FACT SHEET | January 17, 2008

The Environmental Monitor: The Bush Environmental Record in 2007 and the Democratic Response

In 2007, the Bush Administration intensified its program of weakening environmental protections in favor of corporate special interests. Democrats in Congress share Americans’ widespread support for strong laws protecting the environment and public health. Democrats are committed to enacting sound environmental policies and to vigorous oversight of the Bush Administration’s anti-environmental activities.


The Environmental Monitorsummarizes actions taken by the Bush Administration in 2007 that have seriously undermined environmental and health protections. The report also describes oversight hearings conducted last year by the Democratic led Congress that have shone a light on the Bush Administration’s environmental policies. Finally, the report provides an overview of legislative efforts by Democrats to enact and strengthen critically important environmental and public health laws.

Air and Water

Public Health Risks. On January 11, 2007, a National Academies of Science (NAS) panel issued a report concluding that guidelines issued by the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to assess risks to public health, safety, and the environment were“fundamentally flawed” and should be withdrawn. The NAS panel found that the guidelines would impose sweeping changes affecting implementation of government risk management safeguards with little or no benefit.[1]


Politicizing Environmental Protection. On January 18, 2007, President Bush signed an Executive Order requiring greater White House involvement in agency rulemaking and regulation. The Executive Order prohibits agencies from beginning to rewrite a rule without the approval of White House political appointees and requires that a justification be provided to OMB regarding the need for any new proposed regulatory safeguards. Agency guidance documents also will require a White House review through OMB, and OMB will have the power to comment on and delay release of “significant documents” on critical subjects, including public health and global warming.[2]


Soot and Public Health. A study published on February 1, 2007, in the New England Journal of Medicinefound that long-term exposure to fine particulate matter, or soot, increases the risk of heart disease in post-menopausal women. The study found that each 10-microgram increase in soot exposure increased the risk of heart problems and the risk of death from heart disease by 76 percent. In September 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chose to ignore the advice of its own scientific advisors to sufficiently tighten the annual air quality standard for fine particulate matter, a move criticized by many health experts.[3] More than 2,000 scientific studies show that exposure to smaller amounts of soot than EPA’s standards permit cause serious health damage.[4]


Budget Cuts for Clean Air and Water. On February 5, 2007, President Bush released a budget plan proposing a cut of $509 million in the budget for EPA, a reduction of 6.6 percent. The President’s budget proposed to cut the Clean Water Actstate revolving fund by $396 million, a cut of nearly half since 2001, and to reduce funding to improve water quality by $400 million.


EPA Operating Plan.On March 22, 2007, Greenwire reported on the problems that local governments were expecting to face in meeting federally-mandated environmental standards after EPA decided to cut $20 million in funds to the successful State Tribal Assistance Grant Program. The Bush Administration’s “funding cuts would come just as states are struggling to meet U.S. EPA deadlines to issue state implementation plans (SIPs) for combating both ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter.”[5]


Weakening State Plans for Reducing Soot Emissions.In April 2007, EPA published a final regulation establishing requirements for state plans to clean the air in areas exceeding health standards for fine particle pollution. The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to set national air quality standards but relies on state plans requiring the adoption of control technologies to ensure the standards are met. The regulation announced by the Bush Administration would circumvent the Act’s mandate requiring installation of reasonably available control technology by creating a “presumption” that compliance with other regulations is sufficient.[6]


Inaction on Toxins in Tap Water. On April 12, 2007, EPA once again delayed issuing drinking water standards for two toxic chemicals that are widely found in tap water: the gasoline additive MTBE, which has been found in thousands of drinking water wells across the nation, and the rocket fuel component perchlorate, which contaminates the water supplies used by tens of millions of Americans. EPA data show that both chemicals are found in many drinking water sources, posing serious health hazards, but EPA continues to take no regulatory action in response.[7]


Undercutting Air Pollution Control Requirements for Dirty Older Coal-Burning Power Plants.A report in Greenwire on April 25, 2007, outlined the steps that the Bush Administration was taking to avoid the import of a recent Supreme Court ruling on its air pollution policies, and that it was continuing to push for a new rule that would “give electric utilities additional leeway on plant modifications before triggering requirements to install modern pollution controls.” The Administration was defeated when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy Corp. that EPA has authority to enforce air quality controls using more stringent control practices. EPA almost immediately began to take steps to evade the decision.[8] On May 8, 2007, EPA published a new proposed rule to allow “Emissions Increases for Electric Generating Units” that would be based on hourly standards similar to those rejected in Duke Energy, which as a practical matter could potentially exempt many of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the country from ever complying with Clean Air Act New Source Review cleanup requirements.[9]


Beach Swimming Health Advisories.In May 2007, EPA published its 2006 Swimming Season Update which reported that in 2006, 1,201 beaches, or 32 percent of all beaches surveyed, had at least one advisory or closing during the year. The number has increased every year during the Bush Administration from 672 in 2001 to 1,201 in 2006.[10]


Clean Water Rollback for Animal Feeding Operations.On May 4, 2007, EPA announced that it would further delay, until 2009, the deadline for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to apply for new Clean Water Act permits.[11]EPA first published requirements for CAFOs in 2003, and was supposed to complete them by February 2006. EPA’s failure to finalize the regulations has endangered water quality across the country.


Incinerator and Boiler Rules.In June 2007, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled, contrary to the position of EPA, that incinerators and boilers must comply with stringent air quality rules. The ruling rejected the Bush Administration’s attempt to limit the definition of “incinerators” and also “ended EPAs practice of allowing certain industrial facilities to avoid controlling emissions of hydrochloric acid and several other substances that Congress had listed as ‘hazardous’ under the Clean Air Act.”[12]

Biofuels.On June 8, 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report which found that the Department of Energy does not yet have a comprehensive plan “to coordinate its strategy for expanding biofuels production with the development of biofuels infrastructure and production of vehicles.” GAO found that DOE’s failure to propound a plan to deal with the expected increases in biofuels use means that significant air quality and oil savings benefits from expanded biofuels usage will not be fully realized.[13]

Ignoring Science in Proposing Health Standard for Smog.On June 21, 2007, EPA proposed a rule that would leave open the option to keep the existing health standard for ground-level ozone (smog), as sought by industry lobbyists, even though EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committeehad concluded unanimously that the standard has "no scientific justification"for being maintained, and "needs to be substantially reduced" to be protective. EPA also is considering other levels for the ozone standard less protective of health than recommended by its scientific advisors. If implemented, the Bush Administration’s refusal to follow science would threaten millions of Americans with the adverse health impacts of dirty air.[14]

Oil Storage Tanks.In July 2007, GAO issued a report on EPA’s changes (in 2002 and 2006) to the Clean Water Act Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. GAO found that EPA’s economic analyses had important shortcomings, for example the agency “did not estimate the potential benefits of the 2006 amendments, such as the extent to which they would affect the risk of an oil spill and public health and welfare and the environment.” The failure to address these issues could have limited EPA’s ability to draft more protective and effective rule changes.[15]


Lobbying.On July 19, 2007, E&E News reported that Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary Mark Limbaugh had resigned as the Department’s top water and science official to begin lobbying on behalf of local irrigation and water agencies. The move raised further questions about the role of the Department’s Conduct Accountability Board, which Limbaugh was scheduled to serve on, which had been investigating the role of former Interior employee Julie Smith MacDonald.[16]


Cancer Risks of Oil Refinery Emissions.In August 2007, the Bush Administration announced that EPA will take no further regulatory action to reduce toxic air pollution from oil refineries. The analysis that EPA used to support its view that no further action is needed found that the “lifetime cancer risk for individuals exposed to refinery emissions is 70 in 1 million -- which EPA considered to be acceptable."[17] This risk level is more than 70 times greater than the Clean Air Acttoxics residual risk level of 1 in 1 million, leaving an additional 460,000 Americans exposed to cancer risks from oil refineries.


