Environmental Policy

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Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change

Words for search: climate change, greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, weather, global warming, science policy, federal research, energy research, attribution, human contribution, solar influence, natural climate, climate variability, earth sciences, Global Change, climate science, warmist, carbon pollution, methane

The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program

Congress created the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program to offer long-term, low-cost loans to railroad operators, with particular attention to small freight railroads, to help them finance improvements to infrastructure and investments in equipment. The program is intended to operate at no cost to the government, and it does not receive an annual appropriation. Since 2000, the RRIF program has made 37 loans totaling $5.4 billion (valued at $5.9 billion in 2018 dollars). The program, which is administered by the Build America Bureau within the Office of the...

Vessel Incidental Discharge Legislation in the 115th Congress: Background and Issues

Stakeholders broadly agree on the need to control vessel discharges—particularly ballast water discharges, which can introduce numerous contaminants into U.S. and international waters. Ballast water discharge from ships is one significant pathway for introduction of aquatic nuisance species (ANS)—that is, invasive species—that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Federal requirements for ballast water and other incidental discharges from vessels in the United States flow from two laws—the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990, as amended by the National Invasive Species...

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...

Congressional Membership and Appointment Authority to Advisory Commissions, Boards, and Groups

Over the past several decades, Congress, by statute, has established a wide array of commissions, boards, and advisory bodies to provide it with assistance in meeting various legislative, investigative, and administrative responsibilities. Some of these entities are temporary and created to serve specific functions, such as studying a discrete policy area or performing one-time tasks. Others are permanent, serving an ongoing purpose, such as overseeing an institution or performing a regular administrative function.

The majority of these congressional bodies provide that Members of...

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...

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is an interagency body comprised of nine Cabinet members, two ex officio members, and other members as appointed by the President, that assists the President in overseeing the national security aspects of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy. While the group often operated in relative obscurity, the perceived change in the nation’s national security and economic concerns following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the proposed acquisition of commercial operations at six U.S. ports by Dubai Ports World in...

Animal Drug User Fee Programs

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) review of brand-name and generic animal drug applications is funded through a combination of annual discretionary appropriations from Congress and user fees collected from the regulated industry.

The Animal Drug User Fee Act of 2003 (ADUFA I, P.L. 108-130) gave FDA initial authority to collect user fees from sponsors to improve the timeliness of review of animal drug applications. ADUFA I did not cover generic animal drugs. In 2008, in response to concerns regarding generic drug application review times and a backlog of applications, Congress...

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 20, 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...

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. The United States held the two-year, rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council from April 24, 2015, to May 11, 2017.

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...

Clean Air Act Issues in the 115th Congress: In Brief

In the 115th Congress, and in the executive and judicial branches, review of regulations issued under the Obama Administration, with the possibility of their modification or repeal, was the main focus of interest on Clean Air Act issues in 2017. 2018 may see more of the same. Of particular interest are the ambient air quality standards for ozone promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in October 2015 and various EPA rules to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants, cars and trucks, and the oil and gas sector.

Reducing GHG emissions to address climate...

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress

CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81 are the first four ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-78 was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2018 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,907.0 million (i.e., about $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2001-FY2007 and was fully funded in FY2008-FY2011 using congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding. To help cover cost growth on the ship, the ship received an additional $1,374.9 million in...

EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions

On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama Administration rule that would limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The action came in response to Executive Order 13783, in which President Trump directed federal agencies to review existing regulations and policies that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources. Among the E.O.’s specific directives was that EPA review the CPP, which was one of the Obama Administration’s most...

Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the 115th Congress

Funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), included in the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-190), expired at the end of FY2017. A subsequent six-month extension (P.L. 115-63) is set to expire at the end of March 2018. Long-term FAA reauthorization measures (H.R. 2997 and S. 1405) are currently under consideration. In addition to setting spending levels, FAA authorization acts typically set policy on a wide range of issues related to civil aviation. This report considers prominent topics in the 115th Congress reauthorization debate.

Most...

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...

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...

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...

Keystone XL Pipeline: Recent Developments

Introduction

TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL Pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada and shale oil produced in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana to a market hub in Nebraska (Figure 1). On November 20, 2017, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the “alternative mainline” route for the Nebraska segment of Keystone XL which would co-locate some of the new pipeline with the company’s existing Keystone (Mainline) Pipeline. This route differs from the siting that TransCanada originally proposed (Figure 2, “preferred route”). Due to the PSC’s decision,...

Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) in Transportation

Public-private partnerships (P3s) in transportation are contractual relationships typically between a state or local government, who are the owners of most transportation infrastructure, and a private company. P3s provide a mechanism for greater private-sector participation in all phases of the development, operation, and financing of transportation projects. Although there are many different forms P3s can take, this report focuses on the two types of agreements that generate the most interest and discussion: (1) design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM); and (2) long-term lease.

P3s...

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...

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...

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...

Subtitle J of the 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...

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...

Methane and Other Air Pollution Issues in Natural Gas Systems

Natural Gas Systems and Air Pollution

Congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has often focused on ways through which the United States could secure more economical, reliable, and cleaner fossil fuel resources both domestically and internationally. Recent expansion in natural gas production, primarily as a result of new or improved technologies (e.g., hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling) used on unconventional resources (e.g., shale, tight sands, and coalbed methane) has made natural gas an increasingly significant component in the U.S. energy supply. This expansion, however,...

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...

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...

Congress’s Power Over Courts: Jurisdiction Stripping and the Rule of Klein

Article III of the Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. Notably, it empowers federal courts to hear “cases” and “controversies.” The Constitution further creates a federal judiciary with significant independence, providing federal judges with life tenure and prohibiting diminutions of judges’ salaries. But the Framers also granted Congress the power to regulate the federal courts in numerous ways. For instance, Article III authorizes Congress to determine what classes of “cases” and “controversies” inferior courts have jurisdiction to review....

Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments

The collection and treatment of wastewater remains among the most important public health interventions in human history and has contributed to a significant decrease in waterborne diseases during the past century. Nevertheless, waste discharges from municipal sewage treatment plants into rivers and streams, lakes, and estuaries and coastal waters remain a significant source of water quality problems throughout the country.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes performance levels to be attained by municipal sewage treatment plants in order to prevent the discharge of harmful wastes into...

EPA’s Role in Emergency Planning and Notification at Chemical Facilities

Chemicals and the facilities that manufacture, store, distribute, and use them are essential to the U.S. economy. However, incidents occasioned by natural disasters, unintentional events, or security threats show that the handling and storage of chemicals are not without risk. Federal agencies implement a number of programs to help prevent chemical facility accidents, reduce risks of terrorist attacks on chemical facilities, protect chemical facility workers, collect and share relevant information with the public and decisionmakers, and prepare communities and local, tribal, and state...

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;...

Chemical, Hazardous Substances, and Petroleum Spills: CRS Experts

Hurricane Harvey Irma Jose Katia Katrina flooding storm surge water tropical storms weather climate change sewage treatment overflow tropical storm cyclone A recent spill from a storage tank of 4-methyl cyclohexane methanol from Freedom Industries into the Elk River near Charleston, West Virginia in early January 2014 has raised questions about the adequacy of spill response and chemical safety. Thousands of oil and chemical spills of varying size occur in the United States each year. State and local officials located in proximity to these incidents generally are the first responders and...

Disaster Debris Management: Requirements, Challenges, and Federal Agency Roles

Every year, communities in the United States are affected by disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, wildfires, and winter storms. After a disaster, when a region turns its attention to rebuilding, one of the greatest challenges often involves properly managing disaster-related debris.

Disaster debris typically includes soils and sediments, vegetation (trees, limbs, shrubs), municipal solid waste (common household garbage, personal belongings), construction and demolition debris (in some instances, entire residential structures and all their contents),...

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...

Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Projects

In the aftermath of a major disaster, communities may need to rebuild, replace, or possibly even relocate a multitude of structures. When recovery activities take place on such a potentially large scale, compliance with any of a number of local, state, and federal laws or regulations may apply. For example, when federal funding is provided for disaster-related activities, the agency providing those funds is generally required to identify and consider the environmental impacts of the proposed activities in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. §4321...

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...

Oil and Chemical Spills: Federal Emergency Response Framework

Thousands of oil and chemical spills of varying size and magnitude occur in the United States each year. When a spill occurs, state and local officials located in proximity to the incident generally are the first responders and may elevate an incident for federal attention if greater resources are desired.

The National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan, often referred to as the National Contingency Plan (NCP), establishes the procedures for the federal response to oil and chemical spills. The scope of the NCP encompasses discharges of oil into or upon U.S. waters and...

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,...

Public Health and Emergency Management: CRS Experts

The following table provides names and contact information for CRS experts on policy concerns relating to public health and emergency management. Policy areas identified include public health and medical system preparedness and response; mental and behavioral health; food safety and food defense; health care financing in disaster response; Stafford Act assistance and the role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Department of Defense (DOD) incident response and civil support; global health and international preparedness; selected legal issues in preparedness and response;...

