Energy Policy

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Energy Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Status and Funding

Title IX, the energy title of the 2014 farm bill (Agricultural Act of 2014; P.L. 113-79), contains authority for the energy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol (the predominant biofuel produced and consumed in the United States), cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based...

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

Energy is crucial to the operation of a modern industrial and services economy. Concerns about the availability and cost of energy and about environmental impacts of fossil energy use have led to the establishment of a wide variety of federal incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency. These incentives are aimed at the implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures and the development and commercialization of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Many of the existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have authorizations tracing...

National Park Service Appropriations: Ten-Year Trends

The National Park Service (NPS) generally receives appropriations in the annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This report examines trends in NPS appropriations over the past decade (FY2009-FY2018), as well as changes during the decade in the size of the National Park System, numbers of recreational visits to the parks, and NPS staffing levels.

NPS’s appropriations fluctuated during the decade, mainly declining in the first part of the decade and then increasing during the second part. In the first and last years of the decade (FY2009 and FY2018), as well...

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the...

The House Agriculture Committee’s 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2): A Side-by-Side Comparison with Current Law

Congress sets national food and agriculture policy through periodic omnibus farm bills. The 115th Congress has the opportunity to establish the future direction of farm and food policy because many of the provisions in the current farm bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014, P.L. 113-79) expire in 2018. The 2014 farm bill addresses a broad range of farm and food programs and policies, including commodity support, crop insurance, conservation, domestic food assistance, trade and food aid, credit, rural development, research, horticulture, forestry, and bioenergy, among others.

On June 21,...

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

Venezuela remains in a deep political crisis under the authoritarian rule of President Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). On May 20, 2018, Maduro defeated Henri Falcón, a former governor, in a presidential election boycotted by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) of opposition parties and dismissed by the United States, the European Union, and 18 Western Hemisphere countries as illegitimate. Maduro, who was narrowly elected in 2013 after the death of President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), is unpopular. Nevertheless, he has used the courts, security forces, and...

Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Siting: FERC Policy and Issues for Congress

Growth in U.S. shale gas production is driving the expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure to transport natural gas from producing regions to consuming markets, typically in other states. If the growth in U.S. shale gas continues as projected, the need for new pipelines could be substantial. One recent industry analysis projected the need for approximately 26,000 miles of new natural gas pipeline between 2018 and 2035; total capital expenditure for these projects could range from $154 billion to $190 billion.

Under the Natural Gas Act, companies seeking to build interstate natural...

Renewable Energy R&D Funding History: A Comparison with Funding for Nuclear Energy, Fossil Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Electric Systems R&D

Energy-related research and development (R&D)—on coal-based synthetic petroleum and on atomic bombs—played an important role in the successful outcome of World War II. In the postwar era, the federal government conducted R&D on fossil and nuclear energy sources to support peacetime economic growth. The energy crises of the 1970s spurred the government to broaden the focus to include renewable energy and energy efficiency. Over the 41-year period from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) inception at the beginning of FY1978 through FY2018, federal funding for renewable energy R&D amounted to...

Water Authorization Legislation in Brief: H.R. 8 and S. 2800

The 115th Congress is deliberating two water authorization bills: H.R. 8, the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 (WRDA 2018), and S. 2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA 2018).

H.R. 8 is focused primarily on authorizing water resource projects and activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). H.R. 8 passed the House by a 408-2 recorded vote on June 6, 2018.

S. 2800 includes provisions related to USACE water resource projects and activities, provisions related to water-related programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a few provisions...

Canada-U.S. Relations

Relations between the United States and Canada traditionally have been close, bound together by a common 5,500-mile border—“the longest undefended border in the world”—as well as by shared history and values. The countries have long-standing mutual security commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and continue to work together to address international security challenges, such as the Islamic State insurgency in Iraq and Syria. Canada and the United States also maintain close intelligence and law enforcement ties...

Forest Service Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has numerous programs to support the management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and are often examined in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. For example, the 2014 farm bill repealed, reauthorized, or modified many of these programs. The House version of the 2018 farm bill, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), contains a forestry title (Title VIII) that would reauthorize, modify, and...

Bahrain: Reform, Security, and U.S. Policy

An uprising against Bahrain’s Al Khalifa ruling family that began on February 14, 2011, has diminished in intensity, but incarceration of oppositionist and periodic demonstrations continue. The mostly Shiite opposition to the Sunni-minority-led regime has not achieved its goal of establishing a constitutional monarchy, but the unrest has compelled the ruling family to undertake at least some modest reforms. The mainstream opposition uses peaceful forms of dissent, but small factions, reportedly backed by Iran, have stockpiled increasingly sophisticated weaponry and have claimed...

Army Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorization and Project Delivery Processes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in the Department of Defense undertakes water resources development activities. Its projects primarily are to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. Congress directs USACE through authorizations and appropriations legislation. This report summarizes authorization legislation, the standard project delivery process, authorities for alternative water resource project delivery, and other USACE authorities.

Authorization Legislation. Congress generally authorizes USACE water resource activities in...

Columbia River Treaty Review

The Columbia River Treaty (CRT, or Treaty) is an international agreement between the United States and Canada for the cooperative development and operation of the water resources of the Columbia River Basin to provide for flood control and power. The Treaty was the result of more than 20 years of negotiations between the two countries and was ratified in 1961. Implementation began in 1964.

The Treaty provided for the construction and operation of three dams in Canada and one dam in the United States whose reservoir extends into Canada. Together, these dams more than doubled the amount of...

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a period of the year between spring and fall when clocks in most parts of the United States are set one hour ahead of standard time. The time period for DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. The beginning and ending dates are set in statute. Congressional interest in the potential benefits and costs of DST has resulted in changes to DST observance since it was first adopted in the United States.

The United States established standard time zones and DST through the Calder Act, also known as the Standard Time Act of...

Vehicle Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards: Frequently Asked Questions

The Trump Administration announced on April 2, 2018, its intent to revise through rulemaking the federal standards that regulate fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new passenger cars and light trucks. These standards include the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Light-Duty Vehicle GHG emissions standards promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They are known collectively—along with California’s Advanced Clean Car...

Cybersecurity: Legislation, Hearings, and Executive Branch Documents

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities challenge governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide. Attacks have been initiated against individuals, corporations, and countries. Targets have included government networks, companies, and political organizations, depending upon whether the attacker was seeking military intelligence, conducting diplomatic or industrial espionage, engaging in cybercrime, or intimidating political activists. In addition, national borders mean little or nothing to cyberattackers, and attributing an attack to a specific location can be difficult, which may make responding...

Science and Technology Issues in the 115th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development and...

FY2019 Appropriations for the Department of Energy

Overview

The Department of Energy (DOE) is funded through the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill. The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request and the addendum include $30.7 billion for the DOE, approximately $3.8 billion (11%) less than the FY2018 enacted level of $34.6 billion (see P.L. 115-141 and Title III of Division D, Explanatory Statement on page H2481). The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the FY2019 bill on May 16, 2018. According to the draft committee report, the bill would fund DOE at $35.5 billion. Proposed changes to the DOE...

Energy and Water Development: FY2018 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps); the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP); the Department of Energy (DOE); the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

President Trump submitted his FY2018 budget proposal to Congress on May 23, 2017. The budget requests for agencies included in the Energy and Water Development appropriations bill...

Oil and Gas Activities Within the National Wildlife Refuge System

Oil- and gas-related wells are documented in 110 (approximately 18%) of the 605 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior (DOI), administers the NWRS, which includes primarily national wildlife refuges, along with wetland management districts and waterfowl production areas. The wells in the NWRS most commonly involve nonfederal oil and gas resources but sometimes encompass federal resources. Oil and gas development in the NWRS has the potential to adversely impact wildlife and/or the environment, and...

Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal

Management of civilian radioactive waste has posed difficult issues for Congress since the beginning of the nuclear power industry in the 1950s. Federal policy is based on the premise that nuclear waste can be disposed of safely, but proposed storage and disposal facilities have frequently been challenged on safety, health, and environmental grounds. Although civilian radioactive waste encompasses a wide range of materials, most of the current debate focuses on highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear power plants. The United States currently has no disposal facility for spent nuclear...

Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy: CRS Experts

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cience, technology, and innovation (STI) play important roles in the nation’s economic and military strength, public health and safety, and the quality of our lives. Individuals, companies, governments, universities, and other organizations fund, conduct, disseminate, and acquire science and technology for a myriad of purposes. Among the purposes: providing for the national defense and homeland security; improving manufacturing processes and enabling the manufacture of new products; developing new materials; advancing computing and communications tools; preventing and treating disease,...

Withdrawal from International Agreements: Legal Framework, the Paris Agreement, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement

The legal procedure through which the United States withdraws from treaties and other international agreements has been the subject of long-standing debate between the legislative and executive branches. Recently, questions concerning the role of Congress in the withdrawal process have arisen in response to President Donald J. Trump’s actions related to certain high-profile international commitments. This report outlines the legal framework for withdrawal from international agreements under domestic and international law, and it applies that framework to two pacts that may be of...

From Slip Law to United States Code: A Guide to Federal Statutes for Congressional Staff

This report provides an overview of federal statutes in their various forms, as well as basic guidance for congressional staff interested in researching statutes. When a bill becomes a law, the newly enacted statute may amend or repeal earlier statutes or it may create a new or “freestanding” law. Either way, these new statutes are first printed individually as “slip laws” and numbered by order of passage as either public laws, or less frequently, private laws. Slip laws are later aggregated and published chronologically in volumes known as the United States Statutes at Large (Statutes at...

Electric Reliability and Power System Resilience

Electricity is vital to the commerce and daily functioning of the United States. Nowhere has this been demonstrated more significantly than in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands where the effects of the widespread loss of electricity after Hurricane Maria are still being felt. Subsequently, there has been much discussion about electric system reliability, and how electric systems can improve resiliency. And while the effects were not as catastrophic, the impacts of the Bomb Cyclone in January 2018 caused some to question whether the increasing retirements of coal and nuclear power...

Federal Disaster Assistance After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike

This report provides information on federal financial assistance provided to the Gulf States after major disasters were declared in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas in response to the widespread destruction that resulted from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005 and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.

Though the storms happened over a decade ago, Congress has remained interested in the types and amounts of federal assistance that were provided to the Gulf Coast for several reasons. This includes how the money has been spent, what resources have been provided to...

Federally Supported Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Programs

For more than four decades, Congress has authorized and refined several programs to help communities address water supply and wastewater problems. The agencies that administer these programs differ in multiple ways. In terms of funding mechanisms, projects developed by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically require direct, individual project authorizations from Congress.

In contrast, standing program authorizations provide project funding for other agencies, including

the Department of Agriculture (USDA),

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

China-India Great Power Competition in the Indian Ocean Region: Issues for Congress

The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), a key geostrategic space linking the energy-rich nations of the Middle East with economically vibrant Asia, is the site of intensifying rivalry between China and India. This rivalry has significant strategic implications for the United States. Successive U.S. administrations have enunciated the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific region to U.S. security and economic strategy. The Trump Administration’s National Security Strategy of December 2017 states that “A geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order is taking place in...

The Commodity Credit Corporation: In Brief

The Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has served as a mandatory funding mechanism for agricultural programs since 1933. The CCC Charter Act enables the CCC to broadly support the U.S. agriculture industry through authorized programs including commodity and income support, natural resources conservation, export promotion, international food aid, disaster assistance, agricultural research, and bioenergy development.

While CCC is authorized to carry out a number of activities, it has no staff of its own. CCC is overseen by the Secretary of Agriculture and a board of directors, which are...

Agricultural Conservation: A Guide to Programs

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently administer 20 programs and subprograms that are directly or indirectly available to assist producers and landowners who wish to practice conservation on agricultural lands. The differences and number of these programs have created general confusion about the purpose, participation, and policies of the programs. While recent consolidation efforts removed some duplication, a large number of programs remain. The programs discussed in this report are as...

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act: History, Impact, and Issues

The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) culminated years of effort by state and local government officials and business interests to control, if not eliminate, the imposition of unfunded intergovernmental and private-sector federal mandates. Advocates argued the statute was needed to forestall federal legislation and regulations that imposed obligations on state and local governments or businesses that resulted in higher costs and inefficiencies. Opponents argued that federal mandates may be necessary to achieve national objectives in areas where voluntary action by state and local...

Federal Lands and Related Resources: Overview and Selected Issues for the 115th Congress

The Property Clause in the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, §3, clause 2) grants Congress the authority to acquire, dispose of, and manage federal property. The 115th Congress faces multiple federal land and natural resources policy and management issues. These issues include how much and which land the government should own and how lands and resources should be used and managed. These issues affect local communities, industries, ecosystems, and the nation.

There are approximately 640 million surface acres of federally owned land in the United States. Four agencies (referred to in this...

Softwood Lumber Imports from Canada: Current Issues

Softwood lumber imports from Canada have been a persistent concern for Congress for decades. Canada is an important trading partner for the United States, but lumber production is a significant industry in many states. U.S. lumber producers claim they are at an unfair competitive disadvantage in the domestic market against Canadian lumber producers because of Canada’s timber pricing policies. This has resulted in five major disputes (so-called lumber wars) between the United States and Canada since the 1980s.

The current dispute (Lumber V) started when the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement...

The Smart Grid: Status and Outlook

The electrical grid in the United States comprises all of the power plants generating electricity, together with the transmission and distribution lines and systems that bring power to end-use customers. The “grid” also connects the many publicly and privately owned electric utility and power companies in different states and regions of the United States. However, with changes in federal law, regulatory changes, and the aging of the electric power infrastructure as drivers, the grid is changing from a largely patchwork system built to serve the needs of individual electric utility...

Residential Energy Tax Credits: Overview and Analysis

Currently, on their 2017 federal income tax return, taxpayers may be able to claim two tax credits for residential energy efficiency. The nonbusiness energy property or “Section 25C” credit expired at the end of 2017. The residential energy efficient property or “Section 25D” credit is scheduled to expire at the end of 2021.

The nonbusiness energy property tax credit (Internal Revenue Code [IRC] §25C) provides homeowners with a tax credit for investments in certain high-efficiency heating, cooling, and water-heating appliances, as well as tax credits for energy-efficient windows and doors....

Federal Research and Development (R&D) Funding: FY2019

President Trump’s budget request for FY2019 includes approximately $131.0 billion for research and development (R&D), of which $118.056 billion is included in the President’s budget and an estimated additional $12.9 billion in nondefense discretionary R&D is requested as part of an addendum to the President’s budget. The additional funding requested in the addendum followed enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-123), which raised defense and nondefense discretionary spending caps for FY2018 and FY2019. The budget documents released by the Office of Management and Budget...

NERC Standards for Bulk Power Physical Security: Is the Grid More Secure?

A 2013 rifle attack on a critical electric power substation in Metcalf, CA, marked a turning point for the U.S. electric power sector. The attack prompted utilities across the country to reevaluate and restructure their physical security programs. It also set in motion proceedings in Congress and at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) which resulted in a new mandatory Physical Security Reliability Standard (CIP-014) for bulk power asset owners promulgated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) in 2015. In the three years since FERC approved this new...

Energy Tax Provisions That Expired in 2017 (“Tax Extenders”)

Thirteen temporary energy tax provisions expired at the end of 2017. All of these provisions had expired at the end of 2016, and were retroactively extended by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (BBA; P.L. 115-123) and made available for the 2017 tax year. This report briefly summarizes and discusses the economic impact of energy-related tax provisions that expired at the end of 2017, including the following: Renewable energy property provisions Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Nonwind Facilities Alternative and renewable fuels provisions Incentives for Biodiesel and Renewable...

Guns, Excise Taxes, Wildlife Restoration, and the National Firearms Act

Federal taxes on firearms and ammunition are collected through different methods and used for different purposes, depending on the nature of the firearms. Some tax receipts are used for wildlife restoration and for hunter education and safety, for example, whereas others are deposited into the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury. The assessment of these taxes and the uses of generated revenues are routinely of interest to many in Congress.

In general, taxes on the manufacture of firearms (including pistols and revolvers as well as rifles and other long guns) and ammunition are collected as...

Puerto Rico: CRS Experts

SUPPRESS Puerto Rico is in the midst of a fiscal crisis resulting from economic contraction, public sector debt, outmigration, and other factors. To address the crisis, Congress passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA; P.L. 114-187), which was enacted on June 30, 2016. PROMESA established the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (Oversight Board), created processes for adjusting the island’s public debts, among other provisions. PROMESA allocated no federal funds to Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican Governor was charged with...

Hunting and Fishing on Federal Lands and Waters: Overview and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of issues related to hunting and fishing on federal lands. Each year millions of individuals participate in hunting and fishing activities, bringing in billions of dollars for regional and national economies. Due to their popularity, economic value, constituent appeal, and nexus to federal land management issues, hunting and fishing issues are perennially addressed by Congress. Congress addresses these issues through oversight, legislation, and appropriations, which target issues such as access to federal lands and waters for sportsperson activities, and...

Potential Options for Electric Power Resiliency in the U.S. Virgin Islands

In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, both Category 5 storms, caused catastrophic damage to the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), which include the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas among other smaller islands and cays. Hurricane Irma hit the USVI on September 6, with the eye passing over St. Thomas and St. John. Fourteen days later, on September 20, the eye of Hurricane Maria swept near St. Croix with maximum winds of 175 mph. The USVI government estimates that total uninsured damage from the hurricanes will exceed $7.5 billion. Although the electric power plants...

Emergency Assistance for Agricultural Land Rehabilitation

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers several permanently authorized programs to help producers recover from natural disasters. Most of these programs offer financial assistance to producers for a loss in the production of crops or livestock. In addition to the production assistance programs, USDA also has several permanent disaster assistance programs that help producers repair damaged crop and forest land following natural disasters. These programs offer financial and technical assistance to producers to repair, restore, and mitigate damage on private land. These...

Medicare Trigger

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA; P.L. 108-173) requires the Medicare Board of Trustees to provide in its annual reports an expanded analysis of Medicare expenditures and revenues (§801 of the MMA). Specifically, if the Medicare trustees determine that general revenue funding for Medicare is expected to exceed 45% of Medicare outlays for the current fiscal year or any of the next six fiscal years, a determination of excess general funding is made. If the determination is issued for two consecutive years, a funding warning is issued which...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Waiver Authority and Modification of Volumes

The Clean Air Act requires that transportation fuels contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. This renewable fuel standard (RFS) was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05; P.L. 109-58) and amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140). The RFS includes scheduled volume mandates that grow each year (starting with 9 billion gallons in 2008 and ascending to 36 billion gallons in 2022). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is responsible for administering the RFS, determines the annual volume after 2022. Within the overall...

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP): Issues in Brief

Under the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), four federal agencies have responsibility for long-term earthquake risk reduction: the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These agencies assess U.S. earthquake hazards, deliver notifications of seismic events, develop measures to reduce earthquake hazards, and conduct research to help reduce overall U.S. vulnerability to earthquakes. Congressional oversight of the NEHRP program...

Wildfire Management Funding: Background, Issues, and FY2018 Appropriations

The federal government’s wildfire (or wildland fire) management responsibilities are fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI). These responsibilities include prevention, detection, response, and recovery related to fires that begin on federal lands. These responsibilities are accomplished through activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. There are several ongoing concerns regarding federal wildfire management. These concerns include the total...

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

Congress has maintained significant interest in Mexico, an ally and top trade partner. In recent decades, U.S.-Mexican relations have been strengthened through cooperative management of the 2,000-mile border, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and security cooperation under the Mérida Initiative. Relations have recently been tested, however, by President Donald J. Trump’s shifts in U.S. immigration and trade policies.

President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in the final year of his six-year term. During 2013, Peña Nieto shepherded...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: Overview of FY2018 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for approximately 30 agencies and entities. They include most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) as well as agencies within other departments, such as the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and other entities. At issue for Congress is determining the length, amount, terms, and conditions of funding...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2018

President Trump’s budget request for FY2018 includes $117.697 billion for research and development (R&D). This represents a $30.605 billion (20.6%) decrease from the FY2016 actual level of $148.302 billion (FY2017 enacted levels were not available at the time of publication). Adjusted for inflation, the President’s FY2018 R&D request represents a constant dollar decrease of 23.6% from the FY2016 actual level.

However, in 2016 the Office of Management and Budget changed the definition used for “development” to “experimental development.” This new definition was used in calculating R&D in...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): An Overview

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requires U.S. transportation fuel to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuel. The RFS—established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58; EPAct05) and expanded in 2007 by the Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140; EISA)—began with 4.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2006 and aims to ascend to 36.0 billion gallons in 2022. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines the volume amounts after 2022.

The total renewable fuel statutory target consists of both conventional biofuel and advanced biofuel. Since 2014, the total...

Wilderness: Issues and Legislation

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and, in it, Congress reserved for itself the authority to designate federal lands as part of the system. The act initially designated 54 wilderness areas containing 9.1 million acres of national forest lands. Since then, more than 100 laws designating wilderness areas have been enacted. As of September 2017, the system consisted of 110 million acres over 765 units, owned by four land management agencies: the Forest Service (FS), in the Department of Agriculture; the National Park Service (NPS); Fish and...

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation

For many years, federal surface transportation programs were funded almost entirely from taxes on motor fuels deposited in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Although there has been some modification to the tax system, the tax rates, which are fixed in terms of cents per gallon, have not been increased at the federal level since 1993. Prior to the recession that began in 2007, annual increases in driving, with a concomitant increase in fuel use, were sufficient in most years to keep revenue rising steadily. This is no longer the case. Although vehicle miles traveled have recently surpassed...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): An Overview

In the ongoing energy debate in Congress, one recurring issue has been whether to allow oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, or the Refuge) in northeastern Alaska. ANWR is rich in fauna and flora and also has significant oil and natural gas potential. Energy development in the Refuge has been debated for more than 50 years. On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law P.L. 115-97, which provides for an oil and gas program on ANWR’s Coastal Plain. The Congressional Budget Office estimated federal revenue from the program’s first two lease sales at...

Five-Year Program for Federal Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing: Status and Issues in Brief

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended (OCSLA; 43 U.S.C. §1331 ff.), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) must prepare and maintain forward-looking five-year plans—referred to by BOEM as five-year programs—for proposed public oil and gas lease sales on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS). On January 4, 2018, BOEM released a draft proposed program (DPP) for the period from 2019 through 2024. The DPP proposes 47 lease sales during the five-year period: 12 sales in the Gulf of Mexico region, 19 in the Alaska region, 9 in the Atlantic region, and 7 in the Pacific...

Army Corps Supplemental Appropriations: History, Trends, and Policy Issues

Congress directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to plan and build water resource facilities through the agency’s civil works program. The Corps also has a prominent role in responding to natural disasters, especially floods, in U.S. states and territories. In recent years through supplemental appropriations, Congress also has funded the agency to study and construct projects that reduce flood risks in areas recently affected by some hurricanes and floods. The 115th Congress is considering possible responses to various natural disasters in 2017. H.R. 4667—Further Additional...

Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Plant and Plutonium Disposition: Management and Policy Issues

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) in South Carolina has been a key component of the current U.S. strategy for disposing of surplus weapons plutonium from the Cold War. Disposition of surplus plutonium is required by a 1998 agreement, amended in 2010, between the United States and the Russian Federation. Each country agreed to convert 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium to a form that could not be returned to nuclear weapons, to begin in 2018. Russia suspended its participation in the agreement in October 2016 due to what it called “hostile actions” by the...

Winter Fuels Outlook 2017-2018

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook (STEWFO) for the 2017-2018 winter heating season, projects that American consumers should expect to see heating expenditures that will be higher than last winter. However, the winter of 2016-2017 was relatively warm. Average expenditures for those heating with natural gas are projected to increase by 12%, while those heating with electricity are projected to see an increase of about 8%. These two fuels serve as the heating source for about 87% of all U.S. household heating. Propane and home...

The Trump Administration and the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions

Donald J. Trump promised that if he were elected President, he would instruct federal agencies to reduce their regulations significantly. As of late 2017, this deregulation was underway in agencies across the federal government.

One way for Congress and the public to be informed about this deregulatory activity is to consult the “Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.” The Unified Agenda is a government-wide publication of rulemaking actions agencies expect to take in the coming months, and it contains both regulatory actions (i.e., new regulations) and deregulatory...

Funding Gaps and Government Shutdowns: CRS Experts

Contacting CRS Subject Matter Experts

In the event of a funding gap, the potential impacts of a government shutdown would depend on a program’s or agency’s specific circumstances and, furthermore, how relevant law is interpreted. Table 1 provides names and contact information for CRS subject matter experts on policy concerns and legal issues relating to funding gaps and the processes and effects that may be associated with a government shutdown. Policy areas that are identified in Table 1 include

agencies and programs funded by specific regular appropriations bills;

cross-cutting shutdown...

Indian Water Rights Settlements

In the second half of the 19th century, the federal government pursued a policy of confining Indian tribes to reservations. These reservations were either a portion of a tribe’s aboriginal land or an area of land taken out of the public domain and set aside for a tribe. The federal statutes and treaties reserving such land for Indian reservations typically did not address the water needs of these reservations, a fact that has given rise to questions and disputes regarding Indian reserved water rights. Dating to a 1908 Supreme Court ruling, courts generally have held that many tribes have a...

Nuclear Energy: Overview of Congressional Issues

The policy debate over the role of nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix is rooted in the technology’s fundamental characteristics. Nuclear reactors can produce potentially vast amounts of useful energy with relatively low consumption of natural resources and emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. However, facilities that produce nuclear fuel for civilian power reactors can also produce materials for nuclear weapons. In addition, the process of nuclear fission (splitting of atomic nuclei) to generate power produces radioactive material that can remain hazardous for...

Repair or Rebuild: Options for Electric Power in Puerto Rico

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm with sustained wind speeds of over 155 miles per hour. The hurricane also brought torrential rainfall with a range of 15 to 40 inches or more in some places, resulting in widespread flooding across the island. Puerto Rico’s office of emergency management reported that the storm had incapacitated the central electric power system, leaving the entire island without power as the island’s grid was essentially destroyed.

Even before the 2017 hurricane season, Puerto Rico’s electric power infrastructure...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in the United States

Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage)—known as CCS—is a process that involves capturing man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it permanently underground. (CCS is sometimes referred to as CCUS—carbon capture, utilization, and storage.) CCS could reduce the amount of CO2—an important greenhouse gas—emitted to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants and other large industrial facilities.

Globally, two fossil-fueled power plants currently generate electricity and capture CO2 in large quantities: the Boundary Dam plant in Canada and the Petra...

Resolutions of Inquiry: An Analysis of Their Use in the House, 1947-2017

A resolution of inquiry is a simple resolution making a direct request or demand of the President or the head of an executive department to furnish the House with specific factual information in the Administration’s possession. Under the rules and precedents of the House of Representatives, such resolutions, if properly drafted, are given a privileged parliamentary status. This means that, under certain circumstances, a resolution of inquiry can be brought to the House floor for consideration even if the committee to which it was referred has not reported it and the majority party...

Comprehensive Energy Planning for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Background

Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused extensive damage in the Caribbean and destroyed much of the electric power systems of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Congress has recognized that electric power systems in insular areas are vulnerable to hurricanes and typhoons and dependent on imported fuel (P.L. 109-58, title II, §251; P.L. 96-597, title VI, §604). Under 48 U.S.C. §1492, Congress authorized comprehensive energy planning, demonstration of cost-effective renewable energy technologies, and financial assistance for projects in insular areas related to energy...

U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Exports: Prospects for the Caribbean

With the advent of shale gas, the United States has transformed from a growing importer of natural gas to a burgeoning exporter. Exports by pipeline and ship have grown in the last couple of years. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in 2013 were about 13 billion cubic feet (bcf), while in 2016 that figure jumped to almost 184 bcf. This increase can mostly be attributed to the opening of the Sabine Pass Liquefaction facility in Louisiana in February 2016.

Despite the large volumes associated with the large-scale U.S. LNG export terminals, like Sabine Pass Liquefaction, there has also been...

Asian Carp and the Great Lakes Region

Four species of nonindigenous Asian carp are expanding their range in U.S. waterways, resulting in a variety of concerns and problems. Three species—bighead, silver, and black carp—are of particular note, based on the perceived degree of environmental concern. Current controversy relates to what measures might be necessary and sufficient to prevent movement of Asian carp from the Mississippi River drainage into the Great Lakes through the Chicago Area Waterway System. Recent federal response and coordination measures direct actions to avoid the possibility of carp becoming established in...

Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act: Bureau of Reclamation and California Water Provisions

Most of the provisions in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act; P.L. 114-322), enacted on December 16, 2016, relate to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. However, the WIIN Act also includes a subtitle (Subtitle J, §§4001-4013) with the potential to affect western water infrastructure owned by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation; part of the Department of the Interior). Three sections in Subtitle J (§4007, §4009, and §4011) made alterations that would apply throughout Reclamation’s service area, the 17 states to the west of the Mississippi River. Most of the...

Executive Order for Review of National Monuments: Background and Data

The Antiquities Act of 1906 (54 U.S.C. §§320301-320303) authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” Monument proclamations typically seek to provide protections to federal lands and resources. The President is to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” The act does not further specify the process to be used by Presidents in proclaiming monuments.

From 1906 to date,...

Army Corps of Engineers: Water Resource Authorizations, Appropriations, and Activities

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) undertakes activities to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. The agency’s water resource projects can have significant local and regional economic benefits and environmental effects. Congress directs the Corps through authorizations; appropriations; and oversight of its studies, construction projects, and the ongoing operations of Corps infrastructure. This report summarizes congressional project authorization and annual appropriations processes for the Corps.

Authorizations. Congress...

Federal Land Management Agencies and Programs: CRS Experts

Congress faces multiple issues regarding the ownership and management of federal lands and related resources. The following table provides access to names and contact information of CRS experts on general policy issues related to federal land management, as well as the CRS experts on the specific agencies charged with management of those lands. These agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service in the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture. For an overview of these issues, see also CRS...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2018 (P.L. 115-56)

This report provides an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2018 in Division D of H.R. 601. The measure also included separate divisions that establish a program to provide foreign assistance concerning basic education (Division A—Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act), supplemental appropriations for disaster relief requirements for FY2017 (Division B), and a temporary suspension of the public debt limit (Division C). On September 8, 2017, the President signed H.R. 601 into law (P.L. 115-56).

Division D of H.R. 601 was termed a “continuing...

Everglades Restoration: Federal Funding and Implementation Progress

The Everglades is a unique network of subtropical wetlands in South Florida that is approximately half of its historical size, due in part to degradation from federal water projects built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps). In 2000, Congress authorized a plan, termed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP), as a comprehensive framework for the restoration of the Everglades ecosystem in southern Florida. When originally authorized, it was estimated that CERP would cost a total of $8.2 billion and take approximately 30 years to complete. More recent estimates...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Appropriations Status

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) administers renewable energy and end-use energy efficiency technology programs in research, development, and implementation. EERE works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and others to support research and development (R&D). EERE also works with state and local governments to assist in technology implementation and deployment. EERE supports nearly a dozen offices and programs including vehicle technologies, solar energy, advanced manufacturing, and weatherization and...

PILT (Payments in Lieu of Taxes): Somewhat Simplified

Under federal law, local governments (usually counties) are compensated through various programs for reductions to their property tax bases due to the presence of most federally owned land. Federal lands cannot be taxed but may create a demand for services such as fire protection, police cooperation, or longer roads to skirt the federal property. Some compensation programs are run by a specific agency and apply only to that agency’s land. This report addresses only the most widely applicable program, which is called Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT; 31 U.S.C. §§6901-6907) and is...

Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

Japan is a significant partner of the United States in a number of foreign policy areas, particularly in security concerns, which range from hedging against Chinese military modernization to countering threats from North Korea. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 50,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets based in Japan. While core elements of the alliance may endure, the overall relationship under President Donald Trump will likely differ somewhat from relations under the Obama Administration. On January 30, 2017, the United States formally withdrew as a...

Confederate Symbols: Relation to Federal Lands and Programs

In the wake of violent incidents in which symbols of the Civil War Confederacy have played a role, Congress is considering the relationship of Confederate symbols to federal lands and programs. A number of federal agencies administer assets or fund activities in which Confederate memorials and references to Confederate history are present. This report focuses on three federal entities—the National Park Service (NPS), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense (DOD)—that manage multiple sites or programs involving Confederate symbols. The report discusses the...

Hurricanes and Electricity Infrastructure Hardening

This Insight discusses the measures undertaken by electric utilities to prevent or mitigate power outages resulting from severe weather events. Power lines and transformers used to provide electricity to customers are particularly susceptible to damage due to their exposure to the elements. (See CRS Report R42696, Weather-Related Power Outages and Electric System Resiliency.) The loss of life and extensive damage seen so far in the 2017 hurricane season has refocused the attention of Congress on the destructive potential of such storms. High winds, rain, and coastal surges can combine to...

Oil Spills: Background and Governance

Oil is a primary source of energy in the United States. Domestic oil production has increased in recent years, and vast quantities of oil continually enter the country via vessel or pipeline, moving throughout the country to various destinations. With such widespread use and nonstop movement, it is inevitable that some number of spills will occur.

Oil spills have raised environmental concerns for decades. Several major U.S. oil spills have had lasting repercussions that transcended local environmental and economic effects: the1969 well blowout off the coast of Santa Barbara, California;...

The OCS Royalty Rate: Statutory Requirements and General Guidance

Background

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) (43 U.S.C. 1337; P.L. 83-212) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to establish a royalty rate as part of the process for leasing acreage for oil and gas developments in federal waters. “The Secretary of the Interior shall establish royalties, fees, rentals, bonuses, and other payments to ensure a fair return to the United States for any lease....” Further, OCSLA requires a cash bonus bid with a royalty set at not less than 12.5% in amount or value of production (43 U.S.C. 1337 (a)(1)(A)) (For details on product valuation, see 30...

Wildfires: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified include federal wildfire policy; federal forest management; federal firefighting assistance; federal emergency management policy; federal preparedness system and response plan; hazard mitigation; armed forces and national guard assistance; supplemental disaster funding; and disaster insurance.

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to wildfires. Policy areas identified...

Flooding Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to flooding events in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, losses in agricultural production, disruptions in transportation (river, rail, and highway), problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural disaster relief and...

Natural Disasters and Hazards: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to natural disasters and hazards in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, losses in agricultural production, disruptions in transportation (river, rail, and highway), problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural...

Fire Management Assistance Grants: Frequently Asked Questions

Section 420 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288, hereinafter the Stafford Act) authorizes the President to “declare” a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG). In the interest of saving time, the authority to make the declaration has been delegated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Regional Administrators. Once issued, the FMAG declaration authorizes various forms of federal fire suppression assistance such as the provision of equipment, personnel, and grants to state, local, and tribal governments for the control,...

Statistics on Livestock Grazing on Federal Lands: FY2002 to FY2016

Livestock grazing on federal lands primarily occurs on lands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, in the Department of the Interior) and the Forest Service (FS, in the Department of Agriculture). Both agencies manage lands under sustained-yield and multiple-use principles, with livestock grazing among generally authorized uses. Congress continues to be interested in the extent to which BLM and FS lands are protected and used for a variety of activities, including livestock grazing. This report provides data on the extent of livestock grazing in recent years to assist with congressional...

Hurricane Events: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to hurricane events in the United States. Policy areas identified include disaster assistance and recovery matters extending to impacts such as displaced residents and business, , disruptions in the energy sector and transportation, problems with water treatment and supply; responses and recovery operations such as disaster declarations and federal assistance, public health provisions, federal flood insurance, agricultural disaster relief and assistance, tax relief,...

Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems: DOE Programs

While physical threats to the U.S. power grid and pipelines have long worried policymakers, cyber threats to the computer systems that operate this critical infrastructure are an increasing concern. Cybersecurity risks against the power and pipeline sectors are similar, as both use similar control systems, and there appears to be a broad consensus that cyber threats to this infrastructure are on the rise. Furthermore, with ever-greater physical interdependency between electricity generators and the natural gas pipelines that supply their fuel, many in Congress recognize that grid and...

Infrastructure: Green Building Overview and Issues

Buildings, whether residential, commercial, government, or special-use, are core components of the nation’s infrastructure. Their construction, operation, and demolition are increasingly recognized as major sources of environmental impact. Without significant transformation of building construction and operations, that impact is expected to increase with population growth and changes in other demographic and economic factors. One strategy for achieving that transformation is most widely known by the term green building. However, the term is used differently by various proponents and...

The National Park Service’s Maintenance Backlog: Frequently Asked Questions

This report addresses frequently asked questions about the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) backlog of deferred maintenance—maintenance that was not performed as scheduled or as needed and was put off to a future time. NPS’s deferred maintenance, also known as the maintenance backlog, was estimated for FY2016 at $11.332 billion. More than half of the NPS backlog is in transportation-related assets. Other federal land management agencies also have maintenance backlogs, but NPS’s is the largest and has drawn the most congressional attention.

During the past decade (FY2007-FY2016), NPS’s...

Russia: Background and U.S. Policy

Over the last five years, Congress and the executive branch have closely monitored and responded to new developments in Russian policy. These developments include the following: increasingly authoritarian governance since Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidential post in 2012; Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and support of separatists in eastern Ukraine; violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; Moscow’s intervention in Syria in support of Bashar al Asad’s government; increased military activity in Europe; and cyber-related influence...

The U.S. Coal Industry: Historical Trends and Recent Developments

The Trump Administration has taken several actions intended to help revive the U.S. coal industry. Within its first two months, the Administration rolled back or began reversing several coal-related regulations finalized under the Obama Administration. This effort was undertaken as three of the largest coal producers continued recovery from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and occurred in the context of higher coal prices (making coal production possibly more profitable), lower inventories, and higher natural gas prices—factors that could lead to coal being more competitive as a fuel source for...

Rising Costs and Delays Doom New Nuclear Reactors in South Carolina

A utility consortium that had been building two new nuclear power reactors in South Carolina announced July 31, 2017, it is abandoning the project because of growing cost overruns and schedule delays. Completion of the two additional reactors at the existing V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, SC, had been in doubt since Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the lead contractor for the project, filed for bankruptcy reorganization on March 29, 2017. Westinghouse also had been building two new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia. The lead owner of that project, Southern...

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act: S. 385 and H.R. 1443

Energy efficiency—providing the same or an improved level of service with less energy—has been of interest to some Members of Congress. Proponents of increased energy efficiency see an untapped “resource” that can mitigate the demand for additional energy supplies. Perceived benefits of energy efficiency include lowered energy bills, reduced demand for energy, improved energy security and independence, and reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Challenges to energy efficiency include market barriers that do not incentivize builders or developers to invest in energy efficiency,...

Presidential Permits for Border Crossing Energy Facilities

Controversy over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project has focused attention on U.S. requirements for authorization to construct and operate pipelines and other energy infrastructure at international borders. For the most part, developers are required to obtain a Presidential Permit for border crossing facilities. The agency responsible for reviewing applications and issuing Presidential Permits varies depending on the type of facility. Oil and other hazardous liquids pipelines that cross borders are authorized by the U.S. Department of State. Natural gas pipeline border crossings are...

Tax Provisions that Expired in 2016 (“Tax Extenders”)

In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. Collectively, these temporary tax provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.” Most recently, in December 2015, Congress addressed tax extenders in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act), enacted as Division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113). This legislation extended all of the 52 provisions that had expired at the end of 2014. Unlike past tax extenders legislation, however, a number of provisions that had expired at the end of 2014...

Federal Assistance for Wildfire Response and Recovery: In Brief

Wildfires can destroy homes and force thousands of people to evacuate. Over the last 10 years, wildfires in the United States have burned nearly 7.0 million acres annually on average. In 2015, 68,200 wildfires burned 10.1 million acres, making 2015 the largest fire year on record. In 2016, more than 67,700 wildfires burned 5.5 million acres. Through July 26, 2017, approximately 37,200 wildfires have burned 5.2 million acres, surpassing the 3.1 million acres burned through July 26 last year.

The federal government has programs to assist state and local efforts to control wildfires and...

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers several programs to help farmers recover financially from natural disasters, including drought and floods. All the programs have permanent authorization, and only one requires a federal disaster designation (the emergency loan program). Most programs receive mandatory funding amounts that are “such sums as necessary” and are not subject to annual discretionary appropriations.

The federal crop insurance program offers subsidized policies designed to protect crop producers from unavoidable risks associated with adverse weather and...

The Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit: In Brief

The renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) is a per-kilowatt-hour tax (kWh) credit for electricity generated using qualified energy resources. For nonwind technologies, the credit expired at the end of 2016, so that only projects that began construction before the end of 2016 qualify for tax credits. After 2016, the PTC for wind remains available, at reduced rates, for wind facilities that begin construction before the end of 2019. Since the PTC is available for the first 10 years of production at a qualified facility, PTCs will continue to be claimed after the PTC’s stated...

Gulf Coast Restoration: RESTORE Act and Related Efforts

The Gulf of Mexico coastal environment (Gulf Coast) stretches over approximately 600,000 square miles across five U.S. states: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. It is home to more than 22 million people and more than 15,000 species of sea life. Efforts are ongoing to restore this environment, which has been damaged by specific events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill and hurricanes as well as by disturbances to wetlands and water quality from human alterations and other impacts. The issue for Congress is the implementation, funding, and performance of congressionally...

Monument Proclamations Under Executive Order Review: Comparison of Selected Provisions

The Antiquities Act of 1906 (54 U.S.C. §§320301-320303) authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” The President is to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” From 1906 to date, Presidents have established 157 monuments and have enlarged, diminished, or otherwise modified previously proclaimed monuments. Presidential establishment of monuments has sometimes been...

H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017 (GROW Act)

In recent years, parts of the American West (i.e., the 17 states west of the Mississippi River) have been subject to prolonged drought conditions, including a severe drought in California that lasted from 2012 to 2016. Dating to the 112th Congress, several bills were proposed to address these conditions. The 114th Congress saw significant drought-related legislation enacted in the form of Subtitle J of the Water Resources Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act; P.L. 114-322). The WIIN Act included a number of provisions generally related to the Bureau of Reclamation (or...

Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines: Role of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Growth in North American crude oil and natural gas production has led to efforts to expand the domestic oil and natural gas pipeline network. Pipeline developers are required to obtain authorizations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) before constructing certain pipeline segments. Under the agency’s regulatory program, the Corps is responsible for authorizing activities that may affect federally regulated waters and wetlands. Under its civil works program, the agency is responsible for approving activities that cross or may affect Corps-managed lands and Corps water resource...

The Advanced Nuclear Production Tax Credit

The advanced nuclear production tax credit (PTC) (Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 45J) provides a 1.8 cent per kilowatt hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity sold that was produced at qualifying facilities. Criteria for qualifying facilities include that they must use nuclear reactor designs approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after 1993, and must be placed in service by the end of 2020. Qualifying facilities can claim tax credits during the first eight years of production.

There are additional limitations associated with the provision. First, the credit is restricted to...

Energy and Water Development: FY2017 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and Central Utah Project (CUP), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

FY2017 funding for energy and water development programs was provided by Division D of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (P.L. 115-31), an omnibus funding...

Reauthorizing the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000

Counties containing federal lands often receive payments from the federal government based on the presence of such lands. Counties containing National Forest System lands and certain Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands historically have received payments based on the revenue generated from those lands. Revenue-generating activities include recreation, grazing permits, and land use rentals, among other activities. Starting in the 1990s, federal timber sales began to decline substantially—by more than 90% in some areas—which led to substantially reduced payments to the counties. Thus,...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2017

President Obama’s budget request for FY2017 included $152.333 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $6.195 billion (4.2%) over the estimated FY2016 enacted R&D funding level of $146.138 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2017 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (47.8%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (21.5%) accounting for nearly 70% of all federal R&D funding.

In dollars, the largest increases in...

Selected Federal Water Activities: Agencies, Authorities, and Congressional Committees

Congress addresses numerous issues related to the nation’s water resources annually, and over time it has enacted hundreds of water-related federal laws. These laws—many of which are independent statutes—have been enacted at different points in the nation’s history and during various economic climates. They were developed by multiple congressional committees with varying jurisdictions. Such committees are involved in legislating, funding, and overseeing the water-related activities of numerous federal agencies. These activities include responding to natural disasters such as droughts and...

21st Century U.S. Energy Sources: A Primer

Since the start of the 21st century, the U.S. energy system has seen tremendous changes. Technological advances in energy production have driven changes in energy consumption, and the United States has moved from being a growing net importer of most forms of energy to a declining importer—and possibly a net exporter in the near future. The United States remains the second largest consumer of energy in the world, behind China.

The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has gone through a “renaissance” of production. Technological improvements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have...

The Value of Energy Tax Incentives for Different Types of Energy Resources: In Brief

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energy-related tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

In 2016, the value of...

The 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Trade Agreement (SLA): In Brief

Softwood lumber imports from Canada have been a persistent concern to Congress for decades. Canada is an important trading partner, but lumber production is a significant industry in many states, and the U.S. lumber producers are a powerful economic influence. U.S. lumber producers claim that they are at an unfair competitive disadvantage in the domestic market against Canadian lumber producers because of Canada’s timber pricing policies. This has resulted in five major disputes (so-called “lumber wars”) between the United States and Canada since the 1980s.

Tension between the United...

OPEC and Non-OPEC Crude Oil Production Agreement: Compliance Status

Founded in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) currently has 13 member countries that represent approximately 40% of global oil (e.g., crude oil, condensate, natural gas liquids) production. OPEC can influence global oil prices through coordinated production decisions that can impact the global oil market supply and demand balance. Additionally, through statements and announcements, OPEC and member countries can affect oil market sentiment that can influence oil prices.

Oil supply decisions by OPEC and its...

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Lessons Learned and Issues for Congress

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) was the nation’s first mandatory cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. RGGI involves nine states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The RGGI cap-and-trade system applies only to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power plants with capacities to generate 25 megawatts or more—approximately 168 facilities. The RGGI emissions cap took effect January 1, 2009, based on an agreement signed by RGGI governors in 2005.

The results of the RGGI program...

Selected Homeland Security Issues in the 115th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue among policymakers, including those in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations,...

The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017: Congressional Direction to NOAA in P.L. 115-25

Congress provides direction on a broad range of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) weather-related activities in Titles I through IV of P.L. 115-25, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, signed into law on April 18, 2017. The legislation aims to improve NOAA’s weather forecasts and warnings, both for the protection of lives and property and for the enhancement of the national economy. The act also covers topics such as future weather satellite data needs, gaps in the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) coverage, and improvements in the...

Zika Virus: CRS Experts

In late 2015, health officials in Brazil recognized a marked increase in the number of infants born with microcephaly (from Greek, meaning “small head”), a birth defect that may accompany significant, permanent brain damage. Although not conclusive, the increase in microcephaly is suspected to be related to the emergence of Zika virus infections in Brazil early in 2015.

Zika virus is related to the viruses that cause yellow fever, dengue, West Nile, and Japanese encephalitis viruses. Historically Zika virus was found in Africa. Since 2007, Zika transmission has also occurred in Southeast...

The U.S. Tsunami Program Reauthorization in P.L. 115-25: Section-by-Section Comparison to P.L. 109-479, Title VIII

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service (NWS) manages two tsunami warning centers, which monitor, detect, and issue warnings for tsunamis. The NWS operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) at Ford Island, HI, and the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) at Palmer, AK. The tsunami warning centers monitor and evaluate data from seismic networks and determine if a tsunami is likely based on the location, magnitude, and depth of an earthquake. The centers monitor relevant water-level data, typically with tide-level gauges, and data...

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Authorization, Operation, and Drawdown Policy

Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975 to help prevent a repetition of the economic disruption caused by the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. EPCA specifically authorizes the President to draw down the SPR upon a finding that there is a “severe energy supply interruption.” The meaning of a “severe energy supply interruption” has, over time, been controversial. The authors of EPCA intended the SPR only to ameliorate discernible physical shortages of crude oil. Historically, increasing crude oil prices typically signal...

Central Valley Project Operations: Background and Legislation

After five years of drought, rain and snowstorms in Northern and Central California in the winter of 2016-2017 significantly improved water supply conditions in the state in 2017. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of late April 2017, less than 1% of the state was in severe drought conditions. This represents an improvement from one year prior to that date, when 73% of the state was in severe drought conditions, and two years prior, when 92% fell under this designation.

Stress on water supplies due to drought resulted in cutbacks in water deliveries to districts receiving water...

U.S. Physical Infrastructure: CRS Experts

A nation’s physical infrastructure (for example, its transportation, water, energy, and communications systems and structures) serves as arteries for its economic and societal activity. The infrastructure of the United States was considered to be among the finest in the world, as post-World War II growth saw large amounts of investment in much of that infrastructure. Since all infrastructure structures and equipment have a finite useful life, some would say that functionality of U.S. infrastructure has declined over time.

Estimates of cost to meet the needs of the infrastructure sectors...

Deferred Maintenance of Federal Land Management Agencies: FY2007-FY2016 Estimates and Issues

Each of the four major federal land management agencies maintains tens of thousands of diverse assets, including roads, bridges, buildings, and water management structures. These agencies are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), National Park Service (NPS), and Forest Service (FS). Congress and the Administration continue to focus on the agencies’ deferred maintenance and repair of these assets—in essence, the cost of any maintenance or repair that was not done when it should have been or was scheduled to be. Deferred maintenance and repair is often called...

Clean Air Act: A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

This report summarizes the Clean Air Act and its major regulatory requirements. It excerpts, with minor modifications, the Clean Air Act chapter of CRS Report RL30798, Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, which summarizes a dozen environmental statutes that form the basis for the programs of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The principal statute addressing air quality concerns, the Clean Air Act was first enacted in 1955, with major revisions in 1970, 1977, and 1990. The act requires EPA to set health-based standards for...

Westinghouse Bankruptcy Filing Could Put New U.S. Nuclear Projects at Risk

Westinghouse Electric Company, a major nuclear technology firm that supplied nearly half of the 99 currently operating U.S. commercial reactors, filed for bankruptcy reorganization on March 29, 2017. The bankruptcy filing raised fundamental questions about the future of the U.S. nuclear power industry, and particularly whether four new reactors that Westinghouse is constructing for electric utilities in Georgia and South Carolina will be completed. The four reactors are the first to begin construction in the United States since the mid-1970s, and the nuclear industry had hoped they would...