Shipping Pollution. According to a California Air Resources Board study cited by the Los Angeles Times, shipping pollution is a significant contributor to “an estimated 5,400 premature deaths annually in Southern California” linked to air pollution.[18] In a report dated September 27, 2006, EPA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reported EPA’s estimates that commercial marine diesel vessels are substantial sources of ozone-forming oxides of nitrogen, fine particulate matter (soot) and sulfur oxides.[19] The OIG Report noted that EPA’s current standards for large ship engines are equivalent to or less stringent than international emissions standards, which impose virtually no controls. In response to litigation brought by environmental groups, in February 2003 EPA had set a deadline to issue final rules reducing emissions from large marine engines by April 27, 2007.[20] However, EPA announced in April 2007 that it was extending the deadline until December 17, 2009.[21] EPA’s stated rationale for the further delay was that it wanted to wait for the outcome of international negotiations with shipping companies and foreign governments regarding vessel emissions, even though EPA has acknowledged that effective control technologies are available now.


Natural Resources and Public Lands


Oil Lease Royalties. On January 17, 2007, the Department of the Interior Inspector General released a report finding that the chief of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) knew in 2004 that deep water leases from 1998-1999 in the Gulf of Mexico omitted price thresholds for royalty relief. The omission has already cost the federal treasury $1 billion and could cost nearly $10 billion, but the report called MMS’s response to discovering the problem “shockingly cavalier.” MMS Director Burton resigned on May 7, 2007.[22]


Forest Budget Cuts. On January 21, 2007, Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth announced to employees that the Forest Service faces a 25 percent budget cut over the next three years. Bosworth called the past year “exceptionally difficult” for getting funding for personnel doing work on the ground and noted that the eroding budget “affects our ability to accomplish our work.” The Administration’s budget proposed to further cut the Forest Service budget by $177 million in Fiscal Year 2008.[23]


Public Lands Funding Cuts. On February 5, 2007, President Bush proposed a budget that would further cut funding for public lands management, including cuts to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the MMS, and the Forest Service. The Bush budget would cut funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund by $86 million and included failed proposals from last year’s budget to sell federal lands and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil leasing in order to pay down the deficit. The budget would also cut funding for oceans and fisheries.


Polar Bear Listing. On March 5, 2007, the Administration stated at public meetings that listing the polar bear as a threatened species would not necessarily result in actions to protect its habitat. Officials said they may not list any critical habitat for the polar bear and would not take mandatory action on greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate warming, which is reducing the bears’ sea ice habitat.[24]


Endangered Species Habitat. On March 16, 2007, the Administration issued a memorandum promoting a new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that would restrict protection of plants and animals to areas where they exist today rather than throughout their historic range. The Administration avoided public comment and scrutiny by reinterpreting the policy in a memorandum form, rather than publishing a new proposed rule.[25]


Manatees. A FWS memo dated March 26, 2007, recommends reclassifying the Florida manatee as threatened rather than endangered. 2006 was one of the worst years for the Florida manatee on record, with the highest number of recorded deaths in 30 years.[26]


Snowmobile Pollution in Yellowstone National Park. On March 27, 2007, the National Park Service announced a plan to allow up to 720 snowmobiles per day to enter Yellowstone National Park with guides and up to 140 snowmobiles per day to enter neighboring Grand Teton National Park. The proposal could triple the number of snowmobiles in Yellowstone, even though current levels exceed noise standards and peak concentrations of carbon monoxide exceed even summertime levels, when the park has 60 times more traffic.[27]


Endangered Species Rollbacks. On March 27, 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity posted online an Interior Department internal draft from June 2006 of regulatory changes to the ESA that would have reduced the government’s power to list species or prevent damage to their habitat. The draft regulations would have narrowed the definition of “critical habitat,” what it means to place a species in“jeopardy,” and circumstances calling for interagency consultation.[28] These actions would have greatly reduced the government’s ability to protect and recover endangered species.


Politicization of Endangered Species Listings. On March 29, 2007, the Interior Department’s Inspector General released a report finding that a high-ranking political appointee systematically pressured career employees to change scientific documents and findings related to ESA listings of imperiled animals and plants. Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie MacDonald frequently intimidated field staff into producing documents reflecting her priorities, used her position to intervene in work on species listing and critical habitat decisions, and sent information to third parties to use to challenge the FWS in court. Ms. MacDonald resigned on May 1, 2007, a week before a House Congressional Oversight Committee hearing was scheduled on accusations that she violated the ESA, censored science and mistreated staff of the FWS.[29]In a letter dated November 23, 2007, to the House Natural Resources Committee, acting Director Kenneth Stansell of the FWS said that the agency spent four months reviewing eight ESA decisions made under MacDonald and is revising seven of them due to her improper influence.[30]

Grazing.A federal judge in Idaho chided the Bush Administration on June 8, 2007, for implementing suggested grazing regulations from industry without considering comments from the public or the FWS. The opinion found that the regulations “limit public input from the non-ranching public, offer ranchers more rights on BLM land, restrict the BLM's monitoring of grazing damage, extend the deadlines for corrective action, and dilute the BLM's authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations.”[31]

Wetlands.In June 2007, the Bush Administration scaled back Clean Water Act requirements protecting millions of acres of wetlands after lobbying from land developers and other special interests. Administration officials had planned to finalize more stringent rules until last September, when they “were pulled back in the face of objections from lobbyists and lawyers” from land developers—among others.[32]


Ignoring Science about Coho Salmon.In July 2007, a federal judge recommended that a Bush Administration decision on removing coho salmon from the endangered species list be declared illegal. The judge found that “the Bush administration's decision was illegal because it ignored the best available science about what's really happening to coho.” The science the Bush Administration relied upon found that the coho salmon would “do better when their numbers fall to low levels, with less competition between remaining fish among the reasons. It was soundly criticized by federal fisheries scientists who said small populations face a higher risk of extinction.”[33]


Political Appointees.On July 28, 2007, the Seattle Times reported that the Department of the Interior may have disregarded civil service protocols in the placement of a longtime political aide in a high-ranking career position. Although the practice is legal, the placement of political aides in career positions can enable them to carry out their former bosses’ agendas, even in the face of stricter environmental protections mandated by a new Administration.[34]


Everglades. On August 10, 2007, Time published a story on the Bush Administration’s request to have the United Nations remove the Everglades National Park from its listing of endangered places. The Administration’s request to remove the site from the list disregarded the science and the National Park’s top scientist who wanted the site to remain on the list because more work must be done to reduce pollutants and improve water flow. The decision to take the site off the list gives the impression that the Everglades are no longer in danger even though little progress has been made to restore and protect the Everglades.[35]


Public Lands NEPA Revisions.On August 14, 2007, the Department of the Interior (DOI) finalized changes to its Department Manual that guides it through how to appropriately implement the National Environmental Policy Act. The changes permit the DOI to exclude future oil, gas, grazing, and forestry activities on public lands from environmental review. Previously, such proposals were reviewed for potential environmental impacts and were subject to public comment. Now the BLM has the unilateral ability to decide that those activities individually or cumulatively will not have an impact on the environment.[36]

Revolving Door and Criminal Ethics Violations. On December 28, 2006, the Rocky Mountain Newsreported that former Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton will go to work for Shell Oil Company to help develop oil shale production in Colorado. During her tenure at Interior, Secretary Norton promoted oil and gas drilling on federal lands while rolling back environmental protections.[37] On June 26, 2007, a federal judge chastised the Interior Departments former Deputy Secretary, one-time coal industry lobbyist Steven Griles, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges in connection with the investigation of former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison.[38]


