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Legislative Watch, 3/31/06 March 31, 2006 12:26 PM

Natural Resources Defense Council's

LEGISLATIVE WATCH

March 31, 2006

==================================
This is a status report on congressional action on the environment. The
information in this bulletin is also available on our website at
http://www.nrdc.org/legislation/legwatch.asp (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
http://www.nrdc.org/action/.

(Please do not reply to this message. See the instructions below for how to
unsubscribe or contact NRDC with questions or comments.)
==================================


The Senate passed its version of the fiscal year 2007 budget resolution that
includes language calling for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Meanwhile, the House passed a large supplemental appropriations bill allocating
additional funds for post-hurricane clean-up efforts on the Gulf Coast.

===

Budget/Appropriations

On 3/16, the Senate voted 51-49 to pass a $2.8 trillion budget resolution bill
for fiscal year 2007 (S.Con.Res 83). The major component of the bill is $3
billion in revenue that would come from authorization of lease sales for oil
and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The only Democrat to
vote in favor of the budget resolution was Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), who struck a
deal to create a $10 billion fund for Gulf Coast protection and recovery
efforts. The Gulf Coast fund would draw money from a variety of sources,
including revenues from oil and gas development in the Arctic and receipts from
offshore drilling elsewhere. Despite approval of the drilling provision in the
Senate budget bill, several more hurdles would need to be cleared before oil
and gas leasing in the Arctic coastal plain could occur. The House would still
have to pass a budget bill that paves the way for Arctic drilling, and leasing
would then have to be authorized through the subsequent budget reconciliation
process in both chambers.

During consideration of the budget bill, Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) offered an
amendment (S.Amdt.3121) to boost energy program spending that was defeated by a
vote of 46-54. The Bingaman amendment would have added $3.55 billion in energy
program funding for a variety of initiatives, including hybrid vehicle
technologies, fuel cell school buses and advanced coal technologies. The
amendment would have funded the increase by assuming the reauthorization of the
Superfund tax on industry, which has lapsed and currently lacks the support
needed for reinstatement.

Also on 3/16, the House passed a $92 billion supplemental appropriations bill
(H.R. 4939.) by a vote of 348-71. The legislation would fund the war in Iraq
and increase money available for hurricane recovery on the Gulf Coast. The bill
would provide a $19.1 billion increase in funding for Hurricane Katrina
recovery and restoration efforts. Of the total allocated for hurricane
recovery, $9.55 billion would be directed to the Federal Emergency Management
Agency's Disaster Relief Fund, which could be used for debris removal and
infrastructure repairs. Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers would receive
$1.46 billion for levee repairs, flood control projects and environmental
restoration. Another $100 million would be specifically targeted for wetlands
restoration. The Senate has not yet started work on its version of the
supplemental bill.

See NRDC's analysis of some of the energy proposals and environmental programs
in the president's proposed budget at
http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressreleases/060209.asp.

===

For information on the environmental voting records of members of Congress, see
the League of Conservation Voters' National Environmental Scorecard at
http://www.lcv.org/scorecard/

========================
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==========
About NRDC
==========

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization
with more than 1.2 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:

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