Matt Cartwright on Environment
Congressional Summary:This Act may be cited as the 'Bringing Reductions to Energy's Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act' or the BREATHE Act.
Proponent's argument for bill: (StopTheFrackAttack.org, July 2012 BREATHE Act Fact Sheet):
The BREATHE Act would close two exemptions in the Clean Air Act (CAA) that threaten the health of communities wrestling with oil and gas production in their backyard. The CAA established limits for major pollution sources; smaller sources of pollutants that are controlled by a single operator, located close to each other, are "aggregated" and considered as one source of emissions. Unfortunately, the CAA exempts oil and gas wells from aggregation. The BREATHE Act would apply the CAA to oil & gas production.
A 1993 EPA Report to Congress on Hydrogen Sulfide Air Emissions Associated with the Extraction of Oil and Natural Gas clear
Discussion of pro/con (Huffington Post 4/25/2013):
Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans--over 90%--supports mandatory labeling of foods with GE ingredients. 64 other countries already require such labels. However, strong opposition from the agriculture and biotech industries has scuttled proposals for GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms) labeling laws in the past. The most recent and high-profile of these failed attempts at a GMO labeling requirement was California's Proposition 37, which was narrowly defeated after opponents spent $50 million lobbying against it. "Unfortunately, advocates of mandatory GMO labeling are working an agenda to vilify biotechnology and scare consumers away from safe and healthful food products," a Biotechnology Industry Organization spokeswoman wrote.
Argument in opposition (Food Democracy Now 5/26/2012):
Exactly 20 years ago today, the first Bush administration declared genetically engineered foods to be "substantially equivalent" to foods that farmers had traditionally bred for thousands of years. With this single policy, the US government radically altered the food supply, introducing novel genes into our food that had never before been consumed by humans. Corporate executives at Monsanto colluded with elected officials to make sure that their new "products" were placed onto the market as quickly as possible. Two decades later, Americans are still denied the basic right to know what's in their food because of this infamous policy.
Congressional summary: Authorizes the use of funds in the Hazardous Substance Superfund for environmental cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Provides that disbursements of the Hazardous Substance Superfund:
Proponent's argument in favor (Sponsor's introductory remarks): Last week, the House passed legislation [outlined below] to weaken and fragment the already underfunded federal Superfund program. I am reintroducing legislation to reauthorize Superfund taxes on polluting industries; and provide more funds to clean up toxic waste sites. The Superfund program has resulted in the cleanup of more than 1,000 toxic waste sites. In the majority of cases, EPA works with the parties who have been found responsible for the pollution and they pay for the cleanup. [My bill] will reinstate Superfund taxes [on oil, chemicals, and corporations] to their previous levels.
Opponent's argument against: (Chamber of Commerce's July 29 2013 letter supporting those House-passed bills): The US Chamber of Commerce strongly supports HR2279, the "Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act;" HR2318, the "Federal Facility Accountability Act;" and HR2226, the "Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protections Act." These three bills aim at modernizing CERCLA. HR2279 removes two impractical and unnecessary deadlines. HR2318 ensures that the federal government is a "good neighbor" when operating a superfund cleanup site. HR2226 would clarify that EPA must consult with the state when selecting a remedial action.
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.
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
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Freshman class of 2019:
"Freshman class" means "not in Congress in January 2017", with exceptions:
* Special election, so sworn in other than Jan. 2019
** Served in Congress in a previous term
*** Lost recount or general election
Freshman class of January 2019 (Republicans):
FL-6:Waltz ; FL-15:Spano ; FL-17:Steube
MN-1:Hagedorn ; MN-8:Stauber
OH-12*:Balderson ; OH-16:Gonzalez
PA-9:Meuser ; PA-11**:Smucker ; PA-12*:Keller ; PA-13:Joyce ; PA-14:Reschenthaler
TN-2:Burchett ; TN-6:Rose ; TN-7:Green
TX-2:Crenshaw ; TX-3:Taylor ; TX-5:Gooden ; TX-6:Wright ; TX-21:Roy ; TX-27*:Cloud
VA-5:Riggleman ; VA-6:Cline
Freshman class of January 2019 (Democrats):
AZ-2**:Kirkpatrick ; AZ-9:Stanton
CA-49:Levin ; CA-10:Harder ; CA-21:Cox ; CA-25:Hill ; CA-39:Cisneros ; CA-45:Porter ; CA-48:Rouda
CO-2:Neguse ; CO-6:Crow
FL-26:Mucarsel-Powell ; FL-27:Shalala
IA-1:Finkenauer ; IA-3:Axne
IL-4:Garcia ; IL-6:Casten ; IL-14:Underwood
MA-3:Trahan ; MA-7:Pressley
MI-8:Slotkin ; MI-9:Levin ; MI-13:Tlaib ; MI-13*:Jones ; MI-11:Stevens
MN-2:Craig ; MN-3:Phillips ; MN-5:Omar
NJ-2:Van Drew ; NJ-3:Kim ; NJ-7:Malinowski ; NJ-11:Sherrill
NM-1:Haaland ; NM-2:Torres Small
NV-3:Lee ; NV-4**:Horsford
NY-14:Ocasio-Cortez ; NY-11:Rose ; NY-19:Delgado ; NY-22:Brindisi ; NY-25:Morelle
PA-4:Dean ; PA-5:Scanlon ; PA-6:Houlahan ; PA-7:Wild ; PA-17*:Lamb
TX-7:Fletcher ; TX-16:Escobar ; TX-29:Garcia ; TX-32:Allred
VA-2:Luria ; VA-7:Spanberger ; VA-10:Wexton