Robert Menendez on Environment
Democratic Sr Senator; previously Representative (NJ-13)
KEAN: I took on the Clean Car Act as one of my most pressing legislative priorities. I have proudly supported numerous environmental initiatives, including tax incentives for purchasing alternative or fuel efficient cars, financial assistance to gas stations who install hookups for these cars and mandatory retrofitting of diesel trucks. I was also a strong proponent of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, considered to be one of the most significant environmental bills ever passed.
MENENDEZ: My opponent will be a loyal footsoldier for a Bush administration that has one of the worst environmental records in history. My parents taught me that if you make a mess, you clean it up. Polluters should be held accountable for the damage they cause. I’ve consistently fought to reinstate the “polluter pays” principle behind superfund laws. In 2004 alone, Kean voted twice against making polluters pay more for their toxic waste.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.
Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.
Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.
CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.
HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.
Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:
"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."
Dear Administrator Whitman:
We would like to convey our strong support for EPA’s proposal to remove sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the “hot spots” in the upper Hudson River. This clean-up plan is a crucial first step towards restoring the Hudson’s tremendous social, ecological, and economic value for the people of NY and NJ.
The Hudson River has been designated as an American Heritage River. Unfortunately, since 1983, 200 miles of the Hudson have also been designated as a Superfund site due to the damage caused by the estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs released by General Electric Company.
PCBs pose a serious threat to public health; they are probable human carcinogens and are known to cause neurological, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. Since 1976, because of PCB contamination, women of childbearing age and children [have been advised] not to eat any fish from any location along the Hudson. Unfortunately, low-income and subsistence fishermen and their families continue to consume fish contaminated with PCBs.
This contamination also adversely impacts longstanding commercial, recreational, and cultural activities on the Hudson River. For example, the commercial striped bass fishery was once a $40 million a year industry. However, due to PCB contamination, the state closed the fishery in 1976, all but ending a way of life along the river.
Environmental dredging in the Hudson will allow future dredging to ensure commercial craft continue to ply the waters of the upper Hudson River, and reduce the adverse affects of PCBs on the aquatic ecosystem. This means EPA’s remediation plan is a critical first step in reducing threats to public health, reviving local economies, reopening recreational opportunities and reinvigorating cultural ties along the river.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: A classic 1980s study demonstrated that poor neighborhoods are burdened with more environmental hazards than rich neighborhoods. The 1980s study established the field of "environmental justice"; this bill addresses environmental justice and health justice.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to require health impact assessments and take other actions to improve health and the environmental quality of communities, and for other purposes.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The Healthy Places Act of 2006 focuses on the built environment, which includes our homes, parks, and transportation systems. Like many other States, Illinois has already begun to take steps to improve the environment. City leaders in Chicago have recognized that many low-income families have no access to fresh foods and medicine because there are no grocery stores and pharmacies in their neighborhoods. Retail Chicago, an initiative of the city's Department of Planning and Development, is now using redevelopment funds to entice local developers to bring grocery stores and pharmacies into these neighborhoods.
The Healthy Places Act of 2006 would expand these and other efforts to improve the planning and design of communities that can promote healthier living. It establishes and supports health impact assessment programs; better addressing environmental health issues; and creating a grant program to address environmental health hazards, particularly those that contribute to health disparities. Finally, the Healthy Places Act provides additional support for research on the relationship between the built environment and the health status of residents.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.
Beach Protection Act of 2008 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (popularly known as the Clean Water Act) to include among eligible grant activities the development and implementation of programs for source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address the identified sources of beach water pollution. Requires grant recipients to identify:
Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.
There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.
These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.
This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.
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