Toxics, Nuclear Waste, and Nuclear Safety


Toxics.In January 2007, the Bush Administration announced a plan to weaken health standards for dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a widespread toxic chemical found in many plastics that can act as an endocrine disruptor and may harm reproduction systems and hormonal systems in children.[39] After Senator Boxer wrote to EPA to express concern about the proposal and demanded answers to key questions about the agencys plan, EPA delayed the decision and decided to reconsider its approach.[40]


Mercury Hot Spots. On January 7, 2007, the magazine BioSciencepublished an article describing five “hot spots” of excessive mercury contamination in New England, New York, and southeastern Canada. Ignoring warnings that its approach to regulation of mercury emissions would create exactly these types of hot spots, the Administration had finalized a mercury rule in March 2005 that delayed necessary emissions reductions for at least ten years beyond legal requirements.[41]


Yucca Mountain. On January 30, 2007, GAO released a report finding that federal agencies will spend $25.6 million re-examining data from research conducted at the Yucca Mountain site that may have been falsified. The review includes retracing conclusions made in research and replacing a computer model showing how water could infiltrate the site and corrode storage canisters, causing radiation to leak into the environment.[42]


Superfund Cuts. On February 5, 2007, President Bush proposed a budget that would cut overall cleanup funding for the Superfund program by $10 million. The Administration’s budget lowered the number of sites it would clean up from 40 to 24 sites—which is far fewer than the more than 80 sites a year cleaned up during the Clinton Administration. The Bush Administration projects that it will only clean up 30 sites in 2008, not 40 sites it projected earlier.


Toxic Releases. On February 6, 2007, GAO issued a report finding that the EPA did not follow its own guidelines when it decided to relax reporting requirements for industrial chemical releases. GAO also found that the new approach would limit information about toxic pollution that is required to be publicly available through the Toxic Release Inventory.[43]


Nuclear Security.In April 2007, the Inspector General for the Department of Energy reported that the “National Nuclear Security Agency is missing 20 desktop computers, at least 14 of which were used for classified information. The latest security breach regarding computers is the thirteenth in a little over four years for DOE. The most recent audit also revealed that DOE is using computers not listed in its inventory, and one computer was being used that was listed as destroyed.”[44]


Yucca Mountain Water Usage.On June 14, 2007, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that the Department of Energy had been using water for “drill rigs at Yucca Mountain in violation of a court-approved agreement.”The total amount of water used for the drilling could rise to as much as eight million gallons.[45]


Toxic Trailers.In July 2007, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee received testimony that FEMA “discouraged officials from pursuing reports that trailers housing hurricane victims had dangerous levels of formaldehyde.” The chemical is typically used in embalming and also in manufactured homes. In high doses, it can cause respiratory ailments and cancer.[46]

Climate Change and Global Warming

Supreme Court and Greenhouse Gas.On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court overruled the Bush Administration’s claims that it did not have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant. The decision affirmed that emissions from cars and trucks are making a “meaningful contribution to greenhouse gas concentrations,” and that “a well-documented rise in global temperatures has coincided with a significant increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”[47] The Administration announced in an Executive Order on May 14, 2007 that its response to global warming would rely on a mix of fuel standards, technology subsidies and voluntary measures – steps that would not achieve the necessary levels of reductions in GHG emissions dictated by scientific consensus.


California Waiver Delay and Opposition Lobbying.On July 26, 2007, EPA Administrator Johnson reported to Congress that the EPA would continue to delay its decision on a waiver for California’s program regulating global warming emissions from cars and light trucks. Under Section 209 of the Clean Air Act, California (and other states choosing to adopt its requirements) are permitted to impose more stringent motor vehicle air pollution requirements different than the federal standards, subject only to administrative waivers by EPA that have consistently been granted in response to past requests. EPA’s delay is impeding not only California’s regulations, but also similar programs of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.[48] In June 2007, the Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, after consulting with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, was involved in a campaign by Department of Transportation staff to lobby Members of Congress and state governors to seek to have them urge EPA to deny California’s wavier request.[49] As noted, the Bush Administration overruled the unanimous recommendations of its technical and legal staff and denied the waiver on December 19, 2007.


Climate Change Reports. On August 21, 2007, a federal judge ruled that the Bush Administration was in violation of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which mandates that the Administration prepare“prepare a scientific assessment every four years of current climate change research and effects.” Instead, the Bush Administration had attempted to issue a series of smaller and narrower reports on climate change and its various impacts. The next climate change report is due to Congress on May 31, 2008.[50]


Federal Court Decisions Upholding State Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.On September 13, 2007, the District Court for the District of Vermont rejected the automobile industry’s arguments that states are preempted from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. The decision is a strong rebuke against the Bush Administration’s foot dragging on granting a waiver for California and numerous other states to proceed with implementation of greenhouse gas emissions standards.[51]


Political Officials Censoring Administration Scientists.On October 23, 2007, sources with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that testimony of CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding, prepared for an EPW Committee hearing on the health effects of global warming, had been“eviscerated” by the Bush Administration. Dr. Gerberding’s testimony of 14 pages was reduced to six pages after the Administration’s deletions. Defending these actions, an Administration spokesperson announced in a press conference after the hearing that the edits were done to make the testimony consistent with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, a side-by-side comparison produced by the EPW Committee showed that virtually all of the testimony that had been deleted in fact supported by the IPCC’s findings on global warming health effects.[52]


California Waiver Lawsuit.On November 8, 2007, the State of California sued EPA seeking a court order compelling EPA to make a decision on California’s Section 209 waiver request.[53] Fourteen other states and eight environmental groups are seeking to intervene in the case on California’s behalf.


Another Decision in Favor of California Regulations.On December 12, 2007, a federal district court upheld California’s law requiring a 30 percent reduction in tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by 2016 – the fourth federal court to do so in 2007. The court dismissed the challenge to the law brought by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, rejecting the automakers' claim that U.S. foreign policy and federal fuel economy laws preempt state authority to curb emissions.[54]


Ocean acidification and coral reefs.A December 14, 2007 piece in Science magazine detailed the threats that climate change pose to the world’s oceans, specifically ocean acidification. The article maintains that the result of growing carbon dioxide emissions will result in“less diverse reef communities and carbonate reef structures that fail to be maintained. Climate change also exacerbates local stresses from declining water quality and overexploitation of key species, driving reefs increasingly toward the tipping point for functional collapse.”[55]


Bush Administration Denies California Petition for Waiver, Seeking to Block California and a Dozen Other States’ Regulations Controlling Global Warming Emissions from Motor Vehicles. Late on December 19, 2007, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that the Bush Administration had decided to deny the request of California for approval of a waiver application that would allow California and about a dozen other states to regulate motor vehicle emissions of global warming gases. According to the Washington Post, EPA Administrator Johnson overruled the unanimous recommendations of his legal and technical staff in making this decision. This was EPA’s first outright denial of such a waiver request in nearly four decades, as EPA had granted over 50 California waivers in the past.[56]


Energy Efficiency and Conservation


Energy Efficiency. On January 31, 2007, GAO published a report on the Department of Energy’s failure to promulgate new appliance standards in compliance with statutory deadlines. The report finds that “DOE has missed all 34 congressional deadlines for setting energy efficiency standards for the 20 product categories with statutory deadlines that have passed. DOE's delays ranged from less than a year to 15 years.” The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory “estimates that delays in setting standards for the four consumer product categories that consume the most energy—refrigerators and freezers, central air conditioners and heat pumps, water heaters, and clothes washers—will cost at least $28 billion in forgone energy savings by 2030.”[57]


