The Relief Report

A newsletter covering regulatory reform efforts in Washington and across America, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 20 F Street NW, Suite 700 , Washington, D.C. 20001 (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301. E-Mail [email protected], Web

Issue #40 * May 9,1996 * David A. Ridenour, Editor

Eye on Newt: Ramblings of an Environmentally-Confused House Speaker

This exchange comes from the April 30 issue of the environmental newswire Greenwire...

GREENWIRE: What do you think of [House GOP Whip] Tom DeLay's [R-TX] efforts to repeal the phase-out of substances that deplete the ozone layer?

SPEAKER GINGRICH: I think that Tom at times represents a different view of the environment than I do.

Maybe that's because Representative DeLay represents the sound science point of view.

Earlier this year, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) --man-made substances used as refrigerants -- were banned on the assumption that CFCs are responsible for thinning of the ozone layer in our upper atmosphere. The ozone layer has been said to protect us from the sun's harmful rays. But these assumptions are not based on science.

FACT: Malignant melanoma, a deadly form of cancer, is believed to be linked to UV-A -- or ordinary blue sunlight -- which is not blocked by the ozone layer. Ozone does block UV-B rays, but these rays have no significant effect on incidence of melanoma.

FACT: The impact of CFCs on the ozone layer is not known. Changes in weather patterns, the eruption of volcanos, changes in ultraviolet output of the sun linked to the 10-11 year solar cycle and other natural phenomena can inhibit the production of ozone.

Before defending a policy that will cost Americans billions of dollars, perhaps the Speaker should find out whether or not it is scientifically-based.

The Problem With Speaker "Greenrich."

First, Newt Gingrich co-sponsored legislation to create a National Institute on the Environment -- an agency that would inevitably devolve into yet another government-funded body requiring the "discovery" of new environmental risks -- both real and imagined -- to justify its existence. Then he set-up a House task force on the environment and appointed Representative Sherwood Boehlert -- the leader of the opposition to the Clean Water Act Amendments -- to co-chair it. Then the Speaker gave "environmental establishment Republicans" equal representation on the task force even though they are a tiny minority within the Republican caucus. Now, Newt Gingrich is apparently going out of his way to insult key GOP constituencies -- and key GOP leaders -- who simply want to put people back into the environmental equation. In a recent interview with the environmental newswire Greenwire, for example, the House Speaker portrayed westerners as environmentally-backward. Speaking on Representative Richard Pombo's efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act, Gingrich said: "I have to say on Pombo's behalf that he has been one of the most patient and open to growth of any of the House subcommittee chairs. As we have met with world-class biologists and botanists... Rick has really tried to bridge the world of the rural Westerner to the world of the scientist who deals with this." With Republicans already under fire from Democrats for being "environmental neanderthals," the last thing they need is fire from their own camp -- much less from their own Speaker.

Hill Watch - Regulatory relief initiatives on Capitol Hill

Senate Vote on Property Rights Bill Possible by May 15.

Senator Dole's Omnibus Property Rights Act, S. 605, could be voted on as early as Wednesday, May 15. Among other things, S. 605 would require that landowners be compensated for their losses when -- as a result of government action -- the value of their property is diminished in value by 33% or more. Although the bill is believed to have more than enough support in the Senate to pass in a straight up or down vote, it does not appear to have the support of 60 Senators -- the number needed to overcome an anticipated filibuster. The following Senators are believed to be "swing" votes on the measure: Akaka (D-HI); Baucus (D-MT); Breaux (D-LA); Campbell (R-CO); Conrad (D-ND); Ford (D-KY); Gregg (R-NH); Harkin (D-IA); Johnston (D-LA); Kassebaum (R-KS); Moseley Braun (D-IL); Nunn (D-GA); Pryor (D-AR); Robb (D-VA); Roth (R-DE); Santorum (R-PA); Smith (R-NH); and Specter (R-PA). Perhaps the most surprising member of this "swing" list is conservative Robert Smith of New Hampshire -- a Senator not normally known for supporting the trampling of constitutional rights. If he's hoping to get into the environmental movement's good graces now - after all the votes he's cast against them -- he'd be wise to consider "Environmental Tip #2" (below).

Ambiguity in Heritage Areas Bill Recipe for Abuse.

An ambiguity in the National Heritage Areas Act of 1996 (H.R. 3305) would place extraordinary discretionary powers in the hands of the Secretary of the Interior that would increase the likelihood of abuse, according to an analysis written by James Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation and distributed by Liberty Matters. According to Burling, under Section 103(b)(1)(D) of the Act, the Secretary could require reimbursement of all federal funds used for Heritage projects or the "proportion of the increased value of the project attributable to the funds" if the Secretary determines that the funds were used for "purposes contrary to the act." Since the Act does not define "projects," the determination of "contrary purposes" is left solely to the discretion of the Secretary. Further, because the Act would allow the federal government to seek reimbursement for the valued added to a project by federal funds, a community could be forced to pay back more than it received.

Environmental Tip #2

Resist the temptation to argue environmental issues on the environmental establishment's terms. There is an enormous temptation -- particularly during an election year -- to pass legislation or engage in symbolic activities that appear to support the environmental establishment's vision of environmental protection. By so doing, Members of Congress risk:

  1. Appearing insincere or hypocritical;
  2. building greater momentum for greater regulation; and
  3. setting back common-sense environmental initiatives.

Instead, Members should be prepared to defend their voting records and explain why their environmental vision would work better for both the environment and for people. Rule of thumb: Never pay lip service for something you don't believe in.###

All correspondence to The Relief Report should be directed to:

The National Center for Public Policy Research
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Tel. (202) 507-6398 * Fax (301) 498-1301
E-mail [email protected]

©1996, 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.

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