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Legislative Watch, 9/22/05 (report on congressional action on the environment September 22, 2005 9:36 AM

Natural Resources Defense Council's


September 22, 2005

This is a status report on congressional action on the environment. The
information in this bulletin is also available on our website at (the web version links to the text
of bills and congressional web pages). To take action on these and other
environmental issues, visit NRDC's Earth Action Center at

(Please do not reply to this message. See the instructions below for how to
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Congress returned from August recess to face the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina. The budget reconciliation process, which could lead to a final vote to
open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, has been
delayed until at least October.



Although House and Senate leaders had vowed to complete the budget
reconciliation process soon after Congress returned from its August recess, the
legislative calendar has been delayed by Hurricane Katrina. House and Senate
committees were expected to vote before the end of September on budget language
that would open the Arctic Refuge to oil drilling, but the budget process has
been slowed indefinitely as Congress drafts spending and policy bills to deal
with the aftermath of the hurricane. Congress passed two emergency spending
measures (H.R. 3645 and H.R. 3673) totaling close to $62 billion to fund relief
efforts along the Gulf Coast, and a third emergency spending bill is expected
by mid-October. Environmentalists fear that this third bill, which could run as
high as $100 billion, could include waivers to environmental laws and
regulations, such as those proposed in a bill (S. 1711) drafted by Sen. Inhofe
(R-OK), chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, that would allow
the EPA to temporarily suspend environmental laws when responding to damage
from Hurricane Katrina. Other lawmakers have discussed legislative proposals to
exempt the construction or repair of oil refineries from Clean Air Act
provisions and to limit public review of plans to clean up hurricane-affected
areas. Some of these dangerous exemptions could find their way into unfinished
appropriations bills or the new Katrina-relief supplemental spending bill.

See NRDC's new report:
After Katrina: New Solutions for Safe Communities and a Secure Energy Future at



On 9/14, the House passed a bill (H.R. 889) authorizing additional personnel
and equipment for the Coast Guard to cope with Hurricane Katrina relief. The
bill contains language included by Rep. Young (R-AK), chair of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, that would insert an additional
hurdle into the process of approving offshore wind energy projects by requiring
the head of the Coast Guard to submit a written opinion as to whether offshore
wind projects would affect ship traffic and navigation.


Public Health

On 9/13, the Senate narrowly rejected, 47-51, a resolution (S.J. Res. 20)
offered by Sen. Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Collins (R-ME), that would have
overturned an EPA rule announced earlier this year that will allow power plants
to emit significantly more mercury than would be allowed if the Clean Air Act
were adequately enforced.


For information on the environmental voting records of members of Congress, see
the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard at

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About NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization
with more than one million members and online activists, and a staff of
scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Our mission is to protect the
planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for
all living things.

For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC,
please contact us at:

Natural Resources Defense Council
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 September 22, 2005 9:37 AM

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