Gas Prices.On May 1, 2007, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced that DOE had no immediate short-term plans to help alleviate middle class families from the economic hardship caused by higher gas prices. In the face of $3.00 dollar gasoline, Secretary Bodman was quoted as saying “right now, at this point in time, I am not considering doing anything.”[58]


Cheney Task Force. On July 18, 2007, the Washington Post reported that the Vice-President’s “Energy Task Force” only met with representatives from renewable energy and environmental groups on two days over the course of almost four months of meetings. In total, the Vice President’s Task Force met with over four times more members of the oil, gas, and utility industry than from renewable energy and environmental groups.[59] Efficiency and conservation are the cheapest and fastest ways to reduce energy costs for low and middle-class families as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration’s 2008 Budget Request proposed cuts to energy efficiency and conservation programs by $112 million.[60]


CAFE Rules Overturned.On November 15, 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected the Bush Administration’s regulations establishing fuel economy standards for light trucks and SUVs as arbitrary and capricious, in part because the Administration had not considered the impacts of climate change in its decision. The standards adopted by the Administration would have been well below the current standards for passenger cars, notwithstanding the rising costs of oil, the acknowledged threats posed by global warming, and the serious national security concerns resulting from our country’s dependence on oil.[61]


Air and Water – Congressional Oversight


General Oversight of the EPA. On February 6, 2007, the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on oversight of recent EPA decisions, including EPA’s weakening of the standards for the public’s right to know about toxic chemicals released or used in their neighborhoods; its proposal to weaken or eliminate the air quality standard for lead; its failure to heed the recommendations of EPA’s expert scientists in setting other air quality standards; its decision to eliminate testing for perchlorate in drinking water; and its shut down of EPA libraries around the country that provide environmental and exposure information to concerned citizens.


EPA Budget. On March 7, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing on EPA’s budget request. Testimony was taken from EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson about the effects of EPA’s proposed budget cuts on Superfund and other critical environmental and health programs.


Water Resource Problems and Needs. On March 15, 2007, the EPW Committee held an oversight hearing on the nation’s water resources needs and the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts and budget. Testimony and statements from Members, government witnesses, and private experts highlighted the serious needs for improvements and funding to deal with flooding, storm protection, and other water resource issues, and the need for reform of the Corps.


Mercury Pollution. On May 16, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on mercury pollution, highlighting the science, and the available technology to control the pollution.


Beach Protection.On June 27, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee onTransportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality conducted a hearing on the importance of keeping our beaches clean and the reauthorization of the BEACH Act, which has made significant progress in protecting America’s beaches. Representatives Pallone (D-NJ) and Billbray (R-CA) testified in support of the legislation and on the importance of measures needed to improve public health and beach recreational opportunities. A GAO representative discussed the improvements that have come from the BEACH Act but noted that EPA has not implemented the pathogen and human health studies or the new water quality criteria that are required.


Air Quality.On July 11, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on EPA’s Proposed Revision of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The hearing examined the need for the EPA to follow the direction of its career scientists and its independent scientific advisors, and establish a stronger standard in order to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety. The Subcommittee heard from witnesses on the relationship between ozone levels and mortality rates.


Environmental Justice and Cleanups.On July 25, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health held an oversight hearing on the EPA’s environmental justice programs. The Subcommittee received testimony from EPA and GAO officials, academics, elected officials, and environmental justice experts on the importance of protecting people who are disproportionately exposed to air, water, and other types of pollution. The GAO reported that EPA did not consider those issues when it drafted new clean air rules between 2000 and 2004.


Animal Feeding Operations.On September 6, 2007, the EPW Committee held an oversight hearing on human health and water quality impacts of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The hearing evaluated the risks that would be posed by CAFOs under a proposal circulated by industry to exempt CAFOs from environmental, public health and public information safeguards. The hearing evidenced significant environmental and health impacts of CAFOs requiring active regulatory response.


Clean Water Funding.On September 19, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality held a hearing to examine the Clean Water Act and the State Revolving Loan Fund. The hearing was necessary because the Bush Administration continues to try to cut money for the State Revolving Fund, notwithstanding EPA’s estimates that there are between 23,000 and 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows annually and those spills dump between three and ten billion gallons of untreated sewage into our rivers, lakes and coastal waters each year. In addition, Combined Sewer Overflows spill 850 billion gallons of contaminated storm water into waterways each year. EPA’s own estimates predict a funding shortfall of as much as $177 billion over 20 years.


Natural Resources and Public Lands – Congressional Oversight


Wildfire Suppression Costs. On January 30, 2007, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee held a hearing to examine federal land agencies’ efforts to suppress wildfires and the cost of those efforts. Witnesses discussed hazardous fuels reduction, steps being taking to reduce the federal costs of wildfire suppression, and recommendations from recent reports on reducing overall costs and improving coordination and cost-sharing between agencies, states, and localities.


Wildfire Season. On June 26, 2007, the ENR Committee held a hearing to consider the preparedness of federal land management agencies for the 2007 wildfire season and to consider recent reports on the agencies’ efforts to contain the costs of wildfire management activities.


Forest Restoration.On December 13, 2007, the ENR Committee held a hearing to receive testimony on forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction plans in Oregon and Washington.


Oil spills.On December 18, 2007, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on the risks and vulnerabilities posed by oil spills from non-tank vessels. The hearing focused on the recent increases in the volume of vessel traffic and the Bush Administration’s long-awaited issuance of rulemakings for non-tank vessels.


Toxins, Nuclear Waste, and Nuclear Safety – Congressional Oversight

Chemical Security. On March 19, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality held a field hearing in Newark, New Jersey to examine the importance of state and local authorities in ensuring chemical plant security. Local and state officials detailed efforts undertaken in New Jersey to strengthen security at chemical facilities, but noted that the Bush Administration bowed to industry requests in proposing new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chemical security regulations that would pre-empt New Jersey’s stronger state laws. In addition, the hearing revealed that DHS, EPA, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are not using authority currently available to them to improve chemical facility security and safety.


Asbestos Clean-up. On April 5, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing in Libby, Montana regarding federal clean up of asbestos contamination. The Committee heard testimony from representatives of EPA and local government agencies, as well as a medical expert on asbestos-related diseases, regarding the health effects of asbestos contamination in Libby, federal steps to clean up the asbestos contamination, and the need to improve current efforts.


Nuclear Industry Regulation. On April 25, 2007, the EPW Committee held an oversight hearing with the five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Commissioners discussed workforce challenges, both for the agency and within the nuclear industry, posed by an aging workforce and the need to educate and train new workers. Commissioners and Senators also discussed certain projects that are problematic and the need for the NRC to improve its communications with the public.


Toxic Mercury Emissions. On May 16, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing on the state of mercury regulation, science and technology, focusing, among other things, on EPA’s recent actions that have allowed ongoing significant mercury exposures.


EPA Response to 9/11 and Lessons for Future Emergency Preparedness. On June 20, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health held a hearing on EPA’s problematic response to 9/11 and what lessons have been learned about emergency preparedness. Witnesses discussed serious problems with EPA’s response to 9/11 including concerns about the accuracy of EPA’s description of health risks.


Chemical Safety and Security.On July 10, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality conducted a hearing on the Chemical Safety Board and its work to better protect workers and the public from potential chemical accidents. The Subcommittee focused the hearing on the explosion that took place at the Texas City Refinery in 2005 and the steps needed to bring additional resources to the Chemical Safety Board to ensure safety and security at chemical plants across the country.