Presidential Permit Review for Cross-Border Pipelines and Electric Transmission

Executive permission in the form of a Presidential Permit has long been required for the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of certain facilities that cross the United States borders with Canada and Mexico. The constitutional basis for the President’s cross-border permitting authority has been addressed by the courts, but questions remain about the manner in which this authority is exercised among the agencies to which it has been delegated. In particular, some Members of Congress and affected stakeholders seek greater clarity about how Presidential Permit applications...

U.S. Climate Change Regulation and Litigation: Selected Legal Issues

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to encourage and promote energy development by modifying climate change policies. As the Trump Administration implements its environmental policies, various legal challenges to Obama Administration climate change regulations remain pending before courts. During the last term of the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration finalized a series of regulations to address emissions from cars, trucks, and their engines that may contribute to climate...

Multinational Species Conservation Fund Semipostal Stamp

The Multinational Species Conservation Fund (MSCF) supports international conservation efforts benefitting several species of animals, often in conjunction with efforts under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). MSCF receives annual appropriations under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to fund five grant programs for conserving tigers, rhinoceroses, Asian and African elephants, marine turtles, and great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and various species of gibbons). To provide a convenient way for the public to contribute to these...

EPA’s Mid-Term Evaluation of Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

The One National Program

In 2009, the Obama Administration—through authorities provided to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—developed joint standards for fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for new light-duty vehicles (defined generally as passenger cars and light trucks). The standards (referred to as the One National Program) were established in two phases: Phase 1 for vehicle model years (MY) 2012-2016, finalized on May 7, 2010; and Phase 2 for MY2017-2025, finalized on October 15, 2012. The agencies...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2017 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for approximately 30 agencies and entities. They include most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) as well as agencies within other departments, such as the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. The bill also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and other entities. At issue for Congress is determining the amount, terms, and conditions of funding for...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Appropriations Status

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is the principal government agency responsible for renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency efforts. EERE works with industry, academia, national laboratories, and others to conduct research and development (R&D) and to issue grants to state governments. EERE oversees nearly a dozen technologies and programs—from vehicle technologies to solar energy to advanced manufacturing to weatherization and intergovernmental programs—each with its own respective mission and program goals.

EERE...

Previewing a 2018 Farm Bill

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 115th Congress faces reauthorization of the 2014 farm bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, H.Rept. 113-333)—because many of its provisions expire in 2018.

The 2014 farm bill is the most recent omnibus farm bill. It was enacted in February 2014 and succeeded the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, “2008 farm bill”). In recent decades, the breadth of farm bills has steadily grown to include new and expanding food and agricultural interests. The 2014 farm bill contains...

Ocean Energy Agency Appropriations, FY2017

This report discusses FY2017 appropriations for the Department of the Interior’s (DOI’s) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR). The three agencies collectively administer federal ocean energy resources covering more than 1.7 billion acres on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS). BOEM administers offshore energy leasing, BSEE oversees offshore operational safety and environmental responsibility, and ONRR manages public revenues from federally regulated offshore and onshore energy...

The Federal Power Act (FPA) and Electricity Markets

The electric power industry is in the process of transformation. The electricity infrastructure of the United States is aging; uncertainty exists around how to modernize the grid, and what technologies and fuels will be used to produce electricity in the future. Unresolved questions are arising about market structure, potential cyber and physical security threats, and continuing interest in harnessing low carbon sources of electricity. Concerns about reliability and electricity prices are being affected by new environmental regulations, and the rising availability of natural gas for the...

Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four major federal land management agencies administer 610.1 million acres of this land (as of September 30, 2015). They are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. In addition, the Department of Defense (excluding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) administers 11.4 million acres in the United States (as of...

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

This report summarizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its major programs and regulatory requirements. It reviews revisions to the act since its enactment in 1974, including the drinking water security provisions added to the SDWA by the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-188) and lead reduction provisions as amended by P.L. 111-380 (including amendments made by P.L. 113-64 to explicitly exempt fire hydrants from coverage under the act’s lead plumbing restrictions). It also reviews P.L. 114-45, enacted August 7, 2015, directing...

The LIHEAP Formula

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides funds to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Indian tribal organizations (collectively referred to as grantees) primarily to help low-income households pay home energy expenses. The LIHEAP statute provides for two types of funding: regular funds (sometimes referred to as block grant funds) and emergency contingency funds. Regular funds are allocated to grantees based on a formula, while emergency contingency funds may be released to one or more grantees at the discretion of the Secretary...

Oil Sands and the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund: The Definition of “Oil” and Related Issues for Congress

In 2005, the United States imported approximately 217 million barrels of oil-sands-derived crude oils from Canada. In 2015, that figure increased to 587 million barrels, accounting for approximately 22% of crude oil imports from all nations. Pipeline oil spills, including the 2010 Enbridge spill in Michigan and the 2013 ExxonMobil spill in Arkansas, involved this material and generated interest from policymakers and a variety of stakeholders.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF) provides an immediate source of federal funding to respond to oil spills in a timely manner. Monies from...

India’s Natural Gas: A Small Part of the Energy Mix

India’s population is expected to surpass China as the world’s largest by 2022, reaching approximately 1.4 billion people, creating greater demand for energy. India has the potential to be a much larger producer and consumer of natural gas. Competing political and economic factors have limited the government’s effectiveness in changing the country’s energy mix, which is heavily weighted toward coal and oil. Continually beset by high-profile environmental issues such as major air pollution and contaminated water supplies due to their reliance on coal and oil, the Indian government is now...

Wildfire Suppression Spending: Background, Issues, and Legislation

Congress has directed that the federal government is responsible for managing wildfires that begin on federal lands, such as national forests or national parks. The states are responsible for managing wildfires that originate on all other lands. Although a greater number of wildfires occur annually on nonfederal lands, wildfires on federal lands tend to be much larger, particularly in the western United States. The federal government’s wildfire management responsibilities—fulfilled primarily by the Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI)—include prevention, detection,...

Cars, Trucks, Aircraft, and EPA Climate Regulations

This report discusses EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as it pertains to mobile sources, including cars, trucks, aircraft, ships, locomotives, nonroad vehicles and engines, and their fuels. The Supreme Court held in 2007 that the Clean Air Act (CAA) authorizes the agency to address GHG emissions. The key to using this CAA authority was for the EPA Administrator to find that GHG emissions endanger public health or welfare, a step taken in December 2009.

Under the Trump Administration, it is unclear whether this authority will be put to further use. Other questions...

The Loss of Quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

On January 25, 2017, President Trump designated Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) to serve as acting chairwoman of FERC, replacing Norman Bay as chair. Commissioner Bay subsequently resigned from the Commission effective February 3, 2017, leaving FERC without a voting quorum of three members, since only acting Chairwoman LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable remain as members of the Commission. The absence of a quorum limits FERC’s authority to issue orders concerning projects or rate and tariff issues. A quorum will not...

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Five-Year Program for Offshore Oil and Gas Leasing: History and Final Program for 2017-2022

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), within the Department of the Interior (DOI), has prepared a five-year plan—referred to by BOEM as a “five-year program”—for offshore oil and gas leasing on the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS) from mid-2017 through mid-2022. Currently, BOEM is implementing a previous five-year program for the 2012-2017 period. BOEM develops the leasing programs under Section 18 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, as amended (OCSLA; 43 U.S.C. §§1331-1356b). The law requires the Secretary of the Interior to prepare and maintain forward-looking plans that...

National Monuments and the Antiquities Act

The Antiquities Act of 1906 (54 U.S.C. §§320301-320303) authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest. The President is to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” The act was designed to protect federal lands and resources quickly. Presidents have proclaimed a total of 157 monuments. Congress has modified many of these proclamations and has abolished some monuments. Congress...

Cross-Border Energy Trade in North America: Present and Potential

The United States, Canada, and Mexico in many ways comprise one large, integrated market for energy commodities. Canada, for example, is the single largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the United States, and the United States is Canada’s sole crude oil customer. Both Mexico and Canada are major buyers of petroleum products refined in the United States. A growing trade in natural gas produced in the United States is also increasingly important to the energy relationship among the three countries. Trade in the other energy commodities—electricity, natural gas liquids, and coal—is...

Endangered Species Act (ESA): The Exemption Process

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is designed to protect species from extinction, but it includes an exemption process for those unusual cases where the public benefit from an action is determined to outweigh the harm to the species. This process was created by a 1978 amendment to the ESA, but it is rarely used. This report will discuss the exemption process for an agency action, with examples from past controversies, and its potential for application to actions that may affect current controversies, such as water supply.

The ESA mandates listing and protecting species that are endangered...

Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use

Water and energy are resources that are reciprocally and mutually linked, because meeting energy needs requires water, often in large quantities, for mining, fuel production, hydropower, and power plant cooling, and energy is needed for pumping, treatment, and distribution of water and for collection, treatment, and discharge of wastewater. This interrelationship is often referred to as the energy-water nexus, or the water-energy nexus. There is growing recognition that “saving water saves energy.” Energy efficiency initiatives offer opportunities for delivering significant water savings,...

Farm Bill: CRS Experts

The 115th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill—the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79)—because many of its provisions expire in 2018. The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy issues related to the farm bill. Numerous agricultural and food issues are addressed in the farm bill, including farm commodity support, conservation, international food aid and agricultural trade, nutrition assistance, farm credit, rural development, agricultural research, forestry, bioenergy, horticulture and organic agriculture, crop...

U.S. Farm Program Eligibility and Payment Limits

Current U.S. farm program participants—whether individuals or multi-person legal entities—must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive benefits under certain farm programs. Some requirements are common across most programs while others are specific to individual programs. In addition, program participants are subject to annual payment limits that vary across different combinations of farm programs. Federal farm support programs, along with their current eligibility requirements and payment limits, are listed in Table 1.

Since 1970, Congress has used varying policies to address...

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF): History, Function, and Funding

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) was chartered by Congress in 1984 to aid in the conservation of plants, animals, and ecosystems; many of its projects involve work with federal agencies. By statute, NFWF is a “charitable and nonprofit corporation and is not an agency or establishment of the United States.” Registered under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501(c)(3), NFWF is not a part of the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, Department of the Interior), though it does have certain links to that agency, as well as to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

Invasive Species: Major Laws and the Role of Selected Federal Agencies

An “invasive” species (alternatively known as an alien, exotic, injurious, introduced or naturalized, non-native, nonindigenous, nuisance, or noxious species) refers to an animal or plant that is introduced into an environment where it is not native. The introduction of invasive species to the United States—whether deliberate or unintentional—from around the globe can pose a significant threat to native animal and plant communities, and may result in extinctions of native animals and plants, species disruptions as native and non-native species compete for limited resources, reduced...

Water Resource Issues in the 115th Congress

The 115th Congress faces various water resource development, management, and protection issues. Water resource activities generally encompass navigation improvements, flood damage reduction measures, water supply augmentation, hydropower generation, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Congressional actions shape reinvestment in aging federal infrastructure (e.g., dams, locks, and levees) and federal and nonfederal investment in new projects. The principal agencies involved in federal water resource infrastructure are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Department of the...

Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): Background and Selected Issues

The Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)—originally named the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)—was established at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1978 to address congressional concerns about an “undue concentration” of federal research and development (R&D) funding in certain states. The program is designed to help institutions in eligible states build infrastructure, research capabilities, and training and human resource capacities to enable them to compete more successfully for open federal R&D funding awards. Eligibility...

Overview of Further Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 2028)

This report is an analysis of the provisions in H.R. 2028, which provides further continuing appropriations for FY2017 through April 28, 2017. The measure also included appropriations for the remainder of the fiscal year for Overseas Contingency Operations in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act (Division B). On December 10, 2016, the President signed H.R. 2028 into law (P.L. 114-254).

Division A of H.R. 2028 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because it provided temporary authority for federal agencies and programs to continue spending in FY2017 in the same manner as a...

Vermont Utility Cybersecurity Alarm

A recent report in the Washington Post stated that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electricity grid, after malware said to be associated with a Russian hacking group was found on a Vermont utility company computer. However, a follow-up story in the Washington Post quoted U.S. government sources as saying “that the incident is not linked to any Russian government effort to target or hack the utility.”

The cybersecurity alarm was raised after a joint report last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urged electric utilities to...

EPA Regulations: Too Much, Too Little, or On Track?

Since Barack Obama was sworn in as President in 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and promulgated numerous regulations to implement the pollution control statutes enacted by Congress. Critics have reacted strongly. Some, both within Congress and outside of it, have accused the agency of reaching beyond the authority given it by Congress and ignoring or underestimating the costs and economic impacts and overestimating the benefits of proposed and promulgated rules. The House conducted vigorous oversight of the agency in the 112th and 113th Congresses, and...

The 21st Century Cures Act (Division A of P.L. 114-255)

The 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255) was signed into law on December 13, 2016, by President Barack Obama. On November 30, 2016, the House passed the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 34, the 21st Century Cures Act, on a vote of 392 to 26. The bill was then sent to the Senate where it was considered and passed, with only minor technical modification, on December 7, 2016, on a vote of 94 to 5. The law consists of three divisions: Division A—21st Century Cures Act; Division B—Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis; and Division C—Increasing Choice, Access, and Quality...

State Management of Federal Lands: Frequently Asked Questions

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres of land, about 28% of the 2.27 billion acres in the United States. This land is managed by numerous agencies, but four agencies administer about 95% of federal land, with somewhat differing management emphases. These agencies are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture. Most federal land is in the West, including Alaska. The total amount of money the federal government spends...

Pesticide Use and Water Quality: Are the Laws Complementary or in Conflict?

This report provides background on the emerging conflict over interpretation and implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). For the more than 30 years since they were enacted, there had been little apparent conflict between them. But their relationship has recently been challenged in several arenas, including the federal courts and regulatory proceedings of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this report, a brief discussion of the two laws is followed by a review of the major litigation of interest. EPA’s...

Water Use Efficiency Legislation in the 114th Congress

More than two dozen legislative proposals in the 114th Congress were introduced that included provisions concerning water use efficiency, or water conservation, in nonagricultural sectors. These legislative proposals did not seek to set specific enforceable water use efficiency standards or goals. Rather, most sought to encourage or provide incentives for adoption of practices, technologies, and measures to achieve improved water use efficiency.

The 114th Congress legislation can be broadly grouped in five categories of proposals.

Codifying the WaterSense program. WaterSense is a...

Financial Challenges of Operating Nuclear Power Plants in the United States

Some of the 60 operating nuclear power plants (comprising 99 nuclear reactors) in the United States have experienced financial stress in recent years due to a combination of low wholesale electricity prices and escalating costs. Six nuclear reactors have permanently shut down during the past five years, and 19 others have announced their intention to close or have been identified as “at-risk” of closure by financial consultants and ratings agencies.

Generally, U.S. nuclear plants are located in one of two market areas: (1) competitive—where the value of electricity fluctuates based on...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Votes and Legislative Actions Since the 95th Congress

Current law forbids the federal government from offering energy leases or from allowing activities leading to energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR, or the Refuge) in northeastern Alaska. For several decades, a major energy debate has been whether to approve energy development in ANWR, and if so, under what conditions, or to continue to prohibit development to protect the area’s biological resources. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Its development has been debated for more than 50 years, and the level of debate fluctuates with gasoline...

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE): A Primer, with Appropriations for FY2017

The nation’s energy infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation. For example, new technologies and changes in electricity flows place increasing demands on the electric power grid. These changes include increased use of distributed (mostly renewable energy) resources, Internet-enabled demand response technologies, growing loads from electric vehicle use, continued expansion of natural gas use, and integration of energy storage devices.

The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) has the lead role in addressing those infrastructure...

Federal Land Ownership: Acquisition and Disposal Authorities

The federal government owns roughly 640 million acres, heavily concentrated in 12 western states. Four agencies—the National Park Service (NPS), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service (FS) in the Department of Agriculture—administer about 95% of those lands.

The extent to which these four federal agencies have authority to acquire and dispose of land varies considerably. The BLM has relatively broad authority for both acquisitions and disposals under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of...

Stormwater Permits: Status of EPA’s Regulatory Program

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states implement a federally mandated program for controlling stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities. Large cities and most industry sources are subject to rules issued in 1990 (Phase I rules), and EPA issued permit rules to cover smaller cities and other industrial sources and construction sites in 1999 (Phase II rules). Because of the large number of affected sources and deadline changes that led to confusion, numerous questions have arisen about this program. Impacts and costs of the program’s requirements,...

Methane: An Introduction to Emission Sources and Reduction Strategies

The Obama Administration’s Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” (CAP) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. One of the initiatives within the CAP focused on the control of methane emissions, a potent short-lived climate pollutant. It called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation to develop a comprehensive interagency...

Land Exchanges: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Process and Issues

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) conducts land exchanges with other land owners to acquire and dispose of land. The agency is authorized to conduct land exchanges under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976. Additionally, Congress sometimes enacts legislation authorizing and governing specific land exchanges.

FLPMA governs how administrative exchanges are to occur. For instance, land exchanges must be in the public interest, and the federal and nonfederal lands in the exchange are to be in the same state. Further, the values of the lands exchanged are to be equal,...

Selected Recently Expired Individual Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”): In Brief

The Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, considered as an amendment to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), was signed into law on December 18, 2015. That legislation made some tax provisions that had expired at the end of 2014 permanent, and extended others through the 2016 tax year. This report briefly summarizes and discusses selected items categorized as individual tax provisions. These and other temporary tax provisions that have been regularly extended for one or two years are often referred to as “tax...

Debt-for-Nature Initiatives and the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA): Status and Implementation

In the late 1980s, extensive foreign debt and degraded natural resources in developing nations led to the creation of debt-for-nature initiatives that reduced debt obligations, allowed for debt repayments in local currency as opposed to hard currency, and generated funds for the environment. These initiatives, called debt-for-nature swaps (hereinafter referred to as debt-for-nature transactions) typically involved restructuring, reducing, or buying a portion of a developing country’s outstanding debt, with a percentage of proceeds (in local currency) being used to support conservation...

Irrigation in U.S. Agriculture: On-Farm Technologies and Best Management Practices

Recent threats to water availability as a result of moderate to exceptional drought in several states have raised questions about agricultural water use and efficiencies across the United States. An understanding of common irrigation technologies and the impacts of best management practices in irrigation may be useful to Congress concerning potential policy responses to this issue. As a major user of water, the agricultural industry’s use of water resources continues to be a focal point of agriculture policy. Additional demands on water supplies, extreme weather events (e.g., prolonged...

Overview of Continuing Appropriations for FY2017 (H.R. 5325)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the continuing appropriations provisions for FY2017 in H.R. 5325. The measure also included provisions covering appropriations in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for all of FY2017 (Division A), as well as emergency funds to combat the Zika virus and provide relief for flood victims in Louisiana and other affected states (Division B). On September 29, 2016, the President signed H.R. 5325 into law (P.L. 114-223).

Division C of H.R. 5325 was termed a “continuing resolution” (CR) because measures to...

Tax Credit Bonds: Overview and Analysis

Nearly all state and local governments sell bonds to finance public projects and certain qualified private activities. The federal government subsidizes state and local bond issuances through a number of policies. One such policy is the Tax Credit Bond (TCB), which provides a tax credit or direct payment to the issuer or investor that is proportional to the bond’s face value. TCBs represent an alternative to tax-exempt bonds, which exclude interest earnings from the investor’s federal taxable income. This report explains the tax credit mechanism and describes the market for TCBs.

The...

Conservation Compliance and U.S. Farm Policy

The Food Security Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-198, 1985 farm bill) included a number of significant agricultural conservation provisions designed to reduce farm production and conserve soil and water resources. Many of the provisions remain in effect today, including the two compliance provisions—highly erodible land conservation (sodbuster) and wetland conservation (swampbuster). The two provisions, collectively referred to as conservation compliance, require that in exchange for certain U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program benefits, a producer agrees to maintain a minimum level of...

Human-Induced Earthquakes from Deep-Well Injection: A Brief Overview

The development of unconventional oil and natural gas resources using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has created new demand for disposal wells that inject waste fluids into deep geologic formations. Deep-well injection has long been the environmentally preferred method for managing produced brine and other wastewater associated with oil and gas production. However, an increasing concern in the United States is that injection of these fluids may be responsible for increasing rates of seismic activity. The number of earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in the central and...

Energy Policy: 114th Congress Issues

Energy policy in the United States has focused on three major goals: assuring a secure supply of energy, keeping energy costs low, and protecting the environment. In pursuit of those goals, government programs have been developed to improve the efficiency with which energy is utilized, to promote the domestic production of conventional energy sources, and to develop new energy sources, particularly renewable sources.

Implementing these programs has been controversial because of varying importance given to different aspects of energy policy. For some, dependence on imports of foreign...

Grazing Fees: Overview and Issues

Charging fees for grazing private livestock on federal lands is a long-standing but contentious practice. Generally, livestock producers who use federal lands want to keep fees low, while conservation groups believe fees should be increased. The formula for determining the grazing fee for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) uses a base value adjusted annually by the lease rates for grazing on private lands, beef cattle prices, and the cost of livestock production. Currently, the BLM and FS are charging a grazing fee of $2.11 per animal unit...

FERC Reviewing Its Approach to Market Power Determinations

On September 22, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the Commission) issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to explore whether it should revise its current approach to “identifying and assessing” market power in electric utility transactions. FERC defines market power as “[t]he ability of any market participant with a large market share to significantly control or affect price by withholding production from the market, limiting service availability, or reducing purchases.”

FERC’s rationale for the NOI arose from the different ways market power can be analyzed under its rules....

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been ratified by 183 nations, including the United States. It regulates the international trade in animals and plants that may be threatened by trade. CITES entered into force in 1975 and currently regulates the trade of approximately 30,000 species of plants and 5,600 species of animals. Many believe that CITES has been a success, noting that no species listed under CITES has gone extinct in the last 30 years. Others believe that CITES, although successful, has had implementation difficulties,...

Sea-Level Rise and U.S. Coasts: Science and Policy Considerations

Policymakers are interested in sea-level rise because of the risk to coastal populations and infrastructure and the consequences for coastal species and ecosystems. From 1901 to 2010, global sea levels rose an estimated 187 millimeters (mm; 7.4 inches), averaging a 1.7 mm (0.07 inch) rise annually. Estimates are that the annual rate rose to 3.2 mm (0.13 inches) from 1992 to 2010. Although the extent of future sea-level rise remains uncertain, sea-level rise is anticipated to have a range of effects on U.S. coasts. It is anticipated to contribute to flood and erosion hazards, permanent or...

The Endangered Species Act: A Primer

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 87 Stat. 884. 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1544) has a stated purpose of conserving species identified as endangered or threatened with extinction and conserving ecosystems on which these species depend. The ESA is perennially controversial because the protections provided can make it the visible policy focal point for underlying situations involving the allocation of scarce or diminishing lands or resources, especially in instances where societal values may be changing or traditional land use patterns are affected. As a result, the act often becomes...

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Overview, Funding History, and Issues

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965 was enacted to help preserve, develop, and ensure access to outdoor recreation facilities to strengthen the health of U.S. citizens. The law created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury as a funding source to implement its outdoor recreation goals.

The LWCF has been used for three general purposes. First, it has been the principal source of monies for land acquisition for outdoor recreation by four federal agencies—the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Forest Service....

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Appropriations for “Other Purposes”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965 (P.L. 88-578) created the LWCF in the Treasury as a funding source to implement the outdoor recreation goals set out by the act. The fund is authorized at $900 million annually through September 30, 2018. In general, monies in the fund are available for outdoor recreation purposes only if appropriated by Congress. The level of annual appropriations has varied widely since the origin of the fund.

The LWCF Act outlines uses of the fund for federal and state purposes. It lists the federal purposes for which the President is to allot...

EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program: Background and Legal Developments

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) as a voluntary complement to its regulatory program known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP). The goal of the CPP is to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired electric power plants, which produced 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014. The CEIP would support that objective by promoting CO2 emission reductions before the CPP is scheduled to take effect in 2022.

The CEIP is a voluntary program that would encourage states to develop energy...

Legal Developments Relating to Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal and the Yucca Mountain Repository Site

The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 (NWPA) was an effort to establish an explicit statutory basis for the Department of Energy (DOE) to dispose of the nation’s most highly radioactive nuclear waste. The NWPA requires DOE to remove spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants, in exchange for a fee, and transport it to a permanent geologic repository or an interim storage facility before permanent disposal. Defense-related high-level waste is to go into the same repository. In an effort to mitigate the political difficulties of imposing a federal nuclear waste facility on a...

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. Members of Congress regularly engage in oversight or legislative activities on the following subjects with respect to Turkey, among others: U.S.-Turkey military cooperation, including arms sales and aid; Turkey’s interactions with countries such as Armenia, Cyprus, and Israel; general Turkish domestic issues; concerns regarding Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities in Turkey; and bilateral trade....

Sage-Grouse Conservation: Background and Issues

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is a squat, feathered, chicken-like bird that is currently found in 11 western states. For more than 25 years, there has been considerable controversy concerning whether to list sage-grouse for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205).

On October 2, 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, Department of the Interior) published its decision not to list the greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered under ESA. Under the act, one of the factors that can lead to a listing is the inadequacy of existing regulatory...

Discount Rates in the Economic Evaluation of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Projects

Since 1936, Congress has relied on benefit and cost information to justify investments of federal involvement in water resource projects of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Today, Congress faces more demand for Corps projects than the agency can deliver at recent funding levels. Congress also faces stakeholder concerns about how water resources issues are addressed; this brings attention to how the Corps develops and evaluates the alternatives considered for congressional construction authorization. Corps benefit-cost analyses (BCAs) and their underlying assumptions are central to...

Shale Gas, Tight Oil, and Hydraulic Fracturing: CRS Experts

The following tables provide names and contact information for CRS experts on policy areas relating to the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development. The first table covers topics generally related to unconventional oil and gas resources, including Resource Assessment and Development, Technical Issues, and Markets and Utilization. The second table addresses topics related to environmental regulation and management of hydraulic fracturing activities. Broad topics include the following: Air Quality, Chemical Disclosure, Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal Lands, Water...

Endangered Species Act Litigation Regarding Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead

The decline of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin began in the second half of the 19th Century. Activities such as logging, farming, mining, irrigation, and commercial fishing all contributed to the decline, and populations further declined since the construction and operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in the mid-1900s. In 1991, the Snake River sockeye became the first Pacific salmon stock identified as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). There are now 13 salmon and steelhead stocks that are listed as either threatened or...

Role of the National Weather Service and Selected Legislation in the 114th Congress

The mission of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to provide weather forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property. Apart from the budget for procuring weather satellites, NWS received the most funding (about $1.1 billion) of any office or program within the FY2016 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The largest fraction of the NWS budget has been devoted to local forecasts and warnings, suggesting that short-term weather prediction and warning is a high priority for NWS and for NOAA, in accord with NOAA’s statutory authority....

Wildfire Management Appropriations: Data, Trends, and Issues

The Forest Service (FS, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are the two primary federal entities tasked with wildland fire management activities. Federal wildland fire management includes activities such as preparedness, suppression, fuel reduction, and site rehabilitation, among others. Approximately 10.1 million acres burned during the 2015 wildfire season, which was more than the acreage burned in 2014 (3.6 million acres) and 2013 (4.3 million acres) combined and represents the largest acreage burned since modern record-keeping began in 1960....

Natural Gas: A Key Part of the Global Energy Mix

The role of natural gas in the U.S. economy has been a major part of the energy policy debate in the 114th Congress. This report briefly explains key aspects of global natural gas markets, including supply and demand, and major U.S. developments.

Natural gas is considered by some as a potential bridge fuel to a lower-carbon economy, because it is cleaner burning than its hydrocarbon alternatives coal and oil. Natural gas combustion emits about one-half less carbon dioxide than coal and one-quarter less than oil when consumed in a typical electric power plant, although fugitive gas...

Energy Legislation: Comparison of Selected Provisions in S. 2012 as Passed by the House and Senate

Congress most recently enacted major energy legislation in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140). The 114th Congress is currently considering new legislation to address broad energy issues. On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of S. 2012, the Energy Policy and Modernization Act. On December 3, 2015, the House passed an amended version of H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. On May 25, 2016, the House passed an amended version of S. 2012 which contains the text of H.R. 8, as well as the text of several other...

Energy Legislation: Comparable Provisions in S. 2012 as Passed by the House and Senate

Congress most recently enacted major energy legislation in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140). The 114th Congress is currently considering new legislation to address broad energy issues. On April 20, 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of S. 2012, the Energy Policy and Modernization Act. On December 3, 2015, the House passed an amended version of H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015. On May 25, 2016, the House passed an amended version of S. 2012 which contains the text of H.R. 8, as well as the text of several other...

National Park System: Establishing New Units

The National Park System includes 412 diverse units administered by the National Park Service (NPS) in the Department of the Interior. Units generally are added to the National Park System by acts of Congress, although the President may proclaim national monuments for inclusion in the system on land that is federally managed. An act of Congress creating a National Park System unit may explain the unit’s purpose; set its boundaries; provide specific directions for land acquisition, planning, uses, and operations; and authorize appropriations for acquisition and development. Today, there are...

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations, such as shales and other unconventional formations. Its use along with horizontal drilling has been responsible for an increase in estimated U.S. oil and natural gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing and related oil and gas production activities have been controversial because of their potential effects on public health and the environment. Several environmental statutes have implications for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing by the federal government and states.

An...

The Department of the Interior’s Final Rule on Offshore Well Control

On April 29, 2016, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) released final regulations concerning blowout preventer systems and well control for oil and gas operations on the U.S. outer continental shelf (81 Fed. Reg. 25887). The regulations aim to reduce the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could jeopardize human safety and harm the environment.

The regulations draw on findings about the causes of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Building on previous regulatory reforms implemented after the 2010 spill,...

DOT’s Federal Pipeline Safety Program: Background and Key Issues for Congress

The U.S. energy pipeline network is composed of over 2.9 million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids. Recent accidents in Michigan, Arkansas, and California have drawn criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board and have raised congressional concern about pipeline risks. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Quadrennial Energy Review also highlighted pipeline safety as an issue for the nation’s energy infrastructure. Trends in pipeline accidents suggest there continues to be opportunity for safety improvement.

The federal pipeline safety...

U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production in Federal and Nonfederal Areas

A number of legislative proposals designed to increase domestic energy supply, enhance security, and/or amend the requirements of environmental statutes that apply to energy development are before the 114th Congress. Proposals range from leasing primarily in the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) via the Proposed Five-Year Program (PP) for FY2017-FY2022 or to implement the Proposed Draft for FY2010-FY2015 (a plan prepared by the Bush Administration), to a proposal to prohibit new fossil fuel leases on federal land. Several proposals include new revenue sharing provisions for...

Research Tax Credit: Current Law and Policy Issues for the 114th Congress

Technological innovation is a primary engine of long-term economic growth, and research and development (R&D) serves as the lifeblood of innovation. The federal government encourages private investment in R&D in several ways, including a tax credit for increases in spending on qualified research above a base amount.

This report describes the current status of the credit, summarizes its legislative history, and discusses policy issues it raises.

The research tax credit (also known as the research and experimentation (or R&E) tax credit) was permanently extended in 2015. Since its enactment...

Energy Tax Policy: Issues in the 114th Congress

Current U.S. energy tax policy is a combination of long-standing provisions and relatively new incentives. Provisions supporting the oil and gas sector reflect desires for domestic energy production and energy security, long-standing cornerstones of U.S. energy policy. Incentives for renewable energy reflect the desire to have a diverse energy supply, also consistent with a desire for domestic energy security. Incentives for energy efficiency are designed to reduce use of energy from all energy sources. Incentives for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and alternative technology vehicles...

Peru: Politics, Economy, and Elections

This report provides an overview of Peru’s political, economic, and security conditions and of U.S.-Peruvian relations.

As President Ollanta Humala is nearing the end of his five-year term, Peru held national elections for the presidency and the 130-seat unicameral legislature on April 10, 2016. Because none of the presidential candidates won an absolute majority, a runoff was held June 5 between two center-right candidates. Economist Pedro Pablo Kuczynski defeated former congresswoman Keiko Fujimori by less than 1% of the vote, 50.12% to 49.88%.

For months, Fujimori had maintained a...

Hydropower: Comparison of Selected Provisions in S. 2012, as Engrossed in the House, and S. 2012, as Engrossed in the Senate

In the 114th Congress, the House and Senate have passed energy legislation that addresses hydropower. Both the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016 (S. 2012, as engrossed in the House) and the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012, as engrossed in the Senate) contain provisions that would alter the regulation and development of nonfederal hydropower, among other things. Both bills would establish a formal timeline for nonfederal hydropower project regulation, would appoint the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for nonfederal...

Puerto Rico’s Current Fiscal Challenges

The government of Puerto Rico faces severe fiscal challenges. A federal district court judge in late March 2016 held that the island’s government was insolvent and unable to pay its obligations on time. Emergency legislation (Act 21 of 2016) enacted on April 6, 2016, stated that the Puerto Rican government’s fiscal condition “is more dire than at any other point in its history” and that “depleted resources and strained liquidity threaten to bind the Commonwealth to a choice between honoring its commitments to bondholders or continuing to provide the residents of Puerto Rico with essential...

Funding for Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) at DOE: In Brief

to be suppressed Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage)—known as CCS The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5; enacted February 17, 2009, hereinafter referred to as the Recovery Act). research and development Administration’s FY2017 budget proposal, in Tables 1 and 2. Table 1 shows funding from FY2010 through FY2016, including Recovery Act funding. Fossil Energy Research and Development (1) FutureGen; (2) the Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI); (3) Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage (ICCS); and (4) Site Characterization, Training, and...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): FY2016 Appropriations

Enacted on December 18, 2015, Title II of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113; H.R. 2029) provided $8.14 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2016. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2016, for the 12 regular appropriations acts, including “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,” under which EPA is funded. The total FY2016 enacted appropriations of $8.14 billion for EPA was the same as enacted for FY2015 but $451.8 million (5.3%) below the President’s FY2016 request of $8.59 billion. No...

Earthquake Risk and U.S. Highway Infrastructure: Frequently Asked Questions

Earthquakes and related events, such as soil liquefaction, landslides, tsunamis, flooding, and fires, pose risks to highway infrastructure. Concerns about the U.S. highway system’s seismic vulnerability stem from interest in protecting public safety, facilitating response and recovery efforts, and minimizing economic loss and social disruption. This report addresses a number of frequently asked questions about earthquake risk and highway system components, especially bridges.

The three components of seismic risk to the highway system are the likelihood of an earthquake of varying...

Wilderness: Overview, Management, and Statistics

Congress enacted the Wilderness Act in 1964. This act created the National Wilderness Preservation System, reserved to Congress the authority to designate wilderness areas, and directed the Secretaries of Agriculture and of the Interior to review certain lands for their wilderness potential. The act also designated 54 wilderness areas with 9 million acres of federal land. Congress began expanding the Wilderness System in 1968, and today, there are 765 wilderness areas, totaling nearly 110 million acres, in 44 states. Numerous bills to designate additional areas and to expand existing ones...

China’s Natural Gas: Uncertainty for Markets

China could potentially be a much larger producer and consumer of natural gas than it is now. Despite China’s pollution problems and international environmental commitments, the role of natural gas in China’s energy mix remains relatively low, particularly compared to the United States. China has announced big plans for its natural gas development and use, but the changes will require significant investment in exploration, production, infrastructure, and consumption. With a slowing economy, China may not be in a position in the short-term to undertake these investments.

China’s natural gas...

The Supreme Court’s First Climate Change Decision: Massachusetts v. EPA

In 2007, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, its first pronouncement on climate change and a singularly important environmental law decision. This report reviews that decision, but leaves coverage of the many EPA actions based on the decision to other CRS reports.

Massachusetts v. EPA was a case brought to challenge EPA’s denial of a petition asking the agency to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act (CAA). By a vote of 5-4, the Court held first that Massachusetts had standing to sue, an issue that took up most of...

National Park System: Units Managed Through Partnerships

In recent decades, it has become more common for the National Park Service (NPS) to own and manage units of the National Park System in partnership with others in the federal, tribal, state, local, or private sectors. Such units of the park system are often called partnership parks. Congressional interest in partnership parks has grown, especially as Congress seeks ways to leverage limited financial resources for park management.

Congress generally specifies the shared management arrangements for partnership parks in the establishing legislation for each park. The arrangements may aim to...

Tax Provisions that Expired in 2014 (“Tax Extenders”)

In the past, Congress has regularly acted to extend expired or expiring temporary tax provisions. Collectively, these temporary tax provisions are often referred to as “tax extenders.” Fifty-two temporary tax provisions expired at the end of 2014. All of these provisions were either temporarily or permanently extended as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015. Unlike previous tax extenders legislation, P.L. 114-113 made a number of provisions permanent, and provided longer-term extensions for other provisions. This report...

Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas and Crude Oil: Federal and State Regulatory Authority

New technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling have dramatically increased U.S. production of natural gas and crude oil from shales and other unconventional formations. As a result, companies have invested in new pipeline infrastructure to transport these resources from producing regions to domestic and foreign consuming markets. Siting, construction, operation, and maintenance of this infrastructure may raise environmental, health, and safety concerns, particularly when oil or gas moves by pipeline through heavily populated areas. Such concerns may prompt...

Electricity Markets—Recent Issues in Market Structure and Energy Trading

Electricity today is widely viewed as a commodity. As a commodity, electricity is bought and sold as power (measured in kiloWatts or MegaWatts) and energy (measured in kiloWatt-hours), with various attributes being traded in electricity markets. The importance of transparency in wholesale electricity markets was underscored by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), which aimed to facilitate price transparency in interstate markets for the sale and transmission of electric energy, and to prohibit energy market manipulation.

Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) are regional...

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a period of the year between spring and fall when clocks in the United States are set one hour ahead of standard time. DST is currently observed in the United States from 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March until 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. The following states and territories do not observe DST: Arizona (except the Navajo Nation, which does observe DST), Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Leak: State and Federal Response and Oversight

This report briefly discusses the large, uncontrollable natural gas leak in the Aliso Canyon Underground Storage Facility near the Porter Ranch community in Los Angeles County, California, which occurred between October 23, 2015, and February 11, 2016.

Clean Water Act Section 401: Background and Issues

Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the act, including state-established water quality standard requirements. Disputes have arisen over the states’ exercise of this authority in protecting water quality. For the most part, the debate over the Section 401 certification issue has been between states and hydropower interests. A 1994 Supreme Court decision, which upheld the states’ authority in this area, dismayed development and hydropower interest...

The Internet of Things: CRS Experts

“Internet of Things” (IoT) refers to networks of objects that communicate with other objects and with computers through the Internet. “Things” may include virtually any object for which remote communication, data collection, or control might be useful, such as meters, vehicles, appliances, medical devices, electric grids, transportation infrastructure, manufacturing equipment, or building systems. Although the full extent and nature of the IoT’s impacts remain uncertain, economic analyses predict that it will contribute trillions of dollars to economic growth over the next decade. Sectors...

Nutrients in Agricultural Production: A Water Quality Overview

Nutrients are elements essential to plant and animal growth. In agricultural production, the focus generally rests on the three primary macronutrients––nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)—because of their relative abundance in plants. As crops grow and are harvested, they gradually remove the existing nutrients from the soil and over time will require additional nutrients to maintain or increase crop yield. When nutrients are added in excess of the plants’ ability to utilize them, there is an increased risk that the nutrients will enter the surrounding environment (water or...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It also funds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in even-numbered fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Agriculture appropriations include both mandatory and discretionary spending. Discretionary amounts, though, are the primary focus during the bill’s development since mandatory amounts generally are set by authorizing laws such as the farm bill.

The largest discretionary spending items are the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,...

The Federal Excise Tax on Motor Fuels and the Highway Trust Fund: Current Law and Legislative History

The federal government levies an excise tax on various motor fuels. Under current law, the tax rate is 18.3 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents per gallon on diesel fuel. A 0.1 cents per gallon tax is also levied on top of these fuel tax rates to help fund expenses associated with fuel regulation. These rates are not automatically adjusted for inflation. Specific tax rates also apply to special motor fuels. Under current law, federal motor fuels excise tax collections are credited to two federal spending accounts: the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and the Leaking Underground Storage...

Crude Oil Exports and Related Provisions in P.L. 114-113: In Brief

On December 18, 2015, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (H.R. 2029), which was signed by the President and became P.L. 114-113. Included in P.L. 114-113 is a provision that repeals Section 103 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA; P.L. 94-163), which directs the President to promulgate a rule prohibiting crude oil exports. For nearly four decades, repeal of EPCA was generally not a policy issue since oil production was declining and imports were rising. However, increasing U.S. light oil production starting in the 2010/2011 timeframe, projected...

Recovery Act Funding for DOE Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) Projects

Federal policymakers have long been interested in the potential of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as a mitigation strategy for lowering global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Congress has appropriated more than $7 billion since FY2008 to CCS activities at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The Obama Administration has promulgated rules on CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-burning power plants and entered into a global agreement to limit CO2 emissions. Congress remains divided over those executive branch decisions. DOE, however, has continued to embrace CCS as part of the...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2016

President Obama’s budget request for FY2016 included $145.694 billion for research and development (R&D), an increase of $7.625 billion (5.5%) over the estimated FY2015 R&D funding level of $138.069 billion. The request represented the President’s R&D priorities.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2016 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.6% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 49.5%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 21.3%) accounting for more than 70% of...

Forest Service Appropriations: Five-Year Data and Trends and FY2017 Budget Request

The Forest Service (FS) is responsible for managing 193 million acres of the National Forest System, as well as for conducting forestry research and providing assistance to state, local, private, and international forest owners. Funding to complete such work is provided through both discretionary and mandatory appropriations.

For FY2016, the FS received $7.065 billion in discretionary and mandatory appropriations. This figure includes funding provided under a $700 million emergency supplemental appropriation for wildfire suppression activities from FY2015. The FY2016 discretionary...

Is Biopower Carbon Neutral?

To promote energy diversity and improve energy security, Congress has expressed interest in biopower—electricity generated from biomass. Biopower, a baseload power source, can be produced from a large range of biomass feedstocks nationwide (e.g., urban, agricultural, and forestry wastes and residues). The two most common biopower processes are combustion (e.g., direct-fired or co-fired) and gasification, with the former being the most widely used. Proponents have stated that biopower has the potential to strengthen rural economies, enhance energy security, and minimize the environmental...

Biopower: Background and Federal Support

Biopower—a form of renewable energy—is the generation of electric power from biomass feedstocks. In 2014, Biopower comprised about 1.6% of total U.S. electricity generation and accounted for close to 12% of U.S. renewable electricity generation. Its advantages include a potential for baseload power production, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and use of renewable biomass feedstock, among other things. Its disadvantages include uncertain sustainable feedstock supply and infrastructure concerns, among other things.

Recent developments have prompted renewed interest in biopower. For...

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues

Over more than 30 years, Congress has established 49 national heritage areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, in which the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance. NHAs are not part of the National Park System, in which lands are federally owned and managed. Rather, lands within heritage areas typically remain in state, local,...

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: FY2016 Appropriations

Since 2005, the Energy and Water Development (E&W) appropriations bill has funded all Department of Energy (DOE) programs, including those operated by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). That office conducts two types of programs: research and development (R&D), usually conducted in partnership with private sector firms, and grant funds that are distributed to state governments. EERE administers a wide range of R&D programs, each with its own set of goals and objectives.

President Obama has declared energy efficiency and renewable energy to be a high priority,...

Cybersecurity: CRS Experts

Concerns about information-system security and other aspects of cybersecurity are long-standing. The frequency, impact, and sophistication of cyberattacks and the growth of cybercrime and cyberespionage have added urgency to the concerns. Consensus has been growing that the policy framework for cybersecurity take into account the diversity and continuing evolution of the technology and threats—from spam to botnets to hacktivism, cyberterrorism, and cyberwar—and the increasing role of the Internet in the U.S. economy and the lives of citizens. Among the issues the 114th Congress is expected...

National Forest System Management: Overview, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

The 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS) comprise 154 national forests, 20 national grasslands, and several other federal land designations. Management of the NFS is one of the three principal responsibilities of the Forest Service (FS), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The other two principal responsibilities are providing assistance to nonfederal forest owners and conducting forestry research. Most NFS lands are concentrated in the western United States, although the Forest Service administers more federal land in the East than all other...

Conflict and History at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge

This report briefly discusses the conflict at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (MNWR) in January of 2016.

Energy and Water Development: FY2016 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) civil works projects, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies. DOE typically accounts for about 80% of the bill’s total funding.

President Obama’s FY2016 budget request was released February 2, 2015. Including adjustments, the request for Energy and Water Development agencies totaled $36.04 billion, compared with a total of $34.78...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2016 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for most of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and for agencies within other departments—including the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also provides funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arts and cultural agencies, and numerous other entities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113), provided $32.23 billion for FY2016 for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies....

Efforts to Reauthorize the America COMPETES Act: In Brief

America COMPETES Act. P.L. 110-69. America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act. America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. P.L. 111-358. National Science Foundation. National Institute of Standards and Technology. Department of Energy. Office of Science. NSF. NIST. DOE. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. STEM education. STEM workforce. Scientists. Engineers. Innovation. Competitiveness. Commercialization. Technology Transfer.

America COMPETES Act. P.L. 110-69. America Creating Opportunities to...

Minding the Data Gap: NOAA’s Polar-Orbiting Weather Satellites and Strategies for Data Continuity

Concerns have been raised in Congress about the possibility of a “data gap” in the polar-orbiting weather satellite coverage. A near-term data gap could occur if the currently operating polar-orbiting weather satellite, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi-NPP), fails before its successor, the first Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1), is launched and operational sometime in 2017. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reported that a polar-orbiting weather satellite data gap would result in less accurate and timely weather forecasts and warnings of extreme...

Customer Choice and the Power Industry of the Future

In the United States, the modern electric utility industry began to emerge about 100 years ago, guided by a philosophy which came to be called the “regulatory compact.” Under the compact, state and local governments generally granted the right to provide electric power in a designated service territory, in exchange for an obligation to serve all electric power customers. Much of the nation’s power generation and delivery infrastructure was built under this arrangement, with customers ultimately paying for the costs of electricity services. However, the electric utility model nowadays is...

Big Data in U.S. Agriculture

Recent media and industry reports have employed the term big data as a key to the future of increased food production and sustainable agriculture. A recent hearing on the private elements of big data in agriculture suggests that Congress too is interested in potential opportunities and challenges big data may hold. While there appears to be great interest, the subject of big data is complex and often misunderstood, especially within the context of agriculture.

There is no commonly accepted definition of the term big data. It is often used to describe a modern trend in which the combination...

Electric Grid Physical Security: Recent Legislation

This report briefly discusses legislative initiatives to address the physical safety of electrical transformers and 0other parts of the U.S. electric grid which are vulnerable to damage from theft, vandalism, or terrorist attacks.

Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2016

This report briefly discusses authorization legislation for the water resources activities of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in 2016, which the 114th Congress is anticipated to consider. These issues span the agency's role in new and existing navigation improvements, coastal and riverine flood risk reduction, and environmental restoration and protection efforts.

Gun Control: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy and legal issues related to gun control. In the wake of mass shootings and other firearms-related violence, several gun control issues are often raised. They include improving and expanding background checks, further regulating certain semiautomatic firearms (“assault weapons” or “military-style” firearms) that accept detachable ammunition feeding devices (“magazines”), combating illegal gun trafficking, interstate concealed carry of handguns, and enacting or repealing appropriations limitations related...

Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal: CRS Experts

Fossil fuels play a dominant role in U.S. energy. The United States is a major producer and consumer of oil (and petroleum products), natural gas, and coal. U.S. fossil fuel reserves, production, processing and refining, distribution, markets, and use are of perennial interest among policymakers and the public. Ongoing concerns include retail gasoline prices, oil and other commodity markets, potential for expanded domestic supply, environmental effects of continued fossil combustion, and the benefits and drawbacks of trade in these commodities. The following tables provide access to names...

Western Water and Drought: Legislative Analysis of H.R. 2898 and S. 1894

Several western states are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions. The persistence and intensity of the drought, which began in 2011 in some areas, has received considerable attention from Congress. To date, federal legislative proposals have focused primarily on the management of federal water projects, support for drought-related programs, and needs of fish and wildlife for water. A broad policy question is how Congress might address western drought, drought in any part of the United States, and gaps in water supply and demand.

Several bills have been introduced in the...

Genetically Engineered Salmon

On November 19, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application to produce AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, for human consumption. This is the first GE animal that has been approved for human consumption in the United States. FDA also has proposed voluntary guidelines for using labels that indicate whether food products are derived from GE salmon.

Genetic engineering techniques are used by scientists to insert genetic material from one organism into the genome of another organism. Genetically engineered salmon...

The National Trails System: A Brief Overview

The National Trails System was created in 1968 by the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. §§1241-1251). The system includes four types of trails: (1) national scenic trails (NSTs), which display significant physical characteristics of U.S. regions; (2) national historic trails (NHTs), which follow travel routes of national historical significance; (3) national recreation trails (NRTs), which provide outdoor recreation accessible to urban areas; and (4) connecting or side trails, which provide access to the other types of trails. As defined in the act, NSTs and NHTs are long-distance...

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Final Rule for 2014, 2015, and 2016

This report discusses the final rule for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which was released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While the rule contains wide-ranging information, most stakeholders are primarily concerned with the annual volume amounts for total renewable fuel, advanced biofuel, cellulosic biofuel, and biomass-based diesel.

The Islamic State—Frequently Asked Questions: Threats, Global Implications, and U.S. Policy Responses

In the wake of the deadly November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, U.S. policymakers are faced with a wide range of strategy and operational considerations related to the activities of and threats emanating from the Islamic State (IS). A terrorist attack such as this prompts an examination of U.S. domestic security precautions; the role of allies and coalition partners; the appropriate military and diplomatic reactions; the safety and security of infrastructure and that of travelers; and numerous additional discrete issues that require the active involvement of dozens of federal,...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): Authorizations of Appropriations Proposed by the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S. 2012)

Search terms: S. 2012, H.R. 8, energy efficiency, renewable energy, Department of Energy, EISA, P.L. 110-140 (Hide summary)

The U.S. Tsunami Program: A Brief Overview

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service (NWS) manages two tsunami warning centers that monitor, detect, and issue warnings for tsunamis. The NWS operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) at Ford Island, Hawaii, and the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) at Palmer, Alaska.

The tsunami warning centers monitor and evaluate data from seismic networks and determine if a tsunami is likely based on the location, magnitude, and depth of an earthquake. The centers monitor relevant water-level data, typically with tide-level gauges, and...

