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Chris Collins on Environment

 

 


Limit EPA oversight to allow mining over fishing.

Collins co-sponsored Regulatory Certainty Act

Congressional bill text:

A BILL to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify when the Administrator of the EPA has the authority to prohibit or restrict the specification of a defined area as a disposal site

Argument in opposition: (by Trout Unlimited, tu.org, July 15, 2014)

Trout Unlimited and anglers across America strongly oppose the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's ill-conceived markup of HR 4854, because the bill would prevent the EPA from protecting the world class fisheries of Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The poorly conceived bill has had no legislative hearings. The oversight hearing will have no Alaskan witnesses from Bristol Bay, the people most adversely affected by this bill.

The Bristol Bay region of Alaska is threatened by one of the most potentially damaging mines ever proposed. EPA has moved forward with a science-based, inclusive, transparent process, which, if implemented, should protect headwaters of an area that sees an annual run of 40 million salmon. The Bristol Bay fishery is worth in excess of $1.5 billion per year.

The committee plans to give Pebble Limited Partnership, [the mine owners], a gift-wrapped present, HR 4854, rewarding its many failures to produce a viable mining plan.

Source: H.R.4854 14_H4854 on Jun 12, 2014

No EPA expansion of regulated waters.

Collins signed Waters of the U.S. Regulatory Overreach Protection Act

Congressional Summary:

Argument in opposition: (by Rep. Bishop, D-NY-1)

The enactment of H.R. 5078 would, unfortunately, lock in place the interpretive guidance of the Bush administration: traditional Clean Water Act protections over a significant percentage of waters has been called into question or have simply been lost. These are protections that existed for over 30 years prior to the issuance of the first Bush-era guidance in 2003 and are now all but lost, making it harder and more costly for individual States to protect their own waters should their upstream neighbors be unwilling or unable to fill in the gap in protecting water quality.

Pollution needs to go somewhere, and since pollution does not respect State boundaries when it travels downstream, it will have an adverse impact on the quality of life and the quality of the environment of those downstream States. Under H.R. 5078, the EPA would be prohibited from ensuring that polluters in Connecticut continue to reduce excessive amounts of nitrogen in the Sound, leaving my constituents in the State of New York without any recourse to stop them.

Source: H.5078 14_H5078 on Jul 11, 2014

Create database on algal blooms in the Great Lakes.

Collins co-sponsored H.R.349

Congressional Summary: A bill to create a database of information on the causes and corrective actions with regard to algal blooms in the Great Lakes, and tributaries to the Great Lakes

Supporters reasons for voting YEA: Rep LATTA: "While quality work and research have been done to mitigate the effects of harmful algal blooms in our Great Lakes, a comprehensive information system does not exist. This information system would track and study the causes of toxin-producing algal blooms, the factors and conditions that cause them to bloom in excess, and the effectiveness of mitigation efforts to ensure these waters remain healthy."

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Cleveland Plain-Dealer article 2/3/15): President Obama's proposed federal budget includes Great Lakes spending cuts. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is the long-term plan to rid the Great Lakes of toxic pollutants. The plan strives to find ways to reduce runoff which can foul the water and create algal blooms that make drinking water harmful. The best evidence of the problem is last summer's algal bloom on Lake Erie--the water looked fluorescent green--that led to a ban on drinking water in Toledo. Protecting this resource requires a concerted, multi-party effort, proponents say. Yet such an effort had been lacking. The GLRI's $20 billion price tag was rejected as unrealistic as the United States was paying for other priorities including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

OnTheIssues explanation: This bill had no opponents speak out; it simply died in Committee. This bill was intended to earmark SOME spending on algae blooms, despite the spending cuts to the larger GLRI. The implication is that members of Congress consider other spending more important than mitigating algal blooms.

Source: Great Lakes & Fresh Water Algal Bloom Information Act 15_H349 on Jan 14, 2015

Require reporting lead in drinking water to the public.

Collins co-sponsored H.R.4470

Congressional Summary:

OnTheIssues Notes: This bill responds to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In April 2014, the city of Flint (with a large minority population) switched its drinking water supply from the Detroit-based system to a river-based system, to save the city money. In August 2014, residents began complaining about water discoloration and a bad taste and odor. The city of Flint insisted the water was safe, but by 2015, high levels of lead and other contaminants were found in the water. In Oct. 2015, Flint switched back to the Detroit water supply, using an emergency loan of $7 million from the state of Michigan; that switch should slowly clear up the contaminants. The issue was still volatile enough that a Republican primary debate was held in nearby Detroit on March 3, 2016, and a Democratic primary debate was held in Flint on March 6, 2016
Source: Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act 16-HR4470 on Feb 4, 2016

Voted YES to require GMO labeling.

Collins voted YEA DARK Act

A BILL to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods.

Cato Institute recommendation on voting YES: President Obama quietly signed legislation requiring special labeling for commercial foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)--plants and animals with desirable genetic traits that were directly implanted in a laboratory. Most of the foods that humans & animals have consumed for millennia have been genetically modified, by cross-fertilization. Yet the new law targets only the highly precise gene manipulations done in laboratories. Anti-GMO activists oppose the new law because it preempts more rigorous regulation. And that's exactly the goal of this bill, to the frustration of the anti-GMO crowd.

JustLabelit.org recommendation on voting NO (because not restrictive enough): Senators Roberts (R-KS) and Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a compromise bill that would create a mandatory, national labeling standard for GMO foods. This bill falls short of what consumers expect--a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package. As written, this compromise might not even apply to ingredients derived from GMO soybeans and GMO sugar beets. We in the consumer rights community have dubbed this the "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act (DARK Act). We need to continue pressing for mandatory GMO labeling on the package.

Heritage Foundation recommendation on voting NO (because too restrictive): The House should allow [states, at their choice,] to impose [a more] restrictive labeling mandate, but prohibit the state from regulating out-of-state food manufacturers engaged in interstate commerce. Instituting a new, sweeping, federal mandate that isn't based on proven science shouldn't even be an option.

Legislative outcome: Passed by the Senate on July 7th, passed by the House on July 14th; signed by the President on July 29th

Source: Supreme Court case 16-S0764 argued on Jun 23, 2016

2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Environment: Chris Collins on other issues:
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Page last updated: May 17, 2020