Nuclear Regulatory Commission. On October 3, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held an oversight hearing on NRC reactor licensing procedures. The hearing focused on whether the current reactor licensing programs are sufficiently protective, an important topic given that NRC recently received its first license application in 30 years and more are expected in upcoming years.


Superfund.On October 17, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health held an oversight hearing on the federal Superfund Program’s activities to protect public health. The hearing focused on the Bush Administration’s poor management of the Superfund program and the program’s importance, noting that one in four people in America live within four miles of a Superfund site.


Lead and Children’s Heath. On October 18, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing on the effects of lead in children’s products and the need for legislation to protect children from exposure to lead.


Yucca Mountain.On October 31, 2007, the EPW Committee held an oversight hearing to examine the licensing process for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. Senators Boxer and Clinton noted the serious environmental concerns that plague the ongoing licensing work as well as the national security concerns of transporting nuclear waste through American cities. On August 24, 2007, Senators Reid and Dorganhosted a roundtable discussion in Nevada with local elected officials to solicit their comments and concerns with the project.


Toxics Right-to-Know. On December 13, 2007, EPW Committee Chairman Boxer and EPW Committee Member Lautenbergannounced a new GAO report showing how the Bush Administration has worked to undermine the public Right-to-Know law that makes data available to citizens regarding releases of toxic chemicals in their communities. GAO found that EPA did not follow its own guidelines when it weakened reporting safeguards for industrial chemicals released into our air, land and water. The GAO report noted that EPA’s rule could allow more than 3,500 facilities to no longer report detailed information about their toxic chemical releases and waste management practices, and that senior EPA management had required the inclusion of a proposal to weaken these safeguards in response to direction from OMB. Agencies and Attorneys General from 23 states opposed the rule. Only 34 comments supported it, 29 of which were from industry groups.[62] The GAO report demonstrates the need for Congress to approve legislation to overturn EPA’s recent rules weakening long-standing toxic reporting requirements.


Climate Change and Global Warming – Congressional Oversight


Analysis of Draft Global Warming Legislation. On January 24, 2007, the ENR Committee held a hearing to examine the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) analysis of Chairman Bingaman’scap-and-trade proposal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EIA found that mandatory steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved at very low cost to American households and without harming the U.S. economy. Witnesses and Senators discussed the benefits and shortcomings of a cap-and-trade system, various offsets, a “safety valve,” emission reduction rates, and setting the pricing of carbon, among other issues. Witnesses also agreed that more federal research and development funding is needed to deploy the energy technologies that will be needed to cut emissions.


Senators’ Views on Climate Change. On January 30, 2007, the EPW Committee held an open forum for Senators to share their views on climate change and discuss legislative proposals to address the problem. Over 30 Senators participated by providing oral and written statements to the Committee. The forum was an important first step in forming bipartisan approaches to addressing climate change.


Climate Change Research and Scientific Integrity. On February 7, 2007, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing to examine allegations of political suppression of climate science by the Bush Administration. A government scientist and former Bush Administration officials described how the Administration interfered with climate scientists’ contact with the media and edited scientific reports to downplay the threats posed by climate change. A current Administration official pledged to work to make sure government scientists would not face such interference in the future.


Global Warming and Wildlife. On February 7, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee on Private Sector Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection held a hearing examining the interrelationship between climate and wildlife, climate-based lifecycles, and ecosystems. Scientists and outdoor enthusiasts described the effects of climate change they currently see, including changes to fragile ecosystems that threaten wildlife, an increased threat of invasive species, climatic and ecological effects of melting sea ice, and effects that ecosystem changes could have on humans.


Global Economic Effects of the Prevention and Mitigation of Climate Change. On February 13, 2007, the ENR Committee heard testimony regarding the “Stern Review of the Economics of Climate Change.” The Stern Review concluded that tackling climate change is a strategy that promotes economic growth, and that the earlier effective action is taken, the less costly it will be. Sir Nicholas Stern, the author of the report and the chief economist for the British government, and other economists testified that the economic risks of climate change require immediate action.


Business Support for Action on Global Warming. On February 13, 2007, the EPW Committee heard testimony from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of businesses that advocates for mandatory caps on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Business executives and experts described actions businesses have already taken to reduce their carbon footprints, outlined the economic benefits of acting now and the risks of waiting to take action, and urged Congress to enact a comprehensive, market-based and mandatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Senate Hosts Global Leaders to Discuss Climate Change. On February 14 and 15, 2007, the Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE) and Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development (COM+) organized a forum held in the Senate office buildings to discuss global warming issues. The forum was part of the G8+5 Climate Change Legislators Dialogue in which more than 80 legislators and government officials from the 20 largest energy-consuming countries participated, including Senators of both parties. The forum produced a statement urging global negotiators to agree at the G8 Summit in June on a framework for a post-2012 international approach to climate change.


State, Regional and Local Perspectives on Global Warming. On March 1, 2007, the EPW Committee heard testimony from officials at various levels of government regarding the critically important role played by state and local laws and programs addressing global warming.


Small Business Solutions. On March 8, 2007, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee held a hearing regarding small business solutions for combating climate change. Witnesses reported that a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions reductions could allow small businesses to reduce energy costs through efficiency improvements and to take advantage of new business opportunities created by the program. They expressed support for federal programs that educate small businesses about energy-saving technology and help them to invest in it. They also suggested expanding “on-bill financing”for efficiency improvements, through which utilities provide loans for efficiency projects and consumers repay the loans by giving their savings on energy costs to the utility until the loans are repaid.


Former Vice President Gore Testifies on Climate Change. On March 21, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to hear former Vice President Al Gore’s perspective on global warming. Vice President Gore emphasized that there is no significant debate within the scientific community that human-contributed greenhouse gas emissions are causing global climate change. He provided examples of how combating global warming and creating economic opportunity are not mutually exclusive goals and noted that the technology exists today to improve energy efficiency and put the world on the path toward cutting global emissions.


Global Carbon Trading. On March 26, 2007, the ENR Committee hosted a roundtable discussion with European officials to discuss the progress of the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and to receive information on lessons learned for policymakers who want to better understand how a market-based trading program could operate efficiently and effectively in the United States.


Global Warming and Insurance. On April 19, 2007, the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing to examine the human and economic consequences of global warming through the perspective of private and federal programs that insure tens of millions of American property owners, including farmers, against weather-related losses, which already result in claims totaling billions of dollars a year. GAO and federal officials discussed the estimated monetary losses in federal insurance and emergency response programs due to climate-related disasters, and a private insurer discussed measures that government could take to mitigate the impacts of severe weather events.


EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions. On April 24, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to examine the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, holding that EPA has the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Former EPA Administrators testified that the EPA should be in a position to move forward with regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Witnesses also discussed California’s application for a waiver from EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at the state level, which former EPA Administrators agreed could be resolved by the EPA quickly, although the waiver application had been pending for 16 months.


National Security Threats from Climate Change.On May 9, 2007, the Foreign Relations Committee conducted a hearing on the national security threats posed by global climate change. Witnesses, including two retired Admirals and one retired General, testified about how global climate changes can exacerbate regional and global insecurities, degrade military base capabilities, and prompt nations to compete increasingly against one another over natural resources.

Ocean Acidification and Marine Life. On May 10, 2007, the Commerce Committee held a hearing to explore the effects of climate change and ocean acidification on living marine resources. Witnesses discussed the effects that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are having on living marine resources through higher sea temperatures, increased ocean acidity, and other mechanisms. They also discussed the implications of these effects for coastal and ocean resource managers, and the need to strengthen federal efforts in the areas of research, timely dissemination of information to decision-makers, adaptation and mitigation.


