The Relief Report ®
A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, 202/543-4110, Fax 202/543-5975, E-mail [email protected] Web http://www.nationalcenter.org
After enduring nearly a year of criticism from property rights,
free market, conservative, wise use and libertarian groups for
his handling of environmental issues, House Speaker Newt Gingrich
conceded that it had been a mistake to give so much authority
over GOP environmental policy to Representative Sherwood Boehlert
In late 1995, Speaker Gingrich established a House Republican Task Force on the Environment and appointed Representatives Boehlert and Richard Pombo (R-CA) as co-chairmen of the group. The Task Force served as a gatekeeper for all environmental legislation during the second half of the 104th Congress. Since the task force relied on consensus, Boehlert exercised enormous influence over the House's environmental agenda, bottling up legislation in the Task Force he deemed environmentally unfriendly.
The Speaker's demotion of Boehlert came following a two and one-half hour meeting with a group of some two dozen Republican Members of Congress who were angered by Boehlert's sabotage of the Flood Prevention and Family Protection Act (H.R. 478). That bill, sponsored by Representatives Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Wally Herger (R-CA), would have established an exemption under the Endangered Species Act to allow repair of existing flood control projects to prevent flooding, but it was pulled from the House floor after the New York Congressman led a successful effort to amend it, rendering it largely meaningless.
"I will right the wrongs I have committed and one of those wrongs was giving Sherry Boehlert way too much power and authority on environmental issues," the Speaker was quoted as saying by one of the participants in the meeting, according to the May 21 edition of The Hill.
While initial response to the Speaker's pledge was positive, one Relief Report source acquainted with House leadership operations who requested anonymity advised, "Trust, but verify. The Speaker's commitment will mean nothing if [the two dozen members] let him forget they are angry and why they are angry."
Others have recommended a carrot and stick approach.
"This is the first sign that the Speaker is beginning to understand our concerns," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Yes, the Speaker needs to know that he will be judged by his deeds, not just by his words. But he should also be congratulated for having the courage to admit that he was wrong. He needs to hear from us."
Already, conservative ire over the Speaker's environmental record appears to be yielding some results. During a May 27 appearance on Rush Limbaugh, the Speaker vowed to bring the Flood Prevention and Family Protection Act up for another vote before the end of the year.
Safer, more environmentally-friendly nuclear storage is the goal of the Alliance for Sound Nuclear Policy, a new coalition bringing together labor, industry and other organizations. Specifically, the Alliance hopes to generate public support for the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1997, which was introduced on April 10. It would consolidate used nuclear fuel into one isolated, state-of-the-art storage facility instead of continuing storage at more than 70 sites across the nation. Clearly, the greater number of sites the greater potential risks to both human health and the environment. With 27 nuclear reactors expected to exhaust their on-site storage capacity by next year and another 78 expected to do so by 2010, nuclear plants may soon be forced to find solutions of their own. These solutions might include building new stainless steel nuclear waste containers at plants in 34 states or decommissioning nuclear power plants, both of which could prove enormously expensive. It has been estimated that such interim steps could cost consumers (in the form of rate hikes or taxes or a combination of the two) between $34 billion and $56 billion if continued through 2030. To join the Alliance for Sound Nuclear Policy, call Tommy Smith @ 202/739-8017.
Mayor Richard Daley's Chicago has come out against the Environmental
Protection Agency's tighter soot and smog standards, arguing that
they "may even have negative effects on public health and
other environmental goals." In comments sent to the EPA by
Chicago's Department of Environment Commissioner Henry L. Henderson,
the City of Chicago asserts, "True protection of public health
can only be achieved if a proposal to improve air quality is based
on comprehensive public health criteria... [P]rotection of public
health also includes good nutrition, access to effective health
care including prenatal care, viable housing, personal security,
as well as freedom from poverty and inequality. Policies or programs
that strip individuals of any of these basic elements serve only
to jeopardize or diminish public health. The City has... well-founded
concerns that adoption of EPA's proposals may do just that..."
Ed Argenbright, Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices, recently issued a report charging that seven environmental organizations used an educational project to illegally promote an anti-mining ballot initiative in Montana, according to Montana Resource Providers Coalition. The seven groups identified are the Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC), Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Wilderness Association, Montana Council of Trout Unlimited, the Montana Audubon Council, the Clark Fork-Pend Oreille Coalition and the Montana Environmental Information Center. Vicki Itzkowitz, Communications Director for the Northwest Area Foundation, which gave over $187,000 to the NPRC commented, "We had given them [NPRC] a grant. We are gathering facts and we will deal with the grantee appropriately. We are taking it very seriously." For more information, contact Peg Wagner @ 406/387-4165.
All editorial correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to: The National Center for Public Policy Research * 501 Capitol Court, N.E. * Washington, D.C. 20002 * Tel 202/543-4110 * Fax 202/543-5975 * E-mail [email protected] * Web http://www.nationalcenter.org. Copyright 1998, The National Center for Public Policy Research. Coverage of meetings, activities or statements in the Relief Report does not imply endorsement by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints of material in the Relief Report permitted provided source is credited. To receive all National Center newsletters free by e-mail, visit http://www.nationalcenter.org or send a message to [email protected].###