Mark Begich on Environment
Democratic Jr Senator
A: Begich said he's a "yes" on Ballot Measure 1. It allows a "right to know," he said. "If there's going to be a megaproject, the public gets to be involved from a state perspective. They get to have comment. If there's mitigation requirements, they're going to have to uphold those mitigation requirements," he said. He said state lawmakers could have passed a bill that addressed the issue.
"The back and forth that the governor talks about is a great idea, but where were these guys when the debate was supposed to be happening? Why weren't they talking about this?" he said. "Instead, 45,000 people got a little upset at the government. That's how the initiative process works . That's how it works when the legislative system breaks.
The Donlin mine would increase barge traffic on the Kuskokwim River, the food source for many residents in the Y-K Delta. It will require large treatment facilities for mercury and cyanide coming from the mine's operations. Donlin has already received a water permit from the state to discharge wastewater into Crooked Creek, which drains into the Kuskokwim River.
People living the Y-K Delta are also worried about what will happen after the mine stops producing. The site would have to be monitored forever, once it ceases operations.
Begich recently came out publicly opposing Pebble. But Begich did not request the EPA review, said his campaign spokesman. Instead, that request came from tribes and other groups.
As for Sullivan, he blasted Begich for not stopping the EPA's review. Sullivan said that as Natural Resources commissioner, he'd asked the EPA where they get the authority to prejudge a project that doesn't even exist. "Whether you're for Pebble or against it, no Alaskan should be for an EPA that believes it can preemptively look at any project in the state, on state land, and tell us whether or not we can move forward on it," he said.
Following Jewell's decision, Begich has introduced legislation to override her rejection, and called the decision to put wildlife ahead of public safety irresponsible, his campaign spokesman said.
Begich isn't working to keep the federal government from stopping Alaska development, including at the giant National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, where development opportunities have been halved by new policies there, said Treadwell. Greenland and regional governments in Canada have regained full control of their national land, and Alaska needs similar freedoms, he said.
Anchorage is a city on the edge of the wilderness. Within a half-hour drive, visitors can stand amid wild, untamed mountain peaks. For the people of Anchorage, this spectacular environment is our neighborhood. Alaska’s wildlife are our neighbors.
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.
MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.
Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.
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?
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."
Proponent's argument for bill:(by Mission Blue): Recognizing the growing threat posed by foreign illegal fishing, the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act would safeguard U.S. ports, strengthen enforcement, and protect American fishing interests. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing spans the globe, threatening legitimate fishing operations, undermining sustainable fisheries management, and stealing a vital resource from needy communities and the world economy. Criminal fishing worldwide is estimated to take $10 billion to $23.5 billion worth of seafood annually, or 11 million to 26 million tons of fish--three to six times more fish than the entire U.S. commercial fishing industry catches legally every year.
Discussion of pro/con (Huffington Post 4/25/2013):
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans--over 90%--supports mandatory labeling of foods with GE ingredients. 64 other countries already require such labels. However, strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries has scuttled proposals for GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms) labeling laws in the past. The most recent and high-profile of these failed attempts at a GMO labeling requirement was California's Proposition 37, which was narrowly defeated after opponents spent $50 million lobbying against it. "Unfortunately, advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products," a Biotechnology Industry Organization spokeswoman wrote.
Argument in opposition (Food Democracy Now 5/26/2012):
Exactly 20 years ago today, the first Bush administration declared genetically engineered foods to be "substantially equivalent" to foods that farmers had traditionally bred for thousands of years. With this single policy, the US government radically altered the food supply, introducing novel genes into our food that had never before been consumed by humans. Corporate executives at Monsanto colluded with elected officials to make sure that their new "products" were placed onto the market as quickly as possible. Two decades later, Americans are still denied the basic right to know what's in their food because of this infamous policy.