National Park System: What Do the Different Park Titles Signify?

Congress names individual units of the National Park System in the enabling legislation for each unit. In so doing, Congress establishes the range of titles used in the park system. The system’s 409 units currently bear a wide range of titles—national park, national monument, national preserve, national historic site, national recreation area, national battlefield, and many others. This report addresses the significance of the different titles and discusses potential advantages and disadvantages of systemwide recommendations to simplify park nomenclature.

Legislators are concerned with...

School Construction and Renovation: A Review of Federal Programs

By some measures, the United States spent over $50 billion on new construction, additions, and alterations in public elementary and secondary schools and public and private postsecondary institutions in 2012. Although state and local governments are traditionally responsible for the majority of facilities in public K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions, the federal government also provides some direct and indirect support for school infrastructure. Facilities at private institutions are funded primarily by donations, tuition, private foundations, endowments, and governments. The...

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10)

On April 16, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA; P.L. 114-10), as passed by the Senate on April 14, 2015, and by the House on March 26, 2015. The act repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula for calculating updates to Medicare payment rates to physicians and establishes an alternative set of annual updates. In addition, MACRA introduces a new merit-based incentive payment system and puts in place processes for developing, evaluating, and adopting alternative payment models (APMs).

The act also extends funding that...

EPA's Clean Power Plan: Implications for the Electric Power Sector

On October 23, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final version of regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from existing power plants (also referred to as electric generating units or EGUs by EPA). Since carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuel combustion is the largest source of U.S. GHG emissions, and fossil fuels are used for the majority of electric power generation, reducing CO2 emissions from power plants plays a key role in the Administration’s climate change policy. Under the provisions of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), states must prepare plans...

Europe’s Energy Security: Options and Challenges to Natural Gas Supply Diversification

As a major energy consumer, Europe faces a number of challenges in addressing future energy needs. Among these challenges are rapidly rising global demand and competition for energy resources from countries such as China and India, tensions with Russia, persistent instability in the Middle East, a fragmented internal European energy market, and a growing need to shift fuels in keeping with European climate change policy. As a result, energy supply security has become a key concern for European governments and the European Union (EU).

A key element of the EU’s energy supply strategy has...

U.S. Natural Gas Exports and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement

On October 5, 2015, President Obama announced the conclusion of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement (FTA) among the United States and 11 other Asia-Pacific nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. This report briefly discusses the agreement and its potential effects.

Overview of the FY2016 Continuing Resolution (H.R. 719)

The purpose of this report is to provide an analysis of the FY2016 continuing appropriations in H.R. 719. None of the FY2016 regular appropriations bills were enacted by the start of the fiscal year (October 1, 2015). On September 30, 2015, H.R. 719, a continuing resolution (CR) for FY2016, was signed into law by the President (P.L. 114-53).

The CR for FY2016 covers all 12 regular appropriations bills by providing continuing budget authority for projects and activities funded in FY2015 by that fiscal year’s regular appropriations acts, with some exceptions. It includes both budget...

Klamath Basin Settlement Agreements

The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers; Indian tribes; commercial and sport fishermen; federal water project and wildlife refuge managers; environmental groups; hydropower facility operators; and state, local, and tribal governments. Drought conditions and a call for water by senior water rights holders in 2013 have again brought these issues to the...

Mexico's Oil and Gas Sector: Background, Reform Efforts, and Implications for the United States

The future of oil and natural gas production in Mexico is of importance for both Mexico’s economic growth, as well as for U.S. energy security, a key congressional interest. Mexico is a top trade partner and the third-largest crude oil supplier to the United States. Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) remains an important source of government revenue even as it is struggling to counter declining oil production and reserves. Due to an inability to meet rising demand, Mexico has also significantly increased natural gas imports from the United States. Still, gas shortages...

Funding and Financing Highways and Public Transportation

Federal surface transportation programs are currently funded primarily through taxes on motor fuels that are deposited in the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Although there has been some modification to the tax system, the tax rates, which are fixed in terms of cents per gallon, have not been increased at the federal level since 1993. Prior to the recession that began in 2007, annual increases in driving, with a concomitant increase in fuel use, were sufficient to keep revenues rising steadily. This may no longer be the case. Although vehicle miles traveled have recently returned to...

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System: A Brief Overview

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-542, 16 U.S.C. §§1271 et seq.) created the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The act established a policy of preserving designated free-flowing rivers for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations and to complement the then-current national policy of constructing dams and other structures along many rivers.

River units designated as part of the system are classified and administered as wild, scenic, or recreational rivers, based on the condition of the river, the amount of development in the river or on the shorelines,...

Expedited Procedures in the House: Variations Enacted into Law

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL30599 Summary Congress enacts expedited, or fast-track, procedures into law when it wants to increase the likelihood that one or both houses of Congress will vote in a timely way on a certain measure or kind of measure. These procedures are enacted as rule-making provisions of law pursuant to the constitutional power of each house to adopt its own rules. The house to which a set of expedited procedures applies may act unilaterally to waive, suspend, amend, or repeal them. Sets of expedited procedures, as they affect the House of...

Powering Africa: Challenges of and U.S. Aid for Electrification in Africa

The largest infrastructure deficit in sub-Saharan Africa, a region mostly made up of low income developing countries, is in the power sector, according to the World Bank. Rates of access to electricity in Africa are very low by global standards, notably in rural areas. About 57% of Africans, or about 621 million people, lack access to electricity (also referred to as “power” in this report). Whether measured in terms of generation and distribution capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, Africa’s power sector delivers a fraction of the service needed or found elsewhere in...

An Analysis of Efforts to Double Federal Funding for Physical Sciences and Engineering Research

Federal funding of physical sciences and engineering (PS&E) research has played a substantial role in U.S. economic growth and job creation by creating the underlying knowledge that supports technological innovation. Some Members of Congress and leaders in industry and academia have expressed concern that recent public investments in these disciplines have been inadequate in light of the emergence of new global competitors and the science and technology-focused investments of other nations. A 2005 National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America...

Drought Legislation: Comparison of Selected Provisions in H.R. 2898 and S. 1894

Several western states are experiencing extreme, and in some cases exceptional, drought conditions. The persistence and intensity of the current drought has received considerable attention from Congress. To date, federal legislative proposals to address drought have focused on the federal role in managing water supplies, supporting drought-related projects and programs, and conserving fish species and their habitat.

A number of bills in the 114th Congress include proposals to address drought, including S. 176, S. 1837, S. 1894, H.R. 2898, and H.R. 3045, among others. Two of these bills...

U.S. Catfish Industry and Foreign Trade: A Fact Sheet

Catfish Industry Channel catfish Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas Fillets frozen Aquaculture Seafood Catch Fisheries Farming Freshwater, Marine Vietnam, Asia Farm Bill, 2008, 2014 Trade Basa, Tra Antidumping duties Labeling USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture FDA, Food and Drug Administration USITC, U.S. International Trade Commission

Drought in the United States: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R42610 Summary Drought is commonly defined as a lack of precipitation over an extended period of time, usually a season or more, relative to some long-term average condition. While the technology and science to predict droughts have improved, regional predictions remain limited to a few months in advance. History suggests that severe and extended droughts are inevitable and part of natural climate cycles. The physical conditions causing drought in the United States are increasingly understood to be linked to sea surface temperatures (SSTs)...

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Cellulosic Biofuels

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41106 Summary The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05, P.L. 109-58), and was later expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140), in accordance with efforts at that time to reduce dependence on foreign oil, promote biofuel use, and stabilize transportation fuel prices, among other goals. Over 15 years, the RFS requires that increasing amounts of biofuels—36 billion gallons by 2022—be used in transportation fuel. The mandate is to be accomplished...

Seafood Fraud

Fraudulent seafood sales and marketing—the act of defrauding buyers of seafood for economic gain—has been widely reported and has gained greater public attention in recent years. The extent of seafood fraud is difficult to determine because of its clandestine nature; fraud depends on not being detected, which often depends on not attracting attention or causing immediate harm to customers. Seafood fraud can include a variety of illegal activities, such as transshipping products to avoid antidumping and countervailing duties; mislabeling products or substituting one species for another;...

U.S.-China Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

Negotiated by the Reagan Administration nearly 30 years ago, the current U.S. peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is set to expire on December 30, 2015. President Obama submitted a new 30-year U.S.-China nuclear cooperation agreement for congressional review on April 21, 2015. Among other provisions, the agreement would allow for uranium enrichment up to a level less than 20% U-235 and Chinese reprocessing of U.S.-obligated material at safeguarded facilities. The required congressional review period ended on July 31.

Such agreements are often...

Iran Nuclear Agreement: CRS Experts

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R44139 Summary Congress is currently in a period of formal review, being conducted on the basis of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17), of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1”) on July 14. The period for initial congressional review under the Act is to conclude on September 17. The agreement has raised a wide variety of questions in Congress. Issues include the specific terms of the deal; the implications for inspections, proliferation,...

California Drought: Hydrological and Regulatory Water Supply Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R40979 Summary California is in its fourth year of drought. As of late July 2015, 47% of California was experiencing exceptional drought—the most severe U.S. federal drought classification—and approximately 71% of the state was experiencing extreme drought. The 2014 water year (October 2013 through September 2014) was the third driest on record. Water users that receive water supplies from the state of California and federal water projects are experiencing unprecedented water supply shortages due to the drought. Severe water supply...

H.R. 6: The 21st Century Cures Act

On July 10, 2015, the House passed H.R. 6, the 21st Century Cures Act, on a vote of 344 to 77. Eight amendments were offered; five were approved by voice vote, two failed by recorded vote, and one was withdrawn. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, on May 21, 2015, unanimously ordered to be reported H.R. 6 and the House Committee on Rules published a committee print of the bill on July 2, 2015. On July 7, 2015, H.R. 6 was reported by the Committee on Energy and Commerce (H.Rept. 114-190), and the House Committee on Ways and Means was discharged from further consideration of the bill....

Iran Nuclear Agreement: Selected Issues for Congress

The nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers (“P5+1:” United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China), finalized on July 14, 2015, raises a wide variety of issues as Congress undertakes a formal review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (P.L. 114-17). The Administration submitted the 150+ page text (including annexes) of the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” (JCPOA) to Congress on July 19, 2015, and the period for congressional review under the act is to conclude on September 17. Should the agreement stand after review processes in Congress and in...

Overview of Management and Restoration Activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin

The Lake Tahoe Basin (Tahoe Basin) straddles the California-Nevada border and includes Lake Tahoe. The basin is regarded for its beauty, wildlife diversity, clear waters, and recreation. Logging and mining stimulated development in the Tahoe Basin beginning in the 1850s. Development, especially urban development, has affected the basin’s ecosystem, leading to a decline in the water quality of Lake Tahoe, tree mortality, heightened wildfire risk, and population declines in fish and wildlife species.

Restoration of the Tahoe Basin began in 1969 under the Bi-State Compact between California...

The America COMPETES Acts: An Overview

Scientific and technological advancement played a central role in ensuring U.S. prosperity and power in the 20th century. From the first flight of the Wright brothers in 1903 to the creation of Google in the 1990s, U.S. scientific and technological innovations have reshaped the global economy and provided both economic mobility and national security for generations of Americans.

Whether the United States will maintain its preeminence over the course of the 21st century is an open question. Some observers assert that U.S. leadership is at risk. They argue that the United States...

Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Drinking Water Act Regulatory Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41760 Summary Hydraulic fracturing is a technique developed initially to stimulate oil production from wells in declining oil reservoirs. With technological advances, hydraulic fracturing is now widely used to initiate oil and gas production in unconventional (low-permeability) oil and gas formations that were previously uneconomical to produce. Nationwide, this process is now used in more than 90% of new oil and gas wells and in many existing wells to stimulate production. Hydraulic fracturing is done after a well is drilled and involves...

Hunting and Fishing: Analysis of S. 556 and S. 659

Hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting, particularly on federal lands, have been the subjects of various bills for several Congresses. In general, federal land management agencies work with state fish and game agencies in setting quotas, bag or size limits, and other specifics of management. Some agencies currently open more than 90% of their acreage to hunting and fishing. Yet there has been criticism in recent years that insufficient federal land is open to hunting. In the 114th Congress, attention has focused on a pair of companion bills, S. 556 and S. 659. While both are...

Hydropower: Federal and Nonfederal Investment

Congress continues to look at various fuel contributions to the electricity market and federal involvement with these fuel sources. Hydropower, the use of flowing water to produce electricity, is one such contribution. Conventional hydropower accounted for approximately 6% of total U.S. net electricity generation in 2014.

Hydropower has advantages and disadvantages as an energy source. Its advantages include its ability to be a continuous, or baseload, power source that releases minimal air pollutants during power generation relative to fossil fuels. Some of its disadvantages, depending...

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Budget for FY2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts scientific research in areas such as ecosystems, climate, global climate change, weather, and oceans; supplies information and data on the oceans and atmosphere; and manages coastal and marine organisms and environments. In 1970, Reorganization Plan No. 4 created NOAA in the Department of Commerce. Reorganization Plan No. 4 brought together environmental agencies from within the Department of Commerce, such as the National Weather Service, and from other departments and agencies, such as the Department of the Interior’s...

Physical Security of the U.S. Power Grid: High-Voltage Transformer Substations

The U.S. electric power grid consists of over 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and hundreds of large transformer substations. High voltage (HV) transformer units make up less than 3% of U.S. transformers, but they carry 60%-70% of the nation’s electricity. Because they serve as vital nodes, HV transformers are critical to the nation’s electric grid. HV transformers are also the most vulnerable to damage from malicious acts.

For more than 10 years, the electric utility industry and government agencies have engaged in activities to secure HV transformers from physical attack...

U.S.-Republic of Korea Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

The United States and South Korea have cooperated in the peaceful use of nuclear energy for over 50 years. This cooperation includes commercial power reactor projects as well as research and development work on safety, safeguards, advanced nuclear reactors, and fuel cycle technologies. This report discusses the new civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and South Korea.

Cybersecurity Issues for the Bulk Power System

In the United States, it is generally taken for granted that the electricity needed to power the U.S. economy is available on demand and will always be available to power our machines and devices. However, in recent years, new threats have materialized as new vulnerabilities have come to light, and a number of major concerns have emerged about the resilience and security of the nation’s electric power system. In particular, the cybersecurity of the electricity grid has been a focus of recent efforts to protect the integrity of the electric power system.

The increasing frequency of cyber...

Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicle Technology Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

A wide array of federal incentives supports the development and deployment of alternatives to conventional fuels and engines in transportation. These incentives include tax deductions and credits for vehicle purchases and the installation of refueling systems, federal grants for conversion of older vehicles to newer technologies, mandates for the use of biofuels, and incentives for manufacturers to produce alternative fuel vehicles. The current array of incentives for alternative fuels and related technologies does not reflect a single, comprehensive strategy, but rather an aggregative...

Selected Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 114th Congress

In 2001, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, “homeland security” went from being a concept discussed among a relatively small cadre of policymakers and strategic thinkers to a broadly discussed issue in Congress. Debates over how to implement coordinated homeland security policy led to the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a shifting...

Deployable Federal Assets Supporting Domestic Disaster Response Operations: Summary and Considerations for Congress

For most disasters across the nation, the affected local, state, or tribal governments have sufficient capabilities to respond to the incident. However, for disasters with consequences that require unique capabilities or that overwhelm the existing capabilities of a respective state or tribal government, Congress has authorized and appropriated a suite of deployable federal assets to support domestic disaster response operations. This report reviews several key concepts about these federal assets, and highlights possible issues Congress may consider when evaluating their authorization and...

Federal Agency Actions Following the Supreme Court’s Climate Change Decision in Massachusetts v. EPA: A Chronology

In 2007, the Supreme Court rendered one of its most important environmental decisions. In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Court held 5-4 that greenhouse gases (GHGs), widely viewed as contributing to climate change, constitute “air pollutants” as that phrase is used in the Clean Air Act (CAA). As a result, said the Court, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had improperly denied a petition seeking CAA regulation of GHG emissions from new motor vehicles by citing, among other reasons, the agency’s lack of authority over such emissions.

This report offers a chronology of major federal...

Invasive Species: Control Options and Issues for Congress

For the first few centuries after the arrival of Europeans in North America, plants and animals of many species were sent between the two land masses. The transfer of non-natives consisted not only of intentional westbound species ranging from pigs to dandelions but also of intentional eastbound species such as grey squirrels and tomatoes. And for those centuries, the remaining non-native species crossing the Atlantic, uninvited and often unwelcome, were ignored if they were noticed at all. They were joined by various species arriving deliberately or accidentally from Asia and Africa. The...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration: Research, Development, and Demonstration at the U.S. Department of Energy

Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage)—known as CCS—is a physical process that involves capturing manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) at its source and storing it before its release to the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has pursued research and development (R&D) of aspects of the three main steps leading to an integrated CCS system since 1997. Congress has appropriated nearly $7 billion in total since FY2008 for CCS research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) at DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy: nearly $3.5 billion in total annual appropriations (including FY2015) and...

An Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions

The United States has seen resurgence in petroleum production, mainly driven by technology improvements—especially hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling—developed for natural gas production from shale formations. Application of these technologies enabled natural gas to be economically produced from shale and other unconventional formations and contributed to the United States becoming the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2009. Use of these technologies has also contributed to the rise in U.S. oil production over the last few years. In 2009, annual oil production increased...

Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spur scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

Keystone XL Pipeline: Overview and Recent Developments

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would consist of 875 miles of 36-inch pipe with the capacity to transport 830,000 barrels per day. Because it would cross the Canadian-U.S. border, Keystone XL requires a Presidential Permit from the State Department based on a determination that the pipeline would “serve the national interest.” To make its national interest determination (NID), the department...

The Quadrennial Energy Review

This is the first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) report with focus on U.S. energy infrastructure, specifically transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D), looking out to 2030.

Energy Tax Incentives: Measuring Value Across Different Types of Energy Resources

The U.S. tax code supports the energy sector by providing a number of targeted tax incentives, or tax incentives only available for the energy industry. As Congress evaluates the tax code and contemplates tax reform, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits are distributed across different domestic energy resources. For example, what percentage of energy-related tax benefits support fossil fuels (or support renewables)? How much domestic energy is produced using fossil fuels (or produced using renewables)? And how do these figures compare?

In 2013, the value of...

Climate Change Adaptation by Federal Agencies: An Analysis of Plans and Issues for Congress

Though Congress has debated the significance of global climate change and what federal policies, if any, should address them, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) since 2013 has identified the changing climate as one of the 30 most significant risks facing the federal government. President Obama established adaptation as a prominent part of his Climate Action Plan in June 2013. The November 2013 Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, directed agencies to undertake vulnerability assessments and planning for adaptation. The Administration...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): FY2015 Appropriations

Enacted on December 16, 2014, Title II of Division F of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (P.L. 113-235; H.R. 83) provided $8.14 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2015. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2015, for 11 of the 12 regular appropriations acts, including “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies,” under which EPA is funded. Total discretionary appropriations available in FY2015 for all federal departments and agencies were based on a cap of $1.014 trillion set in the Bipartisan...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

This report tracks and describes actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2015 appropriations for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2014 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The annual CJS appropriations act provides funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the science agencies, and several related agencies. Appropriations for the Department of Commerce include funding for agencies such as the Census Bureau; the U.S. Patent and...

Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides

Over the past few decades there has been heightened concern about the plight of honey bees as well as other bee species. Given the importance of honey bees and other bee species to food production, many have expressed concern about whether a “pollinator crisis” has been occurring in recent decades. Although honey bee colony losses due to bee pests, parasites, pathogens, and disease are not uncommon, there is the perception that bee health has been declining more rapidly than in prior years, both in the United States and globally. This situation gained increased attention in 2006 as some...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2015 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), except for the Forest Service. It includes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and—in the House and in even-numbered enacted fiscal years—the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2015 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriation was enacted as Division A of the FY2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 113-235 (December 16, 2014), an omnibus appropriation that included 11 of the 12 appropriations subcommittee bills. Although the fiscal year began under a continuing resolution, the...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2015

President Obama’s budget request for FY2015 included $135.352 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.670 billion (1.2%) increase from the FY2014 level of $133.682 billion.

Funding for R&D is concentrated in a few departments and agencies. Under President Obama’s FY2015 budget request, seven federal agencies would have received 95.4% of total federal R&D funding, with the Department of Defense (DOD, 47.6%) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, 23.0%) accounting for more than two-thirds of all federal R&D funding.

In addition to the FY2015 base budget request, the...

Energy and Water Development: FY2015 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several other independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2015 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in March 2014. Including adjustments, the request totaled $34.26 billion, compared with a total of $34.13 billion appropriated for FY2014. The House approved the Energy and...

U.S. Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing: Industry Trends, Global Competition, Federal Support

Every President since Richard Nixon has sought to increase U.S. energy supply diversity. Job creation and the development of a domestic renewable energy manufacturing base have joined national security and environmental concerns as reasons for promoting the manufacturing of solar power equipment in the United States. The federal government maintains a variety of tax credits and targeted research and development programs to encourage the solar manufacturing sector, and state-level mandates that utilities obtain specified percentages of their electricity from renewable sources have bolstered...

Water Resource Issues in the 114th Congress

Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress

Bees, both commercially managed honey bees and wild bees, play an important role in global food production. In the United States alone, the value of insect pollination to U.S. agricultural production is estimated at $16 billion annually, of which about three-fourths is attributable to honey bees. Worldwide, the contribution of bees and other insects to global crop production for human food is valued at about $190 billion. Given the importance of honey bees and other bee species to food production, many have expressed concern about whether a “pollinator crisis” has been occurring in recent...

Mineral Royalties on Federal Lands: Issues for Congress

Three royalty debates may be revived in the 114th Congress: (1) whether to increase the statutory minimum rate for onshore federal oil and gas leases from 12.5% to 18.75%, (2) whether to enact revenue sharing laws for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) leases to include all coastal states, and (3) whether to charge a royalty on hardrock locatable minerals produced on federal public domain lands. House and Senate bills in the 113th Congress proposed to raise the minimum rate from 12.5% to 18.75% on oil and gas produced on federal leases, provide for revenue sharing of OCS revenues, and establish...

Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines: Process and Timing of FERC Permit Application Review

Growth in U.S. shale gas production involves the expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure to transport natural gas from producing regions to consuming markets, typically in other states. Over 300,000 miles of interstate transmission pipeline already transport natural gas across the United States. However, if the growth in U.S. shale gas continues, the requirement for new pipelines could be substantial. This ongoing expansion has increased congressional interest in the role of the federal government in the certification (permitting) of interstate natural gas pipelines.

Under Section...

Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Programs and Spending, FY2008-FY2013

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) regularly receives requests about the number, size, and programmatic details of federal benefits and services targeted toward low-income populations, and the characteristics of people who participate. This report attempts to identify and provide information about such programs, including their federal spending during FY2008-FY2013. The report does not discuss social insurance programs such as Social Security, Medicare, or Unemployment Insurance, but includes only programs with an explicit focus on low-income people or communities. Tax provisions,...

Wind Energy: Offshore Permitting

Technological advancement, financial incentives, and policy concerns have driven a global expansion in the development of renewable energy resources. Wind energy, in particular, is often cited as one of the fastest-growing commercial energy sources in the world. Currently, all U.S. wind energy facilities are based on land. However, multiple offshore projects have been proposed and are at various stages of the federal permitting process.

The United States has the authority to permit and regulate offshore wind energy development within the zones of the oceans under its jurisdiction. The...

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Reform: An Overview of Proposals to Manage the Growth in the SSDI Rolls

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to nonelderly workers with certain disabilities and their eligible dependents. As in Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI)—Social Security’s retirement program—SSDI benefits are based on a worker’s past earnings. To qualify, individuals must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years and be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a severe mental or physical impairment that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. In 2015, the monthly SGA earnings limit for...

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation

The use of biomass as an energy feedstock has regularly been presented as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, and rural economic development, and as a tool to possibly help improve the environment (e.g., through greenhouse gas emission reduction). Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops grown specifically to produce energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on...

U.S. Crude Oil Export Policy: Background and Considerations

During an era of oil price controls and following the 1973 Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries oil embargo, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), which directs the President “to promulgate a rule prohibiting the export of crude oil” produced in the United States. Crude oil export restrictions are codified in the Export Administration Regulations administered by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)—a Commerce Department agency. Generally, U.S. crude oil exports are prohibited, although there are a number of exemptions and circumstances...

The Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation of Environmental Marketing Claims and Related Legal Issues

During the last few decades, consumers in the United States have shown a significant interest in purchasing consumer products and packaging that appear to be beneficial—or at least not harmful—to the natural environment. In response to consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for these products, manufacturers and others have increasingly touted the positive environmental attributes of their products in marketing materials, such as in advertising or on product labels. These environmental marketing claims may concern a single environmental attribute or relate to the environmental impacts of a...

Federal Laws Relating to Cybersecurity: Overview of Major Issues, Current Laws, and Proposed Legislation

For more than a decade, various experts have expressed increasing concerns about cybersecurity, in light of the growing frequency, impact, and sophistication of attacks on information systems in the United States and abroad. Consensus has also been building that the current legislative framework for cybersecurity might need to be revised.

The complex federal role in cybersecurity involves both securing federal systems and assisting in protecting nonfederal systems. Under current law, all federal agencies have cybersecurity responsibilities relating to their own systems, and many have...

Federal Land Management Agencies: Appropriations and Revenues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43822 Summary A perennial focus for Congress is on appropriations for management of federal lands and resources. Issues include the purposes for which appropriations are used, factors influencing their distribution among states, and the extent to which appropriations are used on nonfederal lands. Congress also continues to be interested in the revenues derived from federal lands and resources. Questions relate to the amount of revenue generated on federal lands, the sources of revenue, and factors affecting the variation among states in...

Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Foreign Countries: Issues for Congress

U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreements (“123” agreements), which are bilateral agreements with other governments or multilateral organizations, have several important goals, including promoting the U.S. nuclear industry, which is increasingly dependent on foreign customers and suppliers, and preventing nuclear proliferation. Increased international interest in nuclear power has generated concern that additional countries may obtain fuel-making technology that could also be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Ensuring the peaceful use of transferred nuclear technology...

U.S. Rail Transportation of Crude Oil: Background and Issues for Congress

North America is experiencing a boom in crude oil supply, primarily due to growing production in the Canadian oil sands and the recent expansion of shale oil production from the Bakken fields in North Dakota and Montana as well as the Eagle Ford and Permian Basins in Texas. Taken together, these new supplies are fundamentally changing the U.S. oil supply-demand balance. The United States now meets 66% of its crude oil demand from production in North America, displacing imports from overseas and positioning the United States to have excess oil and refined products supplies in some...

EPA Delays Decision on 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard to 2015

This report discusses the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) that sets the annual minimum use requirements for biofuels in the nation's transportation fuel supply.

Energy Efficiency: DOE’s Regional Standards for Indoor (Non-Weatherized) Residential Gas Furnaces

This report reviews the background, regulatory framework, and policy issues that have shaped the debate over regional energy efficiency standards for residential natural gas furnaces. Those furnaces are the most common type of home heating appliance. While the scope of the report is limited to that one type of furnace, much of the discussion also applies to standards for other furnaces and to standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps.

A 1987 statutory congressional directive set gas furnace standards for 1992 and directed the Department of Energy (DOE) to consider...

Natural Gas for Cars and Trucks: Options and Challenges

The increase in domestic supplies of natural gas has raised new interest in expanding its use in the transportation sector. This report considers issues related to wider use of natural gas as a fuel in passenger cars and commercial vehicles.

The attractiveness of natural gas as a vehicle fuel is premised in large part on its low price (on an energy-equivalent basis) compared to gasoline and diesel fuel. When prices for gasoline and diesel are relatively low or natural gas prices are relatively high, natural-gas-based fuels lose much of their price advantage. While natural gas has other...

Federal Proposals to Tax Marijuana: An Economic Analysis

The combination of state policy and general public opinion favoring the legalizing of marijuana has led some in Congress to advocate for legalization and taxation of marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act of 2013 (H.R. 501) would impose a federal excise tax of 50% on the producer and importer price of marijuana. The National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act of 2013 (H.R. 1635) proposes establishing a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy that would review the potential revenue generated by taxing marijuana, among other things.

This report focuses...

Expired and Expiring Temporary Tax Provisions (“Tax Extenders”)

Dozens of temporary tax provisions expired at the end of 2013, and several other temporary tax provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of 2014. Most of the provisions that expired at the end of 2013 have been part of past temporary tax extension legislation. Most recently, many temporary tax provisions were extended as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA; P.L. 112-240). Collectively, temporary tax provisions that are regularly extended by Congress—often for one to two years—rather than being allowed to expire as scheduled are often referred to as “tax extenders.”

The...

U.S. Geological Survey: Background, Appropriations, and Issues for Congress

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) aims to provide unbiased scientific information to describe and understand the geological processes of the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and enhance and protect the nation’s quality of life. The USGS is a scientific agency that is housed within the Department of the Interior. Its primary mission is conducting science; it has no regulatory authority, nor does it manage any significant federal lands. The USGS also collects and stores scientific information that is...

America COMPETES Acts: FY2008 to FY2013 Funding Tables

Changing economic, social, and political conditions at home and abroad have led some analysts to question whether the United States will remain globally competitive in the coming decades. In response to these and closely related concerns, Congress enacted the 2007 America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), as well as its successor, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358). These acts were broadly designed to invest in innovation through research and development and to improve U.S. competitiveness. More specifically, the acts authorized increased funding for certain physical...

Nuclear Energy Policy

Nuclear energy issues facing Congress include reactor safety and regulation, radioactive waste management, research and development priorities, federal incentives for new commercial reactors, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security against terrorist attacks.

The earthquake and resulting tsunami that severely damaged Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 11, 2011, raised questions in Congress about the disaster’s possible implications for nuclear safety regulation, U.S. nuclear energy expansion, and radioactive waste policy. The tsunami knocked out electric power at the...

U.S. Exports of Crude Oil and Natural Gas: The Case of Alaska

Recent growth in U.S. natural gas and crude oil production has fundamentally shifted the energy supply and demand balance in key U.S. energy markets. Many analysts and energy producers argue that there is currently an oversupply of natural gas in U.S. gas-producing regions, and that supplies of certain light sweet Western crudes (notably from the Bakken region) exceed the demand of Gulf Coast refineries. The result has been a spate of applications by the U.S. natural gas industry for federal permits to export natural gas to overseas buyers. Such exports are permitted by statute, subject to...

Congressional Participation in Article III Courts: Standing to Sue

In disputes between Congress and the executive, questions arise about Congress’s ability to turn to the federal courts for vindication of its powers and prerogatives, or for declarations that the executive is in violation of the law or the Constitution. This report seeks to provide an overview of Congress’s ability to participate in litigation before Article III courts. The report is limited to a discussion of Congress’s participation in litigation as either a plaintiff (e.g., the party initiating the suit alleging some sort of harm or violation of law) or as a third-party intervener...

Lighting Industry Trends

More than 4 billion incandescent light bulbs (sometimes referred to as “lamps”) are in use in the United States. The basic technology in these bulbs has not changed substantially in the past 125 years, despite the fact that they convert less than 10% of their energy input into light. Improving light bulb performance can reduce overall U.S. energy use. About 20% of electricity consumed in the United States is used for lighting homes, offices, stores, factories, and outdoor spaces. Lighting represents about 14% of residential electricity use.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007...

Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future

This report surveys existing law for legal issues that have arisen, or may arise in the future, on account of climate change and government responses thereto.

At the threshold of many climate-change-related lawsuits are two barriers—whether the plaintiff has standing to sue and whether the claim being made presents a political question. Both barriers have forced courts to apply amorphous standards in a new and complex context.

Efforts to mitigate climate change—i.e., reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—have spawned a host of legal issues. The Supreme Court resolved a big one in 2007: the...

Clean Coal Loan Guarantees and Tax Incentives: Issues in Brief

Coal represents a major energy resource for the United States. Coal-fired power plants provided approximately 37% of U.S. generated electricity (about 1.5 billion megawatt-hours) in 2012, while consuming over 800 million tons of coal. Power plants that use coal are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, contributing approximately 28% of total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2012.

As part of federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, loan guarantees and tax incentives have been made available to support private sector investment in “clean coal.” Both loan...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2014 in P.L. 113-76

Enacted on January 17, 2014, Title II of Division G of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76, H.R. 3547) provided $8.20 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2014. The act appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2014, for all of the 12 regular appropriations acts, including EPA within Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Total discretionary appropriations available in FY2014 for all federal departments and agencies were based on a cap of $1.012 trillion set in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-67). The...

Health Insurance Exchanges: Health Insurance “Navigators” and In-Person Assistance

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, P.L. 111-148) allows certain individuals and small businesses to buy qualified health insurance through state exchanges. The exchanges are not themselves insurers, but rather are special marketplaces where insurance firms may sell health policies that meet set, federal guidelines. As of July 2014, 14 states and the District of Columbia had secured HHS approval to create and run their own exchanges, 7 to enter into partnership exchanges, 29 to have federally facilitated exchanges, and two to have state-based SHOP/federally...

Small Refineries and Oil Field Processors: Opportunities and Challenges

The last refinery constructed in the United States opened in 1977. Since the mid-1980s, some 150 have closed as part of an industry-wide consolidation. Over the same time, the remaining refineries expanded their operational capacity by 23% to keep up with increasing demand. Current U.S. refining capacity appears to satisfy if not exceed demand as the increasing export of refined petroleum products would seem to suggest. Notwithstanding the current surplus capacity, opportunities for new refineries appear to have emerged as the result of the rise in production of U.S. light-sweet crude oil...

Federal Permitting and Oversight of Export of Fossil Fuels

Recent technological developments have led to an increase in domestic production of natural gas and crude oil. As a result, there is interest among some parties in exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil to take advantage of international markets. This has placed new attention on the laws and regulations governing, and in many cases restricting, the export of fossil fuels.

In most cases, export of fossil fuels requires federal authorization of both the act of exporting the fuel and the facility that will be employed to export the fuel. For example, the export of natural gas is...

U.S. Shale Gas Development: Production, Infrastructure, and Market Issues

The United States is in the process of discovering the true extent of its unconventional natural gas resources primarily derived from shale, with estimates rising every year. Natural gas has become an increasingly available, low-priced commodity, and U.S. natural gas is in demand at home and abroad. The price of natural gas relative to coal has led to a trend of switching from coal to gas for electric generation.

Estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable natural gas have multiplied in recent years, rewriting the map on natural gas production. Pennsylvania is newly one of the top...

Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014: Comparison of Select Provisions

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA 2014, P.L. 113-121) became law on June 10, 2014. The conference report, H.Rept. 113-449, resolved differences between H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA 2013), and S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 (WRDA 2013). Both bills represented omnibus authorization legislation for water resource activities, principally associated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

Authorizing and Deauthorizing Projects. WRRDA 2014 authorized 34 construction projects totaling $25.65...

Shale Energy Technology Assessment: Current and Emerging Water Practices

Shale oil and gas (collectively referred to as shale energy), long considered “unconventional” hydrocarbon resources, are now being developed rapidly. Economic extraction of shale energy resources typically relies on the use of hydraulic fracturing. This technique often requires significant amounts of freshwater, and fracturing flowback and related wastewaters must be recycled or disposed of after a well is completed. While shale energy presents a significant energy resource, its development has the potential to pose risks to water availability and water quality.

This report provides a...

Hunting and Fishing: Issues and Legislation in the 113th Congress

For several years, the House and Senate have been considering various approaches to improve hunting and recreational fishing opportunities both on and off federal lands. The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 (S. 2363) is pending in the Senate, and addresses many of the same topics considered by recent Congresses.

Hunting, fishing, and conservation have been linked since the advent of federal wildlife legislation. Among early examples are the Lacey Act of 1900, the first federal wildlife law, which made it a federal crime to ship game killed in violation of one state’s laws to another...

U.S. Energy: Overview and Key Statistics

Energy policy has been a recurring issue for Congress since the first major crises in the 1970s. As an aid in policymaking, this report presents a current and historical view of the supply and consumption of various forms of energy.

The historical trends show petroleum as the major source of primary energy, rising from about 38% in 1950 to 45% in 1975, and then declining to about 40% in response to the energy crises of the 1970s. Significantly, the transportation sector continues to be almost completely dependent on petroleum, mostly gasoline. Oil prices, which had been low and stable...

Budgetary Treatment of Federal Credit (Direct Loans and Loan Guarantees): Concepts, History, and Issues for Congress

The U.S. government uses federal credit (direct loans and loan guarantees) to allocate financial capital to a range of areas, including home ownership, higher education, small business, agriculture, and energy. At the end of FY2013, outstanding federal credit totaled $3.2 trillion. This report explains the budgetary treatment of federal credit, examines proposed reforms, and describes recent legislation.

Title V of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508), the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 or FCRA, changed how the unified budget reports the cost of federal credit...

Legislation to Approve the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement

This report discusses the U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement and analyzes relevant legislative initiatives (S. 812 and H.R. 1613) and other legislative action surrounding Congress's approval of the Agreement (P.L. 113-67).

Iraq Crisis: CRS Experts

The table below provides names and contact information for CRS experts on various policy concerns of interest to Congress relating to the ongoing crisis in Iraq. Policy areas identified include the conflict in Iraq, al Qaeda affiliates, embassy security, military operations, war powers, sanctions, energy security, humanitarian issues and displaced persons, issues in the Middle East region, the United Nations, and other international actors.

Climate Change: CRS Experts

Environmental Regulation and Agriculture

As the U.S. and global economies continue to struggle, some inside and outside of Congress have expressed concern about how environmental regulation may stifle growth and productivity. Much of the criticism has focused on environmental regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some claim that EPA is overreaching its regulatory authority and imposing costly and burdensome requirements on society. In general, the agriculture community, among others, has been vocal in its concerns, contending that EPA appears to be focusing some of its recent regulatory efforts on...

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), and to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. The President affirmed his 2009 pledge to reduce U.S. GHG emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 if all other major economies agreed to limit their emissions as well. In 2012, U.S. gross GHG emissions were approximately 10% below 2005 levels.

The President stated willingness to work with Congress toward enacting a bipartisan, market-based scheme to reduce GHG emissions. He also said...

China and the United States—A Comparison of Green Energy Programs and Policies

China is the world’s most populous country with approximately 1.4 billion people. It has experienced tremendous economic growth over the last three decades with an average annual increase in gross domestic product (GDP) of 9.8% during that period. This has led to an increasing demand for energy, spurring China to more than double its electric power generating capacity in each of the last three decades, growing from 66 GigaWatts (GW) installed in 1980 to 1,100 GW installed as of 2011. Coal currently fuels about 66% of China’s electricity generation. However, the reduction of air pollution...

Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards

On March 3, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized new (Tier 3) emission standards for light duty (and some larger) motor vehicles. Light duty vehicles include cars, SUVs, vans, and most pickup trucks. Phase-in of the standards will begin with Model Year 2017. By the time Tier 3 is fully implemented in Model Year 2025, the standards for light duty vehicles will require reductions of about 80% in tailpipe emissions of non-methane organic gases and nitrogen oxides (both of which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone) and of about 70% in tailpipe emissions of...

The Northeast Heating Oil Supply, Demand, and Factors Affecting Its Use

The United States exports and imports of refined petroleum products include distillate fuel oilthe general category for heating oil. In 2013, distillate fuel oil imports exceeded 56.4 million barrels, up from the previous years 46.2 million barrels. However, distillate fuel imports have been declining. Overall, some 6.9 million households rely on heating oil nationally. The number of overall household users, however, has declined from 8.7 million in 2006-2007, and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects a 3% decline for 2013-2014. By and large, the greatest demand for home...

Analysis of S. 2198: Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014

Over the past five years, portions of the country have been gripped with extensive drought, including the state of California. Drought conditions in California are exceptional and extreme in much of the state, including in prime agricultural areas of the Central Valley, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Such conditions pose significant challenges to water managers who before this dry winter were already grappling with below-normal surface water storage in the states largest reservoirs. Groundwater levels in many areas of the state also have declined due to increased pumping over the...

Declarations of War and Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Historical Background and Legal Implications

From the Washington Administration to the present, Congress and the President have enacted 11 separate formal declarations of war against foreign nations in five different wars. Each declaration has been preceded by a presidential request either in writing or in person before a joint session of Congress. The reasons cited in justification for the requests have included armed attacks on United States territory or its citizens and threats to United States rights or interests as a sovereign nation.

Congress and the President have also enacted authorizations for the use of force rather than...

Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification, and Revocation

Executive orders, presidential memoranda, and proclamations are used extensively by Presidents to achieve policy goals, set uniform standards for managing the executive branch, or outline a policy view intended to influence the behavior of private citizens. The U.S. Constitution does not define these presidential instruments and does not explicitly vest the President with the authority to issue them. Nonetheless, such orders are accepted as an inherent aspect of presidential power. Moreover, if they are based on appropriate authority, they have the force and effect of law. This report...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2014 Appropriations

On March 26, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6). The act provides a total of $60.638 billion for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). After rescissions and sequestration, the act provided a total of $57.936 billion for CJS, of which $7.510 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $25.830 billion was for the Department of Justice, $23.769 billion was for the science agencies, and $827.9 million was for the related agencies.

On April 10, 2013, President Obama submitted his FY2014 budget to...

Oil Sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline: Background and Selected Environmental Issues

If constructed, the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil derived from oil sands sites in Alberta, Canada, to U.S. refineries and other destinations. Because the pipeline would cross an international border, it requires a Presidential Permit.

Although some groups have opposed previous oil pipelines, opposition to the Keystone XL proposal has generated substantially more interest. Stakeholder concerns vary from local impacts, such as oil spills or extraction impacts in Canada, to potential climate change consequences.

Arguments supporting the pipelines construction cover an...

Analysis of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

The federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) and significantly expanded in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). The RFS requires the use of renewable biofuels in transportation fuelfor 2013, the mandate was 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuel. Within the larger mandate, there are sub-mandates (carve-outs) for advanced biofuels (e.g., biomass-based diesel and cellulosic fuels). By 2022, the RFS requires the use of 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels, including 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels. For 2014,...

Waiver Authority Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

Transportation fuels are required by federal law to contain a minimum amount of renewable fuel each year. The renewable fuel standard (RFS), established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct, P.L. 109-58) and amended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140), required that a total of 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels be used to offset gasoline and diesel fuel in 2013. Under EISA, the scheduled mandates grow each year (to 36 billion gallons in 2022). However, the ability of fuel suppliers to meet the growing RFS mandates has been questioned. For 2014,...

Russian Political, Economic, and Security Issues and U.S. Interests

Russia made uneven progress in democratization during the 1990s, but this limited progress was reversed after Vladimir Putin rose to power in 1999-2000, according to many observers. During this period, the State Duma (lower legislative chamber) became dominated by government-approved parties, gubernatorial elections were abolished, and the government consolidated ownership or control over major media and industries, including the energy sector. The Putin government showed low regard for the rule of law and human rights in suppressing insurgency in the North Caucasus, according to critics....

The Debate Over Selected Presidential Assistants and Advisors: Appointment, Accountability, and Congressional Oversight

A number of the appointments made by President Barack H. Obama to his Administration or by Cabinet secretaries to their departments have been referred to, especially by the news media, as “czars.” For some, the term is used to convey an appointee’s title (e.g., climate “czar”) in shorthand. For others, it is being used to convey a sense that power is being centralized in the White House or certain entities. When used in political science literature, the term generally refers to White House policy coordination or an intense focus by the appointee on an issue of great magnitude. Congress has...

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

This report discusses the current status of Central Asian states and U.S. policy, which has been aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism, proliferation, and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons.

Climate Change Legislation in the 113th Congress

In the 113th Congress, Members have introduced multiple bills that include provisions that would directly or indirectly address climate change-related issues. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish between direct and indirect climate change bills, because a specific bill or action may seek to achieve multiple objectives. The bills listed in this report include provisions that directly address climate change, as opposed to those that primarily address other issues (e.g., energy efficiency) but could have ancillary impacts on climate.

Observations about the climate change-related...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2014 and FY2013 (Post-Sequestration) Appropriations

The annual Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in even-numbered fiscal years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2014 Agriculture and Related Agencies appropriations bill was included as Division A of the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an omnibus appropriation that was enacted on January 17, 2014 (P.L. 113-76). It provides $20.880 billion of discretionary funding for agricultural and related programs. This is $1.165...

Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs

Drought conditions often fuel congressional interest in federal assistance. While drought planning and preparedness are largely individual, business, local, and state responsibilities, some federal assistance is available to mitigate drought impacts. While much of the federal assistance is targeted at mitigating impacts on the agricultural economy, other federal programs are authorized to provide non-agricultural water assistance. Interest in these non-agricultural programs often increases as communities, households, and businesses experience shrinking and less reliable water supplies....

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the Department of Energy (DOE), and several independent agencies.

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction/VA, Full Year...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2014

Congress completed action on the FY2014 regular appropriations bills with enactment of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), in January 2014. The act contains the 12 regular appropriations bills that fund federal departments and agencies and provide funding for most research and development (R&D) supported by the federal government. Prior to enactment of P.L. 113-76, FY2014 funding was provided by two continuing resolutions (P.L. 113-46 and P.L. 113-73). Where possible, CRS has identified and included in this report R&D funding in P.L. 113-76 for agencies and programs....

Motorized Recreation on National Park Service Lands

In managing its lands, the National Park Service (NPS) seeks to balance a dual statutory mission of preserving natural resources while providing for their enjoyment by the public. Motorized recreation on NPS lands sometimes brings the two parts of this mission into conflict. Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) have been particularly controversial, with calls for greater recreational access intersecting with concerns about environmental impacts and disturbance of quieter pursuits. NPS’s laws, regulations, and policies generally emphasize the conservation of park resources in conservation/use...

U.S. and EU Motor Vehicle Standards: Issues for Transatlantic Trade Negotiations

In March 2013, President Obama notified Congress that his Administration would seek a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union (EU). In addition to addressing tariffs and other trade restrictions, the negotiations seek to reduce regulatory barriers to transatlantic commerce. Among the barriers under discussion are those affecting motor vehicles. Although many automakers build and sell cars in both regions, they must comply with very different safety, fuel economy, and emissions standards, as well as different regulatory processes. TTIP...

The 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79): Summary and Side-by-Side

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in a multi-year, omnibus farm bill. The 2008 farm bill governed policy for farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, trade and international food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry. It originally expired in 2012, but the 112th Congress did not complete action and instead extended the law for one year (P.L. 112-240), leaving consideration of a new farm bill to the 113th Congress.

After nearly three years of deliberations, Congress...

The FutureGen Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project: A Brief History and Issues for Congress

More than a decade after the George W. Bush Administration announced its signature clean coal power initiative—FutureGen—the program is still in early development. Since its inception in 2003, FutureGen has undergone changes in scope and design. As initially conceived, FutureGen would have been the world’s first coal-fired power plant to integrate carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) with integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technologies. FutureGen would have captured and stored carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal combustion in deep underground saline formations and...

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster

This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response. Haiyan was one of the strongest typhoons to strike land on record. Over a 16 hour period, the “super typhoon,” with a force equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of up to 195 mph, directly swept through six provinces in the central Philippines. The disaster quickly created a humanitarian crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas, particularly in coastal communities in Leyte province and the southern tip of Eastern...

Wildfire Protection in the Wildland-Urban Interface

Congressional interest in funding to protect against wildfire threats has focused on communities in and near forests, an area known as the wildland-urban interface (WUI). The WUI is expanding in size and population, leading to increased concern for life and property that could potentially be damaged by wildfires. Approximately 10% of all land in the lower 48 states is classified as WUI. A significant concentration lies along the East Coast, although western states have the highest proportions of homes in the WUI.

Federal funding for wildfire protection has increased over the last decade....

Algae’s Potential as a Transportation Biofuel

Congress continues to debate the federal role in biofuel research, biofuel tax incentives, and renewable fuel mandates. The debate touches on topics such as fuel imports and security, job creation, and environmental benefits, and is particularly significant for advanced biofuels, such as those produced by algae.

Congress established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), a mandate requiring that the national fuel supply contain a minimum amount of fuel produced from renewable biomass. The RFS2 is essentially composed of two biofuel mandates—one for unspecified biofuel, which is being met...

CRS Issue Statement on Europe: Regional Policy, Bilateral Relations, and Key Issues

This report provides a statement on the United States' relationship with Europe.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 113th Congress: New and Recurring Issues

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543) was enacted to increase protection for, and to provide for the recovery of, vanishing wildlife and vegetation. Under ESA, species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) can be listed as endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. Habitat loss is the primary cause for listing species. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. Accordingly, when certain resources are associated with listed species—such as...

Food Fraud and “Economically Motivated Adulteration” of Food and Food Ingredients

Food fraud, or the act of defrauding buyers of food or ingredients for economic gain—whether they be consumers or food manufacturers, retailers, and importers—has vexed the food industry throughout history. Some of the earliest reported cases of food fraud, dating back thousands of years, involved olive oil, tea, wine, and spices. These products continue to be associated with fraud, along with some other foods. Although the vast majority of fraud incidents do not pose a public health risk, some cases have resulted in actual or potential public health risks. Perhaps the most high-profile...

Forestry Assistance Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has numerous programs to support management of state and private forests. These programs are under the jurisdiction of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and are often examined in the periodic legislation to reauthorize agricultural programs, commonly known as farm bills. Both the House (H.R. 2642) and Senate (S. 954) versions of the 2014 farm bill contain a forestry title with provisions affecting forestry-specific assistance programs. Both versions of the farm bill propose to repeal, reauthorize, and modify some of these programs....

Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities

The physical security of nuclear power plants and their vulnerability to deliberate acts of terrorism was elevated to a national security issue following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Congress subsequently enacted new nuclear plant security requirements and has repeatedly focused attention on regulation and enforcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks, security at nuclear plants remains an important concern.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05, P.L. 109-58) imposed specific criteria for NRC to consider in revising the “Design...

Science and Technology Issues in the 113th Congress

Science and technology (S&T) have a pervasive influence over a wide range of issues confronting the nation. Public and private research and development spurs scientific and technological advancement. Such advances can drive economic growth, help address national priorities, and improve health and quality of life. The constantly changing nature and ubiquity of science and technology frequently create public policy issues of congressional interest.

The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement by directly funding research and development and indirectly by creating...