California’s Clean Air Act Authority to Set Emissions Standards. On May 22, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to examine the State of California’s request for a waiver from EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles in California. If the waiver is granted, 14 or more other states also intend to adopt California’s standards. The witnesses discussed EPA’s record of consistently granting waivers to California, as intended by Congress, and the importance of the California regulations in addressing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.


Global Warming Effects on Recreation. On May 24, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to examine the effects that global warming could have on recreation and the recreation industry. In 2006, total tourism-related sales generated $1.2 trillion in sales and provided more than 8 million jobs. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has noted that it is “virtually certain” that warmer temperatures will have adverse effects on winter tourism. Representatives of clothing, winter sports, and sports equipment industries discussed the effects global warming has had and could have on their industries and American jobs.


California and State Efforts to Control Global Warming Emissions from Motor Vehicles.On July 26, 2007, the EPW Committee questioned EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson about EPA’s delays in reviewing and approving the December 2005 California request for a waiver under the Clean Air Actthat would enable California and over a dozen other states to control motor vehicle emissions of global warming pollutants. Senator Boxerquestioned EPA’s delays, and asked a series of questions about documents indicating that the Department of Transportation was involved in a lobbying campaign to stop the waiver, and the Bush White House’s involvement in the process.


Effects of Climate Change on Water Supply. On June 6, 2007, the ENR Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing on the impacts of climate change on water supply and availability in the United States. A report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in April noted that increased run-off and earlier spring peak discharge in many glacier- and snow-fed rivers, and the warming of lakes and rivers in many regions, with effects on water quality, are already occurring. Temperature increases in the Western United States could have significant impacts on water supplies and reduced snow pack in the Pacific Northwest would reduce a substantial source of natural water storage. The Southwest may already be transitioning to a more arid climate, and the recent multi-year drought could become the normal climate in that already dry region. Witnesses assessed impacts to water supply and precipitation patterns that are currently being observed and addressed whether the United States is equipped to accurately evaluate and predict how impacts will change over time. They also provided views on how water supply may be changing and affecting the management and use of water, as well as on strategies being developed to respond to possible changes and impacts to water supply.


Religious Organizations’Views on Global Warming. On June 7, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to examine the views of religious organizations regarding global warming. Religious community leaders described their belief that addressing global warming is a moral imperative, in order to protect both the environment and the hundreds of millions of people living in developing countries who are threatened with catastrophic health and safety impacts.


Business Leaders and Global Warming.On June 28, 2007, the EPW Committee heard testimony from leaders of America’s utility sector, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business interests on proposals to reduce global warming emissions from power plants. The diverse group of witnesses described their views about mandatory, market-based, economy-wide programs that would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.


Economic Costs and Benefits of Global Warming Legislation.On July 24, 2007, the EPW Committee Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protectionconducted a hearing on economic and international competitiveness issues in global warming legislative policy. The hearing examined actions that can be taken to contain costs from a proposed cap-and-trade program as well as related steps to ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. Witnesses from financial and academic institutions presented testimony in support of addressing climate change and discussed the financial risks of doing nothing.


EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions. On July 26, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing on the status of EPA’s pending decision on the California request for a waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks. Senator BillNelson discussed the need for states to have higher emission standards than the federal standard and the need to protect Florida’s coastline. As noted above, on July 31, 2007, the EPW Committee favorably reported S. 1785, which would require EPA Administrator Johnson to issue a decision on the California waiver request not later than September 30, 2007.


Green Jobs.On September 25, 2007, the EPW Committee conducted a hearing focusing on the economic opportunities of acting now to address global warming, including the creation of “green jobs” by global warming initiatives.


Human Health Impacts of Global Warming.On October 23, 2007, the EPW Committee conducted a hearing to receive testimony on the human health impacts of global warming. The hearing focused on the broad array of health impacts that can be expected to result from climate change, such as lung diseases due to increased ground level ozone levels, higher risks of contracting water borne diseases, and increasingly frequent severe heat waves that can be particularly harmful to the poor and elderly.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation – Congressional Oversight


CAFE.On March 6, 2007, the Commerce Committee held an oversight hearing on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program. The hearing focused on legislative efforts to improve CAFE standards and the Administration’s proposed changes to the CAFE program. This hearing helped to begin the discussion in the Senate on the need to pass CAFE legislation, which subsequently became law in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.


Corporate Average Fuel Economy. On May 3, 2007, the Commerce Committee held a hearing to examine legislation to increase fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon over ten years. Representatives of the automobile industry, environmental groups, and energy security experts presented their views on pending legislation, agreeing that dependence on oil and climate change are two critical issues that should be addressed.


Green Buildings. On May 15, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to receive testimony regarding the energy savings, water and air quality, economic, and other benefits of green buildings. An architect described a new office building in New York City that will be LEED platinum certified, consuming half the energy and water of a normal building and offering all employees access to daylight and high air quality. Witnesses noted that green buildings use an average of 36 percent less energy and emits 36 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional buildings, and the additional investment required to meet green building standards is often paid back in full within the first year, based on energy savings alone.


Energy Efficient Technologies.On June 21, 2007, the Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Innovation held a hearing on currently available energy efficiency technologies, and both government-sponsored and corporate programs that reduce total energy use and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The Subcommittee heard from witnesses about the benefits from funding energy efficiency programs and the additional measures Congress can take to benefit the economy, the environment, and energy security for years to come.


Air and Water – Legislation


Beach Protection.On June 27, 2007, the EPW Subcommittee onTransportation Safety, Infrastructure Security, and Water Quality conducted a hearing on the importance of keeping our beaches clean and the reauthorization of the BEACH Act, which has made significant progress in protecting America’s beaches. Representatives Pallone (D-NJ) and Billbray (R-CA) testified in support of the legislation and on the importance of measures needed to improve public health and beach recreational opportunities. A GAO representative discussed the improvements that have come from the BEACH Act but noted that EPA has not implemented the pathogen and human health studies or the new water quality criteria that are required.


Ports and Shipping Pollution. On August 9, 2007, theEPW Committee held a field hearing to examine port pollution and the need for additional controls on large ships. The Committee heard from elected officials as well as the executive directors of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles on the benefits from greening our nation’s ports while maintaining and expanding their economic productivity. Senator Boxerintroduced S. 1499, the Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007, which would reduce pollution from large ships by requiring low sulfur fuels and imposing air pollution control requirements.


Climate Change and Global Warming – Legislation


International Climate Negotiations. On March 28, 2007, the Foreign Relations Committee passed S. Res. 30, a bipartisan resolution calling for the United States to return to international negotiations on climate change. The Biden-Lugar Resolution states that the evidence of the human role in global warming is clear; that the environmental, economic, and security effects will be costly; and that the response must be international. The resolution calls for United States participation in negotiations to protect our economic and security interests, and to commit all nations – developed and developing – that are major emitters of greenhouse gases to achieve significant long-term reductions. The resolution also calls for a bipartisan Senate observer group to monitor these talks and ensure that our negotiators bring back agreements that all Americans can support.


Carbon Capture and Storage. On April 16, 2007, the ENR Committee held a hearing to examine pending legislation to encourage technology to capture and sequester carbon emissions. Federal officials as well as legal and scientific experts discussed the need for a national assessment of carbon dioxide storage capacity, carbon capture and storage technology, and potential liability issues on carbon capture and storage projects. This legislation formed the basis of carbon sequestration-related measures included in the Senate’s version of H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, passed in June on a vote of 65 to 27.


EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicles. Senators Bill Nelson and Boxerintroduced legislation to help states get approval for higher emission standards than the federal standard and the need to protect our coastlines and environment. On July 31, 2007, the EPW Committee voted to favorably report this bill, S. 1785, which would require the EPA Administrator to issue a decision on the California waiver request, which has been pending for over two years and would authorize California, Florida, and about a dozen other states to implement standards for global warming emissions from vehicles. The bill also would require EPA to promptly review and make a decision on other petitions from California to implement stricter vehicle air emission standards than the federal standards.


Commerce Committee Approval of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification Legislation.On December 4, 2007, the Commerce Committee approved three bills that would improve how the United States addresses climate change and ocean acidification. S. 1581, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act provides for a coordinated federal research program on ocean acidification. S. 2307, the Global Climate Change Research Improvement Act improves the basic research and products that the federal government develops on climate change and its impacts. S. 2355, , the Climate Change Adaptation Act, calls for the federal government to develop a strategic plan for dealing with the effects of climate change.


EPW Committee Approval of Comprehensive Climate Security Legislation. On December 5, 2007, after over twenty hearings on global warming, including four hearings on S. 2191, the Lieberman-WarnerClimate Security Act of 2007, the EPW Committee voted to favorably report S. 2191. The legislation represents the culmination of efforts in the 110th Congress to address the national security, environmental, and public health impacts of global warming and climate change. The bill would create a national cap-and-trade program reaching carbon emissions from approximately 80 percent of the U.S. economy, achieving steep reductions in carbon emissions by 2050. Its market-based mechanisms would facilitate the private sector in seeking out the best and most efficient solutions to address global warming, while directing billions of dollars in support to renewable energy technologies and conservation efforts.

Toxins, Nuclear Waste, and Nuclear Safety – Legislation

Toxins, Waste, and Protection of the Gulf Coast in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. On February 26, 2007, the EPW Committee held a field hearing in New Orleans to investigate continuing problems with waste management, toxins, and the continuing need to upgrade hurricane and flood protection and water infrastructure in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Witnesses described waste disposal problems, illegal dumping, and serious concerns about the adequacy of hurricane and flood protections in the area, and Senator Boxer promised to move ahead with the Water Resources Development Act, which was enacted over a Presidential veto on November 8, 2007.


Health Effects of Asbestos and Steps Towards a Ban. On June 12, 2007, the EPW Committee held a hearing to examine the adverse health effects of asbestos and ways to avoid those harms. Asbestos can cause fatal diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis, decades after initial exposure. Witnesses testified that asbestos is still imported and used in the United States today even though it is a known toxic substance. They also discussed materials and processes that can replace asbestos or obviate the need to use asbestos. On July 31, the EPW Committee reported S. 742, the Ban Asbestos in America Act, which bans certain asbestos-containing materials. The full Senate passed the bill on October 4, 2007.


Toxic Releases.On July 31, 2007, the EPW Committee favorably reported S. 595, the Toxic Right-to-Know Protection Act. The bill would counteract the rule released by EPA in December 2006 to quadruple the amount of toxic chemicals facilities can release into communities without providing detailed public information, from 500 pounds to 2,000 pounds.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation – Legislation


Energy Efficient Public Buildings Hearings and Legislation. On March 28, the EPW Committee held a hearing on ways to reduce energy consumption, air pollution, global warming emissions, and energy and other utility costs in government buildings. On March 29, the Committee approved the Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act to make thousands of federal government buildings under the jurisdiction of the General Services Administration more energy efficient, thereby reducing air pollution, cutting global warming emissions, and reducing energy bills. The bill was strengthened and added to the final Senate Energy Bill, which was enacted on December 19.


Energy Efficiency. On April 23, 2007, the ENR Committee held a hearing to examine pending legislation to encourage greater energy efficiency. Representatives of the Bush Administration, local governments, utilities and businesses discussed their respective efforts to increase efficiency. Witnesses spoke of the need to improve federal energy management and efficiency, steps taken by local governments and utilities to promote efficiency, and the energy cost and greenhouse gas reductions possible through efficiency improvements. This information helped in the development of a number of the efficiency-related measures included in the Senate’s version of H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was enacted on December 19, 2007.


Legislation to Increase Fuel Economy Standards. On May 8, 2007, the Commerce Committee marked up legislation to increase fuel economy standards for cars and trucks. The committee reported the bill favorably with an amendment from Senator Cantwell to punish gas price gouging. The fuel economy standards were included in comprehensive energy legislation that ultimately was enacted on December 19, 2007.


Green Buildings Legislation. On June 6, 2007, the EPW Committee marked up S. 595 sponsored by Senator Lautenbergto enhance high efficiency green building practices in federal buildings and direct the GSA to build a photovoltaic system at DOE headquarters. A version of the green buildings legislation, the DOE solar wall bill, and other EPW Committee bills became part of comprehensive energy legislation that ultimately was enacted into law on December 19, 2007.


[1]Greenwire, 1/11/07, “Agency should withdraw 'fundamentally flawed' risk guidelines-- NAS panel”; NAS Report “Scientific Review of the proposed risk assessment bulletin from the Office of Management and Budget.”

[2]Greenwire, 1/19/07, “Bush signs order broadening regulatory oversight by political appointees.” See “Further Amendment to Executive Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review,” 72 Fed. Reg 2763 (January 23, 2007).

[3]Greenwire, 2/1/07, “Soot concentrations linked to heart disease in women—study.” See also, Greenwire, 9/25/06, “Scientists Take Issue With EPA’s Soot Decision;” JR Pegg, “New Soot Rule Upsets Health Experts and Industry Groups,” ENS, September 22, 2006, available online at http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2006/2006-09-22-02.asp. See, Kristin A. Miller, et al., “Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Incidence of Cardiovascular Events in Women,” New England Journal of Medicine, volume 356:447-458, Feb. 1, 2007.

[4] U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, Expanded Expert Judgment Assessment of the Concentration-Response Relationship Between PM2.5 Exposure and Mortality, Prepared by Industrial Economics, Incorporated, September 21, 2006.

[5]Greenwire, 3/22/07, “Proposed cuts in state grants draw fire from regulators”

[6]“EPA Particle Rule Falls Short Of Push To Mandate Ammonia, VOC Cuts,” Clean Air Report, Vol. 18 No. 7, April 5, 2007; Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/

[7]Greenwire, 4/13/07, “Critics assail EPA delay on MTBE, perchlorate regulation;” “EPA Postpones Regulatory Determinations For Perchlorate, MTBE,” Water Policy Report, Vol. 16 No. 8, April 16, 2007; CNN Online, Associated Press, “Rocket Fuel Pollutes Southwest Water,” available online at http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/West/01/05/cold.war.pollution.ap/; USA Today, “Energy bill provision may stop suits over water polluted by gas additive,” September 30, 2003, available online at http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2003-09-30-mtbe_x.htm; see also EWG, “MTBE Groundwater Contamination,” http://www.ewg.org/node/21314.

[8]Greenwire, 4/25/07, “EPA shrugs off Supreme Court ruling, readies more NSR reforms.” See also, Associated Press, “EPA proposes controversial power plant rule: Activists say it runs counter to recent Supreme Court ruling,” available online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18331591/.

[9]National Association of Clean Air Agencies comment on EPA Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, available at: http://www.4cleanair.org/documents/EGULetter.pdf; see, EPA, “Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Nonattainment New Source Review: Emission Increases for Electric Generating Units,” 72 Fed. Reg. 26202 (May 8, 2007)

[10]Environmental Protection Agency, May 2007, “National Summary: 2006 Swimming Season Update,” EPA 823-R-07-005.

[11]E&E News PM. 5/4/2007, “EPA seeks to delay compliance deadline for CAFO’s until 2009”

[12]E&E News PM, 6/11/07, “Court strikes down EPA incinerator, boiler rules.” See NRDC et al. v. EPA, No. 04-1385 (D.C. Cir. June 8, 2007), available online at http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200706/04-1385a.pdf.