EPA’s 2015 Ozone Air Quality Standards

On October 1, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The rule sets more stringent standards, lowering both the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. This report discusses the standard-setting process, the specifics of the most recent reviews, and issues raised by the rulemaking and its implementation.

NAAQS are standards for outdoor (ambient) air that are intended to protect public health and welfare from harmful...

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...

Funding for EPA Water Infrastructure: A Fact Sheet

not part of factsheet

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). Established as a grant program in 1972, it now capitalizes state loan programs through the clean water state revolving loan fund (SRF) program. Since FY1972, appropriations have totaled more than $94 billion.

In 1996, Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (P.L. 104-182) to authorize a drinking water SRF program to help systems finance projects needed to comply with drinking water regulations and to protect public health. Since FY1997, appropriations for...

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...

Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF): Program Overview and Issues

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal authority for regulating contaminants in public water supplies. It includes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, established in 1996 to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the SDWA’s health objectives. Under this program, states receive annual capitalization grants to provide financial assistance (primarily subsidized loans) to public water systems for drinking water projects and other specified activities. Between FY1997 and...

Water Infrastructure Financing: The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program

In recent years, policymakers have considered several legislative options to help finance water infrastructure projects, including projects to build and upgrade wastewater and drinking water treatment systems. This report examines one particular option, a “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act” (WIFIA) program, which Congress included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA, P.L. 113-121).

The WIFIA concept is modeled after a similar program that assists transportation projects, the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program....

Emergency Relief for Disaster-Damaged Roads and Transit Systems: In Brief

Major roads and bridges are part of the federal-aid highway system and are therefore eligible for assistance under the Emergency Relief Program (ER) of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Following a natural disaster (such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which damaged highways in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina), or catastrophic failure (such as the 2013 collapse of the Skagit River Bridge in Washington State) ER funds are made available for both emergency repairs and restoration of federal-aid highway facilities to conditions comparable to those before the...

Climate Change: Frequently Asked Questions About the 2015 Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement (PA) to address climate change internationally entered into force on November 4, 2016. The United States is one of 149 Parties to the treaty; President Barack Obama accepted the agreement rather than ratifying it with the advice and consent of the Senate. On June 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the agreement and that his Administration would seek to reopen negotiations on the PA or on a new “transaction.” Following the provisions of the PA, U.S. withdrawal could take effect as early as November 2020.

Experts...

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...

Freshwater Harmful Algal Blooms: Causes, Challenges, and Policy Considerations

Scientific research indicates that in recent years, the frequency and geographic distribution of harmful algal blooms (HABs) have been increasing nationally and globally. Because the impacts of HABs can be severe and widespread—often with interstate implications—these issues have been a perennial interest for Congress. While algal communities are natural components of healthy aquatic ecosystems, under certain conditions (e.g., increased temperatures and nutrient concentrations), algae may grow excessively, or “bloom,” and produce toxins that can harm human health, animals, aquatic...

Paris Agreement: U.S. Climate Finance Commitments

The United States and other industrialized countries have committed to providing financial assistance for global environmental initiatives, including climate change, through a variety of multilateral agreements. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, 1992, U.S. Treaty Number: 102-38) was the first international treaty to acknowledge and address human-driven climate change. Among other obligations, the Convention commits higher-income parties (i.e., those listed in Annex II of the convention, which were members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and...

Dakota Access Pipeline: Siting Controversy

Background Recent growth of domestic crude oil production has resulted in an unprecedented expansion of the United States’ oil pipeline network. One major oil pipeline recently constructed is the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 30-inch diameter, 1,172-mile project that carries crude oil produced in northwest North Dakota to southern Illinois (Figure 1). The Dakota Access Pipeline’s maximum capacity is 570,000 barrels per day. Figure 1. Dakota Access Pipeline Route / Source: CRS using data from Platts PowerMap 2016, and Esri Data and Maps 2014. Siting Approval The federal government does not have...

Effects of Buy America on Transportation Infrastructure and U.S. Manufacturing: Policy Options

With the aim of protecting American manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, Congress over the years has passed several domestic content laws. Statements and actions by the Trump Administration about reinvigorating domestic manufacturing and reinvesting in infrastructure have stimulated renewed interest in these laws, including Buy America. The President’s “Buy American and Hire American” initiative includes an executive memorandum requiring the Secretary of Commerce to develop a plan for new pipelines in the United States to be made from domestically produced iron and steel, and a separate...

