in or near lakes and streams. Farmers and other chemical users already have to meet stringent requirements for pesticide application under FIFRA, Hagan said, and the CWA permit only adds a duplicative, unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. Hagan said the "overlapping regulations" have also forced some municipalities to cut down on spraying for mosquitoes "because they don't have the manpower (to deal with the extra red tape), and they fear lawsuits."
Opponent's argument against bill: (Oregon Sierra Club newsletter Dec. 2012): Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" turned 50 this fall: it catalyzed the environmental movement [by focusing on pesticides like DDT]. Today we still face the issues she outlined in Silent Spring. Pesticide law and regulation in the US is a case study in corporate capture: beholden to the farm lobby in Congress, all the way back to the 1947 formation of FIFRA.
FACT: From 1988 to 1995, more than 65 bills were introduced in Congress to tighten pesticide regulations. None of them passed.
FACT: In the late 1990s, two separate investigations revealed that more than half of all former top-level pesticide regulators at the EPA subsequently went to work for, or were paid by, pesticide and chemical industry interests actively involved in fighting EPA efforts to protect the public from pesticides.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Clean Water Act to prohibit the EPA from requiring permits for a discharge of stormwater runoff resulting from silviculture activities.
Opponent's argument against bill: (Evergreen Magazine and Washington Forest Law Center): In Aug. 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that polluted stormwater generated by logging roads is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. [The ruling meant] that rain runoff from forest roads constituted an industrial (not forestry) activity, which should be considered a "point source" discharge under the CWA. The lawsuit was brought because forest roads have been dumping sediment into rivers that support myriad species of salmon and resident trout, all of which are at risk from the pollution. The ruling will require State agencies to issue permits and ensure that road construction and maintenance practices limit or eliminate such discharges.
In March 2013, the US Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit: permits are not required for stormwater discharges from pipes, ditches and channels along logging roads. [This legislation supports the Supreme Court ruling, against the Ninth Circuit conclusion].
Proponent's argument for bill: (Press release by sponsors):
Sen. WYDEN (D-OR): "We need a healthy timber industry to provide timber jobs and to do the restoration work that ensures healthy forests. The way to do that is to stop litigating questions that have already been answered."
Sen. CRAPO (R-ID): "The jobs and economic activities relating to the forest products industry are critical to the Pacific Northwest. The Clean Water Act was not intended to regulate stormwater runoff on forest roads."
Rep. HERRERA BEUTLER (R-WA): "At the heart of our efforts are the moms and dads employed by healthy, working forests--and passing this law will help make sure they have jobs, and will help make our forests healthy."
Congressional bill text:
A BILL to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify when the Administrator of the EPA has the authority to prohibit or restrict the specification of a defined area as a disposal site
Argument in opposition: (by Trout Unlimited, tu.org, July 15, 2014)
Trout Unlimited and anglers across America strongly oppose the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's ill-conceived markup of HR 4854, because the bill would prevent the EPA from protecting the world class fisheries of Bristol Bay, Alaska.
The poorly conceived bill has had no legislative hearings. The oversight hearing will have no Alaskan witnesses from Bristol Bay, the people most adversely affected by this bill.
The Bristol Bay region of Alaska is threatened by one of the most potentially damaging mines ever proposed. EPA has moved forward with a science-based, inclusive, transparent process, which, if implemented, should protect headwaters of an area that sees an annual run of 40 million salmon. The Bristol Bay fishery is worth in excess of $1.5 billion per year.
The committee plans to give Pebble Limited Partnership, [the mine owners], a gift-wrapped present, HR 4854, rewarding its many failures to produce a viable mining plan.
A BILL to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to protect and conserve species and the lawful possession of certain ivory in the United States.
Argument in opposition from National Geographic news Aug. 29, 2014:
Since 1989, [there has been a worldwide] "ban" the international trade in ivory after a ferocious wave of poaching in Africa. Some conservationists say that a limited legal ivory trade is needed to satiate demand, especially in China, in a controlled manner. Many others argue that the 1989 ban must be kept in place to protect elephants.
Elizabeth Bennett, of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), says it is impossible to have a controlled trade in elephant ivory. Bennett says she examined the prospect for a legal market in ivory and concluded that because corruption in some countries among certain government officials is so pervasive. The overarching problem is that "once illegal ivory has entered the legal trade, it's difficult or impossible for enforcement officers to know what's legal and illegal."
Argument in favor from NRA's Institute for Legislative Action:
In a supposed attempt to preserve African elephants, the Obama administration has begun a series of arbitrary decrees that will destroy the value of property held by countless gun owners, art collectors, musicians and others.
For decades, the US has banned the commercial importation of African elephant ivory other than antique items. However, legally [previously] imported ivory may be sold within the US. On Feb. 11, 2014, the Obama administration announced a proposal to ban all US commercial trade in elephant ivory. Since ivory is used in items such as firearms, knives, furniture, jewelry, art, and musical instruments, the ban would effectively make these items valueless for their owners.
The Lawful Ivory Protection Act would return the rules on importation and possession of lawful ivory to those that were in effect before Feb. 2014.
Argument in opposition: (by Rep. Bishop, D-NY-1)
The enactment of H.R. 5078 would, unfortunately, lock in place the interpretive guidance of the Bush administration: traditional Clean Water Act protections over a significant percentage of waters has been called into question or have simply been lost. These are protections that existed for over 30 years prior to the issuance of the first Bush-era guidance in 2003 and are now all but lost, making it harder and more costly for individual States to protect their own waters should their upstream neighbors be unwilling or unable to fill in the gap in protecting water quality.