[13]General Accounting Office, 6/8/2007, DOE Lacks a Strategic Approach to Coordinate Increasing Production with Infrastructure Development and Vehicle Needs


[14]Science Daily, 6/21/07, “Critics attack EPA ozone standard proposal,” http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php?feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20070621-11115500-bc-us-smog-criticism.xml; see also NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management), “EPA’s Proposed Air Quality Standard for Ozone is Not Sufficient to Protect Public Health,” (June 21, 2007) www.nescaum.org/documents/nescaum-ozone-naaqs-press-release-2007june-21.pdf/

[15]Government Accountability Office, July 27, 2007,“Observations on EPA's Economic Analyses of Amendments to the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule GAO-07-763

[16]E&E News PM, 7/19/2007, “Water official's move to private sector 'ominous' -- Sen. Wyden.”

[17]E&E News PM, 8/23/07, “No further action needed on refinery emissions, EPA says”; EPA Proposes to Ignore Oil Refinery Air Pollution, Environmental News Service, August 24, 2007, available online at http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-24-091.asp.

[18]LA Times, 8/10/07, “Boxer says EPA stalling ports' air cleanup,”

[19]EPA Inspector General, “Progress Report on EPA’s Nonroad Mobile Source Emissions Reduction Strategies,” Report No. 2006-P-00039, September 27, 2006, available online at http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2006/20060927-2006-P-00039.pdf

[20]“Groups May Sue EPA Over Delayed Regulation Of Ship Pollution,” Industrial Environment, vol.18 No.8, August 2007.

[21]Ibid; see also Francine Brevetti, “Environmentalists sue EPA over ship pollution,” Oakland Tribune, September 7, 2007; Terry Dressler, “Running Loose Ships,”Santa Barbara Independent (California), May 17, 2007 - May 24, 2007.

[22]Greenwire, 1/17/07, “MMS chief knew of lease errors in 2004—report”; NYT 1/17/07, “Lease chief was aware of oil error, report says.”

[23]Greenwire, 1/29/07, USFS facing 25 percent budget cut over three years, chief warns

[24]Greenwire, 3/6/07, “Polar bear listing would not signal need for carbon caps—Bush admin.”

[25]Greenwire, 3/19/07, “New guidance minimizes species’ historic range in listing decisions.”

[26]Greenwire, 4/9/07, “Feds may reclassify endangered Fla. Sea cows; Wash Post 4/8/07, “Manatees may lose endangered species protection.”

[27]Greenwire, 3/27/07, “Yellowstone snowmobile fight flares as NPS unveils new plan.”

[28]Greenwire, 3/27/07, “Bush admin draft contemplates sweeping regulatory overhaul.”

[29]Greenwire, 3/29/07, “Political appointee pressured scientists to fix ESA findings—IG report.”; Matthew Daly. "Embattled Interior official resigns post", Associated Press, May 1, 2007.

[30]WashingtonPost, Nov. 28, 2007, “7 Decisions on Species Revised,

Fish and Wildlife Service Cites Possibility of Improper Influence.”

[31]E&E News PM, 6/8/2007, “Idaho judge rebukes Bush admin on revised regulations.”

[32]New York Times, July 6, 2007, “After Lobbying, Wetlands Rules Are Narrowed.” See also, H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, “EPA Issues New Guidelines Making it Harder to Protect Some Wetlands:

Guidelines will be on a case by case basis,” June 7, 2007, available online at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=3255459&page=1.

[33]The Oregonian, 7/17/07, “Judge: Science on coho ignored”

[34]Seattle Times, 7/28/07, “Feds asked to review Republican appointee for Interior.”

[35]Time 8/10/07, “Has Bush Abandoned the Everglades,”http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1652000,00.html

[36]Bureau of Land Management, 8/14/07, “BLM Announces New Procedures That Will Improve Efficiency of Environmental Reviews,” http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2007/august/NR_0708_03.html

[37]Greenwire, 1/2/07, “Gale Norton joins Shell to help shale research projects”;Rocky Mountain News 12/28/06, “Norton Joins Shell, Will Work in Denver.”

[38]Matt Apuzzo. "Former Interior Official Gets Prison", Associated Press, June 26, 2007.

[39]NRDC, “EPA to Weaken Health Standard for Common Consumer Product Ingredient,” http://www.nrdc.org/media/2007/070109.asp; see also 'Everywhere chemicals' in plastics alarm parents,” USA Today, October 30, 2007.

[40]“EPA, NAS Talks Move Toward Conducting Cumulative Phthalate Review,”Inside EPA August 17, 2007, Vol. 28 No. 33.

[41]Greenwire, 1/4/07, “Persistent 'hotspots' raise questions about cap-and-trade programs, scientist says”; Bioscience Jan 2007, “Biological mercury hotspots in the northeastern U.S. and southeastern Canada,”

[42]Greenwire, 1/31/07, “Agencies to spend $25M to retrace tainted research; GAO-07-297R 1/30/07

[43]Greenwire, 2/7/07, “New EPA rules will limit public access to discharge data—GAO;” GAO-07-464T.

[44]Greenwire, 4/2/2007, “IG reports 20 missing computers, 14 with classified nuclear info.”

[45]Las Vegas Review Journal, 6/14/07, “Water use faces challenge” http://www.lvrj.com/news/7993287.html

[46]Forbes.com, July 19, 2007, “FEMA Slow to Safety Test Toxic Trailers,” http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/19/ap3933026.html

[47]ABCNews.com, 4/2/07, “Supreme Court Rejects Bush in Global Warming Debate,” http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Story?id=3000959&page=1

[48]ABCNews.com, 7/26/07, “U.S. environment chief draws fire on global warming,” http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=3418741

[49]San Jose Mercury News, 9/25/2007, “How Bush team fought California's emissions plan; Automakers Aided Transport Dept.”

[50]E&E News PM. 8/21/07, “Judge sides with enviros in national assessment case.”

[51]Cnn.com, 9/13/07, “Emissions Ruling to Have National Impact,” http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/apwire/D8RKPUTG1.htm

[52]Washington Post, 10/24/07, “Heavy Editing is Alleged in Climate Testimony”

[53]Associated Press, 11/8/07, “California Sues EPA over emissions,”


[54]Environmental News Service, 12/12/07, “California Tailpipe Emissions Law Upheld in Federal Court,” http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-12-091.asp

[55]Science Magazine, “Coral Reefs Under Rapid Climate Change and Ocean Acidification,” http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/318/5857/1737

[56]See Juliet Eilperin, “EPA Chief Denies Calif. Limit on Auto Emissions; Rules Would Target Greenhouse Gases,” Washington Post December 20, 2007; Page A01; CRS, “California’s Waiver Request to Control Greenhouse Gases Under the Clean Air Act,” Updated August 20, 2007..

[57]Government Accountability Office, 1/31/07, Energy Efficiency: Long-standing Problems with DOE's Program for Setting Efficiency Standards Continue to Result in Forgone Energy Savings;” GAO-07-42.

[58]E&E News PM. 5/1/2007, “DOE has no immediate plan to address spiking pump prices – Bodman.”

[59]WashingtonPost, 7/18/07, “The Energy Task Force: Who Was at the Table,”


[60]WashingtonPost, 7/18/07, “The Energy Task Force: Who Was at the Table,”


[61]The New York Times, 11/16/07, Court Rejects Fuel Standards on Trucks


[62]GAO, “EPA Actions Could Reduce Environmental Information Available to Many Communities” (2007) GAO-08-128.




  • Ryan Mulvenon (224-3232)


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