America COMPETES 2010 and the FY2013 Budget

Signed on January 4, 2011, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (COMPETES 2010, P.L. 111-358) sought to improve U.S. competitiveness and innovation by authorizing, among other things, increased federal support for research in the physical sciences and engineering, as well as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Certain provisions of the law, including major funding authorizations, expired in FY2013. This report describes the President’s FY2013 budget request for selected COMPETES 2010 provisions and tracks the status of FY2013 funding for these...

Rare Earth Elements in National Defense: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Some Members of Congress have expressed concern over U.S. acquisition of rare earth materials composed of rare earth elements (REE) used in various components of defense weapon systems. Rare earth elements consist of 17 elements on the periodic table, including 15 elements beginning with atomic number 57 (lanthanum) and extending through number 71 (lutetium), as well as two other elements having similar properties (yttrium and scandium). These are referred to as “rare” because although relatively abundant in total quantity, they appear in low concentrations in the earth’s crust and...

Production Tax Credit Incentives for Renewable Electricity: Financial Comparison of Selected Policy Options

Under current law, the production tax credit (PTC) incentive for renewable electricity will expire at the end of 2013. Generally, congressional debate about the PTC falls within a spectrum of options. At one end of the spectrum, proposals have been made to eliminate the incentive. At the other end of the spectrum, proposals include making the PTC permanent. Other proposals, such as temporarily extending and phasing out the PTC over time, fall within these two extremes. This report examines selected alternatives for phasing out PTC incentives.

During the 2012 debate about the future of the...

Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency

With congressional approval, the Nixon Administration established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970 under an executive branch reorganization plan, which consolidated numerous federal pollution control responsibilities that had been divided among several federal agencies. EPA’s responsibilities grew over time as Congress enacted an increasing number of environmental statutes and major amendments to these statutes. EPA’s primary responsibilities have evolved to include the regulation of air quality, water quality, and chemicals in commerce; the development of regulatory...

Wildfire Fuels and Fuel Reduction

Severe wildfires have been burning more acres and more structures in recent years. Some assert that climate change is at least partly to blame; others claim that the increasing number of homes in and near the forest (the wildland-urban interface) is a major cause. However, most observers agree that wildfire suppression and historic land management practices have led to unnaturally high accumulations of biomass in many forests, particularly in the intermountain West. While high-intensity conflagrations (wildfires that burn the forest canopy) occur naturally in some ecosystems (called...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

Neither the House nor the Senate passed a regular appropriations bill for FY2013 for Interior, Environment, and...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013

President Obama’s budget request for FY2013 included $140.820 billion for research and development (R&D), a $1.951 billion (1.4%) increase from the FY2012 estimated funding level of $138.869 billion. The FY2013 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-6), signed into law on March 26, 2013, provided year-long appropriations to all agencies for FY2013. The law included divisions incorporating five of the regular appropriations bills—Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies;...

Keystone XL Pipeline Project: Key Issues

This report describes the Keystone XL pipeline proposal and the process required for federal approval. It summarizes key arguments for and against the pipeline put forth by the pipeline's developers, federal agencies, environmental groups, and other stakeholders. The report discusses potential consistency challenges faced by the State Department in reviewing the pipeline application given its recent prior approvals of similar pipeline projects. Finally, the report reviews the constitutional basis for the State Department's authority to issue a Presidential Permit, and opponents' possible...

Geoengineering: Governance and Technology Policy

Climate change policies at both the national and international levels have traditionally focused on measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to adapt to the actual or anticipated impacts of changes in the climate. As a participant in several international agreements on climate change, the United States has joined with other nations to express concern about climate change. Some recent technological advances and hypotheses, generally referred to as “geoengineering” technologies, have created alternatives to traditional approaches to mitigating climate change. If deployed,...

Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): Overview and Issues

Federal policy has played a key role in the emergence of the U.S. biofuels industry. Policy measures have included minimum renewable fuel usage requirements, blending and production tax credits, an import tariff, loans and loan guarantees, and research grants. One of the more prominent forms of federal policy support is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—whereby a minimum volume of biofuels is to be used in the national transportation fuel supply each year. This report describes the general nature of the RFS mandate and its implementation, and outlines some emerging issues related to the...

Environmental Policy: CRS Experts

The federal government, primarily the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), administers a number of laws, largely through states and local agencies, established by Congress to protect human health and the environment. Numerous congressional committees and subcommittees have jurisdiction over these environmental laws for purpose of authorization, appropriations, and oversight. Analysis of environmental policy issues requires an understanding of the impacts to, and from, various industries including coal, oil and gas, manufacturing, and agriculture resulting in overlapping policy issues...

Carbon Capture: A Technology Assessment

Carbon capture and sequestration (or carbon capture and storage, CCS) is widely seen as a critical strategy for limiting atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the principal “greenhouse gas” linked to global climate change—from power plants and other large industrial sources. This report focuses on the first component of a CCS system, the CO2 capture process. Unlike the other two components of CCS, transportation and geologic storage, the CO2 capture component of CCS is heavily technology-dependent. For CCS to succeed at reducing CO2 emissions from a significant fraction of large...

Carbon Capture Technology Assessment: In Brief

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is widely seen as a critical strategy for limiting atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)—the principal “greenhouse gas” linked to global climate change—from power plants and other large industrial sources. This report focuses on the first component of a CCS system, the CO2 capture process. Unlike the other two components of CCS, transportation and geologic storage, the CO2 capture component of CCS is heavily technology-dependent. For CCS to succeed at reducing CO2 emissions from a significant fraction of large sources in the United States, CO2...

Petroleum Coke: Industry and Environmental Issues

Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R43263 Summary In early 2013, media outlets around Detroit, Michigan began publishing stories about large piles of petroleum coke stored along the Detroit Riverfront. Petroleum coke (petcoke) is a black-colored solid composed primarily of carbon, and may contain limited amounts of elemental forms of sulfur, metals and non-volatile inorganic compounds. Petcoke is essentially chemically inert. Petcoke exposure is considered to pose few human health or environmental risks, but may present significant nuisance concerns. The material in Detroit...

Renewable Energy Programs and the Farm Bill: Status and Issues

Title IX, the energy title of the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-240), contains the bioenergy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA renewable energy programs have incentivized research, development, and adoption of renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, and anaerobic digesters. However, the primary focus of USDA renewable energy programs has been to promote U.S. biofuels production and use—including corn starch-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and soybean-based biodiesel.

Cornstarch-based ethanol dominates the U.S. biofuels industry. The 2008 farm...

S. 1392, Shaheen-Portman Bill: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

S. 1392—the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013—was introduced on July 30, 2013. Often referred to as the Shaheen-Portman bill, it is a trimmed-down version of S. 761. It contains provisions for building energy codes, industrial energy efficiency, federal agencies, and budget offsets. The bill contains voluntary provisions and was designed to be deficit-neutral. To date, virtually all debate related to the bill has been focused on floor amendments.

The bill was reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) on a 19-3 vote. On August 1, 2013, a...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Appropriations for FY2013: Debate During the 112th Congress

Preceding the March 26, 2013, enactment of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6), during the 113th Congress, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (P.L. 112-175, H.J.Res. 117), enacted September 28, 2012, provided appropriations for federal departments and agencies—including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—funded under each of the regular appropriations bills through March 27, 2013. The continuing resolution provided funding generally at FY2012 levels with an across-the-board increase of 0.612% unless otherwise specified....

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress

With the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), many observers have made a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. DHS is currently the third-largest department in the federal government, although it does not incorporate all of the homeland security functions at the federal level. The definition of homeland security remains unsettled, and questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the department have been raised since it was first proposed. Evolution of America’s response to terrorist threats has...

The Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve and the National Oilheat Research Alliance

This report discusses the price of home heating oil in the Northeast. The Northeast demand for home heating oil has declined by 47% since 2000, from nearly 7 billion gallons to 3.6 billion gallons in 2011. The report provides detailed information regarding northeast home heating oil reserve and national Oilheat Research Alliance.

Climate Change Science: Key Points

Though climate change science often is portrayed as controversial, broad scientific agreement exists on many points:

The Earth’s climate is warming and changing.

Human-related emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and other pollutants have contributed to warming observed since the 1970s and, if continued, would tend to drive further warming, sea level rise, and other climate shifts.

Volcanoes, the Earth’s relationship to the Sun, solar cycles, and land cover change may be more influential on climate shifts than rising GHG concentrations on other time and geographic scales. Human-induced...

Proposed U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement: Background and Issues for Congress

This report discusses the offshore areas of the Gulf of Mexico that provide a setting for domestic and international energy production, U.S. military training and border operations, trade and commerce, fishing, tourist attractions, and recreation.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2013 in P.L. 113-6

Enacted March 26, 2013, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (P.L. 113-6), appropriated funding for the full fiscal year through September 30, 2013. Seven regular appropriations acts, including Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, which funds EPA, are covered by the full-year continuing appropriations provided in Division F of P.L. 113-6. The final level of appropriations ultimately available to EPA and other federal departments and agencies in FY2013 includes the application of an across-the-board rescission required by P.L. 113-6 and the executive...

Gas Hydrates: Resource and Hazard

Solid gas hydrates are a potentially huge source of natural gas for the United States. Gas hydrates occur naturally onshore in some permafrost regions, and at or below the seafloor in sediments where water and gas combine at low temperatures and high pressures to form an ice-like solid substance, in which frozen water molecules form a cage-like structure around high concentrations of natural gas, or methane. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management within the Department of the Interior estimated a mean value of over 51,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of in-place gas hydrates combined for the...

U.S. Coal Exports

The gap between available U.S. coal supply and demand may continue to widen as low cost natural gas becomes more attractive to electric power plants and uncertainties with emission regulations may inhibit new coal plant investments. Coal producers with excess supply will likely seek to expand their market abroad. Consequently, U.S. coal exports are forecast to continue to rise over the next decade and possibly longer. Growth potential in Asian markets seems large, but there are potential bottlenecks, such as infrastructure and potential rising costs of regulation, competition from other...

European Union Wind and Solar Electricity Policies: Overview and Considerations

European Union (EU) countries have provided support for the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies, dating back to as early as the 1980s. Today, the European Union has established binding renewable energy targets with the goal of having the entire EU derive 20% of total energy consumption (electricity, heating/cooling, and transportation) from renewable sources by 2020. EU member countries have discretion to decide how best to achieve EU-level targets. Each country uses a unique set of policies and financial incentives to stimulate renewable energy production. While EU...

U.S.-China Relations: An Overview of Policy Issues

The United States relationship with China touches on an exceptionally broad range of issues, from security, trade, and broader economic issues, to the environment and human rights. Congress faces important questions about what sort of relationship the United States should have with China and how the United States should respond to China’s “rise.” After more than 30 years of fast-paced economic growth, China’s economy is now the second-largest in the world after that of the United States. With economic success, China has developed significant global strategic clout. It is also engaged in an...

Privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority: Options and Issues

In its budget proposal for FY2014, the Obama Administration proposed a “strategic review” of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federal government corporation established by the Tennessee Valley Authority Act (TVA Act) (16 U.S.C. 831) in 1933. The preamble to the TVA Act lists flood control, reforestation, and agricultural and industrial development as primary considerations in the original establishment of the TVA. TVA is now required by the TVA Act to be self-supported using funds from the sale of electric power.

The TVA Act authorizes TVA to issue bonds, notes, or other forms of...

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Natural Resource Damage Assessment Under the Oil Pollution Act

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill leaked an estimated 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, damaging the waters, shores, and marshes, and the fish and wildlife that live there. The Oil Pollution Act (OPA) allows state, federal, tribal, and federal governments to recover damages to natural resources in the public trust from the parties responsible for the oil spill. Under the public trust doctrine, natural resources are managed by the states for the benefit of all citizens, except where a statute vests such management in the federal government.

In particular, OPA authorizes...

The International Whaling Convention (IWC) and Legal Issues Related to Aboriginal Rights

This report discusses the recent legislation regarding whaling in general, and aboriginal whaling in particular. Legislative measures, primarily in the form of concurrent resolutions, have been proposed in four categories: protesting commercial, scientific, or community (nonaboriginal) whaling; ensuring aboriginal whaling rights; providing a tax break for aboriginal whaling captains; and addressing the United States' policy at the annual meetings of the IWC.

The EPA Draft Report of Groundwater Contamination Near Pavillion, Wyoming: Main Findings and Stakeholder Responses

On December 8, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a draft report on its investigation of groundwater contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyoming. EPA had initiated the investigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in response to citizen complaints in 2008 about domestic well water quality. On June 20, 2013, EPA announced that it would not finalize the report but would defer to the state of Wyoming to assume the lead in investigating drinking water quality in Pavillion. The EPA draft report indicated...

Wildfire Damages to Homes and Resources: Understanding Causes and Reducing Losses

Wildfires are getting more severe, with more acres and houses burned and more people at risk. This results from excess biomass in the forests, due to past logging and grazing and a century of fire suppression, combined with an expanding wildland-urban interface—more people and houses in and near the forests—and climate change, exacerbating drought and insect and disease problems. Some assert that current efforts to protect houses and to reduce biomass (through fuel treatments, such as thinning) are inadequate, and that public objections to some of these activities on federal lands raise...

Forest Fire/Wildfire Protection

Congress continues to face questions about forestry practices, funding levels, and the federal role in wildfire protection. Recent fire seasons have been, by most standards, among the worst in the past half century. National attention began to focus on wildfires when a prescribed burn in May 2000 escaped control and burned 239 homes in Los Alamos, NM. President Clinton responded by requesting a doubling of wildfire management funds, and Congress enacted much of this proposal in the FY2001 Interior appropriations act (P.L. 106-291). President Bush responded to the severe 2002 fires by...

Energy and Water Development: FY2014 Appropriations, Preliminary Tables

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations were considered in the context of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25), which established discretionary spending limits for FY2012-FY2021. On March 26, 2013, the President signed H.R. 933, the FY2013 Defense and Military Construction, and...

Agriculture-Based Biofuels: Overview and Emerging Issues

Since the late 1970s, U.S. policymakers at both the federal and state levels have authorized a variety of incentives, regulations, and programs to encourage the production and use of agriculture-based biofuels—i.e., any fuel produced from biological materials. Initially, federal biofuels policies were developed to help kick-start the biofuels industry during its early development, when neither production capacity nor a market for the finished product was widely available. Federal policy (e.g., tax credits, import tariffs, grants, loans, and loan guarantees) has played a key role in helping...

Energy and Water Development: FY2013 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Department of Energy (DOE), and for a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2013 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2012.

For FY2013 the level of overall spending has been a major issue. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA, P.L. 112-25) contained an overall discretionary spending cap for FY2013 of $1.047 trillion. On March 29,...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted his FY2013 budget to Congress. The Administration requests a total of $62.076 billion for the agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. The Administration’s request includes $7.978 billion for the Department of Commerce, $28.079 billion for the Department of Justice, $25.090 billion for the science agencies, and $929.2 million for the related agencies. The FY2013 request for CJS is 1.9% greater than the FY2012 appropriation of $60.910 billion.

On April 19,...

Department of Defense Implementation of the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative: Implications for Federal Information Technology Reform Management

The Department of Defense (DOD) is the single largest energy consumer in the nation. As the largest owner of federal data centers, with 772, the DOD has more than twice as many centers as any other agency. By consolidating some of its data centers, DOD could have a significant positive impact on energy savings for the federal government. DOD has instituted a number of policy directives, as have all federal agencies, that influence energy use in its data centers.

Data centers are facilities—buildings or parts of buildings—used to store, manage, and disseminate electronic information for a...

Sage Grouse and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

Western states have seen conflicts over natural resources for more than a century, involving issues such as grazing, roads, fences, oil and gas development, urban expansion, spread of invasive species, water rights, timber harvest, and pollution. In many cases, the conflicts involve the protection of endangered and threatened species, often with one group seeing listed species as an obstacle to their development goals or property rights, and another group advocating protection in line with their environmental, scientific, or economic goals. One such controversy is developing in 11 western...

Battery Manufacturing for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles: Policy Issues

The United States is one of several countries encouraging production and sales of fully electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to reduce oil consumption, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5) provided federal financial support to develop a domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain for electric vehicles. Some of these companies have brought on new production capacity, but others have gone bankrupt or idled their plants. While early in his Administration President Obama forecast that 1 million plug-in...

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are seen by proponents as integral to improving urban air quality, decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. However, major barriers—especially economics—currently prevent the widespread use of these fuels and technologies. Because of these barriers, and the potential benefits, there is continued congressional interest in providing incentives and other support for their development and commercialization.

Key tax incentives for the use of biofuels, for the expansion of alternative fuel infrastructure,...

Carbon Tax: Deficit Reduction and Other Considerations

In the context of budget deficit and fiscal policy debates, policymakers have considered a number of options for raising additional federal revenues, including a carbon tax. A carbon tax could apply directly to carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, or to the inputs (e.g., fossil fuels) that lead to the emissions. Unlike a tax on the energy content of each fuel (e.g., Btu tax), a carbon tax would vary with a fuel’s carbon content, as there is a direct correlation between a fuel’s carbon content and its CO2 emissions.

Carbon taxes have been proposed for many years...

Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) spends billions of dollars per year on fuel, and is pursuing numerous initiatives for reducing its fuel needs and changing the mix of energy sources that it uses. DOD’s energy initiatives pose several potential oversight issues for Congress, and have been topics of discussion and debate at hearings on DOD’s proposed FY2013 budget.

By some accounts, DOD is the largest organizational user of petroleum in the world. Even so, DOD’s share of total U.S. energy consumption is fairly small. DOD is by far the largest U.S. government user of energy. The amount of...

Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline: Legal Issues

In 2008, TransCanada Corp. applied for a presidential permit from the State Department to construct and operate an oil pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border in a project known as Keystone XL. The Keystone XL pipeline would transport oil produced from oil sands in Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries. The permit application was subjected to review by the State Department pursuant to executive branch authority over cross-border pipeline facilities as articulated in Executive Order 13337, and subsequently denied by the State Department. Pursuant to the requirements of legislation passed...

U.S. and World Coal Production, Federal Taxes, and Incentives

Even though U.S. coal production remained strong over the past decade, reaching record levels of production, coal is losing its share of overall U.S. energy production primarily to natural gas. One of the big questions for the industry is how to penetrate the overseas market, particularly in steam coal, to compensate for declining domestic demand. As U.S. energy policy and environmental regulations are constantly debated, there is ongoing congressional interest in the role of coal in meeting U.S. and global energy needs. The question may not be whether the domestic production of coal is...

FY2013 Supplemental Funding for Disaster Relief

On January 29, 2013, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013, a $50.5 billion package of disaster assistance largely focused on responding to Hurricane Sandy, was enacted as P.L. 113-2.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy impacted a wide swath of the East Coast of the United States, resulting in more than 120 deaths and the major disaster declarations for 12 states plus the District of Columbia. The Administration submitted a request to Congress on December 7, 2012, for $60.4 billion in supplemental funding and legislative provisions to address both the immediate losses and damages...

Electrical Power: Overview of Congressional Issues

The electric power industry is in the process of transformation. The electricity infrastructure of the United States is aging, and uncertainty exists around how to modernize the grid, and what technologies and fuels will be used to produce electricity in the future. Congress will likely be faced with policy issues regarding how the modernization of this vital industry will unfold.

For most of the 20th century, coal has been the dominant fuel used to produce electricity. In 2011, coal was the fuel used for almost 42% of power generation in the United States. However, coal use for power...

Mexico and the 112th Congress

The United States and Mexico have a close and complex bilateral relationship as neighbors and partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although security issues have recently dominated the U.S. relationship with Mexico, analysts predict that bilateral relations may shift toward economic matters now that President Enrique Peña Nieto has taken office. Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) defeated leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party...

The Endangered Species Act and “Sound Science”

The adequacy of the science supporting implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has received considerable congressional attention over the years. While many scientific decisions pass unremarked, some critics accuse agencies responsible for implementing the ESA of using “junk science,” and others counter that decisions that should rest on science are instead being dictated by political concerns.

Under the ESA, certain species of plants and animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) are listed as either endangered or threatened according to assessments of the risk of their...

Motorized Recreation on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service Lands

The growing and diverse nature of recreation on federal lands has increased the challenge of balancing different types of recreation with each other and with other land uses. Motorized recreation on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS) has been controversial, with issues centering on access and environmental impacts. Congress, as well as the Administration, has addressed motorized recreation on these federal lands.

The use of off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on FS and BLM land is governed by a number of authorities, including law, executive orders,...

Enacted and Proposed Oil Spill Legislation in the 112th Congress

Recent oil spills, including the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, generated an increased level of interest in oil spill legislation during the 112th Congress. This report identifies enacted and proposed legislation from the 112th Congress that pertains to oil spill-related issues. For this report, oil spill-related issues include oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, liability and compensation, and Gulf of Mexico restoration. In the context of this report, oil spill issues do not generally include matters pertaining to offshore...

U.S. Wind Turbine Manufacturing: Federal Support for an Emerging Industry

Increasing U.S. energy supply diversity has been the goal of many Presidents and Congresses. This commitment has been prompted by concerns about national security, the environment, and the U.S. balance of payments. Investments in new energy sources also have been seen as a way to expand domestic manufacturing. For all of these reasons, the federal government has a variety of policies to promote wind power.

Expanding the use of wind energy requires installation of wind turbines. These are complex machines composed of some 8,000 components, created from basic industrial materials such as...

Keeping America’s Pipelines Safe and Secure: Key Issues for Congress

Nearly half a million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids crisscross the United States. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage. The nation’s pipeline networks are also widespread and vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attack. Recent pipeline accidents in Marshall, MI, San Bruno, CA, Allentown, PA, and Laurel, MT, have heightened congressional concern about pipeline risks and drawn criticism from the National Transportation...

Environmental Considerations in Federal Procurement: An Overview of the Legal Authorities and Their Implementation

Coupled with increasing concerns about the environment, the magnitude of federal spending on contracts has prompted questions from Members of Congress and the public about the role of environmental considerations in federal procurement. These include: to what extent do agencies consider environmental factors when procuring goods or services? What legal authorities presently require or allow agencies to take environmental factors into account when acquiring goods or services? How are existing provisions authorizing agencies to consider environmental factors implemented? This report provides...

The U.S. Oil Refining Industry: Background in Changing Markets and Fuel Policies

A decade ago, 158 refineries operated in the United States and its territories and sporadic refinery outages led many policy makers to advocate new refinery construction. Fears that crude oil production was in decline also led to policies promoting alternative fuels and increased vehicle fuel efficiency. Since the summer 2008 peak in crude oil prices, however, the U.S. demand for refined petroleum products has declined, largely due to the economic recession, and the outlook for the petroleum refining industry in the United States has changed.

In response to weak demand for gasoline and...

Electricity Transmission Cost Allocation

Perhaps the most contentious electricity transmission financing issue is cost allocation for new interstate transmission lines—that is, deciding which electricity customers pay how much of the cost of building and operating a new transmission line that crosses several states. This report provides background and analysis of current transmission cost allocation policy and issues.

For many years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) declined to go beyond establishing general principles as set forth in its Order No. 890, which addressed “undue discrimination and preference” in the...

Nuclear Regulatory Commission 10 C.F.R. 37, A New Rule to Protect Radioactive Material: Background, Summary, Views from the Field

This report analyzes 10 C.F.R. 37, a forthcoming rule promulgated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Physical Protection of Byproduct Material. Byproduct material includes specified types of radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium. The rule regulates byproduct material of types and in quantities that could be used to make a dirty bomb.

Congress may find this analysis of interest for several reasons: Congress attaches great importance to protecting the United States against terrorist threats; the rule will affect the many industrial, research, and medical activities...

Bee Health: The Role of Pesticides

Federal Emergency Management: A Brief Introduction

The federal government plays a significant role in emergency management, which generally refers to activities associated with avoiding and responding to natural and human-caused hazards. Emergency management in the United States is highly decentralized and contextual in nature: activities often involve multiple jurisdictions as well as a vast number of agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector entities. In addition, the number and type of actors involved in an incident will vary tremendously depending on the context and severity of the event. Similarly, the legal...

DOD Purchase of Renewable Energy Credits Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012

The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 established renewable energy goals for federal government agencies. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 directs the Secretary of Defense “to establish a policy to maximize savings for the bulk purchase of replacement renewable energy certificates in connection with the development of facility energy projects using renewable energy sources.” This requires that each service purchase replacement renewable energy certificates (RECs) through either a centralized purchasing authority within the respective department, or the Defense...

U.S. Renewable Electricity: How Does Wind Generation Impact Competitive Power Markets?

U.S. wind power generation has experienced rapid growth in the last 20 years as total installed capacity has increased from 1,500 megawatts (MW) in 1992 to more than 50,000 MW in August of 2012. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), wind power provided approximately 3% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2011. Two primary policies provide market and financial incentives that support the wind industry and have contributed to U.S. wind power growth: (1) production tax credit (PTC)—a federal tax incentive of 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity...

Natural Gas in the U.S. Economy: Opportunities for Growth

Due to the growth in natural gas production, primarily from shale gas, the United States is benefitting from some of the lowest prices for natural gas in the world and faces the question of how to best use this resource.

Different segments of the U.S. economy have different perspectives on the role natural gas can play. Suppliers, which have become the victims of their own production success, are facing low prices that are forecast to remain low. Some companies that have traditionally produced only natural gas have even turned their attention to oil in order to improve their financial...

Australia and the U.S. Rebalancing to Asia Strategy

Australia, a traditionally staunch U.S. ally, is exploring ways to support the U.S. strategy of increasing its involvement in Asia—often called the rebalancing to Asia strategy—at a time when Australia has embarked on significant cuts to its defense budget. Australia is seeking to strengthen its long-standing defense alliance with the United States without jeopardizing its important trade relationship with China. Australia’s strategic geography is increasingly focused on its north and west at a time when the United States is also increasingly focused on the same areas, namely Southeast...

The 2012 Farm Bill: A Comparison of Senate-Passed S. 3240 and the House Agriculture Committee’s H.R. 6083 with Current Law

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others.

The Senate approved its version of the 2012 omnibus farm...

Managing the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Policy Implications of Expanding Global Access to Nuclear Power

After several decades of widespread stagnation, nuclear power has attracted renewed interest in recent years. New license applications for 30 reactors have been announced in the United States, and another 548 are under construction, planned, or proposed around the world. In the United States, interest appears driven, in part, by tax credits, loan guarantees, and other incentives in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, as well as by concerns about carbon emissions from competing fossil fuel technologies.

A major concern about the global expansion of nuclear power is the potential spread of nuclear...

U.S. Renewable Electricity: How Does the Production Tax Credit (PTC) Impact Wind Markets?

U.S. wind projects that use large turbines—greater than 100 kilowatts (kW)—are eligible to receive federal tax incentives in the form of production tax credits (PTC) and accelerated depreciation. Originally established in 1992, the PTC has played a role in the evolution and growth of the U.S. wind industry. Under existing law, wind projects placed in service on or after January 1, 2013, will not be eligible to receive the PTC incentive. Industry proponents are advocating for an extension of PTC availability, citing employment, economic development, and other considerations as justification...

Energy Tax Policy: Issues in the 112th Congress

The economic rationale for interventions in energy markets helps inform the debate surrounding energy tax policy. This report begins by providing background on the economic rationale for energy market interventions, highlighting various market failures. After identifying possible market failures in the production and consumption of energy, possible interventions are discussed. The report concludes with an analysis of energy tax policy as it stands at the start of the 112th Congress.

Hunting, Fishing, Recreational Shooting, and Other Wildlife Measures: S. 3525

The House and Senate have been considering various approaches to open more federal lands to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. S. 3525 addresses some of the same topics as H.R. 4089, which passed the House on April 17, 2012. Both concern hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting, but the bills take different approaches. While H.R. 4089 directs changes to federal land management and land planning, S. 3525 allows existing management to continue, requiring only that land managers assemble priority lists to improve access for those activities.

Several issues related to hunting,...

Automobile and Truck Fuel Economy (CAFE) and Greenhouse Gas Standards

In recent years, as oil and gasoline prices have risen and concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and climate change have grown, there has been a resurgence of interest in the fuel economy and emissions of motor vehicles in the United States. Federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards have become a focal point for addressing these concerns. The debate over rising fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for passenger vehicles and heavy trucks has been controversial. Proponents of higher fuel economy argue that new standards will create incentives for the development of new...

Weather-Related Power Outages and Electric System Resiliency

High winds, especially when combined with precipitation from seasonal storms, can cause damage to electricity utility systems, resulting in service interruptions to large numbers of electricity customers. While most such power outages are caused by damage from trees and tree limbs falling on local electricity distribution lines and poles, major power outages tend to be caused by damage to electricity transmission lines, which carry bulk power long distances. Depending on the severity of the storm and resulting impairment, power outages can last a few hours or extend to periods of several...

Federal Programs Related to Indoor Pollution by Chemicals

“Toxic” drywall, formaldehyde emissions, mold, asbestos, lead-based paint, radon, PCBs in caulk, and many other indoor pollution problems have concerned federal policy makers and regulators during the last 30 years. Some problems have been resolved, others remain of concern, and new indoor pollution problems continually emerge. This report describes common indoor pollutants and health effects that have been linked to indoor pollution, federal statutes that have been used to address indoor pollution, key issues, and some general policy options for Congress.

Indoor pollutants are chemicals...

Gifts to the President of the United States

This report addresses provisions of federal law and regulation restricting the acceptance of personal gifts by the President of the United States.

Although the President, like all other federal officers and employees, is prohibited from receiving personal gifts from foreign governments and foreign officials without the consent of Congress (U.S. Const., art. I, §9, cl. 8), the President is generally free to accept unsolicited personal gifts from the American public. Most of the restrictions on federal officials accepting gifts from “prohibited sources” (those doing business with, seeking...

Water Resources and Water Quality: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy areas relating to water quality and water resources. Several broad water resource and water quality policy areas are identified and include the following: Water Quality (e.g., surface and groundwater quality, wastewater treatment, drinking water treatment); Water Resource Development, Management, and Use (e.g., dams, levees, navigation and hydropower development); Aquatic Resources Protection and Management (e.g., fisheries management, ecosystem restoration) Water Rights and Compacts; and Water Project...

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2013 Appropriations and Policy

The annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation funds agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. For FY2013, the House Committee on Appropriations approved H.R. 6091, a bill containing $1.16 billion for FWS, down 21.5% from the FY2012 level of $1.48 billion contained the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74, Division...

Department of the Interior (DOI) Reorganization of Ocean Energy Programs

This report looks at recent Department of the Interior (DOI) institutional reforms and use of its new regulatory framework. These changes are meant to facilitate ocean energy development that was mandated by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).

The Navy Biofuel Initiative Under the Defense Production Act

The Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture, and the Navy have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to “assist the development and support of a sustainable commercial biofuels industry.” The objective of the MOU is the construction or retrofitting of multiple domestic commercial or pre-commercial scale advanced drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. The MOU would support the Navy’s goal of deploying a “Green Strike Group” by the end of 2012, and “Great Green Fleet” by 2016 fueled in part with a 50/50 blend of hydrotreated renewable jet fuel (biofuel). The Navy proposes to use...

Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting on Federal Lands: H.R. 4089 and Related Legislation

The Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 (H.R. 4089) is intended to create an “open until closed” management policy for federal lands, according to the House committee report. It describes the criteria for federal land management agencies to consider in order to close federal lands to fishing, hunting, or recreational shooting, and directs that management is subject to existing law. However, some ambiguities may lead to different, perhaps unintended results. H.R. 4089 passed the House on April 17, 2012.

Hunting and fishing are already allowed on the majority of federal lands. Because H.R....

Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, June 2012

The United Nations (U.N.) Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or “Rio+20”) convenes June 20-22, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This conference marks the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio in 1992. Governments participating in the 1992 meeting politically endorsed the objective of “sustainable development” as achieving economic, environmental, and social development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Rio+20 begins from the premise and findings that...

Klamath River Basin: Background and Issues

The Klamath River Basin on the California-Oregon border is a focal point for local and national discussions on water allocation and species protection. Previously, water and species management issues have exacerbated competition and generated conflict among several interests—farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. As is true in many regions in the West, the federal government plays a prominent role in the Klamath Basin’s waters. This role stems primarily from (1) operation and...

U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage

Regardless of the outcome of the ongoing debate about the proposed Yucca Mountain geologic waste repository in Nevada, the storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF)—also referred to as “high-level nuclear waste”—will continue to be needed and the issue will continue to be debated. The need for SNF storage, even after the first repository is opened, will continue for a few reasons.

The Obama Administration terminated work on the only planned permanent geologic repository at Yucca Mountain, which was intended to provide a destination for most of the stored SNF. Also, the Yucca Mountain project was...

The Bakken Formation: Leading Unconventional Oil Development

The Bakken Formation is a large unconventional petroleum and natural gas resource underlying parts of North Dakota, Montana, and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Bakken oil production is now viable because of advanced horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods. Growth in production is rapidly changing.

High oil prices and low natural gas prices have prompted shale gas producers to turn to shale oil or tight oil. The Bakken Formation has emerged as a major tight oil resource “play.” The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the Bakken may contain 3.65...

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation in the 112th Congress: MAP-21, H.R. 7, and H.R. 4348—Major Provisions

The federal government’s highway, mass transit, and surface transportation safety programs are periodically authorized in a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill. The most recent reauthorization act, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA; P.L. 109-59), expired at the end of FY2009. Since then, the surface transportation programs have been funded under extension acts.

The main obstacle to passage of a new multi-year bill during the past two years has been the disparity between projected spending and...

Clean Energy Standard: Potential Qualifying Energy Sources

A clean energy standard (CES) has been identified as one possible legislative option to encourage a more diverse domestic electricity portfolio. A CES could require certain electricity providers to obtain a portion of their electricity from qualifying clean energy sources. A CES is broader than a renewable energy standard (RES), including “clean” energy sources along with renewable sources. The RES has been a topic of legislative attention since at least the 105th Congress. A CES gained legislative attention with the introduction of the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (S. 2146). The bill...

Clean Energy Standard: Summary and Analysis of S. 2146

U.S. policymakers have considered and deliberated on several policy designs that could potentially reduce energy-related carbon emissions. In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed the concept of a Clean Energy Standard (CES) that would result in 80% of U.S. electricity generation from clean energy sources by 2035. In March of 2012, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012 (S. 2146) was introduced in the Senate.

The primary goal of S. 2146 is to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the U.S. electricity sector, which represents approximately 41% of total U.S. CO2...

Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2012

Federal research and development (R&D) funding for FY2012 is estimated to total $138.869 billion, $3.845 billion (-2.7%) below the FY2011 funding level of $142.714 billion, and $9.042 billion (-6.1%) below the President’s request of $147.911 billion. Among the overarching issues that Congress contended with in the FY2012 appropriations process were the extent to which the federal R&D investment could grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding would be prioritized and allocated. The appropriations legislation was incorporated into two...

U.S. Oil Imports and Exports

Over the last six years, net oil imports have fallen by 33% to average 8.4 million barrels per day (Mb/d) in 2011. This represents 45% of domestic consumption, down from 60% in 2005. Oil is a critical resource for the U.S. economy, but despite policy makers’ long-standing concern, U.S. oil imports had generally increased for decades until peaking in 2005. Since then, the economic downturn and higher oil prices were a drag on oil consumption, while price-driven private investment and policy helped increase domestic supply of oil and oil alternatives. Net imports are gross imports minus...

Energy Storage for Power Grids and Electric Transportation: A Technology Assessment

Energy storage technology has great potential to improve electric power grids, to enable growth in renewable electricity generation, and to provide alternatives to oil-derived fuels in the nation’s transportation sector. In the electric power system, the promise of this technology lies in its potential to increase grid efficiency and reliability—optimizing power flows and supporting variable power supplies from wind and solar generation. In transportation, vehicles powered by batteries or other electric technologies have the potential to displace vehicles burning gasoline and diesel fuel,...

Forest Service Payments to Counties—Title I of the Federal Forests County Revenue, Schools, and Jobs Act of 2012: Issues for Congress

Since 1908, the Forest Service (USFS) in the Department of Agriculture has paid 25% of its receipts to the states for use on roads and schools in the counties where the national forests are located. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Department of the Interior has paid 50% of its receipts to the Oregon counties where the revested (returned to federal ownership) Oregon and California Railroad (O&C) grant lands are located. Payments under these programs dropped substantially in the 1990s, largely because of declining timber sales. In the Secure Rural Schools and Community...

Compensating State and Local Governments for the Tax-Exempt Status of Federal Lands: What Is Fair and Consistent?

The federal government owns significant amounts of land and resources that are exempt from state and local taxation. State and local governments provide a wide variety of services—education, social services, public safety, transportation facilities, utilities, and much more. These services are funded through intergovernmental transfers (federal grants to state governments and federal and state grants to local governments), user fees, and state and local levied taxation—property taxes, income taxes, sales and use taxes, excise taxes, severance taxes, and more.

Congress has established...

Securing Nuclear Materials: The 2012 Summit and Issues for Congress

In an April 2009 speech in Prague, President Obama pledged that his Administration would launch “a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” To motivate world leaders to achieve this goal, the President hosted a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, on April 12-13, 2010. Leaders of 47 countries attended the summit, including many heads of state. Attendees represented a wide geographic range of states and nuclear capabilities, and include China, India, Israel, and Pakistan. The summit resulted in a joint statement saying...

Rising Gasoline Prices 2012

H.R. 1837—The Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act

For most of the last 20 years, some water contractors in California have received less than their full contract water supplies from federal and state facilities. Although such allocations are in part the result of the prior appropriation doctrine in western water law and are consistent with the expectation of a “junior” water user in times of drought, tensions over water delivery reliability have been exacerbated by reductions in deliveries even in non-drought years. Such reductions are significant because much of the California urban and agricultural economy operates under junior water...

Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 law contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, trade, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others. The breadth of farm bills has steadily grown in recent decades to...

Federal Funding for Wildfire Control and Management

The Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) are responsible for protecting most federal lands from wildfires. Wildfire appropriations nearly doubled in FY2001, following a severe fire season in the summer of 2000, and have remained at relatively high levels. Acres burned annually have also increased over the past 50 years, with the six highest annual totals occurring since 2000. Many in Congress are concerned that wildfire costs are spiraling upward without a reduction in damages. With emergency supplemental funding, FY2008 wildfire funding reached a record high of...

U.S. Offshore Oil and Gas Resources: Prospects and Processes

Access to potential oil and gas resources under the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) continues to be controversial. Moratoria on leasing and development in certain areas were largely eliminated in 2008 and 2009, although a few areas remain legislatively off limits to leasing. The 112th Congress may be unlikely to reinstate broad leasing moratoria, but some Members have expressed interest in protecting areas (e.g., the Georges Bank or Northern California) or establishing protective coastal buffers. Pressure to expand oil and gas supplies and protect coastal environments and communities...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

On December 23, 2011, Congress enacted H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74)....

Energy and Water Development: FY2012 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request for Energy and Water Development was released in February 2011, but the Congress was concerned for the first months of the year with completing the appropriations cycle for FY2011. As with other funding bills, the FY2011 Energy and Water Development bill was not taken to the floor in either the...

Federal Agency Authority to Contract for Electric Power and Renewable Energy Supply

The federal government purchases roughly 57 million megawatt-hours of electricity annually (based on FY2007 data, the latest information available), making it the single largest U.S. energy consumer. The Department of Defense (DOD) alone consumes over 29 million megawatt-hours. The federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) sell electricity at more than twice the volume of federal power purchases, over 127 million megawatt-hours of hydropower annually, and are projected to produce wind-generated energy far in excess of the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPAct) mandates for increasing federal...

FY2012 Appropriations Overview: Status of Discretionary Appropriations Legislation

This report presents an overview of proposed and enacted FY2012 appropriations legislation. The report consists primarily of a table showing discretionary appropriations, by bill title, for each of the proposed and enacted appropriations bills, together with the comparable figures enacted for FY2011. The product is intended to allow for broad comparison between the House and Senate FY2012 proposals, the Administration’s FY2012 request, and the FY2011 and FY2012 enacted appropriations. The figures do not necessarily reflect budget scorekeeping adjustments allowable under the Budget Control...

Marcellus Shale Gas: Development Potential and Water Management Issues and Laws

Until relatively recently, natural gas-rich shale formations throughout the United States were not considered to have significant resource value because no technologies existed to economically recover the gas. Development and deployment of advanced drilling and reservoir stimulation methods have dramatically increased the gas production from these “unconventional gas shales.” The Marcellus Shale formation potentially represents one of the largest unconventional natural gas resources in the United States, underlying much of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, southern New York, eastern Ohio,...

President Obama’s January 4, 2012, Recess Appointments: Legal Issues

The U.S. Constitution establishes two methods by which Presidents may appoint officers of the United States: either with the advice and consent of the Senate, or unilaterally “during the Recess of the Senate.” These two constitutional provisions have long served as sources of political tension between Presidents and Congresses, and the same has held true since President Obama took office.

At the end of the first session of the 112th Congress, the Senate had not acted upon the nominations of the Director to the recently established Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) or...

Iran’s Threat to the Strait of Hormuz

Some officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have recently renewed threats to close or exercise control over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran’s threats appear to have been prompted by the likely imposition of new multilateral sanctions targeting Iran’s economic lifeline—the export of oil and other energy products. In the past, Iranian leaders have made similar threats and comments when the country’s oil exports have been threatened. However, as in the past, the prospect of a major disruption of maritime traffic in the Strait risks damaging Iranian interests. U.S. and allied military...

Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

The huge earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on March 11, 2011, knocked out backup power systems that were needed to cool the reactors at the plant, causing three of them to undergo fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, and radioactive releases. Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima plant forced the evacuation of communities up to 25 miles away and affected up to 100,000 residents, although it did not cause any immediate deaths.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) operates the Fukushima nuclear power complex in the Futaba district of...

Loan Guarantees for Clean Energy Technologies: Goals, Concerns, and Policy Options

Government guaranteed debt is a financial tool that has been used to support a number of federal policy objectives: home ownership, higher education, and small business development, among others. Loan guarantees for new energy technologies date back to the mid-1970s, when rapidly rising energy prices motivated the development of alternative, and renewable, sources of energy. Recently, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created a loan guarantee program for innovative clean energy technologies (nuclear, clean coal, renewables) commonly known as Section 1703. The American Recovery and Reinvestment...

Surface Transportation Program Reauthorization Issues for the 112th Congress

The law authorizing federal surface transportation programs expired at the end of FY2009, but Congress has failed to enact a new authorization. Surface transportation programs continue to operate on the basis of authority provided in extension legislation.

This situation should not be a surprise to those familiar with the history of the reauthorization process. Especially during the last two decades, reauthorization has become a difficult undertaking. This is primarily due to controversy over how and to whom federal-aid highway funds should be distributed. The most recent law, the Safe,...

Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Considerations

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and the earthquake that forced the North Anna, VA, nuclear power plant’s temporary shutdown have focused attention on the seismic criteria applied to siting and designing commercial nuclear power plants. Some Members of Congress have questioned whether U.S nuclear plants are more vulnerable to seismic threats than previously assessed, particularly given the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) ongoing reassessment of seismic risks at certain plant sites.

The design and operation of...

Forestry in the Next Farm Bill

Forest management generally, as well as forest research and forestry assistance, have long been within the jurisdictions of the Agriculture Committees. Although most forestry programs are permanently authorized, forestry has usually been addressed in the periodic farm bills to reauthorize many agriculture programs. The 2008 farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246) contained a separate forestry title, with provisions establishing national priorities for forestry assistance; requiring statewide forest assessments and strategies; providing competitive funding...

Biofuels Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

With recent high energy prices, the passage of major energy legislation in 2005 (P.L. 109-58) and 2007 (P.L. 110-140), and the passage of a farm bill in 2008 (P.L. 110-246), there is ongoing congressional interest in promoting alternatives to petroleum fuels. Biofuels—transportation fuels produced from plants and other organic materials—are of particular interest. However, many incentives for biofuels production and use expired at the end of 2011, and ongoing congressional debate over budget deficits and the national debt make the prospect of extending these incentives less likely.

Until...

Natural Gas Passenger Vehicles: Availability, Cost, and Performance

Higher gasoline prices in recent years and concerns over U.S. oil dependence have raised interest in natural gas vehicles (NGVs). Use of NGVs for personal transportation has focused on compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative to gasoline. Consumer interest has grown, both for new NGVs as well as for conversions of existing personal vehicles to run on CNG. This report finds that the market for natural gas passenger vehicles will likely remain limited unless the price for natural gas remains substantially lower than gasoline to offset the higher purchase price for an NGV.

The...

DOE Weatherization Program: A Review of Funding, Performance, and Cost-Effectiveness Studies

This report analyzes the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Weatherization Assistance Program. (WAP, the “program”). It provides background—a brief history of funding, program evolution, and program activity—and a review of program assessments and benefit-cost evaluations.

Budget debate over the program is focused on a $5 billion appropriation in the Recovery Act of 2009, a report that state and local governments have yet to commit about $1.5 billion of that total, and concerns about the quality of weatherization projects implemented with Recovery Act funding. During the debate over FY2011...

Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications

Presidential signing statements are official pronouncements issued by the President contemporaneously to the signing of a bill into law that, in addition to commenting on the law generally, have been used to forward the President’s interpretation of the statutory language; to assert constitutional objections to the provisions contained therein; and, concordantly, to announce that the provisions of the law will be administered in a manner that comports with the administration’s conception of the President’s constitutional prerogatives. While the history of presidential issuance of signing...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in alternating years, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-55, H.R. 2112) was signed by the President on November 18, 2011, after passing both chambers by more than two-thirds majorities. It was the lead division of a three-bill “minibus” appropriation that also included Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development...

National Infrastructure Bank: Overview and Current Legislation

Several bills to establish a national infrastructure bank have been introduced in the 112th Congress. This report examines three such bills, the Building and Upgrading Infrastructure for Long-Term Development Act (S. 652), the American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2011 (S. 936), and the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011 (H.R. 402). These proposals share three main goals:

increasing total investment in infrastructure by encouraging new investment from nonfederal sources;

improving project selection by insulating decisions from political influence;...

Anaerobic Digestion: Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Energy Generation

Anaerobic digestion technology may help to address two congressional concerns that have some measure of interdependence: development of clean energy sources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Anaerobic digestion technology breaks down a feedstock—usually manure from livestock operations—to produce a variety of outputs including methane. An anaerobic digestion system may reduce greenhouse gas emissions because it captures the methane from manure that might otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a potent greenhouse gas. The technology may contribute to the development of clean...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2012 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2012 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) accounts.

On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55), which includes the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B). The act includes $60.91 billion for CJS, of which $7.808 billion is for the Department of Commerce, $27.408 billion is for the Department of Justice, $24.838 billion is for the science...

Nitrous Oxide from Agricultural Sources: Potential Role in Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Ozone Recovery

Gases other than carbon dioxide accounted for approximately 17% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2009, yet there has been minimal discussion of these other greenhouse gases in climate and energy legislative initiatives. Reducing emissions from non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide (N2O), could deliver short-term climate change mitigation results as part of a comprehensive policy approach to combat climate change.

Nitrous oxide is 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its ability to affect the climate; and moreover, results of a recent scientific study...

Tax Provisions Expiring in 2011 and “Tax Extenders”

A number of temporary tax provisions are scheduled to expire at the end of 2011. Notably, the temporary two-percentage-point reduction in the payroll tax rate for individuals enacted at the end of 2010 was enacted as a one-year temporary provision. Other provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2011 include the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) “patch,” as well as a number of previously extended temporary provisions known as “tax extenders.”

This report provides a concise overview of tax provisions scheduled to expire at the end of 2011. Table 1 below lists all provisions scheduled to...

ARRA Section 1603 Grants in Lieu of Tax Credits for Renewable Energy: Overview, Analysis, and Policy Options

Congress created the Section 1603 grant program as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5). This program, administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, provides cash grant incentives for renewable energy projects. Initially, the Section 1603 grant program was scheduled to expire at the end of 2010. A one-year extension was enacted as part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-312) at an estimated cost of $3 billion. Absent congressional action, the Section 1603 grant program will expire at the...

Gray Wolves Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): Distinct Population Segments and Experimental Populations

Even before passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), federal law protected the wolf, which was nearly eradicated in the lower 48 states by the mid-1900s. Following ESA enactment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) placed four gray wolf subspecies—the eastern timber wolf, the Mexican wolf, the Texas gray wolf, and the northern Rocky Mountain wolf—on the first ESA list of endangered species. In 1978, FWS replaced the subspecies listings by listing the gray wolf species (Canis lupus) as endangered in all of the conterminous 48 states except Minnesota, where FWS listed it as...

Regulatory Incentives for Electricity Transmission—Issues and Cost Concerns

Following the August 14, 2003, electric grid blackout which affected large portions of the Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, Congress acted to promote investment in the nation’s electrical grid to increase the system’s capacity and efficiency. Inadequacies of an antiquated transmission system were blamed for the 2003 blackout. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) (EPACT) directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hold a rulemaking on incentive rates for construction of critical electric transmission infrastructure “for the purpose of benefitting consumers...

Solar Projects: DOE Section 1705 Loan Guarantees

Solyndra Photovoltaics PV CPV Solar Loan guarantee Section 1705 Department of Energy DOE CPV bankruptcy

Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 112th Congress

With the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, many observers are making a fresh assessment of where America’s homeland security enterprise stands today. In the wake of those attacks, Congress made extensive changes to the structure and function of many agencies, establishing a consolidated Department of Homeland Security and dedicating significant additional resources expressly to the security of the homeland. After the initial surge of activity, evolution of America’s response has continued under the leadership of different Administrations, Congresses, and in a...

FY2011 Appropriations: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Key Proposals and Enacted Legislation

FY2011 funding levels were not enacted in the 111th Congress. Thus, the debate over FY2011 appropriations continued into the 112th Congress and FY2011 spending proposals became a key focal point in the budget debates between the now-Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Obama Administration.

This report was originally intended to facilitate comparison of three key spending proposals for FY2011—the Administration’s budget request, H.R. 1, and S.Amdt. 149 to H.R. 1—to FY2010 enacted funding levels. It has been updated to include the enacted FY2011 appropriations in P.L....

The Federal Government’s Role in Electric Transmission Facility Siting

The location and permitting of electricity transmission lines and facilities have traditionally been the exclusive province of the states, with only limited exceptions. However, the inability to get transmission lines built due to local interests, as well as competition in generation, has resulted in calls for an increased role for the federal government in transmission siting.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct; P.L. 109-58) established a role for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in transmission siting. The act directed DOE to create...

