David McKinley on Environment
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 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.
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.
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Joe Manchin III
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Newly-elected Democrats taking office Jan.2017:
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