Pollution needs to go somewhere, and since pollution does not respect State boundaries when it travels downstream, it will have an adverse impact on the quality of life and the quality of the environment of those downstream States. Under H.R. 5078, the EPA would be prohibited from ensuring that polluters in Connecticut continue to reduce excessive amounts of nitrogen in the Sound, leaving my constituents in the State of New York without any recourse to stop them.
Congressional Summary: A bill to create a database of information on the causes and corrective actions with regard to algal blooms in the Great Lakes, and tributaries to the Great Lakes
Supporters reasons for voting YEA: Rep LATTA: "While quality work and research have been done to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms in our Great Lakes, a comprehensive information system does not exist. This information system would track and study the causes of toxin-producing algal blooms, the factors and conditions that cause them to bloom in excess, and the effectiveness of mitigation efforts to ensure these waters remain healthy."
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Cleveland Plain-Dealer article 2/3/15): President Obama's proposed federal budget includes Great Lakes spending cuts. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is the long-term plan to rid the Great Lakes of toxic pollutants. The plan strives to find ways to reduce runoff which can foul the water and create algal blooms that make drinking water harmful. The best evidence of the problem is last summer's algal bloom on Lake Erie--the water looked fluorescent green--that led to a ban on drinking water in Toledo. Protecting this resource requires a concerted, multi-party effort, proponents say. Yet such an effort had been lacking. The GLRI's $20 billion price tag was rejected as unrealistic as the United States was paying for other priorities including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
OnTheIssues explanation: This bill had no opponents speak out; it simply died in Committee. This bill was intended to earmark SOME spending on algae blooms, despite the spending cuts to the larger GLRI. The implication is that members of Congress consider other spending more important than mitigating algal blooms.
A BILL to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods.
Cato Institute recommendation on voting YES: President Obama quietly signed legislation requiring special labeling for commercial foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)--plants and animals with desirable genetic traits that were directly implanted in a laboratory. Most of the foods that humans & animals have consumed for millennia have been genetically modified, by cross-fertilization. Yet the new law targets only the highly precise gene manipulations done in laboratories. Anti-GMO activists oppose the new law because it preempts more rigorous regulation. And that's exactly the goal of this bill, to the frustration of the anti-GMO crowd.
JustLabelit.org recommendation on voting NO (because not restrictive enough): Senators Roberts (R-KS) and Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a compromise bill that would create a mandatory, national labeling standard for GMO foods. This bill falls short of what consumers expect--a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package. As written, this compromise might not even apply to ingredients derived from GMO soybeans and GMO sugar beets. We in the consumer rights community have dubbed this the "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act (DARK Act). We need to continue pressing for mandatory GMO labeling on the package.
Heritage Foundation recommendation on voting NO (because too restrictive): The House should allow [states, at their choice,] to impose [a more] restrictive labeling mandate, but prohibit the state from regulating out-of-state food manufacturers engaged in interstate commerce. Instituting a new, sweeping, federal mandate that isn't based on proven science shouldn't even be an option.
Legislative outcome: Passed by the Senate on July 7th, passed by the House on July 14th; signed by the President on July 29th
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Freshman class of 2019:
"Freshman class" means "not in Congress in January 2017", with exceptions:
* Special election, so sworn in other than Jan. 2019
** Served in Congress in a previous term
*** Lost recount or general election
Freshman class of January 2019 (Republicans):
FL-6:Waltz ; FL-15:Spano ; FL-17:Steube
MN-1:Hagedorn ; MN-8:Stauber
OH-12*:Balderson ; OH-16:Gonzalez
PA-9:Meuser ; PA-11**:Smucker ; PA-12*:Keller ; PA-13:Joyce ; PA-14:Reschenthaler
TN-2:Burchett ; TN-6:Rose ; TN-7:Green
TX-2:Crenshaw ; TX-3:Taylor ; TX-5:Gooden ; TX-6:Wright ; TX-21:Roy ; TX-27*:Cloud
VA-5:Riggleman ; VA-6:Cline
Freshman class of January 2019 (Democrats):
AZ-2**:Kirkpatrick ; AZ-9:Stanton
CA-49:Levin ; CA-10:Harder ; CA-21:Cox ; CA-25:Hill ; CA-39:Cisneros ; CA-45:Porter ; CA-48:Rouda
CO-2:Neguse ; CO-6:Crow
FL-26:Mucarsel-Powell ; FL-27:Shalala
IA-1:Finkenauer ; IA-3:Axne
IL-4:Garcia ; IL-6:Casten ; IL-14:Underwood
MA-3:Trahan ; MA-7:Pressley
MI-8:Slotkin ; MI-9:Levin ; MI-13:Tlaib ; MI-13*:Jones ; MI-11:Stevens
MN-2:Craig ; MN-3:Phillips ; MN-5:Omar
NJ-2:Van Drew ; NJ-3:Kim ; NJ-7:Malinowski ; NJ-11:Sherrill
NM-1:Haaland ; NM-2:Torres Small
NV-3:Lee ; NV-4**:Horsford
NY-14:Ocasio-Cortez ; NY-11:Rose ; NY-19:Delgado ; NY-22:Brindisi ; NY-25:Morelle
PA-4:Dean ; PA-5:Scanlon ; PA-6:Houlahan ; PA-7:Wild ; PA-17*:Lamb
TX-7:Fletcher ; TX-16:Escobar ; TX-29:Garcia ; TX-32:Allred
VA-2:Luria ; VA-7:Spanberger ; VA-10:Wexton
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