Renewable Energy Programs in the 2008 Farm Bill

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, the 2008 farm bill) extends and expands many of the renewable energy programs originally authorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171, 2002 farm bill). The bill also continues the emphasis on the research and development of advanced and cellulosic bioenergy authorized in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140).

Farm bill debate over U.S. biomass-based renewable energy production policy focused mainly on the continuation of subsidies for ethanol blenders, continuation of the...

Climate Change: Conceptual Approaches and Policy Tools

Congress has, over the past three decades, authorized and funded federal programs to improve understanding of climate changes and their implications. Climate changes have potentially large economic and ecological consequences, both positive and negative, which depend on the rapidity, size, and predictability of change. Some of the impacts of past change are evident in shifting agricultural productivity, forest insect infestations and fires, shifts in water supply, record-breaking summer high temperatures, and coastal erosion and inundation.

People and natural systems respond to climate...

Gasoline Price Increases: Federal and State Authority to Limit “Price Gouging”

Fluctuations in gasoline prices in recent years have renewed focus on the role of the government in discouraging “price gouging,” a term commonly used to refer to sellers inflating prices to “unfair” levels in order to take advantage of certain circumstances causing a decrease in supply, including emergencies. There have been legislative efforts to create a federal law addressing gasoline price gouging, including bills that would bar certain commercial practices as well as legislation that mandated the study of pricing of gasoline in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

While the federal...

Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard’s environmental activities focus on prevention programs, accompanied by enforcement and educational activities.

A key component of the Coast Guard’s environmental activities involves maritime oil spill prevention. As required by several environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act, the Coast Guard’s pollution preparedness and response activities aim to reduce the impact of oil and hazardous substances spills. Related to this duty, the Coast Guard inspects U.S. and foreign-flagged ships to ensure compliance with U.S. laws and...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2011

President Obama requested $147.696 billion for research and development (R&D) in FY2011, a $343 million (0.2%) increase from the estimated FY2010 R&D funding level of $147.353 billion. Congress plays a central role in defining the nation’s R&D priorities, especially with respect to two overarching issues: the extent to which the federal R&D investment can grow in the context of increased pressure on discretionary spending and how available funding will be prioritized and allocated. Low or negative growth in the overall R&D investment may require movement of resources across disciplines,...

EPA’s Regulation of Coal-Fired Power: Is a “Train Wreck” Coming?

Given the central role of electric power in the nation’s economy, and the importance of coal in power production, concerns have been raised recently about the cost and potential impact of regulations under development at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would impose new requirements on coal-fired power plants. Six of the rules, which have drawn much of the recent attention, are Clean Air Act regulations. Two others are Clean Water Act rules, and one is a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act rule. The majority are expected to be promulgated over the next 18 months. All...

U.S. Renewable Electricity Generation: Resources and Challenges

The United States faces important decisions about future energy supply and use. A key question is how renewable energy resources might be used to meet U.S. energy needs in general, and to meet U.S. electricity needs specifically. Renewable energy sources are typically used for three general types of applications: electricity generation, biofuels/bioproducts, and heating/cooling. Each application uses different technologies to convert renewable energy sources into usable products. The literature on renewable energy resources, conversion technologies for different applications, and economics...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, in some cases, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Appropriations jurisdiction for the CFTC is split between two subcommittees—the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee.

For the FY2011 Agriculture appropriations bill, no separate floor action and limited formal committee action occurred in the 111th Congress. The full Senate...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2011 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). It also provides an overview of FY2010 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117), included a total of $68.705 billion in new budget authority for CJS. Of the $68.705 billion appropriated for FY2010, $14.035 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $28.078 billion was for the Department of Justice, $25.658 billion was for the...

House Rules Changes Affecting the Congressional Budget Process Made at the Beginning of the 112th Congress

This report discusses the changes to the congressional budget process under H.Res. 5 (an agreement made January 5, 2011), which includes six changes made to the House Standing Rules as well as separate orders also affecting the process.

China’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Policies

The 112th Congress continues to debate whether and how the United States should address climate change. Most often, this debate includes concerns about the effects of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions controls if China and other major countries were not to take comparable actions. China recently surpassed the United States to become the largest emitter of human-related GHG globally, and together, the two nations emit about 40% of the global total (with shares of 21% and 19%, respectively).

China’s GHG emissions are growing rapidly and, even with policies adopted by China, are expected to...

Other Transaction (OT) Authority

An other transaction (OT) is a special vehicle used by federal agencies for obtaining or advancing research and development (R&D) or prototypes. An OT is not a contract, grant, or cooperative agreement, and there is no statutory or regulatory definition of "other transaction." Only those agencies that have been provided OT authority may engage in other transactions.

Oil Industry Financial Performance and the Windfall Profits Tax

Over the past 13 years, surging crude oil and petroleum product prices have increased oil and gas industry revenues and generated record profits, particularly for the top five major integrated companies, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. These companies, which reported a predominant share of those profits, generated more than $104 billion in profit on nearly $1.8 trillion of revenues in 2008, before declining as a result of the recession and other factors. From 2003 to 2008, revenues increased by 86%; net income (profits) increased by 66%. Oil output by the...

Intermediate-Level Blends of Ethanol in Gasoline, and the Ethanol “Blend Wall”

On March 6, 2009, Growth Energy (on behalf of 52 U.S. ethanol producers) applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a waiver from the Clean Air Act (CAA) limitation on ethanol content in gasoline. Ethanol content in gasoline for all uses had been capped at 10% (E10); the application requested an increase in the maximum concentration to 15% (E15). A broad waiver would allow the use of more ethanol in gasoline than is currently permitted.

On October 13, 2010, EPA issued a partial waiver for the use of E15 in model year (MY) 2007 and later passenger cars and light trucks. At the...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Appropriations for FY2011

Enacted April 15, 2011, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (P.L. 112-10, H.R. 1473), provided funding for the remainder of FY2011 for those agencies typically funded under 12 regular appropriations bills. Including applicable rescissions, Title VII of Division B under P.L. 112-10 provided $8.68 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA ) for FY2011. The final EPA FY2011 appropriations were $1.61 billion (16%) less than the FY2010 appropriation of $10.29 billion, and $1.34 billion (13%) less than the $10.02 billion included in the...

Master Limited Partnerships: A Policy Option for the Renewable Energy Industry

Expanded investment in clean and renewable energy resources continues to be a policy priority of the Obama Administration and an area of interest to the 112th Congress. In recent years, the primary policy vehicle for promoting investment in renewable energy has been tax credits, particularly the renewable energy investment and production tax credits. A lack of tax liability, however, has limited the renewable energy sector’s ability to fully take advantage of these and other tax benefits. The result has been an increased interest in exploring other options for promoting investment in...

”Dirty Bombs”: Background in Brief

Congress has long sought, through legislation and oversight, to protect the United States against terrorist threats, especially from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. Radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) are one type of CBRN weapon. Explosive-driven “dirty bombs” are an often-discussed type of RDD, though radioactive material can also be dispersed in other ways. This report provides background for understanding the RDD threat and responses, and presents issues for Congress.

Radioactive material is the necessary ingredient for an RDD. This material is composed...

“Dirty Bombs”: Technical Background, Attack Prevention and Response, Issues for Congress

Congress has long sought, through legislation and oversight, to protect the United States against terrorist threats, especially from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. Radiological dispersal devices (RDDs) are one type of CBRN weapon. Explosive-driven “dirty bombs” are an often-discussed type of RDD, though radioactive material can also be dispersed in other ways. This report provides background for understanding the RDD threat and responses, and presents issues for Congress.

Radioactive material is the necessary ingredient for an RDD. This material is composed...

The U.S.-Canada Energy Relationship: Joined at the Well

The United States and Canada, while independent countries, effectively comprise a single integrated market for petroleum and natural gas. Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of petroleum products and natural gas to the United States—and the United States is the dominant consumer of Canada’s energy exports. The value of the petroleum and natural gas trade between the two countries totaled nearly $100 billion in 2010, helping to promote general economic growth and directly support thousands of energy industry and related jobs on both sides of the border. Increased energy trade...

The Smart Grid and Cybersecurity—Regulatory Policy and Issues

Electricity is vital to the commerce and daily functioning of United States. The modernization of the grid to accommodate today’s uses is leading to the incorporation of information processing capabilities for power system controls and operations monitoring. The “Smart Grid” is the name given to the evolving electric power network as new information technology systems and capabilities are incorporated. While these new components may add to the ability to control power flows and enhance the efficiency of grid operations, they also potentially increase the susceptibility of the grid to cyber...

Federal Government Corporations: An Overview

To assist Congress in its oversight activities, this report provides an overview of the government corporation as an administrative model. As defined in this report, a government corporation is a government agency that is established by Congress to provide a market-oriented public service and to produce revenues that meet or approximate its expenditures. By this definition, currently there are 17 government corporations.

In the typical contemporary Congress, several bills are introduced to establish government corporations. At the time of publication of this report, two bills had been...

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico: CRS Experts

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Highlighted Actions and Issues

This report highlights actions taken and issues raised as a result of the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Readers can access more extensive discussions in various CRS reports, identified at the end of this report.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2011 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The FY2011 appropriation for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies was $29.67 billion, a reduction of $2.65...

Reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act: Selected Policy Provisions, Funding, and Implementation Issues

This report reviews major policy arguments raised in the congressional debate about the 2007 America COMPETES Act and 2010 reauthorization, examines and analyzes selected policy and funding provisions in these laws, and identifies some potential implementation and oversight issues for Congress.

Energy and Water Development: FY2011 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

As with other funding bills, the FY2011 Energy and Water Development bill was not taken to the floor in either the House or the Senate in the 111th Congress. Funding for its programs was included in a series of continuing resolutions, and at the beginning of the 112th Congress was part of a major debate over overall spending levels....

Outer Continental Shelf Moratoria on Oil and Gas Development

Moratoria measures for the outer continental shelf (OCS) establish bans or restrictions on oil and gas exploration and development in federal ocean areas. With some exceptions for marine sanctuaries and monuments, no portion of the federal OCS has a permanent moratorium on oil and gas leasing and development. While some areas are under temporary development bans, such as suspensions or moratoria directed by either legislative or executive powers, most of the OCS is free of such restrictions and is considered permissible for offshore leasing activity.

Israel’s Offshore Natural Gas Discoveries Enhance Its Economic and Energy Outlook

Israel has been dependent on energy imports since it became a nation in 1948, but the recent offshore natural gas discoveries could change that and possibly make Israel an exporter of natural gas. Development of the recently discovered natural gas fields—Tamar, Dalit, and Leviathan—likely will decrease Israel’s needs for imported natural gas, imported coal, and possibly imported oil. A switch to natural gas would most likely affect electric generation, but could also improve Israel’s trade balance and lessen carbon dioxide emissions. Regionally, Israel’s success thus far has sparked...

Energy Tax Policy: Historical Perspectives on and Current Status of Energy Tax Expenditures

Since the 1970s, energy tax policy in the United States has attempted to achieve two broad objectives. First, policymakers have sought to reduce oil import dependence and enhance national security through a variety of domestic energy investment and production tax subsidies. Second, environmental concerns have led to subsidization of a variety of renewable and energy efficiency technologies via the tax code. While these two broad goals continue to guide policy, enacted policies that solely focus on achieving only one of the goals are often inconsistent with policies solely designed to...

National Forest System (NFS) Roadless Area Initiatives

Survey of Federal Laws Containing Goals, Set-Asides, Priorities, or Other Preferences Based on Race, Gender, or Ethnicity

This report provides a broad, but by no means exhaustive, survey of federal statutes that specifically refer to race, gender, or ethnicity as factors to be considered in the administration of any federal program. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, goals, timetables, set-asides, quotas, priorities, and preferences, as those terms are generally (however imperfectly) understood. Based on searches of the LEXIS/NEXIS and WESTLAW legal databases using a variety of search strategies, the compilation seeks to be as comprehensive as possible. With certain noted exceptions, the...

Leasing and Selling Federal Lands and Resources: Receipts and Their Disposition

Many laws have been enacted over the past century authorizing the sale or lease of lands or resources by the federal land management agencies—the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service (NPS), and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Forest Service (USFS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The receipts from these leases and sales have been used for many purposes, including for local economic development, to recover some or all of the operating and capital costs, or to fund land management activities. In its legislative...

Japan 2011 Disaster: CRS Experts

The Japanese Nuclear Incident: Technical Aspects

Japan’s nuclear incident has engendered much public and congressional concern about the possible impact of radiation on the Japanese public, as well as possible fallout on U.S. citizens. This report provides information on technical aspects of the nuclear incident, with reference to human health.

While some radioactive material from the Japanese incident may reach the United States, it appears most unlikely that this material will result in harmful levels of radiation. In traveling thousands of miles between the two countries, some radioactive material will decay, rain will wash some out...

U.S. Oil Imports: Context and Considerations

This report discusses U.S. oil imports and trade deficit. Other policy considerations by congress are discussed in this brief.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Aging Infrastructure

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) is responsible for the construction of most of the large irrigation and water resources infrastructure in the West. These water resource facilities are dispersed throughout 17 western states and have an original development cost of more than $21 billion. Most of Reclamation’s infrastructure has an average age of over 50 years. This aging infrastructure requires increased maintenance and replacement efforts and expenditures. Reclamation estimates that the total cost for upgrades at all of its facilities exceeds $3 billion.

Reclamation has a documented...

Clean Energy Standard: Design Elements, State Baseline Compliance and Policy Considerations

During his State of the Union speech on January 25, 2011, President Obama announced an energy goal for the country: “By 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.” The White House, on February 3, 2011, released a Clean Energy Standard (CES) framework focused on U.S. electricity generation. The framework describes the fundamental goals and objectives of such a policy to include doubling clean electricity, sustaining and creating jobs, and driving clean energy innovation.

Congress, if it chooses to take up CES legislation, will likely sort through and evaluate a...

Forest Management for Resilience and Adaptation

U.S. forests are primarily temperate forests, often with relatively few species dominating over wide areas. Such forests respond and adapt to an array of environmental factors—sunlight levels and duration, temperature, precipitation, and a multitude of disturbances (e.g., fires, pests, and storms)—and these factors could be further altered by long-term shifts in natural climate variability and climate change. Many domestic forests are already under stress from drought, severe wildfires, and insect epidemics. Changing conditions and disturbances could diminish the goods and services that...

Administering Green Programs in Congress: Issues and Options

This report discusses "green" programs and the higher profile they have gained since the 110th Congress. "Green" programs are those designed to create an environmentally friendly work environment and conserve energy. This report discusses initiatives and policy options that would improve the "greening" process on Capitol Hill.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve and Refined Product Reserves: Authorization and Drawdown Policy

Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) to help prevent a repetition of the economic dislocation caused by the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. The Department of Energy (DOE) manages the SPR, which comprises five underground storage facilities, solution-mined from naturally occurring salt domes in Texas and Louisiana. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) authorized SPR expansion to a capacity of 1 billion barrels, but physical expansion of the SPR has not proceeded beyond 727 million barrels—its inventory at the...

Liability and Compensation Issues Raised by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident produced the largest oil spill that has occurred in U.S. waters, releasing more than 200 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. BP has estimated the combined oil spill costs—cleanup activities, natural resource and economic damages, potential Clean Water Act (CWA) penalties, and other obligations—will be approximately $41 billion.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill raised many issues for policymakers, including the ability of the existing oil spill liability and compensation framework to respond to a catastrophic spill. This framework determines (1) who...

Middle East and North Africa Unrest: Implications for Oil and Natural Gas Markets

Political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has contributed to higher oil prices and added instability to energy markets. Supply disruptions and fears about the possible spread of unrest to major exporters have pushed prices higher. Even if the crisis abates, some risk premium may persist to the degree that market participants fear such an event could occur again.

Higher oil prices can negatively impact the economies of oil importing countries. The cost of oil is the primary determinant of gasoline prices and prices of other petroleum products; increased costs can be a...

Adaptive Management for Ecosystem Restoration: Analysis and Issues for Congress

Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that the goals of the activity are being reached efficiently. It promotes flexible decision-making to modify existing activities or create new activities if new circumstances arise (e.g., new scientific information) or if projects are not meeting their goals.

The complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems make their restoration and management amenable to an adaptive management approach, and the concept is being implemented at scales that...

U.S. Global Climate Change Policy: Evolving Views on Cost, Competitiveness, and Comprehensiveness

The nature of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions) makes their control difficult to integrate with the U.S economy and traditional U.S. energy policy. Despite the obvious interrelationship between energy policy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the United States has struggled to integrate the two. For a country that has traditionally used its relatively cheap supply of energy to substitute for more expensive labor and capital costs to compete internationally, this linkage is particularly strong, as witnessed by the nation’s high GHG emissions per...

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (P.L. 111-353)

The 111th Congress passed comprehensive food safety legislation in December 2010 (the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, P.L. 111-353). Although numerous agencies share responsibility for regulating food safety, this newly enacted legislation focused on foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and amended FDA’s existing structure and authorities, in particular via the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA; 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq.). The new law does not directly affect activities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees the safety of most...

Legal Issues Associated with the Development of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Technology

In the last few years there has been a surge in interest in the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2), a process often referred to as carbon capture and storage, or carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), as a way to mitigate man-made CO2 emissions and thereby help address climate change concerns. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140) contains measures to promote research and development of CCS technology, to assess sequestration capacity, and to clarify the framework for issuance of CO2 pipeline rights-of-way on public land. Other legislative proposals...

Federal Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: Programs, Policy, and Spending, FY2008-FY2009

The federal government spent almost $708 billion in FY2009 on programs for low-income people, and nearly $578 billion the previous year. The increased spending between the two years was largely due to the recession, with almost two-thirds coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5), the economic stimulus enacted in February 2009.

Low-income programs discussed in this report are distinct from social insurance programs, such as Social Security or Medicare, which aim to protect American workers universally against lost wages or benefits when they retire, become...

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA): Selected Regulatory and Legislative Issues

Much progress has been made in assuring the quality of public water supplies since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was first enacted in 1974. Public water systems must meet extensive regulations, and water utility management has become a much more complex and professional endeavor. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated some 91 drinking water contaminants, and more regulations are pending. In 2007, the number of community water systems reporting no violations of drinking water standards was 89.5%. Despite nationwide progress in providing safe drinking water, an array of...

Cellulosic Biofuels: Analysis of Policy Issues for Congress

Cellulosic biofuels are produced from cellulose (fibrous material) derived from renewable biomass. They are thought by many to hold the key to increased benefits from renewable biofuels because they are made from potentially low-cost, diverse, non-food feedstocks. Cellulosic biofuels could also potentially decrease the fossil energy required to produce ethanol, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Cellulosic biofuels are produced on a very small scale at this time—significant hurdles must be overcome before commercial-scale production can occur. The renewable fuels standard (RFS),...

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Background and Implementation

Beginning in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, Congress reacted to increasing public concern about the impact that human activity could have on the environment. A key legislative option to address this concern was the declaration of a national environmental policy. Advocates of this approach argued that without a specific policy, federal agencies were neither able nor inclined to consider the environmental impacts of their actions in fulfilling the agency’s mission. The statute that ultimately addressed this issue was the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. §§...

Critical Infrastructure Security: CRS Experts

The following table provides access to names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to critical infrastructure security. Policy areas identified include: mission, magnitude, importance, relationship to departmental mission; policy, organization, and operations across all infrastructures; information disclosure, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA); security services, airport screeners, guards; specific sectors, assessing vulnerabilities, planning and implementation; agriculture; banking and finance; chemical; defense industry; emergency systems; energy;...

Tax-Favored Financing for Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Efficiency

Tax policy is one tool available to promote the use of domestic renewable energy resources. Tax-subsidized financing, specifically tax-favored bonds, reduce the cost associated with making oftentimes capital intensive investments in renewables and energy efficiency. This report provides an overview of the various federally tax-favored financing options available for renewable energy and energy-efficiency investments. This report also highlights the economic foundations for subsidizing renewable energy investment and comments on economic issues specific to tax-favored financing.

Various...

Methane Capture: Options for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction

Research on climate change has identified a wide array of sources that emit greenhouse gases (GHGs). Among the six gases that have generally been the primary focus of concern, methane is the second-most abundant, accounting for approximately 8% of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2008. Methane is emitted from a number of sources. The most significant are agriculture (both animal digestive systems and manure management); landfills; oil and gas production, refining, and distribution; and coal mining.

As policymakers consider options to reduce GHG emissions, methane capture projects offer an...

Energy’s Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management

The energy choices before Congress represent vastly different demands on domestic freshwater because water is used in varying amounts in most aspects of the energy sector. Transitions in the energy sector, such as the pursuit of greater energy independence and security, produce changes in how much and where the energy sector uses water. The energy sector is the fastest-growing water consumer in the United States, in part because of energy policies. Whether the federal government addresses the energy sector’s rising water demand, and if so how, is one of the many energy decisions that may...

Economic Recovery and Jobs: CRS Experts

Economics and National Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

As the world begins the second decade of the twenty-first century, the United States holds what should be a winning hand of a preeminent military, large economy, strong alliances, and democratic values. The nation’s security should be secure. Yet the debate over national security seems to be both intensifying and broadening. The problem appears not only in the difficulty of finding a winning strategy in the long war against acts of terrorism but having to face economic constraints that loom large in the public debate. In addition, the global financial crisis and recession have highlighted...

Agriculture and Greenhouse Gases

This report examines the implications for agriculture of the ongoing but inconclusive debate about global climate change. In that debate, agriculture’s role is multifaceted. Agriculture is both a source of several greenhouse gases (GHGs) and a “sink” for absorbing carbon dioxide, the most common GHG, thereby partly offsetting emissions. Overall, agriculture is a comparatively modest source of U.S. GHG emissions: it accounts for approximately 7% of U.S. emissions, while sectors such as transportation and electricity generation account for much larger shares. Agriculture’s GHG emissions are...

Nuclear, Biological, Chemical, and Missile Proliferation Sanctions: Selected Current Law

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and the means to deliver them, are front and center today for policy makers who guide and form U.S. foreign policy and national security policy, and economic sanctions are considered a valuable asset in the national security and foreign policy toolbox. The United States currently maintains robust sanctions regimes against foreign governments it has identified as proliferators (particularly Iran, North Korea, and Syria). If the 112th Congress takes up even a fraction of the proposals introduced by its predecessor involving...

Turkey: Selected Foreign Policy Issues and U.S. Views

This report focuses on the foreign policy of Turkey, a long-time valued U.S. NATO ally, and examines the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) recalculation of the country's approach to foreign affairs and its possible effects on relations with the United States. This report surveys Turkish foreign policy issues that are of critical interest to U.S. officials and Members of Congress.

Flooding in Pakistan: Overview and Issues for Congress

Pakistan experienced a catastrophic natural disaster that has precipitated a humanitarian crisis of major proportions. Widespread flooding affected about 20 million Pakistanis and inundated an area the size of Florida within the country. Congressional interest in the flooding stems from the significant humanitarian and economic implications for the country, and the security implications for U.S. interests in the region. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have estimated that the flooding has caused $9.7 billion in damages. While this figure might still be preliminary, it is almost...

Options for a Federal Renewable Electricity Standard

The choice of power generation technology in the United States is heavily influenced by the cost of fuel. Historically, the use of fossil fuels has provided some of the lowest prices for generating electricity. But growing concerns over greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental costs associated with burning fossil fuels are leading some utilities and energy providers to deploy more renewable energy technologies to meet power demands.

State governments have generally led the way in encouraging deployment of renewable energy technologies. Many states are essentially picking up where...

Surface Transportation Funding and Finance

This report discusses changes in funding to the national surface transportation infrastructure, especially in light of the recession that began in 2007, which led to decreases in driving and fuel use. This report focuses on possible revenue sources for surface transportation infrastructure. It begins with a brief discussion of the problems associated with the trust fund financing system and then

explores possible immediate and longer-term solutions to the financing problem.

Reorganization of the Minerals Management Service in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

This report provides background and context on the origins of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill refocused attention on MMS, which had previously endured management challenges. The report also discusses Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar's handling of conflicts within MMS, potential congressional options regarding MMS reorganization, historical examples of similar reorganization efforts, and information on related legislative initiatives.

Federal Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS): Issues in the 111th Congress

Congress, the Administration, and the courts are considering many issues related to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands and the Forest Service (FS) national forests. Key issues include the following.

Energy Resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) led to new regulations on federal land leasing for oil and gas, oil shale, geothermal, and renewable energy. The Obama Administration is reviewing some rules and has withdrawn certain oil and gas leases in Utah.

Hardrock Mining. The General Mining Law of 1872 allows prospecting for minerals in open public domain lands....

Cellulosic Ethanol: Feedstocks, Conversion Technologies, Economics, and Policy Options

In the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140), Congress mandated the use of a large and rapidly increasing volume of biofuels as part of the U.S. national transportation fuel base. In particular, the share of cellulosic biofuels is mandated to grow to 16 billion gallons by 2022—a daunting challenge considering that no commercial production existed as of mid-2010. Cellulosic biofuels can be produced from almost any sort of biomass. As a result, a variety of biomass types that can be produced or collected under a range of geographic settings are potential feedstock...

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and the resulting oil spill began a cascade of effects on the coastal areas of the Gulf and on the wealth of species that inhabit those areas. This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues. The emphasis is on the

nearshore environment, although a few species found in deeper waters...

Federal Land Management Agencies’ Mandatory Spending Authorities

The four major land management agencies have numerous special funds and trust funds that have mandatory spending authority, with the money available to be spent without further action by Congress. The four agencies have 81 accounts with mandatory spending authority, averaging $2.7 billion in annual budget authority for FY2005-FY2009, more than a quarter of annual agency funding. Most accounts are funded with receipts from the sale or lease of federal lands and resources; other sources include excise taxes, licensing fees, import duties, donations, and more. Many accounts fund agency...

Recreation on Federal Lands

Agricultural Conservation Issues in the 111th Congress

Agricultural conservation has been a public policy issue for more than 60 years. Congress has repeatedly taken action on the issue through water and soil legislation, often as part of omnibus farm bills. Early policy decisions were directed at addressing natural resource concerns on the farm, primarily reducing high levels of soil erosion and providing water to agriculture in quantities and quality that enhanced farm production. In more recent years, conservation policy has shifted to concerns about the off-farm impacts of agricultural activities.

The latest farm bill, the Food,...

America COMPETES Act and the FY2010 Budget

The America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) became law on August 9, 2007. The act is intended to increase the nation’s investment in research and development (R&D), and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. It is intended to address two concerns believed to influence U.S. competitiveness: the adequacy of R&D funding to generate sufficient technological progress, and the adequacy of the number of American students proficient in STEM or interested in STEM careers relative to other countries.

The act authorizes funding increases for the National Science Foundation...

Everglades Restoration and the River of Grass Land Acquisition

The Florida Everglades is a unique network of subtropical wetlands that is now half its original size. The federal government has had a long history of involvement in the Everglades, beginning in the 1940s with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructing flood control projects that shunted water away from the Everglades. Many factors, including these flood control projects and agricultural and urban development, have contributed to the shrinking and altering of the wetlands ecosystem. Federal agencies began ecosystem restoration activities in the Everglades more than 15 years ago, but it...

Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Implementation of the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)

Particulate matter (PM), including fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and larger, but still inhalable particles (PM10), is one of the six principal pollutants for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA most recently revised the particulates NAAQS in October 2006, but is due to propose revised standards in February 2011 and promulgate them by October 2011.While currently much of the interest in the particulates NAAQS is focused on reviewing the NAAQS and speculation as to the degree of...

OMB Controls on Agency Mandatory Spending Programs: “Administrative PAYGO” and Related Issues for Congress

On May 23, 2005, during President George W. Bush’s second term, then-Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua B. Bolten issued a memorandum to the heads of agencies. The memorandum announced that OMB would involve itself systematically in some aspects of how agencies execute laws related to mandatory spending. Under the process outlined in the OMB memorandum, if an agency wished to use discretion under current law in a way that would “increase mandatory spending,” the memorandum required the agency to propose the action to OMB. Such actions might include regulations,...

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Other Programs

The Administration requested $64.3 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations: $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan; $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid; and $2.8 billion for Haiti earthquake-related relief and reconstruction aid; $243 million for activities related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; $600 million for border security, and $129 million to reduce backlogs in patent requests;...

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress

The Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010: Operational and Market Considerations

The Home Star Energy Retrofit program as proposed is intended to promote both greater residential energy-efficiency and increased employment in the home remodeling, energy services, and related manufacturing industries. Two very similar Home Star programs are detailed in legislation proposed in the House and Senate. The House of Representatives version, the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5019), was introduced on April 14, 2010, by Representative Peter Welch and 44 cosponsors. H.R. 5019 passed with amendments on May 7, 2010, and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The...

Drilling in the Great Lakes: Background and Issues

Drilling for oil and gas in or under the Great Lakes has generated interest among Great Lakes stakeholders, states, and Congress. Some opposed to drilling are concerned about the potential environmental, economic, and public health consequences. They contend that drilling will raise the risks of oil spills, hazardous gas leaks, and pollution that may harm lakeside residents and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Proponents of oil and gas drilling contend that drilling will increase local and regional tax revenues and employment, increase domestic energy production, and not be an environmental...

CRS Issue Statement on Canada

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster: Risk, Recovery, and Insurance Implications

This report begins with a review of the Deepwater Horizon incident and identifies the limits of liability facing the operators of offshore oil rigs. The next two sections of the report examine risk management in the offshore energy exploration and production business, the scope of the oil spill financial responsibility and insurance requirements, and the marine insurance industry that offers specialized coverage for offshore oil and gas firms. The fourth section outlines the various approaches to compensating oil pollution victims, including compensation funds, commercial insurance,...

North Korea: Back on the Terrorism List?

Whether North Korea should be included on the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting countries has been a major issue in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy since 2000, particularly in connection with negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program. North Korea demanded that the Clinton and Bush Administrations remove it from the terrorism support list. On October 11, 2008, the Bush Administration removed North Korea from the terrorism list.

This move was one of the measures the Bush Administration took to implement a nuclear agreement that it negotiated with North Korea in September 2007 and...

China and the United States--A Comparison of Green Energy Programs and Policies

This report will look at the laws, programs, and policies encouraging development of wind, solar, and biomass power in China and the United States as the major renewable energy technologies common to both countries. While hydropower is the most developed source of renewable energy in both China and the United States, additional development of conventional hydropower is not a major focus of U.S. or China's renewable energy policy and will not be featured in this discussion.

Forest Carbon Markets: Potential and Drawbacks

Forests are major carbon sinks (storehouses), and activities that alter forests can release or sequester carbon dioxide (CO2), the most common greenhouse gas (GHG). Some carbon markets have been formed under mandatory GHG reduction regimes, such as the Kyoto Protocol and various regional and state initiatives in the United States. Other markets have formed for voluntary efforts to reduce GHG emissions. Offsets, or credits for sequestering carbon or reducing emissions in unregulated sectors, are typically allowed in both mandatory and voluntary markets. Forestry activities are among the...

Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (USTs): Prevention and Cleanup

To address a nationwide water pollution problem caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs), Congress authorized a leak prevention, detection, and cleanup program in 1984, under Subtitle I of the Solid Waste Disposal Act. In 1986, Congress established the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Trust Fund to provide a source of funds to support the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states in remediating leaks from petroleum USTs. The LUST Trust Fund is funded primarily through a 0.1 cent-per-gallon motor fuels tax. Historically, EPA and states primarily have used LUST fund...

Market-Based Greenhouse Gas Control: Selected Proposals in the 111th Congress

As of the date of this report, Members in the 111th Congress have introduced nine stand-alone proposals that would control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The proposals offered to date would employ market-based approaches—either a cap-and-trade or carbon tax system, or some combination thereof—to reduce GHG emissions. The legislative proposals are varied in their overall approaches in controlling GHG emissions. Some control emissions by setting a quantity (or cap); others control emissions by setting a price (or tax/fee). In addition, the proposals differ in their inclusion of particular...

Quadrennial Defense Review 2010: Overview and Implications for National Security Planning

On February 1, 2010, the Defense Department released a report on the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a legislatively mandated assessment of defense strategy and priorities. The review is the sixth full scale assessment of U.S. defense policy since the end of the Cold War, beginning with the 1990 Base Force analysis and the 1993 Bottom-Up Review and continuing with QDRs completed in 1997, 2001, 2006, and 2010. These official reviews have been supplemented by assessments of independently chartered panels.

The four QDRs reflect an ongoing evolution of strategic thinking away from...

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization: An Overview of Legislative Action in the 111th Congress

This report tracks the status of ongoing legislative action and debate related to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization. It is organized into six major program areas: aviation system finance; airport financing; FAA management and organizational issues; system capacity and safety; environmental issues; and airline industry issues. In several cases, provisions that appear in various unrelated sections of proposed legislation have been rearranged in this report in an effort to group and discuss related items in an issue-driven or programmatic context. Since this report is...

Haiti Earthquake: Crisis and Response

The largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated parts of the country, including the capital, on January 12, 2010. The quake, centered about 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, had a magnitude of 7.0. A series of strong aftershocks have followed. Experts estimate the earthquake caused $8 to $14 billion in damage. Approximately 3 million people, roughly one-third of the overall population, have been affected by the earthquake with estimates ranging from 1.2 to 2 million people displaced. The government of Haiti is reporting an estimated 230,000 deaths and 300,600 injured. In the...

Russia’s Economic Performance and Policies and Their Implications for the United States

Until recently, the Russian economy was one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The growth brought an improvement in the standard of living of the average Russian citizen and also brought economic stability that Russia had not experienced in at least a decade. This strong economic performance had been a major factor in the popular support that the Russian leadership enjoyed and was also arguably a factor in the boldness with which that leadership reasserted Russia’s status as a world power, challenging the United States, Europe, the neighboring former Soviet states in economic...

Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards

Green Procurement: Overview and Issues for Congress

Economic and environmental concerns have contributed to rising interest in green procurement—a term used in various ways but that may best be described as acquisition of products and services with smaller-than-average environmental footprints. Fully assessing a product or service requires integrated evaluation of cost, performance, and impacts for a set of green factors over all stages of the life cycle. Green building is an example of this approach. More generally, complexities and information gaps may constrict assessment options. However, where choices are comparative, partial...

Capturing CO2 from Coal-Fired Power Plants: Challenges for a Comprehensive Strategy

Any comprehensive approach to substantially reduce greenhouse gases must address the world’s dependency on coal for one-quarter of its energy demand, including almost half of its electricity demand. To maintain coal in the world’s energy mix in a carbon-constrained future would require development of a technology to capture and store its carbon dioxide emissions. This situation suggests to some that any greenhouse gas reduction program be delayed until such carbon capture technology has been demonstrated. However, technological innovation and the demands of a carbon control regime are...

The U.S. Motor Vehicle Industry: Confronting a New Dynamic in the Global Economy

This report provides an in-depth analysis of the 2009 crisis in the U.S. auto industry and its prospects for regaining domestic and global competitiveness. It also analyzes business and policy issues arising from the unprecedented restructurings that occurred within the industry. The starting point for this analysis is June-July 2009, with General Motors Company (GM or new GM) and Chrysler Group LLC (or new Chrysler) incorporated as new companies, having selectively acquired many, but not all, assets from their predecessor companies.

Deforestation and Climate Change

Efforts to mitigate climate change have focused on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere. Some of these efforts center on reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, since deforestation releases about 17% of all annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is seen as a relatively low-cost target for emissions reduction. Policies aimed at reducing deforestation are central points of a strategy to decrease carbon emissions, reflected in pending legislation in Congress (e.g., H.R. 2454 and S. 1733) as well as in international discussions, such as the December...

Oil Industry Tax Issues in the FY2011 Budget Proposal

President Obama, in a speech on April 22, 2009 (Earth Day), addressed the linkage between the problems he associated with U.S. reliance on oil, especially imported oil, and the importance of a future based more on alternative energy sources. To move in the direction of accomplishing these goals, the Administration, in the FY2011 budget proposal, proposes that certain tax expenditures designed to increase domestic production of oil and natural gas be revised, thus reducing what the Administration sees as favorable treatment of the oil and natural gas industries.

The FY2011 budget proposal...

Russian Energy Policy Toward Neighboring Countries

The Russian oil and natural gas industries are key players in the global energy market, particularly in Europe and Eurasia. Another trend has been the concentration of these industries in the hands of the Russian government. This latter phenomenon has been accompanied by an authoritarian political system, in which former intelligence officers play key roles.

Russian firms have tried to purchase a controlling stake in pipelines, ports, storage facilities, and other key energy assets of European countries. They need these assets to transport energy supplies to lucrative western European...

Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA; P.L. 110-140) significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005; P.L. 109-58). The RFS requires the use of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022. Further, EISA requires an increasing amount of the mandate be met with “advanced biofuels”—biofuels produced from feedstocks other than corn starch and with 50% lower lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum fuels. Within the advanced biofuel mandate, there are specific...

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Security Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests

The South Caucasus region has been the most unstable in the former Soviet Union in terms of the number, intensity, and length of ethnic and civil conflicts. Other emerging or full-blown security problems include crime, corruption, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and narcotics trafficking. The regional governments have worked to bolster their security by combating terrorism, limiting political dissent they view as threatening, revamping their armed forces, and seeking outside assistance and allies.

The roles of neighbors Iran, Russia, and Turkey have been of...

Chile Earthquake: U.S. and International Response

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 struck off the coast of central Chile. Centered 70 miles northeast of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, at a depth of 22 miles, the earthquake was the second largest ever recorded in Chile and the fifth largest recorded worldwide since 1900. Over 100 aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater were recorded following the initial earthquake. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which struck Chile’s coast roughly 20 minutes after the earthquake and moved 2,000 feet onto shore in some places, devastated parts of the country. Although...

Everglades Restoration: The Federal Role in Funding

Greenhouse Gas Emission Drivers: Population, Economic Development and Growth, and Energy Use

In the context of climate change and possible responses to the risk associated with it, three variables strongly influence the levels and growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: population, income (measured as per capita gross domestic product [GDP]), and intensity of emissions (measured as tons of greenhouse gas emissions per million dollars of GDP).

(Population) × (per capita GDP) × (Intensityghg) = Emissionsghg

This is the relationship for a given point in time; over time, any effort to change emissions alters the exponential rates of change of these variables. This means that the...

Potential Implications of a Carbon Offset Program to Farmers and Landowners

Numerous studies have attempted to estimate the economic effects of potential climate legislation currently being considered by Congress. These studies have examined both the economy-wide effects, as well as the effects to specific sectors. Two principal reports on the economic effects to the U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors were conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As described by USDA, these studies generally concluded that the overall economic costs to the agricultural community of the proposed legislation would...

Water Rights Related to Oil Shale Development in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Concerns over fluctuating oil prices and declining petroleum production worldwide have revived interest in oil shale as a potential resource. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct; P.L. 109-58) identified oil shale as a strategically important domestic resource and directed the Department of the Interior to promote commercial development. Oil shale development would require significant amounts of water, however, and water supply in the Colorado River Basin, where several oil shale reserves are located, is limited. According to news reports, oil companies holding water rights in the region...

Pipeline Safety and Security: Federal Programs

This report discusses congressional interest in securing the nation's pipelines. Nearly half a million miles of oil and natural gas transmission pipeline crisscross the United States. While an efficient and fundamentally safe means of transport, many pipelines carry hazardous materials with the potential to cause public injury and environmental damage.

Measuring and Monitoring Carbon in the Agriculture and Forestry Sectors

Proposals to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases often include the use of forestry and agricultural practices and lands for carbon sequestration. However, uncertainty about the accuracy of measuring carbon from these activities has led some to question this potential. Basic approaches for measuring forest and agricultural carbon include on-site measurement; indirect measurement from off-site tools; and estimation using models or inferences. Because of challenges associated with balancing the cost and accuracy of these measurement tools, any practicable system for...

Identifying Incentives and Barriers to Federal Agencies Achieving Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets

This report identifies incentives for and barriers to federal agencies achieving the energy efficiency goals and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets outlined in recent laws and executive orders.

The federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, but consumes only 1% of the total energy used. Federal energy spending represents upwards of 1% of its total budget (discretionary and mandatory spending). Since the 1970s, Congress has enacted various laws that reduce energy consumption in the federal sector by improving energy efficiency. The Energy Policy...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2010 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). This report uses the House report to accompany H.R. 2847 (H.Rept. 111-149) and the text of the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-32), as the source for the FY2009-enacted and the FY2010-requested amounts, and it uses the Senate report to accompany H.R. 2847 (S.Rept. 111-34) as the source for the amounts in the House-passed bill. The Senate-passed version of H.R. 2847 is used as the source for the Senate-passed amounts. The...

Climate Change: Design Approaches for a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program

Three events provide impetus for revisiting the cost issue with respect to designing a greenhouse gas reduction program. The first is the election of a new President publicly committed to substantial reductions in greenhouse gases over the next several decades. The second was passage of H.R. 2454 by the House that would mandate a 83% reduction in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 by 2050. The reduction would be primarily achieved through a market-based, cap-and-trade program, beginning in 2012. The third is the Copenhagen Accord that may begin the process of incorporating...

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2010

In his FY2010 budget request, President Obama sought $147.620 billion for R&D, a $555 million (0.4%) increase from the estimated FY2009 R&D funding level of $147.065 billion (not including FY2009 R&D funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5). According to the Obama Administration, preliminary allocations of R&D funding provided under P.L. 111-5 brought total FY2009 R&D funding to $165.400 billion. Unless otherwise noted in this report, comparisons of FY2009 and FY2010 R&D funding do not incorporate funding provided under P.L. 111-5. To the extent...

CRS Issue Statement on Animal Welfare

This report discusses the questions whether additional measures are needed to protect the health and well-being of animals.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for agencies within other departmentsincluding the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-88),...

Energy and Water Development: FY2010 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

Key budgetary issues for FY2010 involving these programs may include:

the distribution of Corps appropriations across the agency’s authorized planning, construction, and maintenance activities (Title I);

support of major ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as Florida Everglades (Title I) and California “Bay-Delta” (CALFED) and...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill provides funding for all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Appropriations jurisdiction for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is split between two subcommittees—the House Agriculture appropriations subcommittee and the Senate Financial Services appropriations subcommittee.

The FY2010 Agriculture appropriations bill (P.L. 111-80) was enacted on October 21, 2009. This is the first time that the bill was...

An Overview of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Control Policies in Various Countries

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues

Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) to help prevent a repetition of the economic dislocation caused by the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. The program is managed by the Department of Energy (DOE). The capacity of the SPR is 727 million barrels, and by the end of 2009, was virtually filled to its capacity at 726 million barrels of crude oil. In addition, a Northeast Heating Oil Reserve (NHOR) holds 2 million barrels of heating oil in above-ground storage.

The SPR comprises five underground storage facilities,...

Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships

This report provides information regarding pollution from ships and port facilities; discusses some of the measures being implemented and considered by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies; discusses the efforts to strengthen Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); and describes legislation in Congress to control emissions from ships, as well as efforts in Congress to address the applicability of proposed EPA regulations to ships on the Great Lakes.

As pollution from cars, trucks, and land-based stationary sources has been more...

Agriculture and Forestry Provisions in Climate Legislation in the 111th Congress

In June 2009, the House passed H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. In September 2009, Senator Kerry introduced S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The committee completed markup of the bill on November 5, 2009, by approving Senator Boxer’s “Manager’s Amendment” as a substitute, and ordered S. 1733 reported. Both the House and Senate bills would establish a cap-and-trade system to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as address energy efficiency, renewable...

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Import Terminals: Siting, Safety, and Regulation

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a hazardous fuel shipped in large tankers to U.S. ports from overseas. While LNG has historically made up a small part of U.S. natural gas supplies, rising price volatility, and the possibility of domestic shortages have significantly increased LNG demand. To meet this demand, energy companies have proposed new LNG import terminals throughout the coastal United States. Many of these terminals would be built onshore near populated areas.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grants federal approval for the siting of new onshore LNG facilities under...

Executive Order 13514: Sustainability and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

On October 5, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the federal government and to make reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a priority for federal agencies. Executive Order 13514 (EO 13514) requires federal agencies to set GHG emissions reduction targets, increase energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption 30% by 2020, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities, and leverage federal purchasing power to...

China-U.S. Relations: Current Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is vitally important, touching on a wide range of areas including, among others, economic policy, security, foreign relations, and human rights. U.S. interests with China are bound together much more closely now than even a few years ago. These extensive inter-linkages have made it increasingly difficult for either government to take unilateral actions without inviting far-reaching, unintended consequences. The Administration of President Barack Obama has inherited from the George W. Bush Administration...

Comparison of Climate Change Adaptation Provisions in S. 1733 and H.R. 2454

This report summarizes and compares climate change adaptation-related provisions in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) and the Clean Energy, Jobs, and Power Act (S. 1733). H.R. 2454 was introduced by Representatives Waxman and Markey and passed the House on June 26, 2009. S. 1733 was introduced to the Senate by Senators Boxer and Kerry and, after subsequent revisions made in the form of a manager’s substitution amendment, was reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on November 5, 2009.

Adaptation measures aim to improve an individual’s...

Unconventional Gas Shales: Development, Technology, and Policy Issues

This report discusses the Barnett and Marcellus Shale formations, which serve to illustrate the technical and policy issues that are most likely common to developing all gas shales.

Summary and Analysis of S. 1733 and Comparison with H.R. 2454: Electric Power and Natural Gas

This report provides a summary and analysis of selected provisions of the chairman’s mark of S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. The topics covered include electric power and incentives for the development of natural gas technologies. The report also compares those provisions with H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act.

In S. 1733, Subtitle H of Division A has two sections dealing with the use of low carbon emitting energy technologies. Section 181, Clean Energy and Accelerated Emission Reduction Program, directs the EPA administrator to “establish a...

Awards of Attorneys’ Fees by Federal Courts and Federal Agencies

In the United States, the general rule, which derives from common law, is that each side in a legal proceeding pays for its own attorney. There are many exceptions, however, in which federal courts, and occasionally federal agencies, may order the losing party to pay the attorneys’ fees of the prevailing party. The major common law exception authorizes federal courts (not agencies) to order a losing party that acts in bad faith to pay the prevailing party’s fees.

There are also roughly two hundred statutory exceptions, which were generally enacted to encourage private litigation to...

Assisting Households with the Costs of a Cap-and-Trade Program: Options and Considerations for Congress

By limiting the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be generated in a given year, a cap-and-trade program would attach a new cost to activities that generate emissions, primarily fossil fuel combustion. To the extent they are able, the capped entities (e.g., power plants, petroleum producers/importers, large industrial facilities) would likely pass on the costs of complying with a cap-and-trade program to household and business consumers. Thus, a cap-and-trade system is intended (and expected) to increase the price of coal, oil, natural gas, and the products they help create,...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 110th Congress

This report reviews the status of energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation introduced during the 110th Congress. Most action in the second session is focused on the FY2009 budget request and legislation that would extend or modify selected renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives.

Summary and Analysis of S. 1462: American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, As Reported

As reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the six titles of S. 1462 are intended to address the energy security of the United States by promoting the development of clean energy technologies, improving energy efficiency, encouraging the development of domestic energy resources, promoting energy innovation and energy workforce development, improving the stability of U.S. energy markets, and informing energy strategies through a series of studies and reports. Some of these provisions build on similar or related provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05,...

Renewable Energy—A Pathway to Green Jobs?

In the United States, growing awareness of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the possible implications for global climate change have combined with recent high energy prices and economic uncertainty to rekindle interest in renewable energy. Renewable energy technologies generate electricity from resources such as the sun, wind, or biomass, with essentially no net GHG emissions. President Obama has declared a goal for the United States to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy technologies, setting out policy objectives for the development of related “green jobs”.

Green...

Department of Defense Fuel Spending, Supply, Acquisition, and Policy

Department of Defense (DOD) fuel consumption varies from year to year in response to changes in mission and the tempo of operations. DOD may consume upwards of 1% of the petroleum products refined in the United States annually. Petroleum products purchased and consumed overseas may double DOD’s consumption. The majority of DOD’s bulk fuel purchases are for jet fuel, which has ranged as high as 101 million barrels annually in the past decade. The U.S. refining industry has been supplying 50% of the jet fuel demand. DOD has consumed as much as 145 million barrels in overall petroleum...

Climate Change: Costs and Benefits of the Cap-and-Trade Provisions of H.R. 2454

This report examines seven studies that project the costs of H.R. 2454 to 2030 or beyond. It is difficult (and some would consider it unwise) to project costs up to the year 2030, much less beyond. The already tenuous assumption that current regulatory standards will remain constant becomes more unrealistic as time goes forward, and other unforeseen events (such as technological breakthroughs) loom as critical issues which cannot be modeled. Hence, long-term cost projections are at best speculative, and should be viewed with attentive skepticism. The finer and more detailed the estimate...

Electric Power Storage

Unlike natural gas or fuel oil, electricity cannot be easily stored. However, interest in electric power storage (EPS) has been growing with technological advancements that can make storage a more practical means of integrating renewable power into the electricity grid and achieving other operating benefits.

This report summarizes the technical, regulatory, and policy issues that surround implementation of EPS. Electricity storage is one of several non-traditional technologies and methods of meeting power demand that are of current congressional interest (others include distributed...

Great Lakes Water Withdrawals: Legal and Policy Issues

This report describes the characteristics of the Great Lakes, the interests they support, and possible threats to lake levels. It analyzes the federal laws and policies that regulate the diversion, withdrawal, and consumptive use of water from the Great Lakes. Also included is a discussion of the final Compact and Agreement and some of the issues raised by various interest groups. This report concludes with a general discussion on the relationship between compacts, federal law, and the Congress.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program: Status and Current Issues

Carbon Sequestration in Forests

Widespread concern about global climate change has led to interest in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and, under certain circumstances, in counting additional carbon absorbed in soils and vegetation as part of the emissions reductions. Congress may consider options to increase the carbon stored (sequestered) in forests as it debates this and related issues.

Forests are a significant part of the global carbon cycle. Plants use sunlight to convert CO2, water, and nutrients into sugars and carbohydrates, which accumulate in leaves, twigs, stems, and roots. Plants also respire,...

Greenhouse Gas Legislation: Summary and Analysis of H.R. 2454 as Passed by the House of Representatives

This report offers an introduction and overview of legislation regarding greenhouse gases. It also discusses combined efficiency and renewable electricity standard, geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, vehicles and fuels, smart grid, energy efficiency, and major cap-and-trade provisions.

The Unified Agenda: Implications for Rulemaking Transparency and Participation

The Obama Administration has launched an initiative to make the policymaking process more open and transparent, and has asked for comments from the public on how the rulemaking process in particular can be improved in these respects. Some observers have concluded that the most critical part of that process occurs before a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, and (for significant rules) possibly even earlier—before the rule is approved by the issuing agency and submitted to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the Office of Management and Budget for...

Mining on Federal Lands: Hardrock Minerals

Mining of hardrock minerals on federal lands is governed primarily by the General Mining Law of 1872. The law grants free access to individuals and corporations to prospect for minerals in public domain lands, and allows them, upon making a discovery, to stake (or “locate”) a claim on that deposit. A claim gives the holder the right to develop the minerals and may be “patented” to convey full title to the claimant. A continuing issue is whether this law should be reformed, and if so, how to balance mineral development with competing land uses.

The right to enter the public domain and...

Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

The Agriculture appropriations bill includes all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) except the Forest Service, plus the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) appropriation also has been enacted with the Agriculture appropriations bill, even though jurisdiction in the Senate for CFTC funding moved to the Financial Services appropriations subcommittee in FY2008.

An FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, P.L. 111-8, was enacted on March 11, 2009, more than five months after the beginning of the fiscal year. A continuing resolution had...

America COMPETES Act: Programs, Funding, and Selected Issues

The America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) became law on August 9, 2007. The act responds to concerns that the United States may not be able to compete economically with other nations in the future due to insufficient investment today in science and technology research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development. The America COMPETES Act is intended to increase the nation’s investment in science and engineering research and in STEM education from kindergarten to graduate school and postdoctoral education. It is designed to focus on two...

Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E): Background, Status, and Selected Issues for Congress

In August 2007, Congress authorized the establishment of the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69). Modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E would support transformational energy technology research projects with the goal of enhancing the nation’s economic and energy security.

Congress authorized $300 million for ARPA-E in FY2008 and “such sums as are necessary” for FY2009 and FY2010. Congress subsequently appropriated no funds for FY2008. The Bush...

Federally Funded Innovation Inducement Prizes

Since at least the 18th century, philanthropic organizations, industry, governments, and nongovernmental organizations throughout the world have offered many different kinds of prizes with a variety of objectives to reward accomplishments in science and technology. In the United States, Congress authorized most of today’s federally-funded innovation inducement prizes beginning with the 108th Congress (2003). This analysis focuses on federally-funded “innovation inducement prizes,” which are sponsored by federal organizations and designed to encourage scientists and engineers to pursue...

Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Critical Barriers and Congressional Policy

Federal policymakers are debating a range of potential initiatives to limit U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), for example, would set a target of reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2 emissions, 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. In the electricity industry, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is viewed by many as the measure with the greatest potential to reduce CO2 emissions quickly and at relatively low cost. In light of the efficiency initiatives the federal government has taken since the 1970s,...

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses

Much of the debate over U.S. policy toward Iran has centered on the nature of the current regime; some believe that Iran, a country of about 70 million people, is a threat to U.S. interests because hardliners in Iran's regime dominate and set a policy direction

intended to challenge U.S. influence and allies in the region. President George W. Bush, in his January 29, 2002, State of the Union message, labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" along with

Iraq and North Korea. This report discusses the political history of Iran, U.S. strategy in Iran, and the Obama Administration's policies...

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) - known as CCS - has attracted interest as a measure for mitigating global climate change because large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuel use in the United States are potentially available to be captured and stored underground or prevented from reaching the atmosphere. Congressional interest has grown in CCS as part of legislative strategies to address climate change. The large and rapid influx of funding for industrial-scale CCS projects may accelerate

development and deployment of CO2 capture technologies.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departmentsthe Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

On February 17, 2009, the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5, H.R. 1)....

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2009

In February 2008, President Bush proposed total research and development (R&D) funding of $147.0 billion in his FY2009 budget request to Congress, a $3.9 billion (2.7%) increase over the estimated FY2008 level of $143.1 billion. President Bush’s request included $29.3 billion for basic research, up $847 million (3.0%) from FY2008; $27.1 billion for applied research, down $1.0 billion (-3.6%); $84.0 billion for development, up 1.6 billion (1.9%); and $6.5 billion for R&D facilities and equipment, up $2.5 billion (61.7%).

In the absence of final action on the regular FY2009 appropriations...

The Role of Offsets in a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program: Potential Benefits and Concerns

If Congress establishes a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction program (e.g., cap-and-trade system), the treatment of GHG emission offsets would likely be a critical design element. If allowed as part of an emissions program, offsets could provide cost savings and other benefits. However, offsets have generated concern.

An offset is a measurable reduction, avoidance, or sequestration of GHG emissions from a source not covered by an emission reduction program. If allowed, offset projects could generate “emission credits,” which could be used by a regulated entity (e.g., power plant) to...

Summary of Waxman-Markey Draft Greenhouse Gas Legislation

A discussion draft of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was released March 31, 2009, by Representative Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Representative Markey, Chairman of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee. The draft legislation, titled the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, proposes a “cap and trade” system to control carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have been associated with global climate change.

The proposed cap-and-trade system would cover electric utilities and other entities that together are responsible...

Climate Change Litigation: A Survey

The scientific, economic, and political questions surrounding climate change have long been with us. This report focuses instead on a relative newcomer: the legal debate. Though the first court decision related to climate change appeared 19 years ago, such litigation has proliferated in just the past six. Representatives of some suing organizations and states acknowledge that a prime cause for this litigation surge was inaction by Congress and the executive branch during the George W. Bush Administration with regard to mandatory constraints on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The court...

Thirty-Five Years of Water Policy: The 1973 National Water Commission and Present Challenges

Concern about the availability and use of water to support the nation’s people, economy, and environment has bolstered interest in establishing a national water commission. The commission structure proposed in recent legislation (e.g., H.R. 135) is similar to that of the 1968-1973 National Water Commission (NWC or Commission). As proposed in H.R. 135, the commission would assess future water demands, study current management programs, and develop recommendations for a comprehensive water strategy. Questions about a commission as an effective model and which topics a commission might...

Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies: FY2009 Appropriations

This report provides an overview of actions taken by Congress to provide FY2009 appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS). On March 11, 2009, President Obama signed into law the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). In the Omnibus, Congress appropriated $60.538 billion for CJS agencies. This amount was $4.578 billion more than the FY2008 enacted level (an 8.2% increase) and $3.488 billion more than the amended FY2009 request (a 6.1% increase). The Omnibus included $9.268 billion for the Department of Commerce, $26.120 billion for the Department of...

Biomass Resources: The Southeastern United States and the Renewable Electricity Standard Debate

Congress has been debating establishment of a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to encourage increased use of all forms of renewable energy including generating electricity from biomass sources (H.R. 890, S. 433). Concerns over the potential impacts of a federal RES seem to revolve largely around the issue of whether, nationwide, sufficient renewable energy resources exist and are economically viable. States and electricity suppliers in the southeastern United States have been most vocal in their concern that they may be unfairly burdened by an RES. They contend there is a lack of wind...

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5): Summary and Legislative History

President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, into law on February 17, 2009, as P.L. 111-5 (123 Stat. 115-521). The act is seen as one of the most significant legislative responses made thus far to the current economic turmoil. This report provides a summary and legislative history of ARRA and identifies other resources that provide additional information regarding its content and implementation.

ARRA is a relatively lengthy and complex act, amounting to just over 400 pages (in slip law form) and melding together hundreds of billions of...

The America COMPETES Act and the FY2009 Budget

The America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69) became law on August 9, 2007. The act responds to concerns that the United States may not be able to compete economically with other nations in the future due to insufficient investment today in science and technology research and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce development. The America COMPETES Act is intended to increase the nation’s investment in science and engineering research, and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education from kindergarten to graduate school and...

Electric Power Transmission: Background and Policy Issues

This report provides background information on electric power transmission and related policy issues. Proposals for changing federal transmission policy before the 111th Congress include S. 539, the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act, introduced on March 5, 2009; and the March 9, 2009, majority staff transmission siting draft of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The policy issues identified and discussed in this report include:

Federal Transmission Planning: several current proposals call for the federal government to sponsor and supervise large scale,...

Royalty Relief for U.S. Deepwater Oil and Gas Leases

This report discusses the Gulf of Mexico outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing system including recovery relief and deepwater development as well as Congressional concerns and legislative actions. Various forms of royalty relief are the most common incentives for offshore oil and gas development. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to grant royalty relief to promote increased oil and gas production (43 U.S.C. 1337).

Outer Continental Shelf: Debate Over Oil and Gas Leasing and Revenue Sharing

Oil and gas leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been an important issue in the debate over energy security and domestic energy resources. The Department of the Interior (DOI) released a comprehensive inventory of OCS resources in February 2006 that estimated reserves of 8.5 billion barrels of oil and 29.3 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas. Another 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 tcf of natural gas are classified as undiscovered resources. Congress had imposed moratoria on much of the OCS since 1982 through the annual Interior appropriation bills. A Presidential...

Ethanol: Economic and Policy Issues

Biofuels are a major source of renewable energy in the United States. Ethanol produced from corn starch accounts for 90% of the biofuels consumed, but only 5% of all light-duty motor transportation fuel consumption. Ethanol is blended with gasoline to increase octane and reduce emissions, and used as a substitute for gasoline to reduce consumption of petroleum-based fuels.

Ethanol has the potential to provide many benefits. As an alternative to gasoline refined from imported oil, its use can improve U.S. national energy security, albeit marginally. Although the exact magnitude is subject...

Natural Gas Markets: An Overview of 2008

In 2008, the United States natural gas market experienced a tumultuous year, and market forces appeared to guide consumers, producers and investors through rapidly changing circumstances. Natural gas continues to be a major fuel supply for the United States, supplying about 24% of total energy in 2008.

The year began with a relatively tight demand/supply balance, and this generated upward spot price movement. For the 2007-2008 heating season, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a price increase of more than 30% (beginning to end of season). The key “benchmark” price for...

Energy and Water Development: FY2009 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

Key budgetary issues for FY2009 involving these programs included

the distribution of Corps appropriations across the agency’s authorized planning, construction, and maintenance activities (Title I);

support of major ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as Florida Everglades (Title I) and California “Bay-Delta” (CALFED)...

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Tax Incentive Resources

The following list of authoritative resources is designed to assist in responding to a broad range of constituent questions and concerns about renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives. Links are provided for the following: the full text of public laws establishing and extending federal renewable energy and energy efficiency incentives; federal, state, and local incentives resources; incentive resources grouped by technology type (solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass); CRS reports on this topic; and federal grants information resources. The last section of this report includes...

Energy Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-5)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) emphasizes jobs, economic recovery, and assistance to those most impacted by the recession. It also stresses investments in technology, transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure and proposes strategies to stabilize state and local government budgets.

Energy provisions are a featured part of ARRA. More than $45 billion is provided in appro-priations for energy programs, mainly for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Most funding must be obligated by the end of FY2010. ARRA also provides more...

Carbon Tax and Greenhouse Gas Control: Options and Considerations for Congress

Market-based mechanisms that limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be divided into two types: quantity control (e.g., cap-and-trade) and price control (e.g., carbon tax or fee). To some extent, a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade program would produce similar effects: Both are estimated to increase the price of fossil fuels, which would ultimately be borne by consumers, particularly households. Although there are multiple tools available to policymakers that could control GHG emissions—including existing statutory authorities—this report focuses on a carbon tax approach and how it compares...

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Overview, FY2009 Budget, and Issues for Congress

This report provides an overview of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), FY 2009 budget, the vision for space exploration, the science program, and NASA aeronautics research.

Climate Change: Current Issues and Policy Tools

On June 2, 2008, the Senate agreed to consider a bill (S. 3036) to control greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In the 111th Congress, leadership in both chambers have announced their intentions to pass bills in 2009 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These actions are indicative of the pressures Members of Congress increasingly face on whether and how to address human-induced climate change. Contentious debates scrutinize issues of science, economics, values, geopolitics and a host of other concerns. Deliberations also weigh the appropriateness of alternative policy tools and...

Agriculture, Nutrition, and Rural Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5). The ARRA is a response to the depth of the economic recession facing the United States (and the rest of the world) at the beginning of 2009. It is billed as an economic stimulus package to improve the situation of individuals and businesses. The ARRA boosts government spending on various infrastructure programs and government benefits programs, and offers individual and business tax benefits. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the ARRA will...

Japan’s Nuclear Future: Policy Debate, Prospects, and U.S. Interests

Japan, traditionally one of the most prominent advocates of the international non-proliferation regime, has consistently pledged to forswear nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, evolving circumstances in Northeast Asia, particularly North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006 and China’s ongoing military modernization drive, have raised new questions about Japan’s vulnerability to potential adversaries and, therefore, the appeal of developing an independent nuclear deterrent. The previous taboo within the Japanese political community of discussing a nuclear weapons capability appears to have been...

Department of Defense Facilities Energy Conservation Policies and Spending

In the early 1970s, Congress began mandating reductions in energy consumed by federal agencies; primarily by improving building efficiency, and reducing fossil fuel use. Early legislation mandated a 10% reduction in federal building energy and a recent Executive Order mandates a 30% further reduction by 2015. President-elect Obama has included the goal of improving public building energy efficiency in his administration’s economic recovery plan.

This report reviews energy conservation legislation and Executive Orders that apply to the Department of Defense, directives and instructions to...

California’s Waiver Request Under the Clean Air Act to Control Greenhouse Gases From Motor Vehicles

California has adopted regulations requiring new motor vehicles to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), beginning in model year 2009. The Clean Air Act (CAA) generally preempts states from adopting their own emission standards for mobile sources. However, the act allows such standards in California, if the state obtains a waiver of CAA preemption from EPA.

California requested this waiver in 2005, but EPA took until December 19, 2007, to decide that it would deny the request. On that day, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson wrote California Governor Schwarzenegger to say, “I have...

Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resources Management

The federal government owns about 650 million acres (29%) of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. Four agencies administer 617.5 million acres of the federal land: the Forest Service in the Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service, all in the Department of the Interior. Most of these lands are in the West, including Alaska. They generate revenues for the U.S. Treasury, some of which are shared with states and localities. The agencies receive funding through the annual Interior, Environment, and...

Water Resources Issues in the 111th Congress

The federal government is involved in management of water resources throughout the country, primarily through construction, operation, and management of numerous infrastructure projects, such as dams, levees, and navigation works. Increasingly, the federal government is also involved in ecosystem restoration and protection of species and areas damaged by past construction and operations of federal projects, as well as restoration of other degraded ecosystems. This work involves restoration of some of the country’s largest estuaries; for example, the California Bay-Delta and Chesapeake...

Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization: An Overview of Selected Provisions in Proposed Legislation Considered by the 110th Congress

Funding authorization for aviation programs set forth in Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176) and authorization for taxes and fees that provide revenue for the aviation trust fund expired at the end of FY2007. While Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation was considered during the 110th Congress, the only related legislation enacted consisted of several short term extensions for aviation trust fund revenue collections and aviation program authority. The Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act, Part II (P.L. 110-330) extends these...

Biofuels Provisions in the 2007 Energy Bill and the 2008 Farm Bill: A Side-by-Side Comparison

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140), also known as the 2007 energy bill, significantly expands existing programs to promote biofuels. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246), also known as the 2008 farm bill, contains a distinct energy title (Title IX) that covers a wide range of energy and agricultural topics with extensive attention to biofuels, including corn-starch based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel. Research provisions relating to renewable energy are found in Title VII and tax provisions are found in Title XV of...

Oil Development on Federal Lands and the Outer Continental Shelf

Over the past year, crude oil prices have nearly doubled, reaching record levels, before falling below $40 dollars per barrel by the end of the year. In the 110th Congress, proposals included a number of legislative initiatives to increase domestic oil production. These proposals fell into two broad categories: (1) to open areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) which were under a leasing moratoria; and (2) to encourage companies holding oil and gas leases to diligently develop leases to bring them into production. Two bills were introduced that would have denied new leases to those...

Infrastructure Programs: What's Different About Broadband?

This report discusses the unique characteristics that may dictate that government programs in support of broadband deployment be structured differently than conventional infrastructure programs.

Underground Carbon Dioxide Sequestration: Frequently Asked Questions

This report answers frequently asked questions about the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2). The questions are broadly representative of typical inquiries regarding the process and mechanics of storing CO2 underground, how much might be stored, and what might happen to CO2 once it is injected underground.

Forestry in the 2008 Farm Bill

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 farm bill) became law P.L. 110-246 when the House and Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto on June 18, 2008. The conference agreement on the bill (H.R. 2419) had been enacted, vetoed by the President, and overridden (P.L. 110-234), but inadvertently excluded the trade title. Both chambers repassed the conference agreement (with the trade title) as H.R. 6124; it was again vetoed and again overridden as P.L. 110-246.

The 2008 farm bill contained a forestry title and forestry provisions in other titles. General forestry...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 110th Congress

Aquaculture — the farming of fish, shellfish, and other aquatic animals and plants in a controlled environment — is expanding rapidly abroad, with more modest advances in the United States. This report discusses the federal laws and regulations that guide the management of resources in open ocean and near-shore coastal areas.

Animal Agriculture: 2008 Farm Bill Issues

With a few exceptions (such as milk), the products of animal agriculture are not eligible for the price and income supports that Congress historically has written into farm bills for major row crops such as grains, cotton, and oilseeds. However, the meat and poultry industries do look to the federal government for leadership and support in promoting their exports, resolving trade disputes, and reassuring markets that their products are safe, of high quality, and disease-free. Farm bills can contain policy guidance and resources to help achieve these objectives.

Animal producers closely...

Wilderness Laws: Permitted and Prohibited Uses

This report discusses the Wilderness Act generally prohibits commercial activities, motorized uses, and infrastructure developments in congressionally designated wilderness areas. However, the Wilderness Act and many subsequent laws designating wilderness areas also contain provisions authorizing activities that do not conform with these general prohibitions. The general prohibitions and the authorized uses are important because controversies persist over permissible and prohibited activities in wilderness areas, and because bills often seek to modify existing areas or activities.

The Role of Public Works Infrastructure in Economic Stimulus

Interest in using federal government spending to stimulate U.S. economic recovery has intensified recently in response to indicators showing significant deterioration of the economy. Policymakers at all levels of government are debating a range of options to address these problems. Some favor using traditional monetary and fiscal policies. Others, however, favor making accelerated investments in the nation’s public infrastructure in order to create jobs while also meeting infrastructure needs. This report is an overview of policy issues associated with the approach of using infrastructure...

A Low Carbon Fuel Standard: State and Federal Legislation and Regulations

On January 18, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order directing the California Environmental Protection Agency to establish a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS). The California LCFS would require a 10% reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels in the State of California by 2020. It would require fuel suppliers to reduce the expected lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from motor fuels, based on fuels’ energy content. In this way, the greenhouse gas intensity of transportation fuels would decrease, regardless of the growth in transportation or fuel demand....

Carbon Control in the U.S. Electricity Sector: Key Implementation Uncertainties

Congress has been debating a range of potential initiatives for reducing atmospheric CO2 from U.S. sources. Legislative proposals would seek to limit U.S. CO2 emissions to historical levels through emissions caps, carbon taxes, or other mechanisms. In the 110th Congress, the most prominent CO2 proposals sought reductions of nationwide CO2 emissions to 1990 levels or lower by 2030. President-elect Barack Obama has proposed cutting carbon CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and by an additional 80% by 2050.

A fundamental question arising from carbon control proposals is how the CO2...

Climate Change: Federal Program Funding and Tax Incentives

Federal funding to address global climate change was enacted at $6.37 billion for FY2008, extended by a Continuing Resolution for FY2009 at or below FY2008 levels to March 6, 2009. Members of Congress have expressed interest in how federal funding may reflect and enable an overall strategy, and priorities within it, to address climate change. This report summarizes federal funding and tax incentives identified as climate change-related under the Bush Administration. It identifies the organization of programs, how funding may reflect priorities, and external evaluations or recommendations...

“Carbon Leakage” and Trade: Issues and Approaches

As the debate on reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) has progressed, increasing concern has been raised about how a U.S. reduction program would interact with those of other countries. In a global context where currently some countries have legally binding policies to reduce greenhouse gas emission and other countries do not—i.e., differentiated global carbon policies—the potential exists that countries imposing carbon control policies will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis countries without comparable policies.

The risks accompanying establishment of carbon control...

Renewable Energy: Background and Issues for the 110th Congress

Renewable energy can be used to produce liquid fuels and electricity. A variety of funding, tax incentives, and regulatory policies have been enacted to support renewables as a means for addressing concerns about energy security, air pollution, international competitiveness, and climate change. This report reviews the background for renewables and describes the current congressional debate.

Budget and funding issues are key concerns. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized several new renewable energy demonstration and deployment programs, but most of them have not been funded. Further,...

Climate Change: Federal Laws and Policies Related to Greenhouse Gas Reductions

Climate change is viewed as a global issue, but proposed responses generally require action at the national level. In 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which called on industrialized countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. Over the past 16 years, a variety of voluntary and regulatory actions have been proposed or undertaken in the United States, including monitoring of electric utility carbon dioxide emissions, improved appliance efficiency, and incentives for developing renewable energy sources. This...

Climate Change: Action by States to Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In the absence of a federal climate change program, a number of states have taken actions that directly address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. States’ efforts cover a wide range of policies. Although much of the early activity was largely symbolic, the more recent state actions have been more aggressive.

Twenty-three states have joined one of the three regional partnerships that would require GHG (or just carbon dioxide) emission reductions. Set to take effect in 2009, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a partnership of 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that creates a...

Issues Affecting Tidal, Wave, and In-Stream Generation Projects

The Executive Office of the President: An Historical Overview

Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Activities: Authorization and Appropriations

This report provides an overview of the Corps civil works program. It covers the congressional authorization and appropriation process, the standard project development process, and other Corps activities and authorities.

Global Climate Change: Three Policy Perspectives

The 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change requires that signatories, including the United States, establish policies for constraining future emission levels of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2). The George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush Administrations each drafted action plans in response to requirements of the convention. These plans have raised significant controversy and debate.

This debate intensified following the 1997 Kyoto Agreement, which, had it been ratified by the United States, would have committed the United States to reduce greenhouse gases...

Water Quality Issues in the 110th Congress: Oversight and Implementation

Although much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established more than 35 years ago in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or “nonpoint” sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

There is little agreement among stakeholders about what solutions...

The World Bank's Clean Technology Fund (CTF)

The United States Treasury has led efforts to create a $10 billion Clean Technology Fund (CTF), located at the World Bank, to help fund deployment of clean technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing economies. The Bush administration has asked Congress to authorize and appropriate U.S. funding of $2 billion over three years (FY2009 to FY2011). While many Members of Congress have expressed support for the CTF, others have raised concerns, primarily with respect to whether the CTF should finance carbon-based energy projects. To date, Congress has not passed legislation...

Climate Change and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS): Kyoto and Beyond

The European Union’s (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a cornerstone of the EU’s efforts to meet its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol. It covers more than 10,000 energy intensive facilities across the 27 EU Member countries; covered entities emit about 45% of the EU’s carbon dioxide emissions. A “Phase 1” trading period began January 1, 2005. A second, Phase 2, trading period began in 2008, covering the period of the Kyoto Protocol, with a Phase 3 proposed for 2013.

Several positives resulting from the Phase 1 “learning by doing” exercise assisted the ETS in making the Phase 2...

Ecuador: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations

Ecuador, a small, oil-producing country in the Andean region of South America, has experienced ten years of political and economic instability. On January 15, 2007, Rafael Correa, a left-leaning, U.S.-trained economist, was inaugurated to a four-year presidential term, becoming the country’s eighth president in ten years. President Correa has fulfilled his campaign pledge to call a Constituent Assembly to reform the country’s constitution. The Assembly, which had a majority of delegates elected from Correa’s party, drafted a new constitution that was approved by 64% of voters in a...

Bush Administration Policy Regarding Congressionally Originated Earmarks: An Overview

During the 110th Congress, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the George W. Bush Administration have defined terms like congressional earmark, congressionally directed spending item, and earmark, and have provided some direction for how congressionally originated earmarks, according to these definitions, are to be handled. This report focuses on Bush Administration policy regarding earmarks originated by Congress and related issues. Specific definitions for the term earmark (and related terms, like congressional earmark, presidential earmark, and others) vary considerably and...

Developments in Oil Shale

Federal Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS): Issues for the 110th Congress

The 110th Congress, the Administration, and the courts are considering many issues related to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) public lands and the Forest Service (FS) national forests. Key issues include the following.

Energy Resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has led to new regulations on the leasing programs and application of environmental laws to certain agency actions. H.R. 6 was enacted as P.L. 110-140 on December 19, 2007, without many of the federal lands provisions considered earlier.

Hardrock Mining. The General Mining Law of 1872 allows prospecting for minerals in open...

Gasoline Prices: Causes of Volatility and Congressional Response

The high price of gasoline has been and continues to be a driving factor in consideration of energy policy proposals. Despite passage of the massive Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005, P.L. 109-58), and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6, P.L. 110-140), numerous other proposed initiatives came under active consideration in the Second Session of the 110th Congress. Measures proposed included opening the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas drilling, regulation of speculation in energy markets, and policies concerning the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

A large...

Federal Loans to the Auto Industry Under the Energy Independence and Security Act

This report examines various programs considered by Congress, including grants and loans, to help automakers with the increased cost of compliance with higher fuel economy standards.

Climate Change Legislation in the 110th Congress

Congressional interest in climate change legislation has grown in recent years. In the 110th Congress, Members have introduced numerous bills that directly address various aspects of climate change. These bills cover a wide spectrum, ranging from climate change research to comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cap-and-trade programs. As of the date of this report, Congress has enacted six broader pieces of legislation that—among many other non-climate-related provisions—address climate change in some fashion:

P.L. 110-140 expands the carbon capture research and development program,...

The 2008 Farm Bill: Major Provisions and Legislative Action

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, “2008 farm bill”) was enacted into law on June 18, 2008. It contains 15 titles covering support for commodity crops, horticulture and livestock production, conservation, nutrition, trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, energy, forestry, and other related programs. It also includes provisions that make certain changes to tax laws, in order to offset some new spending initiatives in the final bill. The enacted bill succeeds the most recent 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) and is to guide most...

Clean Air Issues in the 110th Congress: Climate Change, Air Quality Standards, and Oversight

Attention to environmental issues in the 110th Congress focused early and heavily on climate change—the state of the science, and whether (and, if so, how) to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Seventeen bills were introduced to establish GHG emission caps, and hearings on climate change were held by at least 10 committees. The Lieberman-Warner bill to establish a cap-and-trade system for GHG emissions (S. 2191) was reported by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, May 20, 2008. Senate debate began on a modified version of the bill (S. 3036) June 2 but ended June 6, as...

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008: Senate Amendment 5662 as Submitted on September 26, 2008

Senate Amendment 5662, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008, was submitted as an amendment intended to be proposed to H.R. 5151 on September 26, 2008. Two existing packages have been paired to form S.Amdt. 5662: S. 3213 is a collection of over 90 individual bills which is on the Senate calendar, was combined with an additional 53 bills that were approved by a unanimous vote of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on September 11, 2008.

Given the large number of individual bills that make up this omnibus amendment, it has numerous supporters and detractors....

Gasoline and Oil Prices

Energy Tax Policy: History and Current Issues

Historically, U.S. federal energy tax policy promoted the supply of oil and gas. However, the 1970s witnessed (1) a significant cutback in the oil and gas industry’s tax preferences, (2) the imposition of new excise taxes on oil, and (3) the introduction of numerous tax preferences for energy conservation, the development of alternative fuels, and the commercialization of the technologies for producing these fuels (renewables such as solar, wind, and biomass, and nonconventional fossil fuels such as shale oil and coalbed methane). The Reagan Administration, using a free-market approach,...

Wind Energy: Offshore Permitting

This report discusses the disputes over Corps jurisdiction prior to enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 as well as the current law applicable to siting offshore wind facilities.

Wind Power in the United States: Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues

Rising energy prices and concern over greenhouse gas emissions have focused congressional attention on energy alternatives, including wind power. Although wind power currently provides only about 1% of U.S. electricity needs, it is growing more rapidly than any other energy source. In 2007, over 5,000 megawatts of new wind generating capacity were installed in the United States, second only to new natural gas-fired generating capacity. Wind power has become “mainstream” in many regions of the country, and is no longer considered an “alternative” energy source.

Wind energy has become...

Are Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rising More Rapidly Than Expected?

At least one recent report and numerous news articles suggest that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are rising more rapidly than expected. While CO2 emissions associated with human activities continue to rise -- and may be worthy of alarm because of their influence on climate change -- any short-term comparisons between actual emissions and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios miss the mark. This report analyzes this issue and the issues associated with IPCC scenarios and trajectories. It also describes the importance of monitoring CO2 emissions and analyzing the...

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Authority to Amend Rate Agreements: The Snohomish County Decision

In June of 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that has important implications for the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review wholesale electricity and natural gas contracts under what is known as the “Mobile-Sierra Doctrine.” The Doctrine mandates that FERC will not abrogate contracts (including wholesale natural gas and power contracts as well as transmission agreements) between private parties absent a showing that a change is necessary in the public interest. This report reviews the Mobile-Sierra Doctrine and discusses a recent Supreme Court...

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000: Forest Service Payments to Counties

This report describes the issues that Congress has debated relating to The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393), which may again arise when the program expires in 2011, and explains the changes enacted for the program.

EPA’s Final Health and Safety Standard for Yucca Mountain

On September 30, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the long-awaited revision to its 2001 Public Health and Safety Standard for the proposed Yucca Mountain deep geologic repository for high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. While the issuance of the standard allows the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to issue its final conforming standards and move forward toward a final license decision for the facility, EPA’s standard raises several unprecedented regulatory issues and is likely to be further challenged in court. EPA’s final regulation represents the...

Side-by-Side Comparison of Energy Tax Provisions of H.R. 6899 and S. 3478

The Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 6899, was introduced on September 15, 2008, and approved by the House on September 16, 2008. This plan allows oil and gas drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and it incorporates most of the energy tax provisions from an energy tax bill, H.R. 5351, and some of H.R. 6049, both of which were previously approved by the House of Representatives but failed to be taken up by the Senate.

In the Senate, legislative efforts on energy tax incentives and energy tax extenders center around S. 3478, the $40 billion...

Vulnerability of Concentrated Critical Infrastructure: Background and Policy Options

“Critical infrastructure” consists of systems and assets so vital to the United States that their incapacity would harm the nation’s physical security, economic security, or public health. Critical infrastructure is often geographically concentrated, so it may be distinctly vulnerable to events like natural disasters, epidemics, and certain kinds of terrorist attacks. Disruption of concentrated infrastructure could have greatly disproportionate effects, with costs potentially running into billions of dollars and spreading far beyond the immediate area of disturbance. Hurricane Katrina in...

The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline: Status and Current Policy Issues

This report provides a brief review of efforts to develop and construct a natural gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, a status report on recent efforts to proceed, and an analysis of major relevant policy issues.

GAO: Government Accountability Office and General Accounting Office

On July 7, 2004, an old congressional support agency was given a new name, while keeping the same initials (GAO): at that time, the General Accounting Office, established in 1921, was re-designated the Government Accountability Office (P.L. 108-271). The renaming, which came at the request of its head, the Comptroller General (CG) of the United States, was designed to reflect the agency’s evolution and additional duties since its creation more than eight decades before.

The Government Accountability Office is the largest of three agencies that provide staff support, research, review, and...

China's Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Policies

This report discusses China's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as the policies and programs that they have put in place to mitigate them. These issues affect how Congress considers envionmental policies and relations with China.

Use of the Polar Bear Listing to Force Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Legal Arguments

On May 15, 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At the same time, it published a “special rule” limiting the application of ESA prohibitions to activities affecting the bear. The listing and special rule attracted attention due to the likelihood that the listing will be used as a legal basis to attempt to force reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from sources nationwide. At least two arguments might be made. First, the ESA prohibition of “takes” could be argued to be violated by major greenhouse...

Tax Credit Bonds: A Brief Explanation

This report provides a brief explanation on tax credit bonds (TCBs). The first section of this report examines the mechanics of TCBs in more detail. The second section of this report analyzes the market for TCBs relative to municipal and corporate bonds.

National Park Management

The 110th Congress is considering legislation and conducting oversight on National Park Service (NPS) related topics. The Administration is addressing park issues through budgetary, regulatory, and other actions. This report focuses on several key topics.

Centennial Initiative. President Bush’s National Park Centennial Initiative seeks to add up to $3 billion for national park units over 10 years through: (1) an additional $100.0 million annually in discretionary funds; (2) public donations of least $100.0 million annually; and (3) a federal match of the public donations with up to $100.0...

Energy: Selected Facts and Numbers

This report discusses the energy policy that has been a recurring issue for Congress since the first major crisis in the 1970s. The report offers a general view of energy consumption trends, and Table 1 shows consumption by economic sector — residential, commercial, transportation, and industry — from 1950 to the present.

Congressional Influence on Rulemaking and Regulation Through Appropriations Restrictions

This report examines the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2008, and identifies four types of such provisions: (1) restrictions on the finalization of particular proposed rules, (2) restrictions on regulatory activity within certain areas, (3) implementation or enforcement restrictions, and (4) conditional restrictions (e.g., preventing implementation of a rule until certain actions are taken). The report then examines appropriations acts in nine previous fiscal years, noting that some provisions have been included in appropriations bills every year, and others have appeared for several...

Biofuels Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs

This report outlines federal programs that provide direct or indirect incentives for biofuels. For each program described, the report provides details including administering agency, authorizing statute(s), annual funding, and expiration date.

Possible Expiration (or Extension) of the 2002 Farm Bill

The 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) authorized an array of agricultural, rural, and nutrition programs. Many provisions of the 2002 farm bill were scheduled to expire in 2007. If a new farm bill or year-long extension were not enacted before the 2008 harvest, permanent law would have taken effect. Under permanent law, eligible commodities would be supported at levels much higher than they are now, and many of the currently supported commodities might not be eligible (including soybeans and peanuts). Permanent law for the commodity programs is so radically different from current policy and...

Advanced Nuclear Power and Fuel Cycle Technologies: Outlook and Policy Options

Current U.S. nuclear energy policy focuses on the near-term construction of improved versions of existing nuclear power plants. All of today’s U.S. nuclear plants are light water reactors (LWRs), which are cooled by ordinary water. Under current policy, the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel from LWRs is to be permanently disposed of in a deep underground repository.

The Bush Administration is also promoting an aggressive U.S. effort to move beyond LWR technology into advanced reactors and fuel cycles. Specifically, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), under the Department of...

Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Cap-and-Trade Bills in the 110th Congress

Multiple proposals to advance programs that reduce greenhouse gases have been introduced in the 110th Congress. S. 2191 was reported May 20, 2008, from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. An amended version of S. 2191 S. 3036, was considered by the Senate in June 2008, but a vote to invoke cloture failed. In general, these proposals would create market-based greenhouse gas reduction programs along the lines of the trading provisions of the current acid rain reduction program established by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. This report presents a side-by-side comparison...

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Estimated Allocations

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a block grant program under which the federal government gives annual grants to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories and commonwealths, and Indian tribal organizations to operate multi-component home energy assistance programs for needy households. This report contains two tables that show estimated LIHEAP allocations to the states. Table 1 shows state allocations at various levels: (1) the amount appropriated for FY2006, (2) the amount appropriated for FY2007, (3) the amount appropriated in FY2008, and (4) estimated...

The 2008 Farm Bill: A Summary of Major Provisions and Legislative Action

The report discusses the 2008 farm bill (H.R. 2419), covering a wide range of programs including The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, farm credit, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, and foreign and domestic food programs, among others.

The Federal Royalty and Tax Treatment of the Hardrock Mineral Industry: An Economic Analysis

Under current law, the hardrock mineral industry pays no royalty to the federal government for the privilege of extracting resources from federal lands. This differs from the federal policy toward the coal and oil/gas industries, the policy of State governments, and the leasing arrangements in the private sector, which often require bonus bids and an ad-valorem royalty on the value of the resulting output. Hardrock mining on acquired federal lands pays a 5% royalty.

The current federal policy toward hardrock minerals is inconsistent with the fundamental market principle that a royalty is a...

The Davis-Bacon Act: Issues and Legislation During the 110th Congress

In 1931, following several years of intermittent hearings and, ultimately, encouragement from the Hoover Administration, Congress adopted the Davis-Bacon Act (now, 40 U.S.C. 3141-3148). The act, as amended, requires that workers employed on public buildings and public works of the federal government and of the District of Columbia must be paid at least the locally prevailing wage as determined by the Secretary of Labor. Initially, the act applied to construction in excess of $5,000; but, in 1935, the act was amended to render its terms applicable to projects of $2,000 and above.

With the...

Presidential Appointments to Full-time Positions in Executive Departments During the 109th Congress, 2005-2006

During the 109th Congress, the President submitted to the Senate 283 nominations to executive department full-time positions. Of these 283 nominations, 233 were confirmed; nine were withdrawn; and 41 were returned to him in accordance with Senate rules. For those nominations that were confirmed, an average of 75 days elapsed between nomination and confirmation. The median number of days elapsed was 57. These statistics do not include the days during which the Senate was adjourned for its summer recesses and between sessions of Congress.

President George W. Bush made a total of 13 recess...

Climate Change: Comparison and Analysis of S. 1766 and S. 2191 (S. 3036)

Several proposals designed to address greenhouse gases have been introduced in the 110th Congress. Two proposals, S. 1766, introduced by Senators Bingaman and Specter, and S. 2191, introduced by Senators Lieberman and Warner and reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 20, 2008, are receiving increased scrutiny in preparation for Senate debate on S. 2191. On May 20, 2008, Senator Boxer introduced S. 3036, which is identical to the reported version of S. 2191 except that it contains a proposed budget amendment to make the bill deficit neutral. On June 2, 2008,...

Petroleum Refining: Economic Performance and Challenges for the Future

This report discusses the petroleum refining industry and its relation to the economy. Along with volatile changes in crude oil prices, the industry has faced evolving health, safety, and environmental requirements which have changed and multiplied product specifications and required capital investment in refineries. This report also seeks to describe the recent performance of the refining industry, to evaluate the structural changes that are occurring in the industry, and to analyze the nature and effects of the challenges confronting the industry.

Emission Allowance Allocation in a Cap-and-Trade Program: Options and Considerations

When designing a cap-and-trade program, one of the more controversial and challenging questions for policymakers is how, to whom, and for what purpose to distribute the emission allowances. Regarding the method of distribution to covered sources, policymakers could (1) sell the allowances through an auction process, (2) allocate the allowances at no cost to covered sources, (3) provide allowances to non-covered sources who would, in turn, sell them to covered sources, or (4) use some combination of these methods. Although the emission allocation method would not affect the environmental...

“Price Gouging,” the Antitrust Laws, and Vertical Integration in the Petroleum Industry: How They Are Related

The antitrust laws and statutes to prohibit “price gouging” each aim to serve the same end—realization of lower or reasonable prices for consumers, but they do so from different perspectives. Antitrust law operates on the premise that vigorous and unfettered marketplace competition will yield the most advantageous result for consumers. Statutes concerning “price gouging,” by contrast, are direct consumer-protection measures, generally making no reference to competition. Statutes to limit the extent of vertical integration in the petroleum industry (common ownership of different stages of...

Natural Gas Markets: Overview and Policy Issues

The functioning of the natural gas market in 2007 appeared relatively stable and infrastructure development continued at an appropriate pace. A tighter demand/supply balance for 2008, however, has generated more upward spot price movement in this latest period. From the beginning to the end of the 2007-2008 heating season, the average wellhead price rose more than 30%, according to Energy Information Administration estimates. In the foreseeable future, weather and economic performance appear most likely to influence prices.

Natural gas provided about 22% of U.S. energy requirements in...

Delegation of the Federal Power of Eminent Domain to Nonfederal Entities

Congress has on several occasions delegated its power of eminent domain to entities outside the federal government—public and private corporations, interstate compact agencies, state and local governments, and even individuals. The constitutionality of such delegation, and of the exercise of such power by even private delegatees, is today beyond dispute. However, among delegatees with both federal and private characteristics, there is some subjectivity to deciding which to list in a report limited to “nonfederal entities.” For delegatees of federal eminent domain power listed here,...

Climate Change: Costs and Benefits of S. 2191/S. 3036

This report examines six studies that project the costs of S. 2191 (S. 3036) to 2030 or 2050. It is difficult to project costs up to the year 2030, much less beyond. The already tenuous assumption that regulatory standards will remain constant becomes more unrealistic, and other unforeseen events loom as critical issues which cannot be modeled. Long-term cost projections are at best speculative, and should be viewed with attentive skepticism. Despite models’ inability to predict the future, cases examined here do provide insights on the costs and benefits of S. 2191.

First, the ultimate...

Rising Energy Competition and Energy Security in Northeast Asia: Issues for U.S. Policy

Asia has become a principal driver in world energy markets, largely due to China’s remarkable growth in demand. As the gap between consumption and production levels in Asia expands, the region’s economic powers appear to be increasingly anxious about their energy security, concerned that tight supplies and consequent high prices may constrain economic growth. Rising energy competition in East Asia promises to affect U.S. policy in many ways, from contributing to price spikes because of China’s rapidly increasing demand to altering the geostrategic landscape in the years to come as regional...

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Infrastructure Security: Issues for Congress

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a hazardous fuel shipped in large tankers from overseas to U.S. ports. Because LNG infrastructure is highly visible and easily identified, it can be vulnerable to terrorist attack. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. LNG industry and federal agencies have put new measures in place to respond to the possibility of terrorism. Nonetheless, public concerns about LNG risks continue to raise questions about LNG security. Faced with a perceived national need for greater LNG imports, and persistent public concerns about LNG risks, some in Congress are examining the...

Agriculture Conservation Programs: A Scorecard

This report provides basic information on several agriculture conservation programs, primarily drawn from agency budget presentations and websites, about each program using a consistent format. This information should help respond to basic questions and resolve many common sources of confusion about the purposes of the program, program participation and policy topics.

Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards

This report discusses the current corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standard of 35 miles per gallon (mpg), and the major issues on the CAFE debate. The report also offers an overview of Congressional interest in CAFE (1991-2005), and explains the CAFE and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

Transportation Fuel Taxes: Impacts of a Repeal or Moratorium

The report includes an introduction regarding the increase in crude oil and refined product prices and discusses the proposals to offset effects of higher crude oil prices and the impact on markets and prices.

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) Drought: Federal Water Management Issues

Drought in the Southeast has brought congressional attention to an ongoing interstate conflict among Alabama, Florida, and Georgia over water allocation in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river system. Drawdown of Lake Lanier, the uppermost federal reservoir in the ACF basin, in fall 2007 to support minimum flows in the lower basin’s Apalachicola River escalated the conflict. The Atlanta metropolitan area’s municipal and industrial water users are concerned about drawdown of their principal (in some cases, their only) water supply. They question the justification for the minimum...

Fuel Ethanol: Background and Public Policy Issues

Ethanol plays a key role in policy discussions about energy, agriculture, taxes, and the environment. In the United States it is mostly made from corn; in other countries it is often made from cane sugar. Fuel ethanol is generally blended in gasoline to reduce emissions, increase octane, and extend gasoline stocks. Recent high oil and gasoline prices have led to increased interest in alternatives to petroleum fuels for transportation. Further, concerns over climate change have raised interest in developing fuels with lower fuel-cycle greenhouse-gas emissions. Supporters of ethanol argue...

Fischer-Tropsch Fuels from Coal, Natural Gas, and Biomass: Background and Policy

This report provides background information and policy analysis regarding the ways to develop that directly and indirectly convert coal into liquid fuel.

Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing: U.S. Policy Development

As part of the World War II effort to develop the atomic bomb, reprocessing technology was developed to chemically separate and recover fissionable plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel. In the early stage of commercial nuclear power, reprocessing was thought essential to supplying nuclear fuel. Federally sponsored breeder reactor development included research into advanced reprocessing technology. Several commercial interests in reprocessing foundered due to economic, technical, and regulatory issues. President Carter terminated federal support for reprocessing in an attempt to limit the...

Aging Infrastructure: Dam Safety

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicle Research and Development (R&D): FreedomCAR and the President’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative

FreedomCAR and the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative are two complementary government-industry research and development (R&D) policy initiatives that promote the development of hydrogen fuel and fuel cell vehicles. Coordinated by the Department of Energy (DOE), these initiatives aim to make mass-market fuel cell and hydrogen combustion vehicles available at an affordable cost within 10 to 15 years from the launch of the initiatives. However, questions have been raised about the design and goals of the initiatives. This report discusses the organization, funding, and goals of the FreedomCAR and Fuel...

Ethanol Imports and the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI)

Fuel ethanol consumption has grown significantly in the past several years, and it will continue to grow with the establishment of a renewable fuel standard (RFS) in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) and the expansion of that RFS in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140). This standard requires U.S. transportation fuels to contain a minimum amount of renewable fuel, including ethanol.

Most of the U.S. market is supplied by domestic refiners producing ethanol from American corn. However, imports play a small but growing role in the U.S. market. One reason...

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

This report monitors actions taken by the 110th Congress for the FY2008 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), Congress has provided $54.637 billion in CJS appropriations, a 3.4% increase over the FY2007 enacted level and a 2.2% increase over the Administration’s request. This amount includes $6.857 billion for the Department of Commerce (a 3.5% increase over the FY2007 enacted level), $23.592 billion for the Department of Justice (a 1.6% increase), $23.38 billion for science agencies (a 5.3%...

Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007, Title VII of H.R. 3221: Summary and Discussion of Oil and Gas Provisions

This report discusses the energy development reform and energy production from public lands.

Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: A Summary of Major Provisions

The Energy Independence and Security Act (P.L. 110-140, H.R. 6) is an omnibus energy policy law that consists mainly of provisions designed to increase energy efficiency and the availability of renewable energy. This report describes the key provisions of the enacted law, summarizes the legislative action on H.R. 6, and provides a summary of the provisions under each of the titles in the law.

The highlights of key provisions enacted into law are as follows:

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE). The law sets a target of 35 miles per gallon for the combined fleet of cars and light trucks by...

The Bali Agreements and Forests

Smart Grid Provisions in H.R. 6, 110th Congress

The term Smart Grid refers to a distribution system that allows for flow of information from a customer’s meter in two directions: both inside the house to thermostats and appliances and other devices, and back to the utility. This could allow appliances to be turned off during periods of high electrical demand and cost, and give customers real-time information on constantly changing electric rates. Efforts are being made in both industry and government to modernize electric distribution to improve communications between utilities and the ultimate consumer. The goal is to use advanced,...

Air Quality: Multi-Pollutant Legislation in the 110th Congress

With the prospect of new layers of complexity being added to air pollution controls, and with electricity restructuring putting a premium on economic efficiency, interest is being expressed in finding mechanisms to achieve health and environmental goals in simpler, more cost-effective ways. The electric utility industry is a major source of air pollution, particularly sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury (Hg), as well as unregulated greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). At issue is whether a new approach to environmental protection could achieve the...

Active Military Sonar and Marine Mammals: Events and References

This report summarizes legal and political events related to active sonar and marine mammals since 1994. The report discusses the deployment of active sonar by the U.S. Navy and its potential impacts on marine mammals has been an ongoing issue of intense debate; regulatory, legislative, and judicial activity; and international concern.

Tax Credits for Hybrid Vehicles

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2008 Appropriations

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous other entities.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L. 110-161) included $26.89 billion for Interior, Environment, and...

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Technology Vehicles: Issues in Congress

This report provides an overview of current issues surrounding alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles.

Energy and Water Development: FY2008 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

Key budgetary issues involving these programs include

the distribution of Army Corps of Engineers appropriations across the agency’s authorized construction and maintenance activities (Title I);

support of major ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as Florida Everglades (Title I) and California “Bay-Delta” (CALFED) (Title...

The European Union’s Energy Security Challenges

Recent increases in energy prices and a steady escalation in global energy demand—expected to rise by nearly 60% over the next 20 years—have led U.S. policy-makers to engage in a wide ranging debate over how best to address the country’s future energy requirements. Similarly, energy security has become a policy priority for the European Union (EU) and its 27 member states. The EU imports about 50% of its energy needs. Barring significant changes, the European Commission expects this figure to rise to 65% by 2030. About half of the EU’s natural gas imports and 30% of its imported oil come...

Electric Transmission: Approaches for Energizing a Sagging Industry

Farm Legislation and Taxes in the 110th Congress

Biofuels Provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-140), H.R. 3221, and H.R. 6: A Side-by-Side Comparison

This report discusses the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and the key biofuels-related provisions of the final legislation.

North American Oil Sands: History of Development, Prospects for the Future

When it comes to future reliable oil supplies, Canada’s oil sands will likely account for a greater share of U.S. oil imports. Oil sands account for about 46% of Canada’s total oil production and oil sands production is increasing as conventional oil production declines. Since 2004, when a substantial portion of Canada’s oil sands were deemed economic, Canada, with about 175 billion barrels of proved oil sands reserves, has ranked second behind Saudi Arabia in oil reserves. Canadian crude oil exports were about 1.82 million barrels per day (mbd) in 2006, of which 1.8 mbd or 99% went to the...

Regulation of Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions: State and Federal Standards

This report discusses the federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards (including tighter standards enacted under P.L. 110-140) and compares them with the GHG standards under California’s law. It also identifies some factors that would have a bearing on the relative stringency of CAFE and the California program.

Overview of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Requirements

Pipelines for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Control: Network Needs and Cost Uncertainties

Congress is considering policies promoting the capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2) from sources such as electric power plants. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is a process involving a CO2 source facility, a long-term CO2 sequestration site, and CO2 pipelines. There is an increasing perception in Congress that a national CCS program could require the construction of a substantial network of interstate CO2 pipelines. However, divergent views on CO2 pipeline requirements introduce significant uncertainty into overall CCS cost estimates and may complicate the federal role,...

Issues in Klamath River Dam Relicensing

PacifiCorp, a large utility in the western United States, owns and operates seven hydroelectric dams in the Klamath River basin. The dams produce 151 megawatts of electricity but they have blocked fish passage in the river, which has led environmental and fishing interests to oppose the dams.

The dams’ operating license expired on March 1, 2006. As part of the new license application, under the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. §811) the Departments of Interior and Commerce submitted preliminary prescriptions on dam operations and fishway construction to allow upstream and downstream fish...

Advanced Vehicle Technologies: Energy, Environment, and Development Issues

Research and development of cleaner and more efficient vehicle technologies has been ongoing for the past few decades. Much of this research started in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s, which triggered concerns about rising fuel costs and growing dependence on imported fuel. The urgency of those concerns was lost as fuel prices declined in the 1980s and 1990s. At the same time, however, rising concerns about vehicle contributions to air pollution and global climate change added a new dimension to the issue. Recently, instability in world oil prices and political concerns have...

The National Environmental Policy Act: Streamlining NEPA

In recent years, the time needed to comply with various environmental laws has been the subject of public scrutiny and debate in Congress. As a result, numerous administrative and legislative efforts (both proposed and enacted) have intended to expedite or streamline the environmental compliance process. Although methods to do so vary, streamlining measures are often proposed or implemented when the participation of multiple local, state, tribal, or federal agencies is necessary to comply with various environmental requirements. Streamlining measures may be applied to various environmental...

State Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Comparison and Analysis

Instituting policies to manage or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions would likely impact different states differently. Understanding these differences may provide for a more informed debate regarding potential policy approaches. However, multiple factors play a role in determining impacts, including alternative design elements of a GHG emissions reduction program, the availability and relative cost of mitigation options, and the regulated entities’ abilities to pass compliance costs on to consumers.

Three primary variables drive a state’s human-related GHG emission levels: population,...

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS): Background and Debate Over a National Requirement

Under a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), retail electricity suppliers (electric utilities) must provide a minimum amount of electricity from renewable energy resources or purchase tradable credits that represent an equivalent amount of renewable energy production. The minimum requirement is often set as a percentage share of retail electricity sales. More than 20 states have established an RPS, with most targets ranging from 10% to 20% and most target deadlines ranging from 2010 to 2025. Most states have established tradable credits as a way to lower costs and facilitate...

Omnibus Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of Major Provisions in House-Passed H.R. 3221 with Senate-Passed H.R. 6

In the first session of the 110th Congress, the House and the Senate passed two markedly different versions of omnibus energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation. This report compares major provisions in House-passed H.R. 3221 and Senate-passed H.R. 6. Key legislative challenges remain. First, there are significant differences between the two bills. Second, because the House and Senate have passed different measures, further action will be required in at least one chamber before a conference committee could be arranged. Third, concerns about certain oil and natural gas provisions,...

Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007: Corps of Engineers Project Authorization Issues

Congress generally authorizes new Army Corps of Engineers water resources studies and projects in a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) before appropriating funds to them. WRDA 2007 (P.L. 110-114) became law on November 9, 2007. This was the first congressional override of a veto by President George W. Bush. WRDA 2007 authorized approximately 900 Corps projects, studies, and modifications to existing authorizations.

A central issue in the debate over WRDA 2007 was its level of authorizations. A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimated its 15-year impact at $23 billion. The...

San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement

Historically, Central California’s San Joaquin River supported large Chinook salmon populations. Since the Bureau of Reclamation’s Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River became fully operational in the 1940s, much of the river’s water has been diverted for off-stream agricultural uses. As a result, approximately 60 miles of the river bed is dry in most years. Thus, the river no longer supports Chinook salmon populations in its upper reaches. In 1988, a coalition of conservation and fishing groups sued Reclamation (Natural Resources Defense Council v. Rodgers). A U.S. District Court judge has...

Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA): Effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on Implementation

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA), enacted in 1990 and administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has funded wetland restoration projects since 1992. By law, CWPPRA allocates 70% of appropriated funds ($76 million of $109 million in FY2007) to projects in Louisiana. Louisiana wetland protection and restoration proponents largely view the program as an established success in enhancing coastal wetlands by implementing numerous relatively inexpensive and smaller-scale projects. At the same time, many of these proponents also have worked to develop...

Agriculture-Based Renewable Energy Production

Ethanol and Other Biofuels: Potential for U.S.-Brazil Energy Cooperation

In the past several years, high oil and gas prices, instability in many oil-producing countries, and concerns about global climate change have heightened interest in ethanol and other biofuels as alternatives to petroleum products. Reducing oil dependency is a goal shared by the United States and many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region composed primarily of energy-importing countries. In the region, Brazil stands out as an example of a country that has become a net exporter of energy, partially by increasing its production and use of sugar-based ethanol.

On March 9,...

Greenhouse Gas Reductions: California Action and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

In the absence of a federal program requiring greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, a growing group of U.S. states are taking action in this arena. Significant actions have been undertaken in California and by a coalition of states from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

California has undertaken several initiatives that seek to reduce GHG emissions. In 2004, the state issued regulations to reduce GHG emissions from motor vehicles. At least 14 other states have indicated that they plan to implement California’s new vehicle requirements. In 2006, California passed two climate...

Nuclear Power Plants: Vulnerability to Terrorist Attack

Russian Oil and Gas Challenges

The Department of Defense: Reducing Its Reliance on Fossil-Based Aviation Fuel—Issues for Congress

The Department of Defense (DOD) is a factor in the nation’s discussion about national energy security. As the largest single consumer of fuel in the United States, DOD has the potential to make important contributions to the national effort to reduce the use of and reliance on fossil fuel. Aviation fuel makes up the largest portion of fossil fuel consumed by DOD and therefore represents the area of greatest potential energy savings. This report examines DOD’s use of aviation fuel and possibilities to reduce that use by examining related issues and presenting options Congress may choose to...

Environmental Protection Agency: FY2007 Appropriations Highlights

During its first session, the 110th Congress completed action on FY2007 appropriations for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the enactment of the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution for FY2007 (P.L. 110-5, H.J.Res. 20). P.L. 110-5 provided funding through the end of that fiscal year for EPA and other federal agencies not funded in the appropriations laws for the Department of Defense (P.L. 109-289) and Homeland Security (P.L. 109-295). P.L. 110-5 provided funding for EPA in FY2007 at the same level, and under the authority and conditions, specified in the Interior,...

Energy and Water Development: FY2007 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill in the past included funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. For FY2006, the Congress reorganized the appropriations subcommittees and the content of the various appropriations bills to be introduced. In the case of Energy and Water Development, the only changes were the consolidation of DOE programs that had previously been funded by the Interior and Related Agencies...

Tax Credit Bonds: A Brief Explanation

The USDA 2007 Farm Bill Proposal: Possible Questions

On January 31, 2007, the Secretary of Agriculture publicly released a set of recommendations for a 2007 farm bill. The proposal is comprehensive and follows largely the outline of the current 2002 farm bill, which expires this year. It includes proposals regarding commodity support, conservation, trade, nutrition and domestic food assistance, farm credit, rural development, agricultural research, forestry, energy, and such miscellaneous items as crop insurance, organic programs, and Section 32 purchases of fruits and vegetables.

The Administration delivered its report to Congress, not as a...

Nuclear Power: Outlook for New U.S. Reactors

Nearly three decades after the most recent order was placed for a new nuclear power plant in the United States, several utilities are now expressing interest in building a total of up to 30 new reactors. The renewed interest in nuclear power has resulted primarily from higher prices for natural gas, improved operation of existing reactors, and uncertainty about future restrictions on coal emissions. A substantial tax credit and other incentives for nuclear generation provided by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) are also likely to improve the economic viability of qualifying new...

Daylight Saving Time

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations

The FY2007 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, which was recently transferred to the appropriations subcommittees that deal with Interior and Related Agencies; and numerous other entities and...

Energy Policy: Conceptual Framework and Continuing Issues

Energy policy continues to be a major legislative issue, despite passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT, P.L. 109-58). Shortly after EPACT’s enactment, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita temporarily shut down production of oil and gas and refining capacity in Texas and Louisiana. World and domestic demand for oil remained strong, and other factors have placed pressure on gasoline prices and deliverability in the United States.

In the face of these developments, and because the prospect that this episode of elevated prices is likely to be a long one, interest in energy policy remains high...

Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies: Current Status and Analysis

The CLEAN Energy Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) was introduced by the House Democratic leadership to revise certain tax and royalty policies for oil and natural gas and to use the resulting revenue to support a reserve for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Title I proposes to repeal certain oil and natural gas tax subsidies, and use the resulting revenue stream to support the reserve. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that Title I would repeal about $7.7 billion in oil and gas tax subsidies over the 10-year period from 2008 through 2017. In House floor debate, opponents argued...

Navy Ship Propulsion Technologies: Options for Reducing Oil Use—Background for Congress

General strategies for reducing the Navy’s dependence on oil for its ships include reducing energy use on Navy ships; shifting to alternative hydrocarbon fuels; shifting to more reliance on nuclear propulsion; and using sail and solar power.

Reducing energy use on Navy ships. A 2001 study concluded that fitting a Navy cruiser with more energy-efficient electrical equipment could reduce the ship’s fuel use by 10% to 25%. The Navy has installed fuel-saving bulbous bows and stern flaps on many of its ships. Ship fuel use could be reduced by shifting to advanced turbine designs such as an...

Democracy in Russia: Trends and Implications for U.S. Interests

U.S. attention has focused on Russia’s fitful democratization since Russia emerged in 1991 from the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many observers have argued that a democratic Russia with free markets would be a cooperative bilateral and multilateral partner rather than an insular and hostile national security threat. Concerns about democratization progress appeared heightened after Vladimir Putin became president in 2000. Since then, Russians have faced increased government interference in elections and campaigns, restrictions on freedom of the media, large-scale human rights abuses in the...

Natural Resources Policy: Management, Institutions, and Issues

Natural resources management remains a significant issue for the federal government. Growing demands on the nation’s resources and interest in their protection and allocation among multiple uses have increased the complexity of management. The federal role in defining policy and institutional context shapes the combination of supported uses and protection measures.

Certain themes are common to federal resource issues. Many conflicts center on balancing traditional versus alternative uses and protection programs, managing to produce national or local benefits, and supporting current or...

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Markets in Transition: Implications for U.S. Supply and Price

Natural gas consumption in the United States is expected to increase substantially over the coming decades primarily because of its usefulness in generating relatively clean electricity. Domestic supplies are projected to be unable to meet increasing demand because existing fields are yielding less production and new drilling efforts are not replicating past success rates. Pipeline imports from Canada are also projected to decline. Various alternatives exist that might close the demand and supply gap, with imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) being touted as one of the most promising.

As...

Oil Industry Profit Review 2005

Safe Drinking Water Act: Background and Issues in the 109th Congress

This report examines the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is the key federal law for protecting public water supplies from harmful contaminants. First enacted in 1974 and broadly amended in 1986 and 1996, the act is administered through programs that regulate contaminants in public water supplies, provide funding for infrastructure projects, protect sources of drinking water, and promote the capacity of water systems to comply with SDWA regulations.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 109th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The 109th Congress considered numerous proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, modifying critical habitat (CH) procedures, incorporating further protection and incentives for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton Administration.

The ESA has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its...

Clean Water Act: A Review of Issues in the 109th Congress

Legislative initiatives to comprehensively amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) have stalled for some time as interested parties have debated whether and exactly how to change the law. Congress has instead focused legislative attention on narrow bills to extend or modify selected CWA programs, but not any comprehensive proposals. In the 109th Congress, two such bills were enacted: a bill extending authorizations for the Long Island Sound program (H.R. 3963, P.L. 109-137), and another concerning the Lake Pontchartrain Basin (H.R. 6121, P.L. 109-392). The House also passed H.R. 1721, a bill to...

Climate Change Legislation in the 109th Congress

Previewing a 2007 Farm Bill

Federal farm support, food assistance, agricultural trade, marketing, and rural development policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. However, many of these laws periodically are evaluated, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year “farm bill.” The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-171) was the most recent omnibus farm bill, and many of its provisions expire in 2007, so reauthorization is expected to be addressed in the first session of the 110th Congress.

The heart of every omnibus farm bill is farm income and commodity price support...

S. 2557, the Oil and Gas Industry Antitrust Act of 2006: Brief Legal Analysis

This report addresses one of several approaches to the issue of rising gasoline prices put forward in the 109th Congress. S. 2557 was introduced on April 6, 2006, by Senator Specter, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reported by that committee on April 27, but was not scheduled for floor action. The bill sought to amend the antitrust laws to accomplish four things.

Mitigate regional shortages of petroleum and natural gas products

Mandate federal agency reviews to (a) fine-tune the statutory provision most concerned with mergers (Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 18,...

Environmental Protection Issues in the 109th Congress

Radioactive Waste Streams: Waste Classification for Disposal

Radioactive waste is a byproduct of nuclear weapons production, commercial nuclear power generation, and the naval reactor program. Waste byproducts also result from radioisotopes used for scientific, medical, and industrial purposes. The legislative definitions adopted for radioactive wastes, for the most part, refer to the processes that generated the wastes. Thus, waste disposal policies have tended to link the processes to uniquely tailored disposal solutions. Consequently, the origin of the waste, rather than its radiologic characteristics, often determines its fate.

Plutonium and...

Water Quality: Implementing the Clean Water Act

Congress enacted the last major amendments to the Clean Water Act in 1987 (P.L. 100-4). Since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states, and others have been working to implement the many program changes and additions mandated in the law. At issue today—more than 30 years after enactment of the core law—is what progress is being made to achieve its goals. In general, states and environmental groups fault EPA for delays in issuing guidance and providing assistance to carry out the law. EPA and others are critical of states, in turn, for not reaching beyond conventional...

Dam Removal: Issues, Considerations, and Controversies

The Repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA 1935) and Its Impact on Electric and Gas Utilities

The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA 1935) was repealed in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Prior to repeal, PUHCA 1935 required “holding companies” (i.e., companies with subsidiaries engaged in the electric utility business or the retail distribution of natural or manufactured gas) to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), satisfy certain disclosure requirements, and comply with strict operational limitations. These operational limitations imposed significant geographic and corporate holdings restrictions upon holding companies and effectively...

Clean Air Act Issues in the 109th Congress

The courts and the executive branch have faced major decisions on clean air issues in 2006, with Congress playing a limited role. One focus has been the EPA Administrator’s September 21, 2006 decision regarding air quality standards for fine particles. According to EPA and the consensus of the scientific community, current concentrations of fine particles cause tens of thousands of premature deaths annually. The Administrator’s September 21 decision will strengthen the standards; according to the agency, it will reduce premature mortality by 1,200 - 13,000 persons annually. However, many...

Specialty Crop Issues in the 109th Congress

The U.S. specialty crop sector is comprised of producers, handlers, processors, and retailers of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, and nursery crops. The major U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity price and income support programs do not include specialty crops, but the industry benefits generally from USDA programs related to trade, conservation, credit, protection from pests and diseases, domestic food assistance programs, crop insurance and disaster payments, research, and other areas. Certain programs of the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and...

Western Water Resource Issues

For more than a century, the federal government has constructed water resource projects for a variety of purposes, including flood control, navigation, power generation, and irrigation. While most municipal and industrial water supplies have been built by non-federal entities, most of the large, federal water projects in the West, including Hoover and Grand Coulee dams, were constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation (Department of the Interior) to provide water for irrigation.

Growing populations and changing values have increased demands on water supplies and river systems, resulting in...

Sacramento Flood Control and Folsom Dam: Recent Action and Current Issues

Sacramento, California, is among the U.S. cities most vulnerable to flooding, and regional growth is increasing the potential losses from flooding. A major flood could inundate developed and agricultural areas, disrupting the economy and damaging infrastructure and property. How to reduce flood risks in developed and developing areas is a problem faced by communities nationwide, and is receiving increased attention as the reliability of existing infrastructure is reevaluated in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Sacramento’s flood protection system, which includes levees on the American...

Globalizing Cooperative Threat Reduction: A Survey of Options

Increasingly, Congress and the Bush Administration are looking to utilize nonproliferation assistance programs, including cooperative threat reduction, to help reduce the risk of terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In the FY2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136, Sec. 1308), Congress authorized the Bush Administration to spend $50 million of unobligated funds from the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in states outside the former Soviet Union. As of September 2006, the Administration had spent such funds only in Albania ($38.5 million) for the purpose...

Mexico’s 2006 Elections

Mexico held national elections for a new president and congress on July 2, 2006. Conservative Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party (PAN) narrowly defeated Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in a highly contested election. Final results of the presidential election were only announced after all legal challenges had been settled. On September 5, 2006, the Elections Tribunal found that although business groups illegally interfered in the election, the effect of the interference was insufficient to warrant an annulment of the vote, and...

Electric Reliability: Options for Electric Transmission Infrastructure Improvements

The electric utility industry is inherently capital intensive. At the same time, the industry must operate under a changing and sometimes unpredictable regulatory system at both the federal and state level. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 has set in place government activities intended to relieve congestion on the transmission system. Several factors have contributed to the lack of new transmission capacity; these are outlined within this report. This report also discusses earlier pieces of energy legislation.

Science and Technology Policy: Issues for the 109th Congress

Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee on Coal

Federal Counter-Terrorism Training: Issues for Congressional Oversight

Federal counter-terrorism training programs are varied and are provided by numerous federal agencies and departments. Some of these departments and agencies include the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), Justice (DOJ), Transportation (DOT), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each department and agency provides specific counter-terrorism training targeted to given categories of recipients. Training recipients include federal, state, and local government personnel, emergency responders, and private and public...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation in the 109th Congress

This report reviews the status of energy efficiency and renewable energy legislation introduced during the 109th Congress. Action in the second session has focused on appropriations bills; the first session focused on omnibus energy policy bill H.R. 6 ( P.L. 109-58 ), H.R. 3 ( P.L. 109-59 ), and several appropriations bills. The enacted version of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 ( P.L. 109-58 , H.R. 6 ) authorizes or reauthorizes several energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. It also establishes several new commercial and consumer product efficiency standards, sets new goals...

Energy Efficiency Policy: Budget, Electricity Conservation, and Fuel Conservation Issues

Energy efficiency issues include research and development (R&D) priorities, funding for climate-related efficiency programs, implementation of equipment efficiency standards, regulation of vehicle fuel efficiency, and electricity industry ratemaking for energy efficiency profitability. The Bush Administration has proposed an Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI) to accelerate hydrogen programs. For the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) energy efficiency R&D programs, the Administration seeks $484.7 million, with increases for Hydrogen and Hybrid/Electric Propulsion. The request would cut $74.8...

Renewable Energy Policy: Tax Credit, Budget, and Regulatory Issues

High gasoline and natural gas prices have rekindled interest in the role that renewable energy may play in producing electricity, displacing fossil fuel use, and curbing demand for power transmission equipment. Also, worldwide emphasis on environmental problems of air and water pollution and global climate change, the related development of clean-energy technologies in western Europe and Japan, and technology competitiveness may remain important influences on renewable energy policymaking.

The Bush Administration’s FY2007 budget request for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Renewable...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 109th Congress

One part of the energy debate is whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological, recreational, and subsistence values. ANWR is rich in fauna, flora, and oil potential. Its development has been debated for over 40 years, but sharp increases in energy prices from late 2000 to early 2001, terrorist attacks, more price increases in 2004-2006, and energy infrastructure damage from hurricanes have intensified debate. Few...

Natural Resources: Selected Issues for the 109th Congress

Clean Air Act Issues in the 109th Congress

The courts and the executive branch face major decisions on clean air issues in 2006, with Congress more likely playing an oversight role. One focus is EPA's Jan. 17 2006 proposal to strengthen air quality standards for fine particles, which are estimated to cause tens of thousands of premature deaths annually. Whether the proposal is supported by the available science and what impact its implementation would have likely issues of concern. Other issues of continuing interest are EPA's 2005 decisions limiting interstate transport of air pollution and establishing cap-and-trade systems for...

FY2006 Supplemental Appropriations: Iraq and Other International Activities; Additional Hurricane Katrina Relief

This report discusses the two separate FY2006 supplemental appropriations requests submitted on February 16, 2006. The first, totaling $72.4 billion, would fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ($67.9 billion), non-DOD intelligence operations ($0.3 billion), State Department operations in Iraq and various foreign aid programs, including additional assistance for Iraq ($4.2 billion), and other counter-terrorism funding for other agencies ($12 million). The other supplemental would provide $19.8 billion for recovery and reconstruction activities in hurricane affected Gulf...

Gasoline Prices: New Legislation and Proposals

Energy Efficiency: Budget, Oil Conservation, and Electricity Conservation Issues

This report discusses various budget issues regarding the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency Program, which is conducted by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

West Coast and Alaska Oil Exports

As a reaction to oil price and supply concerns, questions about the export of crude oil produced on Alaska's North Slope are often directed at Members of Congress. The export of this oil had been prohibited by the 1973 law allowing the construction of the pipeline system now transporting oil to the ice-free, southern Alaska port of Valdez. But following a period of depressed oil prices, legislation was enacted in 1995 permitting export. Relatively small amounts -- never more than 7% -- of Alaskan crude were sold to Korea, Japan, China, and some other countries. These exports stopped by...

Energy Tax Policy

Clean Water Act Issues in the 109th Congress

Environmental Protection Issues in the 109th Congress

Environmental protection concerns span a wide variety of issues, including clean air, water quality, chemical security, and environmental aspects of other major issue areas such as transportation and defense. This issue brief provides an overview of key environmental issues that are receiving or may receive attention in the 109th Congress. The sections on specific issues contain references to more detailed and extensive CRS reports on the subjects covered.

Global Climate Change

This report briefly reviews the status of climate science, international negotiations, and congressional activity focused specifically on climate change.

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

This report provides an overview of U.S. policy concerns and relations with countries in central Asia. The report discusses issues such as Fostering Pro-Western Orientations, Obstacles to Peace and Independence, Democratization and Human Rights, Security and Arms Control, Trade and Investment, and provides an Aid Overview.

"Boutique Fuels" and Reformulated Gasoline: Harmonization of Fuel Standards

This report discusses how gasoline composition is regulated and explains the various federal and state gasoline standards. Next, the report presents some of the key issues with the federal RFG program. Some of the problems associated with boutique fuels are discussed, as well as some of the potential effects of harmonization. Finally, congressional actions in the 109th Congress related to

boutique fuels, RFG, and harmonization, including the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, are discussed.

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

The United States recognized the independence of all the former Soviet republics by the end of 1991, including the South Caucasus states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The United States has fostered these states' ties with the West in part to end the dependence of these states on Russia for trade, security, and other relations. The FREEDOM Support Act of 1992 provides authorization for assistance to the Eurasian states for humanitarian needs, democratization, and other purposes. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Administration...

Air Quality: Multi-Pollutant Legislation in the 109th Congress

With the prospect of new layers of complexity being added to air pollution controls, and with electricity restructuring putting a premium on economic efficiency, interest is being expressed in finding mechanisms to achieve health and environmental goals in simpler, more cost-effective ways. The electric utility industry is a major source of air pollution, particularly sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury (Hg), as well as suspected greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). At issue is whether a new approach to environmental protection could achieve...

Safe Drinking Water Act: Implementation and Issues

This report discusses key drinking water issues in the 109th Congress, which have included problems caused by specific contaminants, such as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and perchlorate, as well as the related issue of the appropriate federal role in providing financial assistance for water infrastructure projects. Congress last reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1996, and although funding authority for most SDWA programs expired in FY2003, broad reauthorization bills have not been proposed, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states, and water systems...

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands and National Forests

MTBE in Gasoline: Clean Air and Drinking Water Issues

As gasoline prices have risen in March and April 2006, renewed attention has been given to methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive being phased out of the nation's fuel supply. Many argue that the phaseout of MTBE and its replacement by ethanol have been a major factor in driving up prices. MTBE has been used by refiners since the late 1970s. It came into widespread use when leaded gasoline was phased out -- providing an octane boost similar to that of lead, but without fouling the catalytic converters used to reduce auto emissions since the mid-1970s. MTBE has also been...

Outer Continental Shelf: Debate Over Oil and Gas Leasing and Revenue Sharing

Oil and gas leasing has been prohibited on most of the outer continental shelf (OCS) since the 1980s. Congress has enacted OCS leasing moratoria for each of fiscal years 1982-2006 in the annual Interior Appropriations bill, allowing leasing only in the Gulf of Mexico (except near Florida) and parts of Alaska. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 issued a Presidential Directive ordering the Department of the Interior not to conduct offshore leasing or preleasing activity in areas covered by the annual legislative moratoria until 2000. In 1998 President Clinton extended the offshore leasing...

Wildfire Protection Funding

Cash and Noncash Benefits for Persons with Limited Income: Eligibility Rules, Recipient and Expenditure Data, FY2002-FY2004

More than 80 benefit programs provide aid—in cash and noncash form—that is directed primarily to persons with limited or low income. Such programs constitute the public “welfare” system, if welfare is defined as income-tested or need-based benefits. This definition omits social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Income-tested benefit programs in FY2004 cost approximately $583 billion: $427 billion in federal funds and $156 billion in state-local funds (Table 1). Spending on these programs represented 18.6% of all federal spending, with medical aid accounting for 9% of...

NEPA and Hurricane Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding Efforts

Nuclear Energy Policy

U.S.-India Bilateral Agreements and "Global Partnership"

India is enjoying rapidly growing diplomatic and economic clout on the world stage, and the course of its rise (along with that of China) is identified as one of the most important variables in 21st century international relations. In recognition of these developments, U.S. policy makers have sought to expand and deepen U.S. links with India. On July 18, 2005, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a Joint Statement resolving to establish a “global partnership” between the United States and India through increased cooperation on numerous economic, security, and...

The Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax of the 1980s: Implications for Current Energy Policy

In April 1980, the federal government enacted the crude oil windfall profit tax on the U.S. oil industry. The main purpose of the tax was to recoup for the federal government much of the revenue that would have otherwise gone to the oil industry as a result of the decontrol of oil prices. Supporters of the tax viewed this revenue as an unearned and unanticipated windfall caused by high oil prices, which were determined by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) cartel.

Despite its name, the windfall profit tax (WPT) was actually an excise tax, not a profits...

Energy Policy Act of 2005: Summary and Analysis of Enacted Provisions

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 ( P.L. 109-58 ), signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005, was the first omnibus energy legislation enacted in more than a decade. Spurred by rising energy prices and growing dependence on foreign oil, the new energy law was shaped by competing concerns about energy security, environmental quality, and economic growth. Major provisions in the bill include: Electricity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is authorized to certify a national electric reliability organization (ERO) to enforce mandatory reliability standards for the bulk-power...

China and the CNOOC Bid for Unocal: Issues for Congress

The bid by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to acquire the U.S. energy company Unocal for $18.5 billion raised many issues with U.S. policymakers. This report provides an overview and analysis of the CNOOC bid, U.S. interests, implications for U.S. energy security, U.S. investment in the PRC’s (People’s Republic of China’s) oil industry, the process for reviewing the security and other implications of foreign investment in the United States, Congressional activity, and a listing of unresolved issues.

Civilian Nuclear Waste Disposal

Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Emergency Waiver of EPA Regulations: Authorities and Legislative Proposals in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

As state, local, and federal officials respond to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, there has been discussion regarding whether environmental regulations might slow or impede response efforts, and whether Congress needs to provide authority to waive environmental regulations in order to speed response to and recovery from the hurricane and subsequent flooding.

Responding to these concerns, on September 16, 2005, Senator Inhofe, the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Senator Vitter of Louisiana introduced S. 1711 , to allow the Environmental...

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies: FY2006 Appropriations

The FY2006 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill includes funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for two agencies within other departments—the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture and the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. It also includes funding for arts and cultural agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, which was newly-transferred to the Appropriations subcommittees that deal with Interior and Related Agencies; and numerous other entities and...

FEMA's Flood Hazard Map Modernization Initiative

This report discusses the the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which required the Flood Insurance Administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development to produce countywide “Flood Insurance Rate Maps,” or FIRMs, to set federal flood insurance premiums based on flood risk.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in U.S. Energy Policy: Infrastructure and Market Issues

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to the United States are increasing to supplement domestic gas production. Recent actions by Congress and federal agencies have promoted greater LNG supplies by changing regulations, clarifying siting authorities, and streamlining the approval process for LNG import terminals. Were these policies to continue and gas demand to grow, LNG might account for as much as 21% of U.S. gas supply by 2025, up from 3% in 2005. Congress is examining the infrastructure and market implications of greater U.S. LNG demand.

There are concerns about how LNG capacity...

Leasing and Permitting for Oil and Gas Development on Federal Public Domain Lands

A variety of statutes and agency regulations govern leasing and permitting for oil and gas development on federal lands. This report first explains the legal framework for oil and gas leasing and development on federal "public domain" lands, which involves an overview of the following: laws and regulations affecting which public domain lands are potentially subject to oil and gas leasing;
development of Resource Management Plans;
competitive and noncompetitive oil and gas leasing processes;
terms and conditions of oil and gas leases; and
the process surrounding...

Energy Policy Act of 2005, P.L. 109-58: Electricity Provisions

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 ( P.L. 109-58 ), signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005, was the first omnibus energy legislation enacted in more than a decade. Major provisions include tax incentives for domestic energy production and energy efficiency, a mandate to double the nation's use of biofuels, faster procedures for energy production on federal lands, and authorization of numerous federal energy research and development programs. This report describes the electricity provisions. It will not be updated. Title XII authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to...

Congressional Budget Actions in 2005

Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards

Wilderness Laws: Permitted and Prohibited Uses

Tax Incentives for Alternative Fuel and Advanced Technology Vehicles

Alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles face significant market barriers, such as high purchase price and limited availability of refueling infrastructure. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) expands and establishes tax incentives that encourage the purchase of these vehicles and the development of infrastructure needed to support them. Among the new provisions are tax credits for the purchase of hybrid vehicles (replacing an existing tax deduction), tax credits for the purchase of advanced diesel vehicles (although it is unclear whether any current vehicles will...

Energy and Water Development: FY2006 Appropriations

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill in the past included funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies.

After the budget request for FY2006 was submitted in February 2005, both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees reorganized their subcommittee structure and with it the content of the various appropriations bills to be introduced. In the case of Energy and Water Development, the only changes were...

Climate Change: Federal Expenditures for Science and Technology

California's San Joaquin Valley: A Region in Transition

CRS was requested to undertake a study of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) and a comparison with another U.S. region. The eight-county San Joaquin Valley, part of California's Central Valley, is home to 5 of the 10 most agriculturally productive counties in the United States. By a wide range of indicators, the SJV is also one of the most economically depressed regions of the United States. This report analyzes the SJV's counties and statistically documents the basis of current socioeconomic conditions. The report further explores the extent to which the SJV shares similarities with and...

Wild Horse and Burro Issues

This report discusses the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, which sought to protect wild horses and burros on federal lands and placed them under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS). Management of wild horses and burros has long been controversial. Current issues include the priority to be given wild horses and burros in land use decisions, removal of animals from the range, adoption and sales programs, slaughter of animals, holding animals in facilities, use of fertility control, and costs of management.

Costs and Benefits of Clear Skies: EPA's Analysis of Multi-Pollutant Clean Air Bills

The electric utility industry is a major source of air pollution, particularly sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury (Hg), as well as suspected greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). On October 27, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a long-awaited analysis comparing the costs and benefits of alternative approaches to controlling this pollution. The alternative schemes focus on using market-oriented mechanisms directed at multiple pollutants to achieve health and environmental goals. The new analysis compares four versions of the...

Forestry in the Farm Bill

ANWR and FY2006 Budget Reconciliation Legislation

This report briefly discusses the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and FY2006 budget reconciliation legislation, which is considered under expedited procedures that, in particular, limit debate and amendments in the Senate.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Fishing and Aquaculture Industries - Damage and Recovery

This report summarizes damage assessments and recovery efforts, and will be updated as warranted to incorporate new information.

Border Security and the Southwest Border: Background, Legislation, and Issues

Border security has emerged as an area of public concern, particularly after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Although recent public concerns pertaining to border security may be attributed to the threat of potential terrorists coming into the country, past concerns that centered around drug and human smuggling and the illegal entry of migrants remain important issues. As Congress passes legislation to enhance border security (e.g., P.L. 109-13) and the Administration puts into place procedures to tighten border enforcement, concerns over terrorists exploiting the porous southwest...

Klamath River Basin Issues and Activities: An Overview

The Klamath River Basin, an area on the California-Oregon border, has become a focal point for local and national discussions on water management and water scarcity. Water and species management issues were brought to the forefront when severe drought in 2001 exacerbated competition for scarce water resources and generated conflict among several interests -- farmers, Indian tribes, commercial and sport fishermen, other recreationists, federal wildlife refuge managers, environmental groups, and state, local, and tribal governments. The conflicts over water distribution and allocation are...

Key Environmental Issues in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58; H.R. 6)

Debate over a national energy policy has been ongoing since the 107th Congress. Both the 107th and 108th Congresses were unable to complete action on an omnibus energy bill. The 109th Congress debated and passed H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was signed by President Bush August 8, 2005 (P.L. 109-58).

The enacted law contains various provisions involving environmental protection and regulation. This report briefly summarizes and discusses the background and implications of key environmental provisions.

Title XV of P.L. 109-58 eliminates the reformulated gasoline (RFG) oxygen...

Manufacturing Trends: Long-Term Context for Today’s Policy Issues

Republic of the Marshall Islands Changed Circumstances Petition to Congress

In September 2000, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) government submitted to the United States Congress a Changed Circumstances Petition related to U.S. nuclear testing on the Marshall Islands atolls of Bikini and Enewetak during the 1940s and 1950s. The Petition requests additional compensation for personal injuries and property damages and restoration costs, medical care programs, health services infrastructure and training, and radiological monitoring. According to various estimates, between 1954 and 2004, the United States spent over $500 million on nuclear test compensation...

Marine Security of Hazardous Chemical Cargo

Since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the nation has been working to improve the security of hazardous chemicals transportation. Marine shipments of hazardous chemical cargo may be attractive terrorist targets because of their large volume and inherent toxicity or flammability. Anecdotal evidence and international events suggest that terrorists may have both the desire and capability to attack such shipments in U.S. waters. Building on existing legislation, Congress is analyzing the security of hazardous chemical marine shipments and deciding whether to strengthen related...

Electric Utility Regulatory Reform: Issues for the 109th Congress

The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) and the Federal Power Act (FPA) were enacted to eliminate unfair practices and other abuses by electricity and gas holding companies by requiring federal control and regulation of interstate public utility holding companies. Prior to PUHCA, electricity holding companies were characterized as having excessive consumer rates, high debt-to-equity ratios, and unreliable service. PUHCA remained virtually unchanged for 50 years until enactment of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. PURPA was, in part, intended to augment...

Electric Utility Provisions in House-Passed H.R. 6, 109th Congress

Electric utility provisions were included in comprehensive energy legislation ( H.R. 6 ) that passed the House on April 21, 2005. For an analysis of all provisions of House-passed H.R. 6, see CRS Report RL32936 , Omnibus Energy Legislation, 109th Congress: Assessment of H.R. 6 as passed by the House . The Senate Passed its version of H.R. 6 on June 28, 2005. Conferees on H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, agreed on a final bill July 26, 2005 ( H.Rept. 109-190 ). On July 28, the House approved the conference report (275-156). Senate approval (74-26) of the conference report...

Loss-of-Use Damages From U.S. Nuclear Testing in the Marshall Islands: Technical Analysis of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal's Methodology and Alternative Estimates

Key oversight committees in the 109th Congress have held joint hearings on the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Changed Circumstances Petition, which requests $522 million in additional compensation for loss-of-use of Enewetak and Bikini atolls due to U.S. nuclear testing. The $522 million appears to be significantly overstated because the methodology -- sample rent data, assumptions, and statistical procedures (i.e., the sampling technique and the use of the exponential regression model) -- overestimates the per-acre rental rate for land on Enewetak and Bikini, the key variable in...

Energy Policy: Comprehensive Energy Legislation (H.R. 6) in the 109th Congress

The House passed H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, on April 21, 2005 (249-183). The legislation includes a “safe harbor” provision to protect methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) refiners from product liability suits, which was retained after a close vote on an amendment to drop the language (213-219). In the 108th Congress, there was opposition to this provision in the Senate. It is unclear how its inclusion may affect Senate passage of an energy bill in the 109th Congress. House Republicans have indicated that a compromise will be sought to satisfy the other body. Language in the...

Omnibus Energy Legislation, 109th Congress: Side-by-Side Assessment of House and Senate Versions of H.R. 6

The House approved an omnibus energy bill ( H.R. 6 ) on April 21, 2005, that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas leasing, substantially change oversight of electric utilities, increase the use of alternative motor fuels, provide $8.1 billion in energy tax incentives, and authorize numerous energy R&D programs. The Senate passed its version of H.R. 6 on June 28 without ANWR provisions but with $14.1 billion in tax incentives -- including a nuclear energy production credit -- and provisions on global climate change. Highlights of the bills include:

...

Global Climate Change: The Kyoto Protocol

Negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were completed December 11, 1997, committing the industrialized nations to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of six "greenhouse gases." The Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, and its emissions reduction requirements are binding on the 35 industrialized countries that have ratified it; the United States disengaged from the Protocol in 2001 and has not ratified it. As structured in the negotiations completed in 1997, this treaty would commit the United...

Climate Change: Comparison and Analysis of S. 1151 and the Draft "Climate and Economy Insurance Act of 2005"

Climate change is generally viewed as a global issue, but proposed responses generally require action at the national level. In 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which called on industrialized countries to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2000. Over the past decade, a variety of voluntary and regulatory actions have been proposed or undertaken in the United States, but carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase.

Several proposals designed to address greenhouse gases have been...

Alcohol Fuels Tax Incentives

Prior to January 1, 2005, alcohol fuel blenders qualified for a 5.2¢ tax exemption against the excise taxes otherwise due on each gallon of blended mixtures (mixtures of 10% ethanol, and 90% gasoline). This exemption, which was scheduled to decline to 5.1¢ on January 1, 2005, reduced the gasoline excise tax for “gasohol,” from 18.4¢ to 13.2¢/gallon. The reduction was realized at the time when the gasoline tax was otherwise imposed: typically when the fuel was loaded from the terminal onto trucks for distribution. The 5.2¢ exemption could also be claimed later, i.e., when blenders filed...

Genetically Engineered Fish and Seafood

Genetic engineering techniques allow the manipulation of inherited traits to modify organisms. Genetically modified (GM) fish and seafood products are currently under development and may offer potential benefits such as increasing aquaculture productivity and addressing human health concerns. However, some critics of this rapidly evolving field are concerned that current technological and regulatory safeguards are inadequate to protect the environment and ensure public acceptance of these products. This report discusses various regulatory and environmental concerns regarding GM fish and...

Energy Tax Policy: An Economic Analysis

This report provides background on the theory and application of tax policy as it relates to the energy sector, particularly with respect to the theory of market failure in the energy sector and suggested policy remedies. Economic theory suggests that producers of energy-related minerals be taxed no differently than non-mineral producers: Exploration and development costs and other investments in a deposit (including geological and geophysical costs and delay rentals) should be capitalized. In general, competitive mineral producers subject to a pure income tax would not exploit resources...

Active Sonar and Marine Mammals: Chronology with References

The deployment of active sonar by the U.S. Navy and its potential impacts on marine mammals has been an ongoing issue of intense debate; regulatory, legislative, and judicial activity; and international concern. This report provides a chronology of significant events and documents since 1994.

Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition

The complexities of federal farm and food programs have generated a unique vocabulary. Common understanding of these terms (new and old) is important to those involved in policymaking in this area. For this reason, the House Agriculture Committee requested that CRS prepare a glossary of agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, abbreviations, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture that are of...

The Safe-Harbor Provision for Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)

Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is a fuel additive in wide use throughout the United States. Due to leakage from underground storage tanks and other sources of exposure, MTBE has been found in the drinking water supplies of several states. Whether to shield certain parties from MTBE-related liability proved controversial in the 108th Congress, and ultimately no legislation addressing the issue was enacted. In the 109th Congress, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 ( H.R. 6 ) has been passed by the House of Representatives; it contains a safe-harbor provision protecting any...

Major Coal Issues in the 109th Congress

Major legislative issues related to coal in the 109th Congress include coal and energy security, clean air and environmental concerns, funding strategies for technology R&D, loan guarantees for coal gasification projects, and the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program.

The Administration anticipates a long-term reliance on coal because of its relatively low-cost abundance. Coal supplies 22% of U.S. energy demand but over 50% of the energy used by the electric power sector. The Energy Information Administration forecasts electricity consumption to grow by 1.9% per year through 2025. The...

Land and Water Conservation Fund: Current Status and Issues

EPA's Proposed Policy on Wastewater Blending: Background and Issues

In November 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a policy concerning a wastewater treatment practice called blending. The policy was intended to clarify when the practice can be allowed and still adhere to Clean Water Act regulations and requirements. Some cities use blending to manage peak flows of water and waste into wastewater treatment plants during and after storms as a way to prevent conditions that otherwise result in raw sewage backups into homes and other buildings or overflows into nearby waters. Blending involves routing excess wastewater around the plant's...

Federal-State Maritime Boundary Issues

Over the last few decades, new uses for coastal and offshore areas have emerged, including aquaculture and renewable energy (wind, wave, and tidal), while more traditional uses, such as commercial fishing and oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, have continued to flourish. As technologies improve, companies may increasingly seek to move activities farther offshore and to expand resource development in both state and federal waters. Various interests argue over which policies and regulations will best minimize conflicts between competing offshore resource users while...

Genetic Testing: Scientific Background and Nondiscrimination Legislation

Issues surrounding genetic discrimination and privacy in health insurance and employment are currently being debated in the 109th Congress. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the status of genetic testing in the United States.

Iraq: Frequently Asked Questions About Contracting

This report provides answers to frequently asked questions about contracts for the reconstruction and recovery in Iraq after Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and questions about contracts for providing support services to the U.S. military during and after OIF. The report describes the governing authorities for federal government contracting policy in general, and Iraqi contracting policy in particular; the contracting process, issues, and challenges; the authority of individual federal agencies; contract awards and the identity of major prime contractors; the business procurement process,...

Appropriations for FY2005: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and related agencies appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for some agencies or programs within three other departments—Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous related agencies. H.R. 4568, the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY2005, was passed by the House (334-86) on June 17, 2004. The bill contained $20.03 billion. The Senate companion bill, S. 2804, was reported by the Senate Committee on Appropriations (S.Rept. 108-341) on September 14,...

Abandoned Mine Land Fund Reauthorization: Selected Issues

The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA, P.L. 95-87 ), enacted in 1977, established reclamation standards for all coal surface mining operations and for the surface effects of underground mining. It also established the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program to promote the reclamation of sites mined and abandoned prior to the enactment of SMCRA. To finance reclamation of abandoned mine sites, the legislation established fees on coal production. These collections are divided into federal and state shares; subject to annual appropriation, AML funds are distributed annually to...

Mining on Federal Lands

Shrimp Trade Dispute: Chronology

Alternative Transportation Fuels and Vehicles: Energy, Environment, and Development Issues

The sharp increase in petroleum prices beginning in mid-1999, experiences with tighter supply, and international instability have renewed concern about our dependence on petroleum imports. One of the strategies for reducing this dependence is to produce vehicles that run on alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel. These alternatives include alcohols, gaseous fuels, renewable fuels, electricity, and fuels derived from coal. The push to develop alternative fuels, although driven by energy security concerns, has been aided by concerns over the environment, because many alternative fuels lead...

Climate Change Legislation in the 108th Congress

Climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were an issue in the 108th Congress, as they were over the preceding decade. Bills directly addressing climate change issues ranged from those focused primarily on climate change research ( H.R. 1578 and S. 1164 ) to comprehensive emissions cap and trading programs for all six greenhouse gases ( S. 139 and H.R. 4067 ). Additional bills focused on GHG reporting and registries ( H.R. 6 (Senate-passed), H.R. 1245 , S. 17 , and S. 194 ), or on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide ( H.R. 2042 , S. 139, S. 366 , and S. 843 ).

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Science and Technology Policy: Issues for the 108th Congress, 2nd Session

Energy Policy: The Continuing Debate and Omnibus Energy Legislation

Gasoline Price Surge Revisited: Crude Oil and Refinery Issues

Since late 2002, gasoline prices have been extremely volatile, with the national average spiking above $1.70 three times. Most recently, the nationwide pump price for regular fuel set a new record as momentum carried it over $2.00 per gallon. Prices in some states -- reaching a high of $2.45 per gallon in California -- are much above the national average. In addition to the market forces affecting pump prices in the United States, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced a production cut effective in January 2005. At a minimum, this is likely to support...

Global Climate Change: Controlling CO2 Emissions—Cost-Limiting Safety Valves

Proposed CO2 reduction schemes present large uncertainties in terms of the perceived reduction needs and the potential costs of achieving those reductions. Several cost-limiting “safety valves” have been proposed to bound costs of any CO2 control program, including (1) a straight carbon tax, (2) a contingent reduction scheme, (3) unlimited permit purchases, and (4) cost-based excess emissions penalties. Employing a safety valve shifts much of the emission reduction debate from compliance targets to the specifications of the safety valve, in particular, the level of the tax or fee involved....

Fuel Ethanol: Background and Public Policy Issues

Sport Utility Vehicles, Mini-Vans, and Light Trucks: An Overview of Fuel Economy and Emissions Standards

Most sport utility vehicles, mini-vans, and pickups are classified as “light trucks” and thus are regulated less stringently than passenger cars under two major laws — the Energy Policy and Conservation Act for fuel economy standards, and the Clean Air Act for emissions standards. This report discusses the discrepancy between emissions and fuel economy standards for passenger cars and light trucks, how that discrepancy is changing, and legislative activity related to these issues.

Environmental Protection Issues in the 108th Congress

Appropriations for FY2005: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill includes funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. The Bush Administration requested $27.94 billion for these programs for FY2005, compared with $27.26 billion appropriated for FY2004 ( P.L. 108-137 , and rescissions included in P.L. 108-199 ). On June 16 the House Appropriations Committee reported out its bill ( H.R. 4614 ) with $27.99 billion, and the bill passed the...

Genetically Engineered Fish and Seafood

Clean Water Act Issues in the 108th Congress

This report discusses issues regarding the Clean Water Act. Prospects for legislative initiatives to comprehensively amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) have stalled for some time over whether and exactly how to change the law, and Congress has recently focused legislative attention on narrow bills to extend or modify selected CWA programs, rather than taking up comprehensive proposals. For example, the 108th Congress enacted one bill amending the CWA, legislation to reauthorize the National Estuary Program (H.R. 4731, P.L. 108-399).

Clean Air Act Issues in the 108th Congress

Energy Use in Agriculture: Background and Issues

Agriculture requires energy as an important input to production. Agriculture uses energy directly as fuel or electricity to operate machinery and equipment, to heat or cool buildings, and for lighting on the farm, and indirectly in the fertilizers and chemicals produced off the farm. In 2002, the U.S. agricultural sector used an estimated 1.7 quadrillion Btu of energy from both direct (1.1 quadrillion Btu) and indirect (0.6 quadrillion Btu) sources. However, agriculture’s total use of energy is low relative to other U.S. producing sectors. In 2002, agriculture’s share of total U.S. direct...

Electricity: The Road Toward Restructuring

Appropriations for FY2005: Military Construction

The military construction (MilCon) appropriations bill provides funding for (1) military construction projects in the United States and overseas; (2) military family housing operations and construction; (3) U.S. contributions to the NATO Security Investment Program; and (4) the bulk of base realignment and closure (BRAC)costs. The President forwarded his FY2005 budget request of $9.6 billion to the Congress on February 2, 2004. Military construction subcommittees held hearings between February 25 and June 22, 2004. The House Appropriations Committee its bill ( H.R. 4837 ) on July 15,...

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies for the 108th Congress

This report discusses one major element of the energy debate in the 108th Congress, which has been whether to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in northeastern Alaska, and if so, under what conditions, or whether to continue to prohibit development to protect the area's biological resources. The Refuge is an area rich in fauna, flora, and commercial oil potential. Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge.

Brownfields and Superfund Issues in the 108th Congress

This report discusses the Superfund program for cleaning up the nation's worst hazardous waste sites, created by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA (P.L. 96-510, as amended). It includes recent development and background issues, superfund issues, revenue issues, comprehensive reauthorization, and legislation regarding superfund program.

Coastal Louisiana: Attempting to Restore an Ecosystem

Congress continues to consider legislative options to address wetlands loss in coastal Louisiana. Some legislative proposals would dedicate some federal revenues from offshore oil and gas development to restoration efforts. Other proposals would authorize specific restoration projects or activities, or further examination of the causes and effects of loss. These projects are neutralizing conditions that lead to loss at some sites, and are reestablishing some wetlands. These projects are expected to have many ecological, economic, and social benefits. A July 2004 U.S. Army Corps of...

Military Base Closures: A Historical Review from 1988 to 1995

The United States has experienced difficulty in closing military bases to match the requirements of downsized forces with changed composition. During the decade of the 1980s, major military base closures were seriously hampered by procedural requirements established by Congress, to the point that none occurred. The mismatch between real estate assets and defense requirements grew with the military downsizing that began late in the Reagan Administration and continued under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Clinton. After several legislative efforts to break the deadlock had failed,...

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Possible Effects on Gasoline Prices of Selected Fill Policies

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), authorized by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act ( P.L. 94-163 ), was originally intended to provide a domestic stock of crude oil to be used in emergency situations when the supply of crude oil to the United States is disrupted. In November 2001, President Bush ordered that the SPR be filled to its current capacity with royalty-in-kind (RIK) oil, the government's share of oil produced from federal leases. In the face of high prices for crude oil and gasoline, the policy has been challenged as a contributing cause of higher prices....

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Online News and Information Sources

A variety of free online sources can be used by Members of Congress and staff seeking current and breaking news on fisheries, aquaculture, and marine mammals. Services identified include newswires and news services, press release services, regional and topical newsletters, topical discussion groups, comprehensive resource archives, professional organizations, trade and interest organizations, government agencies and international commissions, and issue-specific sites. This summary does not attempt a complete listing of available online sources, but offers a selection of frequently used...

Energy Savings Performance Contracts: Reauthorization Issues

Since the 1970s, both the executive branch and Congress have promoted energy efficiency within federal agencies. When the federal government's energy-efficiency and conservation programs received severe budget cuts in the 1980's, Shared Energy Savings and later Energy Savings Performance Contracts were devised as part of the strategy to meet federal energy reduction goals. Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) offered federal agencies a novel means of making energy-efficiency improvements to aging buildings and facilities. In return for privately financing and installing energy...

Open Ocean Aquaculture

Below-Cost Timber Sales: An Overview

The USDA Forest Service (FS) sells some timber at prices that are less than the agency expenses to administer the timber program. These below-cost timber sales have been debated by Congress sporadically for more than two decades, but no policy to address the issue has been adopted legislatively or administratively. Part of the debate over below-cost timber sales has been about their relative frequency. At the direction of Congress, the FS developed a system for reporting the financial and economic results of timber sales. Data were reported annually for each national forest, beginning...

Supreme Court Opinions: October 2003 Term

This report contains synopses of Supreme Court decisions issued from the beginning of the October 2003 Term through the end of the Term on June 29, 2004. Included in this listing are all cases decided by signed opinion and selected cases decided per curiam . In addition to the summary, the date of decision is indicated, and cites to United States Law Week and West's Supreme Court Reporter are provided. Following each synopsis the vote on the Court's holding is indicated in bold typeface, and authors of the Court's opinion and of any concurring and dissenting opinions, along with the...

Appropriations for FY2004: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and related agencies appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and for some agencies or programs within three other departments -- Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous smaller related agencies. President Bush's FY2004 budget for Interior and related agencies totaled $19.89 billion, $220.5 million (1%) less than enacted for FY2003 ($20.11 billion). On July 17, 2003, the House passed H.R. 2691 (268-152) containing a total of $19.60 billion for Interior and...

Oil and Gas Exploration and Development on Public Lands

The U.S. Congress and the Administration are involved in a major policy debate over oil and gas development from federal lands and from federal mineral estate underlying certain privately owned lands. Within the framework of U.S. public lands policy, restrictions and withdrawals have affected the amount of land that can be developed. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act Amendments of 2000 (EPCA) mandated a study which was released in January 2003 to assess the oil and gas resource potential underlying restricted federal lands. It concluded that although the amount of land prospected for...

Selected Legal and Policy Issues Related to Coalbed Methane Development

Coalbed methane (CBM) has rapidly become a significant source of natural gas in the United States. With growing consumer demand, high natural gas prices, and significant political support for development, the CBM production industry has grown exponentially. Pending legislation, such as the omnibus energy bills, S. 2095 and H.R. 6 , would provide additional production incentives. Increased CBM interest has had significant consequences, leading to frequent disputes over CBM ownership, the adequacy of federal leasing process, and federal and local environmental regulation. The federal...

Walker v. Cheney: District Court Decision and Related Statutory and Constitutional Issues

On January 29, 2001, President Bush established the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), with Vice President Cheney serving as Chairman. Along with the Vice President, the NEPDG consisted of six executive department heads, two agency heads, and various other federal officers. The NEPDG was tasked with developing a national energy policy "designed to help the private sector, and government at all levels, promote dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound production and distribution of energy for the future." Based on reports that meetings of the NEPDG included...

Omnibus Energy Legislation, 108th Congress: Comparison of Non-Tax Provisions in the H.R. 6 Conference Report and S. 2095

House and Senate conferees approved an omnibus energy bill ( H.R. 6 , H.Rept. 108-375 ) on November 17, 2003, and the House approved the measure the following day (246-180). However, on November 21, 2003, a cloture motion to limit Senate debate on the conference report failed (57-40). On February 12, 2004, Senator Domenici introduced a revised version of the bill ( S. 2095 ) with a lower estimated cost and without a controversial provision on the fuel additive MTBE. Major non-tax provisions in the conference measure and S. 2095 include:

Ethanol. An increase in ethanol production to...

Air Pollution: Legal Perspectives on the “Routine Maintenance” Exception to New Source Review

A major Clean Air Act issue is the extent to which an existing power plant or factory may be altered without effecting a “modification.” A “modification” of an existing air pollution source is subject to the act’s stringent air pollution control requirements for new sources. The topic of this report is a widely used exemption to “modification” allowing changes that constitute “routine maintenance, repair, and replacement” without triggering such stringent requirements. The report surveys the original legal landscape surrounding this exemption—in the contexts of determining applicability of...

The Conservation Security Program in the 2002 Farm Bill

The Conservation Security Program (CSP), a new program enacted in section 2001 of the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, creates a three-tiered system rewarding increased levels of conservation on agricultural operations with increased payments. Payments include a base payment for acreage enrolled, a payment for new or existing conservation practices, and an “enhancement” payment for conservation exceeding minimum program standards.

Appropriations for FY2004: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill includes funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. The Bush Administration requested $26.95 billion for these programs for FY2004 compared with $26.20 billion appropriated for FY2003. On July 18 the House passed a bill, H.R. 2754 , containing appropriations of $27.08 billion. On September 16 the Senate passed its version of H.R. 2754, funding energy and water development...

Summary of Electricity Provisions in the Conference Report on H.R. 6, 108th Congress

Conferees on the House and Senate energy bills ( H.R. 6 ) met on November 17, 2003 and approved a conference report. On November 18, 2003, the House approved the Conference report to H.R. 6 by a vote of 246-180. On November 21, 2003, a cloture motion to limit debate on H.R. 6 in the Senate failed by a vote of 57-40.

This report describes Title XII of the conference report on H.R. 6 which deals with electric power issues. In part, this Title would create an electric reliability organization (ERO) that would enforce mandatory reliability standards for the bulk-power system. All ERO...

Climate Change: Federal Research and Technology and Related Programs

For over 20 years there have been federal programs directly or indirectly related to climate change. Direct programs have focused largely on scientific research to improve the capability to understand climate systems and/or predict climatic change and variability. Energy use has been a major focus of efforts related to possible climate change because carbon dioxide, the major "greenhouse gas," is added to the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. Those efforts, which sought to reduce oil imports, manage electricity needs, and address environmental concerns including climate...

Electric Utility Policy: Comparison of House-Passed H.R. 6 and S.Amdt. 1412, 108th Congress

Electric utility provisions are included in comprehensive energy legislation that has passed both the House and Senate. The House passed H.R. 6 on April 11, 2003. On July 31, 2003, the Senate suspended debate on S. 14 , the comprehensive energy bill that had been reported by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It then passed H.R. 6 with the text of the Senate-passed version of H.R. 4 from the 107th Congress. For a comparison of the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill, see CRS Report RL32033, Omnibus Energy Legislation: Side-by-Side Comparison of Non-Tax Provisions...

Energy Tax Incentives in the 108th Congress: A Comparison of the House and Senate Versions of H.R. 6 and the Senate Finance Committee Amendment

This report discusses energy taxes incentives, which have long been an integral component of this nation’s energy policy. Efforts to significantly expand existing energy tax subsidies have been undertaken since the 106th Congress, but controversy over various non-tax energy policy provisions — corporate average fuel economy standards, the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, etc. — have helped stall the legislation.

Departmental Organization, 1947-2003

Since the end of World War II, nine federal departments have been created in the executive branch. The tables in this report provide selected information on the organization of those departments.

Private Crude Oil Stocks and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Debate

Periodically, since the inception of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in 1975, debate has occurred concerning its optimal size. In the 108th Congress, the House has passed energy legislation ( H.R. 6 ) which would require the SPR to be filled to its current capacity of approximately 700 million barrels and would authorize funds to further expand the capacity of the reserve to 1 billion barrels. Analysis of the SPR issue has been carried out in a benefit/cost framework in which benefits, the avoided cost to the national economy of a supply disruption, are set against the real...

Iraq's Economy: Past, Present, Future

This report discusses the government of Iraq and its active role in stimulating and directing the Iraqi economy.This report identifies issues to be addressed before Iraq can participate normally in the world economy.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Background and Issues

The rich biological resources and wilderness values of northeastern Alaska have been widely known for about 50 years, and the rich energy resource potential for much of that time. The future of these resources has been debated in Congress for over 40 years. The issue for Congress is whether to open a portion of what is now the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to allow the development of potentially the richest on-shore source of oil remaining in the United States, and if so under what restrictions. Alternatively, Congress might choose to provide further protection for the...

Middle East Oil Disruption: Potential Severity and Policy Options

Military action in Iraq disrupted the world's crude oil supplies, but sufficient world supply was available during the disruption to keep the resulting price spikes within tolerable levels. With the elimination of the regime of Saddam Hussein, the resumption of Iraqi oil exports seems near, world oil prices have fallen, and adequate supplies from other exporters are available to satisfy near-term demand, which is entering the seasonally slack spring period. Until they halted in mid-March 2003, Iraq's petroleum exports recently averaged about 1.5 million barrels per day (mbd),...

Appropriations for FY2003: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except for the Bureau of Reclamation, and funds for some agencies or programs within three other departments--Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous smaller related agencies. On February 4, 2002, President Bush submitted his FY2003 budget for Interior and related agencies, totaling $18.94 billion compared to $19.17 billion enacted for FY2002 ( P.L.107-63 ). While the House passed an Interior funding bill in the 107th Congress, the Senate did...

Risk Assessment and Regulation in the Federal Government: A Brief Overview

An important function of the regulatory process on the federal level is to assess and control risks--damage from events that may or may not occur--that confront the citizenry. Some agencies use risk assessment methods to help understand and control risks; they then use the rulemaking process to select which methods of risk control to use. Risk assessment, the rulemaking process, and methods of risk control all generate controversy. Congress sometimes mandates which risks federal agencies address, to what extent they are controlled, and how they are controlled. Congress may change how...

Appropriations for FY2003: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill includes funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. The Bush Administration requested $25.5 billion for these programs for FY2003 compared with $25.2 billion appropriated in FY2002. The House Appropriations Committee recommended a bill, H.R. 5431 , with $26.0 billion on September 5, 2002. On July 24, 2002, the Senate Appropriations Committee had reported out its own bill, S....

Clean Air: New Source Review Policies and Proposals

On November 22, 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to several aspects of the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) New Source Review (NSR) requirements. At the same time, EPA proposed rules to clarify the definition of “routine maintenance” under NSR. The proposed and final rules have generated controversy. The Bush Administration has argued that the new rules will reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency. In contrast, the State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) and Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (ALAPCO) argue that...

Clean Air Act Issues in the 107th Congress

In the 107th Congress, the most prominent air quality issue has been whether state and federal regulations designed to protect air quality are having a negative impact on energy production, and, if so, whether legislation should be enacted to reform such regulations. The early discussion focused primarily on California, but with the release of the Administration’s energy policy recommendations in May 2001 and subsequent congressional action, attention shifted to issues more national in scope.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Standard Market Design Activities

On July 31, 2002, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) on standard market design (SMD) that is intended to remove the remaining impediments to competitive electricity markets. FERC expects to issue a final rule in the summer of 2003. The SMD NOPR addresses congestion management, long-term resource planning, day-ahead and spot market design, and market monitoring and mitigation. Those in favor of the SMD NOPR argue that it is necessary to eliminate discrimination in the transmission system and to create competitive markets. Opponents...

Patent Law and Innovation: The Creation, Operation and a Twenty-Year Assessment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ("Federal Circuit") is a specialized court with exclusive appellate jurisdiction over patent appeals. Congress established the Federal Circuit in 1982 in order to promote predictability and uniformity in the patent law. Now that the Federal Circuit has celebrated its twentieth anniversary, it is appropriate to consider the influence of the court upon patent law and, more generally, the climate for innovative industry within the United States. A number of commentators believe that the Federal Circuit has strengthened the economic, legal...

Energy Policy: Setting the Stage for the Current Debate

This report discusses the energy policy. Comprehensive energy legislation was introduced in the Senate by both parties by late March (S. 388, S. 389, S. 596, S. 597).

Clean Water Issues in the 107th Congress

Key water quality issues currently include: actions to implement existing provisions of the Clean Water Act (CWA), whether additional steps are necessary to achieve overall goals of the Act, and the appropriate federal role in guiding and paying for clean water infrastructure and other activities. In the second session of the 107th Congress, House and Senate committees approved legislation to reauthorize water infrastructure funding programs (H.R. 3930, S. 1961), but no further action occurred. Congress has been examining impacts on agricultural producers and how the programs will be funded.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Legislative Issues

This report discusses the ongoing debate about whether or not to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for energy development. The report discusses arguments for and against such development and focuses especially on related pieces of legislation that directly affects the future of the ANWR.

The Economic Effects of 9/11: A Retrospective Assessment

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was so sudden and devastating that it may be difficult at this point in time to write dispassionately and objectively about its effects on the U.S. economy. This retrospective review will attempt such an undertaking. The loss of lives and property was not large enough to have had a measurable effect on the productive capacity of the United States even though it had a very significant localized effect on New York City and, to a lesser degree, on the greater Washington, D.C. area. Thus, for the tragedy to affect the economy it would have had to have affected...

How Many Commercial Fishermen?

The National Petroleum Reserve -- Alaska (NPRA)

In May 2002, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released revised estimates of the oil and gas resources that may lie beneath the surface of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA), an area of more than 20-million acres that lies West of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Significantly higher than previous estimates, these numbers may be considered by House and Senate conferees as they seek to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable energy bill ( H.R. 4 ). The House-passed version of omnibus energy legislation, H.R. 4 , would allow oil and gas leasing in ANWR...

Terrorism: The New Occupational Hazard

The Endangered Species Act and "Sound Science"

This report provides a context for evaluating legislative proposals through examples of how science has been used in selected cases, a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science.

Klamath River Basin Issues: An Overview of Water Use Conflicts

Severe drought in 2001 affected the Klamath River Basin, an area on the California-Oregon border, exacerbating competition for scarce water resources and generating conflict among several interests -- farmers, municipal and industrial users, commercial and sport fishermen, other recreationists, federal wildlife refuges, environmental groups, and Indian Tribes. The conflicts over water distribution and allocation are physically and legally complex, reflecting the varied and sometimes competing uses of limited water supplies in the Upper Basin.

On April 6, 2001, the Bureau of Reclamation...

Omnibus Energy Legislation: H.R. 4 Side-by-side Comparison

The House and Senate have passed two distinct versions of an omnibus energy bill ( H.R. 4 ), the first comprehensive energy legislation in ten years. The substantial differences between the two chambers' approaches to energy policy remain to be resolved in conference, which is expected to take place over the summer. The House version of H.R. 4 , the Securing America's Future Energy Act of 2001, which passed August 2, 2001, includes a key component of the Bush Administration's energy strategy: opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration and development....

Walker v. Cheney: Statutory and Constitutional Issues Arising From the General Accounting Office's Suit Against the Vice President

On January 29, 2001, President Bush established the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), with Vice President Cheney serving as Chairman. Along with the Vice President, the NEPDG consisted of six executive department heads, two agency heads, and various other federal officers. The NEPDG was tasked with developing a national energy policy "designed to help the private sector, and government at all levels, promote dependable, affordable, and environmentally sound production and distribution of energy for the future." Based on reports that meetings of the NEPDG included...

Energy Policy Act of 2002: Summary of S.1766 as Introduced

The Energy Policy Act of 2002 (S. 1766) was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Daschle on December 5, 2001, and placed on the Senate Calendar for floor action. The bill is expected to be the primary vehicle for Senate debate on national energy policy. S. 1766 would further the trend of the past two decades towards competitive electric markets. Subtitle B of Title II of S. 1766 would repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA), which makes certain multi-state utility holding companies subject to regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Title II,...

Appropriations for FY2002: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill includes funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. The Bush Administration requested $22.5 billion for these programs for FY2002 compared with $23.6 billion appropriated in FY2001. The House bill, ( H.R. 2311 ), passed on June 28, 2001, allocated $23.7 billion for these programs. The Senate approved its version of the bill July 19, 2001, with $25.0 billion. The final bill...

Environmental Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors: What Are the Human Health Risks?

This report discusses the human health risks, specifically from endocrine disruptors that are chemical compounds in drugs, food, consumer products, or the ambient environment that can interfere with internal biological processes of animals that normally are regulated by their hormones.

Appropriations for FY2002: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funds for the Department of the Interior (DOI), except the Bureau of Reclamation, and funds for some agencies or programs within three other departments--Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. It also funds numerous smaller agencies. On April, 9, 2001, President Bush submitted his FY2002 budget for Interior and Related Agencies, totaling $18.19 billion compared to the $19.07 billion enacted for FY2001 ( P.L. 106-291 ). These figures reflect scorekeeping adjustments. (See Table 10 and Table 11 ). Title VIII...

Magnetic Fusion: The DOE Fusion Energy Sciences Program

Disadvantaged Businesses: A Review of Federal Assistance

It is the policy of the federal government to encourage the development of small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) owned by minorities and women. SDBs are statutorily defined as small businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias and who have limited capital and credit opportunities. This report presents an overview of the major federal programs now in existence and indicates where interested persons can obtain further information about specific programs.

Energy Independence: Would It Free the United States From Oil Price Shocks?

Over the past 25-years, the U.S. economy has experienced four large oil price shocks (1973-74, 1979-80, 1990-91, and 1999-2000). Each has been a catalyst for discussions about a proper national energy policy. Many analysts have suggested that energy independence should be an integral part of such a policy. Both major party candidates for president in the 2000 election expressed similar views. However, U.S. suppliers of energy participate in the world energy market. So long as prices are determined in that market, energy independence will not free the United States from oil price shocks.

Renewable Energy Legislation in the 107th Congress

This report complements and supports CRS Issue Brief IB10041, by summarizing action on more than 100 renewable energy bills introduced during the 107th Congress. In the first session, much of the action on renewable energy provisions focused on the two omnibus energy policy bills, H.R. 4 and S. 1766 . H.R. 4 includes renewables provisions that would authorize research and development (R&D) funding, provide alternative fuel tax incentives, create a residential solar tax credit, extend the renewables production tax credit, and fund renewables with income derived from development of...

Energy Efficiency and the Rebound Effect

Several measures in the 107th Congress seek to increase energy efficiency as a means to decrease dependance on foreign oil, cut electricity demand and to curb both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However some claim that these measures may not be as effective as projected because of the rebound effect. By definition, increasing a device's energy efficiency decreases its consumption of energy. However, a simple projection may overestimate the energy savings unless it accounts for the consumer's response to lower costs. For example, a company that doubles the efficiency of...

Research and Development Funding: Fiscal Year 2002

Climate Change: Federal Research, Technology, and Related Programs

A major focus of efforts to address possible global climate change has been on energy use, given that carbon dioxide, the major “greenhouse gas,” is added to the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned. Federal programs to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy resources have a history that goes back well over two decades. While many of these efforts were aimed at reducing U.S. dependence on oil imports and addressing electricity needs, they also are relevant to environmental concerns, including climate change.

Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation Legislation in the 107th Congress

This report reviews the status of energy efficiency and energy conservation legislation introduced during the 107th Congress. Most of the focus thus far has centered on omnibus energy bills introduced in the House ( H.R. 4 ) and in the Senate ( S. 596 / S. 597 and S. 388 / S. 389 ). The omnibus energy bills from both the House and the Senate have several energy efficiency provisions. H.R. 4 , the Securing America's Energy Future (SAFE) Act, comprises four major house bills: H.R. 2436 , H.R. 2460 , H.R. 2511 , and H.R. 2587 . This bill covers many provisions from the Bush...

Bush Energy Policy: Overview of Major Proposals and Legislative Action

The Bush Administration outlined its proposals for addressing the nation’s energy problems in May 2001 with a 170-page report by the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPD) titled National Energy Policy (NEP). In June, the President transmitted to Congress a summation of the report’s concepts and strategies that call for legislative action.

Energy in 2001: Crisis Again?

This report deals with changes in the national energy picture since the early 1990s, when Congress last dealt at length with energy policy. It reviews the problem areas and discusses differing views on how to deal with the energy situation in the long run. A summary of some current legislative initiatives is also given.

Energy Efficiency and the Rebound Effect: Does Increasing Efficiency Decrease Demand?

Intuitively it seems obvious to most observers that increasing energy efficiency will ultimately reduce demand for an energy resource such as electricity. Paradoxically, economic theory suggests that this decrease in demand and subsequent decrease in cost of using the resource could cause a rebound in demand. A commonly cited example is an increase in the efficiency of home air conditioning which may reduce the resident's monetary incentive to conserve. The resident may opt to change the thermostat setting to keep the amount he pays constant, but living at a more comfortable temperature....

Energy Efficiency in Congressional Buildings

This report describes energy efficiency requirements applicable to congressional buildings and the energy saving activities being undertaken in the Capitol complex. The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) has the authority and responsibility to provide energy services and implement energy efficiency measures in congressional buildings. Congress has used legislative appropriations bills to establish energy efficiency measures under AOC. In the early 1990s, Congress funded an energy efficient lighting initiative for congressional buildings. In 1998, Congress set a goal for 2005 to improve energy...

National Monuments and the Antiquities Act: President Clinton's Designations and Related Issues

President Clinton used the Antiquities Act of 1906 (16 U.S.C. ¿¿431-433) to create 19 new national monuments and enlarge 3 others. All but one of the designations were made during President Clinton's last year in office. The new monuments range in size from 2 acres to nearly 1.9 million acres. The 22 monuments created or enlarged by President Clinton total about 5.9 million acres, the second largest acreage of any President, and only President Franklin D. Roosevelt used his authority more often (on 28 occasions vs. 22 for President Clinton). The Antiquities Act authorizes the President...

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fuel Equivalents to Potential Oil Production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Congress is considering bills to allow oil development in ANWR, an area in northeastern Alaska with a unique ecosystem rich in plant life and wildlife that is also one of the most prospective onshore areas in the United States for large oil discoveries. President Bush has proposed opening the area to oil and natural gas development. Among the numerous recommendations of the Administration report, Reliable, Affordable, and Environmentally Sound Energy for America's Future (May 2001), are proposals to open ANWR, foster energy efficiency and energy conservation, and review automobile...

Conservation Reserve Program: Status and Current Issues

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), enacted in 1985, enables producers to retire highly erodible or environmentally sensitive cropland, usually for 10 years. Congress reauthorized and amended the CRP in the 1996 Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act (P.L. 104-127; 16 U.S.C. 3811, et seq.). The law caps enrollment at 36.4 million acres and makes funding mandatory through the commodity Credit Corporation.

Diesel Fuel and Engines: An Analysis of EPA's New Regulations

This report reviews the final regulations on diesel fuel and diesel engine emissions signed by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner December 21, 2000 and promulgated January 18, 2001. The engine regulations would be phased in beginning with Model Year 2007, with full compliance required by Model Year 2010. As compared to current engines, engines meeting the proposed standards would emit 90% less particulate matter (a respiratory irritant and likely human carcinogen) and 95% less nitrogen oxides, a group of gases that contribute to the formation of ozone. Because...

The Clean Coal Technology Program: Current Prospects

The Clean Coal Technology (CCT) program, started in the 1980's and funded generously in the early 1990's, has completed most of its surviving projects and has not funded any new ones since 1994. However, President Bush’s FY2002 budget outline proposed spending $2 billion over 10 years on a restructured CCT program. It is not clear what kind of projects would be included in the new program.

Electricity Generation and Air Quality: Multi-Pollutant Strategies

Fossil fuel fired electric generating facilities are major sources of air pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and mercury (Hg), and of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). A patchwork of regulations to limit PM, SO2, and NOx emissions exists, with further requirements on the horizon. The piecemeal nature of the regulations and the uncertainty of future requirements impose not only direct costs on utilities, but also make planning difficult in an environment already characterized by industry restructuring, volatile energy prices,...

Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) (H.R. 701) and a Related Initiative in the 106th Congress

This report compares H.R. 701 , as passed by the House and H.R. 701 , as approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, with current law. These bills, often referred to as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), would have funded various resource acquisition and protection activities. The two versions contain some significant differences. Both bills (and numerous related bills) originated, in part, from efforts to: (1) provide higher and more certain funding for resource protection programs; (2) fund the state grant portion or the entire LWCF each year; and (3)...

Electricity Restructuring: The Implications for Air Quality

In the context of federal and state proposals to restructure the electric utility industry, this paper analyzes forces and policies affecting utility generation that may have consequences for emissions of air pollutants and of greenhouse gases. Key concerns are potential increases in nitrogen oxide emissions, raising questions about the effectiveness of the Clean Air Act to regulate a restructured industry, and in carbon dioxide emissions, which are not currently regulated but could be if the U.S. ratifies the Kyoto Agreement. These issues may be raised in the context of electricity...

Managing Regional Growth: Is There a Role for Congress?

Regional growth management is largely addressed at the local and state levels, driven by a myriad of concerns. Many of these concerns are associated with the concept of sprawl, and pit expansion of suburban development against protection of open space, agricultural activities, and amenity values. Local and state policies to respond to these concerns are also diverse. Many federal activities, policies, and programs affect rates and patterns of growth, and the ability of local and state governments to address them. Periodically, the question arises as to whether Congress should examine how...

Environmental Protection: New Approaches

In recent years, the interest in alternatives to the nation's "command-and-control" approach to environmental protection has heightened. Driving this interest are concerns that the current approach is inefficient and excessively costly, and that it is ineffective in addressing certain problems such as nonpoint source pollution and global climate change. Several blue-ribbon panels have issued reports on environmental protection needs for the next century, including one headed by former two-time Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, William D. Ruckelshaus -- ...

Appropriations for FY2001: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill includes funding for civil projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec), most of the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. The Administration requested $22.7 billion for these programs for FY2001 compared with $21.2 billion appropriated in FY2000. The House bill, H.R. 4733 , passed on June 28, 2000, allocated $21.74 billion. The Senate passed its version of H.R. 4733 September 7, appropriating $22.5 billion. The conference bill, reported September...

Appropriations for FY2001: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for agencies and programs in four separate federal departments as well as numerous smaller agencies and diverse programs. The bill includes funding for the Interior Department except the Bureau of Reclamation, but only segments of the funding of the other three departments, Agriculture, Energy, and Health and Human Services. On February 7, 2000, President Clinton submitted his FY2001 budget to Congress. The FY2001 request for Interior and Related Agencies totals $16.32 billion compared to the $14.91 billion enacted...

Management of U.S. Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species

Domestic and international management of highly migratory fish species ( e.g. , marlin, sailfish, swordfish, shark, and tuna) is complex and controversial because these species migrate across many jurisdictions and are caught in various fisheries where commercial and sport fishermen compete for harvests. Increasing environmental concern and user competition for a shrinking resource have led groups to ask Congress to consider several initiatives that would modify how the United States manages these fisheries. Domestically, the National Marine Fisheries Service and regional fishery...

Coping with High Oil Prices: A Summary of Options

A near tripling in the price of crude oil from March 1999 to the first months of 2000, coupled with other developments, initially brought about sharp increases in the price of home heating oil and diesel fuel, which are essentially the same product. Gasoline prices then increased. These developments brought about discussion of what might be done to mitigate price increases and possible spot shortages, and what might be done to prevent a similar situation in the future.

Suspending the Gas Tax: Analysis of S. 2285

S. 2285 proposes to temporarily suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel, and certain other motor fuels, which varies by type of fuel and fuel use. The suspension would be for at least 4.3¿/gallon. It would begin on April 16, 2000, and last through December 31, 2000. Thus, on April 16, 2000 the gasoline tax would decline from 18.4¿/gallon to 14.1¿/gallon; the diesel fuel tax would decline from 24.4¿/gallon to 20.1¿/gallon. The bill also provides for a suspension of almost the entire federal tax if two conditions are met: 1) the national average price of unleaded...

Precision Agriculture: A Primer

Precision Agriculture is an emerging high-technology agricultural management system. Congressional interest centers on federal support for research on Precision Agricultural and its enabling technologies. This report includes a brief description and background overview of the current status and development trends of precision agriculture in the United States. It also contains a glossary of related terms to assist readers unfamiliar with this topic, which is of growing importance in production agriculture. This report is designed to provide basic information on this method of production...

Coastal Zone Management Reauthorization: An Overview

Congress is considering legislation that would reauthorize the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. This overview summarizes the programs created by this act and its amendments, and outlines issues associated with reauthorization. These issues include reauthorizing funding, altering grant programs, changing the National Estuarine Research Reserve system, funding to implement nonpoint water pollution requirements, protecting private property rights, expanding program evaluation efforts, and examining effects of personal water craft on the coastal environment. A reauthorization bill has been...

Department of Energy: Programs and Reorganization Proposals

Created in response to the energy crisis of the 1970s, the Department of Energy (DOE) survived an attempt to dismantle it early in the Reagan Administration, and another in the 104th Congress. Now the agency is again the subject of reorganization legislation, this time because of concern about the security of its nuclear weapons program. An amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY2000 ( H.R. 1555 ) was adopted by the Senate to create the Agency for Nuclear Stewardship within DOE. The head of that agency would report directly and only to the Secretary of Energy. The agency...

Global Climate Change: Coal Use in China and Other Asian Developing Countries

Under the international global climate change agreement negotiated in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, the United States would be required to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other "greenhouse gases" by 7% from their 1990 or 1995 levels (depending on the gas). However, the Kyoto Protocol places no binding greenhouse gas restrictions on developing countries such as China and India -- whose CO2 emissions are projected to grow dramatically. Concerns have arisen in the United States that without a binding agreement from China, India, and other developing countries, the...

The Persian Gulf: Issues for U.S. Policy, 1999

The Persian Gulf region contains both challenges and opportunities for the United States in 1999. Since October 1997, the United States and its partners on the United Nations Security Council have faced repeated crises with Iraq over its failure to cooperate with U.N.-mandated disarmament efforts. As 1998 ended, U.N. weapons inspectors from the U.N. Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) reported that they were unable to perform their disarmament mission. They left Iraq just prior to a 70 hour U.S./British bombing campaign against Iraqi sites that could be used to reconstitute weapons of...

Superfund Fact Book

The Superfund program is the principal federal effort for cleaning up hazardous waste sites and protecting public health and the environment from releases of hazardous substances. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) established the program, and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) amended it. This report is a compendium of data and other pertinent information about CERCLA and the Superfund program, followed by a glossary. The law's strict, joint and several, and retroactive liability regime requires...

Environmental Risk and Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Review of Proposed Legislative Mandates, 1993-1998

Between 1993 and 1998 Congress considered many proposals that aimed to increase or improve the use of risk analysis by federal agencies, especially in developing environmental rules. This report describes differences and similarities among selected provisions of key proposals: Senate-passed Johnston amendments to S. 171 and S. 2019 in the 103rd Congress; S. 343, as reported by the Committee on the Judiciary, in the 104th Congress; House-passed H.R. 9 in the 104th Congress; S. 981, as reported by the Committee on Governmental Affairs, in the 105th Congress, and S. 1728, as introduced, in...

Federal Land and Resource Management: A Primer

Four federal agencies administer most of the U.S. government's land. The National Park Service administers the Park System for recreation use and preservation. The Fish and Wildlife Service manages wildlife refuges primarily for protecting and improving fish and wildlife habitats. The Bureau of Land Management manages the public lands for sustained yields of multiple uses grazing, recreation, timber, water, and fish and wildlife. The Forest Service similarly manages the national forests. Most forests and public lands are also available for mineral exploration and development. Three...

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

President Clinton created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, by proclamation on September 18, 1996. The Monument contains geological, paleontological, archeological, biological, natural, and historical resources. It is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under interim guidelines, pending approval of a final management plan and environmental impact statement (EIS) by September 18, 1999. The creation of the Monument was controversial. Issues include the President's use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the Monument; the Monument's general effect on...

Appropriations for FY1999: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Agriculture Appropriations.

Russian Missile Technology and Nuclear Reactor Transfers to Iran

Many in Congress and the Clinton Administration charge that Russian entities are assisting Iran in developing ballistic missiles. Russia is also building a nuclear power station in, and is furnishing other nuclear services to, Iran. Congress has passed legislation requiring the President to impose sanctions for missile technology transfers, arms sales, nuclear technology transfers, and large-scale investments in Iran. H.R. 2709 , which includes the "Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997," is one of several bills designed to tighten existing sanctions law. It was amended and...

Russian Missile Technology and Nuclear Reactor Transfers to Iran

Clearcutting in the National Forests: Background and Overview

Clearcutting is a method of harvesting and regenerating trees in which all trees are cleared from a site and a new, even-aged stand of trees is grown. Clearcutting is the primary method of timber production and management in the national forests. However, this method of harvesting trees has been controversial since at least the 1960s. Many environmental and citizen groups object to clearcutting in the national forests, citing soil and water degradation, unsightly landscapes, and other damages. The wood products industry argues that clearcutting is an efficient and successful silvicultural...

Appropriations for FY1999: Interior and Related Agencies

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY1999: Energy and Water Development

Appropriations are one part of a complex federal budget process that includes budget resolutions, appropriations (regular, supplemental, and continuing) bills, rescissions, and budget reconciliation bills. This report is a guide to one of the 13 regular appropriations bills that Congress passes each year. It is designed to supplement the information provided by the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Energy and Water Development Appropriations.

Pesticide Legislation: Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-170)

The 104th Congress enacted significant changes to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), governing U.S. sale and use of pesticide products, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which limits pesticide residues on food. The vehicle of these changes was H.R. 1627 , the "Food Quality Protection Act of 1996" (FQPA), enacted August 3, 1996, as P.L. 104-170 . Under FIFRA, the new law will facilitate registrations and reregistrations of pesticides for special (so-called "minor") uses and authorize collection of maintenance fees to support pesticide...

The Clean Water Action Plan: Background and Early Implementation

In October 1997, Vice President Gore directed federal agencies to develop a Clean Water Initiative to improve and strengthen water pollution control efforts. The multiagency plan was released on Feb. 19, 1998, and identifies nearly 100 key actions. Most are existing activities, now labeled as part of the Initiative. The President's FY1999 budget requests $2.2 billion for five departments and agencies to fund implementation of the Plan. While Congress is considering appropriations bills to fund the Plan, federal agencies are beginning or accelerating activities to carry out the actions...

American Heritage Rivers

Global Climate Change Treaty: The Kyoto Protocol

Negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) were completed December 11, 1997, committing the industrialized nations to specified, legally binding reductions in emissions of six "greenhouse gases." This report discusses the major provisions of the Kyoto Protocol.

Compensating Farmers for the Tobacco Settlement

The legislative proposals designed to reduce smoking, primarily by teenagers, are likely to have negative economic consequences for tobacco growers and tobacco-dependent communities. This report discusses the possibility of some kind of compensation to farmers as part of the settlement package legislation.

Air Quality and Transportation Enhancement Provisions in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

This report describes how the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ) and enhancement programs function, examines the policy issues surrounding them, and summarizes relevant provisions in major legislation to reauthorize ISTEA in the 105th Congress.

Air Quality and Transportation Enhancement Provisions in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

Federal funding to assist states in addressing the environmental impacts of surface transportation is a major issue for the second session of the 105th Congress. The Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 (P.L. 102-240) authorized a total of $155 billion for transportation projects from FY1992 to FY1997. This report describes how the Congrestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ) and enhancement programs function, examines the policy issues surrounding them, and summarizes relevant provisions in major

legislation to reauthorize ISTEA in the 105th Congress.

Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Air Quality: EPA's Proposed Ozone Transport Rule, OTAG, and Section 216 Petitions - A Hazy Situation?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently engaged in a series of regulatory actions to address the transport of ozone pollution in the eastern United States. This report reviews this situation with respect to an EPA-proposed Ozone Transport Rule and other activities.

Electricity Restructuring Background: The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and the Energy Policy Act of 1992

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) increased competition in the electric generating sector by creating new entities that can generate and sell electricity at wholesale without being regulated as utilities under PUHCA. PURPA began to shift more regulatory responsibilities to the federal government, and EPACT continued that shift away from the states by creating new options for utilities and regulators to meet electricity demand.

Electricity Restructuring Background: The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and the Energy Policy Act of 1992

Electric utilities have been subject to comprehensive federal and state economic regulation since enactment of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) and the Federal Power Act. This regulatory framework remained virtually unchanged between 1935 and 1978. The oil embargoes of the 1970s created concerns about the security of the nation's electricity supply leading to enactment of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). For the first time, utilities were required to purchase power from outside sources. This first incremental change to traditional...

International Science and Technology Issues: Summary of a Report to the Committee on Science

The 1990s have been a time of great vitality and change for U.S. science and technology (S&T) policy and research and development (R&D) programs. As a result, many Members of Congress have asked what might be done to set national S&T priorities more efficiently, establish policies, and fund or otherwise support R&D programs that best enhance U.S. resources?

The answers may be found, in part, by understanding other nations' S&T policies and R&D programs within the context of U.S. policy and programs. For many, U.S. S&T policy (and the R&D programs supported by the policy) is perhaps...

Forest Health: Overview

Civilian Nuclear Spent Fuel Temporary Storage Options

The Department of Energy (DOE) is studying a site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, for a permanent underground repository for highly radioactive spent fuel from nuclear reactors, but delays have pushed back the facility’s opening date to 2010 at the earliest. In the meantime, spent fuel is accumulating at U.S. nuclear plant sites at the rate of about 2,000 metric tons per year. Major options for managing those growing quantities of nuclear spent fuel include continued storage at reactors, construction of a DOE interim storage site near Yucca Mountain, and licensing of private storage facilities....

Forest Health: Overview

Agriculture and EPA's New Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulates

On July 18, 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency promulgated revisions of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone and particulates. EPA's action has elevated awareness of possible relationships between agriculture and air quality in the agricultural community. Many in agriculture, including the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Air Quality Task Force, have questioned the scientific basis for the new standards. The issues raised also have been aired at congressional oversight hearings. This report summarizes these issues. In assessing the potential...

Federal Timber Harvests: Implications for U.S. Timber Supply

The importance of federal timber has been debated at length over many years. The federal government owns about 20% of U.S. timberlands, concentrated in the west, and about 30% of U.S. timber inventory (and 44% of the softwood inventory). Declines in federal harvests in recent years, and legislation to end federal harvests, have led to concerns about the impacts on forest health and on the economy. The national impacts appear to be relatively modest, but local and regional effects could be substantial.

Environmental Reauthorizations and Regulatory Reform: From the 104th Congress to the 105th

The 104th Congress pursued efforts to reform environmental regulations on several fronts: (1) revising regulatory decision making processes; (2) attaching specific reforms to funding bills; (3) establishing a House corrections day calendar of bills addressing specific regulatory problems; and (4) incorporating regulatory reforms into individual program reauthorization bills. The 105th Congress has pursued regulatory reform in four primary directions: (1) proposals to establish a comprehensive cost-benefit/risk analysis framework for regulatory programs, (2) private property “takings”...

Appropriations for FY1998: Energy and Water Development

The Energy and Water appropriations bill includes funding for civil projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, much of the Department of Energy and a number of independent agencies, including the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the appropriated programs of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The Administration requested $22.3 billion for these programs for FY1998 compared to $20 billion appropriated for FY1997 and $19.3 billion for FY1996. A conference bill reported ( H.Rept. 105-271 ) on September...

Endangered Species List Revisions: A Summary of Delisting and Downlisting

The question of whether the Endangered Species Act (ESA) "works" is an important part of the debate before Congress concerning both its annual appropriations and reauthorization of the Act itself. Information on the species that have been delisted or downlisted from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is often cited when judging the ESA's success or failure. This report outlines the process and reasons for delisting or downlisting, and summarizes the 27 species delisted due to extinction, recovery, or data revision, and the 22 species that have been downlisted from...

Endangered Species List Revisions: A Summary of Delisting and Downlisting

This report outlines the process and reasons for delisting or downlisting, and summarizes the 27 species delisted due to extinction, recovery, or data revision, and the 22 species that have been downlisted from endangered to threatened status due to stabilized or improving populations.

Appropriations for FY1998: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for agencies and programs in four separate federal departments as well as numerous smaller agencies and diverse programs. On February 6, 1997, the President submitted his FY1998 budget to Congress. The FY1998 request totals $13.09 billion compared to the $13.14 billion enacted by Congress for FY1997 ( P.L. 104-208 ). It should be noted that the FY1997 amount included $715 million in nonrecurring emergency appropriations. An additional $386 million was appropriated in the recently enacted Emergency Supplemental...

Appropriations for FY1998: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Related Agencies

The President signed into law the FY1998 appropriations act for USDA and related agencies ( P.L. 105-86 , H.R. 2160 ) on November 18, 1997. The House and Senate gave final approval to the $49.55 billion measure on October 6 and 29, respectively. Two days after signing the bill, the President exercised his line-item-veto authority by canceling funds for five agricultural research projects, for total savings of $1.9 million. Congress has 30 calendar days to disapprove the cancellations, once it returns in late January 1998. The FY1998 measure provides $3.6 billion less than the FY1997...

Global Climate Change Treaty: Negotiations and Related Issues

This report discusses the negotiations leading the Kyoto conference of the parties. The United States and other parties to the 1992 Climate Change Convention signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro will meet December 1-12 in Kyoto, Japan, to conclude year-long negotiations on a legally binding protocol or amendment to reduce or stabilize emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. proposal to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to 1990 levels between 2008-2012 is less ambitious than environmentalists and many other treaty Parties urge, but...

Biosphere Reserves: Fact Sheet

Biosphere Reserves: Fact Sheet

Since 1972, the United States has participated in the Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB), coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This report presents a background on the criteria for Biosphere Reserves, designation process and the policy implications of designation/recognition.

Superfund Cleanup Standards Reconsidered

For Congress, the reauthorization of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, has particularly focused on two major areas of reform: liability and the selection of cleanup standards/remedies. This report addresses the latter, and within that general topic, discusses six issues that have received attention from a number of stakeholders: the role of risk assessment; cost-effectiveness of treatment; complete or partial elimination of what are called ARARs (the statutory requirement that Applicable or Relevant and...

Environment in Fast Track Trade Authority: Summary of the Clinton Administration Proposal

President Clinton has asked Congress for "fast track" authority for implementing future trade agreements; this authority would limit congressional debate and prevent amendments to implementing legislation. Delays in completing this proposal were attributed to difficulties in reconciling conflicting pressures over environment and labor concerns. The President's proposal contains references to environmental concerns, but various interests are likely to seek clarification on these points.

Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws

This report includes a glossary of approximately 1,700 agriculture and related terms (e.g., food programs, conservation, forestry, environmental protection, etc.). Besides defining terms and phrases with specialized meanings for agriculture, the glossary also identifies acronyms, agencies, programs, and laws related to agriculture.

Wetland Mitigation Banking: Status and Prospects

Wetland protection is controversial because the federal government regulates activities on private lands and because the natural values at some of these regulated sites are being debated. This controversy pits property owners and development interests against environmentalists and others who seek to protect the remaining wetlands. Mitigation banking, which allows a person to degrade a wetland at one site if a wetland at another site is improved, has been identified as a potential answer to this shrill and seemingly intractable debate. Mitigation banking is relatively new, and federal...

Clean Water Issues in the 105th Congress

For the 105th Congress, reauthorization of the Clean Water Act may be a priority in the second session. The Act was last amended in 1987 and authorizations expired on Sept. 30, 1990. Clean water was a priority for the last two Congresses, but no legislation was enacted. In the 104th Congress, the House passed a comprehensive reauthorization bill, but during House debate and subsequently, controversies arose over whether and how the Act should be made more flexible and less burdensome on regulated entities. Issues likely to be of interest again in the 105th Congress include funding, overall...

Food and Agriculture Provisions in the FY1997 Supplemental Appropriations Act

Report providing an overview of provisions and funding related to food and agriculture program as a part of a supplemental appropriations bill (P.L. 105-18, H.R. 1871).

Environmental Protection: How Much It Costs and Who Pays

A recurring issue in environmental policy is the cost of pollution control imposed on individuals, businesses, and governments. To inform policymakers about these costs, a number of surveys and analyses have been conducted over the years. Consistent, basic sources have been an annual survey of costs to manufacturers, conducted by the Bureau of Census (BOC), and an annual analysis of total costs, prepared by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Overall, the BEA analysis showed the nation spent $122 billion for pollution abatement and control in 1994, or about 1.76% of Gross Domestic...

Electric Utility Restructuring: Overview of Basic Policy Questions

Proposals to increase competition in the electric utility industry involve segmenting electric functions (generation, transmission, distribution) that are currently integrated (or bundled) in most cases (both in terms of corporate and rate structures). This report identifies five basic issues this effort raises for the Congress to consider as the debate on restructuring proceeds.

The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996: An Overview

This document also available in PDF Image . Faced with spring planting decisions and the prospect of having to operate farm programs under outdated, permanent agricultural statutes because of expiring provisions in the 1990 farm law, the House and Senate passed omnibus farm legislation in the early months of 1996. Following quick resolution of the House-Senate bill differences, the President signed H.R. 2854 , the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act, also called the 1996 farm bill, on April 4, 1966 ( P.L. 104-127 ). At the core of U.S. farm policy are federal programs that...

A Clean Air Option: Cash for Clunkers

Crop Insurance and Risk Management: Provisions in the Enacted 1996 Farm Bill

Provisions in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-127 , the 1996 farm bill) make several changes to the federal crop insurance program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Under the new farm law, a producer no longer is required to acquire the minimum level of crop insurance coverage, as long as the producer waives, in writing, any eligibility for future disaster payments. It also allows USDA to continue to offer the basic level of insurance coverage in states or regions that have an insufficient number of approved private...

Dairy Provisions of the Enacted 1996 Farm Bill

The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996 ( P.L. 104-127 , the enacted 1996 farm bill) contains provisions (Title I, Subtitle D, Chapter 1) that significantly modify the two major federal policy tools used to support milk markets: the dairy price support program and federal milk marketing orders. The new law reduces the level of price support under the dairy price support program in each year (1997 through 1999), until the program is terminated at the end of 1999. In return, the deficit reduction assessment paid by milk producers is eliminated almost immediately. The dairy...

NAFTA and U.S.-Mexico Cattle Trade

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was implemented in January 1994. Thus far, no clear pattern has emerged regarding U.S.-Mexico cattle trade: in the first year the U.S. trade deficit in cattle fell, but in the second year that deficit reached a record level. While some U.S. cattle producers blamed NAFTA for the record deficit, the underlying causes were devaluation of the peso, Mexico's economic contraction, and drought in northern Mexico. Lower U.S. cattle prices, which some also contend were the result of NAFTA, were the result of several factors including high grain prices...

Appropriations for FY1996 : Agriculture

Superfund Cleanup Standards Reconsidered

Individual Transferable Quotas in Fishery Management

This report discusses individual transferable quota (ITQ), which is an allocated privilege of landing a specified portion of the total annual fish catch in the form of quota shares.

Biological Diversity Treaty: Fact Sheet

As human activity continues to change and modify natural areas, widespread extinctions of plants, animals, and other types of species result. Many scientists believe that such extinctions are currently occurring at the fastest rate in human history. Consequences for human welfare include loss of species needed for revitalization of food crops, future medicines, new crops, and loss of ecosystems that regulate rainfall cycles, control flooding, filter out water pollutants, and affect basic systems such as climate. In 1992, negotiations conducted under the auspices of the United Nations...

Implementing Acid Rain Legislation

This report discusses the broad-ranging provisions in Title IV of The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (P.L. 101-549), which raise myriad implementation issues, particularly with respect to the system of tradable "allowances."

Superfund Fact Book

Selected Interior and Related Agencies Budget Requests for I T 1995

This report reviews the FY 1995 budget request of the Department of the Interior with brief analyses of the budget requests of selected agencies within the department that principally are involved in natural resources programs or activities. This report also provides an overview of the mission of the Department of the Interior, its organization, and its major budget initiatives for FY 1995 .

Trade and Environment: GATT and NAFTA

Environmental concerns in trade negotiations have received extensive attention by policymakers both with regard to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). At the conclusion of the NAFTA, environmental concerns were addressed both within the agreement and in side agreements that were critical to passage of NAFTA implementing legislation in the United States. Similarly, although not initially expected to address environment, the GATT Uruguay Round agreement contains a number of provisions advocated by environmental groups....

Market-Based Environmental Management: Issues in Implementation

The acid rain title of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments authorizes the first nationwide system for trading the regional location and method of pollution control. This market-type mechanism, if successfully implemented, could reduce the cost of compliance of meeting new limits on sulfur dioxide emissions, the main precursor of acid rain. Successful passage of the sulfur dioxide trading mechanism has invigorated efforts to add similar mechanisms to the regulatory regimes for other environmental management areas. Limitations of current regulatory approaches, complexity of remaining and...

Energy Efficiency Standards for Appliances: Are They Needed?

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA! (P.L. 94-163), as amended by the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (NEPCA) (P.L. 95-619) , requires that energy efficiency standards be established for each of 13 classes of appliances that are major consumers of energy. NEPCA stipulates that such standards "be designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency which the Secretary [of Energ'y] determines is technologically feasible and economically justified." The Department of Energy ' announced proposed standards for 8 of the 13 classes of appliances in June 1980 and...

Federal Real Property: Inventory and Disposal Initiatives

This report provides background and discusses the inventory and disposal of public lands and other Federal property. For many years the Federal Government has operated under a statutory policy of retaining public domain lands and has disposed of the proceeds from the sale of surplus property other than by the reduction of the national debt. Under the present system, the Government disposes of some types of land when it is determined to be surplus to Government needs, or, in the case of public lands, when it is determined that the national interest would best be served by the sale or...

Energy and the 97th Congress: Overview

During his campaign, President Reagan called for a major shift in this country's energy policy. In particular, the President emphasized the need for more domestic production of energy and reliance on market forces to produce and distribute energy products. Now in office, the new Administration is employing executive, administrative, and legislative methods to implement these changes.

Foreign Investment in U.S. Industry

Although the total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the U.S. is small relative to U.S. direct investment abroad, it is growing rapidly and may have a large effect on some industries and geographic areas of the U.S. The two main issues raised by FDI in the U.S. are first, shall Congress require more extensive data collection efforts than are already underway, and second, should laws be enacted to limit foreign direct investment in the U.S. These two issues turn in substantial measure on whether the benefits of additional data collection and/or restrictions on FDI in the U.S....

Leasing of Energy and Mineral Resources on Federal Lands

This report discusses the leasing of energy and mineral resources on federal lands. Leasing of energy minerals has been an issue of varying intensity for most of the past century, as oil, gas, and coal became indispensable commodities in both U.S. and world commerce.

The Constitutionality of the Withdrawal of All Federal Court Jurisdiction Over Questions Involving State-Sponsored Prayer in Public Schools and Public Buildings

This report discusses several court decisions regarding the constitutionality of the withdrawal of all Federal Court Jurisdiction over questions involving state-sponsored prayer in Public Schools and Public Buildings.