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...

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Trends and Projections: Role of the Clean Power Plan and Other Factors

Recent international negotiations and domestic policy developments have generated interest in current and projected U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emission levels. GHG emissions are generated throughout the United States from millions of discrete sources. Of the GHG source categories, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion account for the largest percentage (77%) of total U.S. GHG emissions. The electric power sector contributes the second-largest percentage (35%) of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion (1 percentage point behind the transportation sector).

In December...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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,...

Review of Offshore Energy Leasing: President Trump’s Executive Order

On April 28, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order (E.O.) on U.S. offshore energy strategy. The E.O. declares a policy goal of fostering U.S. energy leadership and energy security by encouraging energy development, while ensuring that activities are safe and environmentally responsible. In support of this goal, the E.O.

directs the Secretary of the Interior to review and consider revising the federal offshore oil and gas leasing schedule and other policies established by the Obama Administration and

modifies earlier presidential withdrawals of offshore areas from leasing...

Cost and Benefit Considerations in Clean Air Act Regulations

The Clean Air Act (CAA) gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broad authority to set ambient air quality standards to protect public health and welfare. It authorizes emission standards for both mobile and stationary air pollution sources, including cars, trucks, factories, power plants, fuels, consumer products, and dozens of other source categories. Since 1970, EPA has used this authority to require emission controls for these sources. Emissions of the most widespread (“criteria”) pollutants have been reduced by 72% during that period.

As directed by Congress and by executive...

Commemorations in Congress: Options for Honoring Individuals, Groups, and Events

Since its inception, Congress has used commemorative legislation to express public gratitude for distinguished contributions; dramatize the virtues of individuals, groups, and causes; and perpetuate the remembrance of significant events. During the past two centuries, commemoratives have become an integral part of the American political tradition. They have been used to authorize the minting of commemorative coins and Congressional Gold Medals; fund monuments and memorials; create federal holidays; establish commissions to celebrate important anniversaries; and name public works,...

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

As part of the process of making an appointment to an advice and consent position, the President submits a nomination to the Senate. Most nominations are referred to the appropriate Senate committee or committees on the day they are received. Such referrals are guided by Senate Rule XXV, which establishes the subject matter under the purview of each committee and directs that “all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to [those] subjects” be referred to that committee. Precedents set by prior referrals, standing orders, and unanimous...

Advanced Gene Editing: CRISPR-Cas9

Scientists have long sought the ability to control and modify DNA—the code of life. A new gene editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 offers the potential for substantial improvement over previous technologies in that it is simple to use and inexpensive and has a relatively high degree of precision and efficiency. These characteristics have led many in the scientific and business communities to assert that CRISPR-Cas9 will lead to groundbreaking advances in many fields, including agriculture, energy, ecosystem conservation, and the investigation, prevention, and treatment of...

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...

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...

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...

Surface Transportation Devolution

Surface transportation “devolution” refers to shifting most current federal responsibility for building and maintaining highways and public transportation systems from the federal government to the states. Devolution legislation has been introduced in each Congress since the mid-1990s, supported by Members who regard the federal government as being overinvolved in highways and public transportation. Under such proposals, the federal taxes that now support surface transportation programs, mostly fuels taxes, would be reduced in line with the shift of responsibility to the states. The states...

Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement

On March 23, 2017, the State Department issued a Presidential Permit for the border facilities of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, having determined that issuing the permit “would serve the national interest.” The Department announced that the Record of Decision and National Interest Determination for the Presidential Permit “is informed by” the 2014 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). It cites no new documentation aside from fresh communications with the Canadian pipeline company.

State Department Assessment

The State Department released the FEIS on January 31, 2014, to inform...

Congressional Roll Call Votes on the Keystone XL Pipeline

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.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) receives frequent requests for congressional votes taken on Keystone XL Pipeline legislation. This report provides roll call vote data on Keystone XL Pipeline legislation identified by CRS using CQ.com’s Roll Call Vote Report...

Overview of CEQ Guidance on Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

In 1997, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) informed federal agencies that, to ensure compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), they may need to consider whether their actions may affect or be affected by climate change. CEQ issued revised draft guidance in 2010 and again in 2014. On August 1, 2016—after receiving public comments and other feedback from Members of Congress, state agencies, tribes, corporations, trade associations, and other stakeholders—CEQ released final guidance (hereinafter, the Guidance) on consideration of greenhouse gas (GHG)...

Keystone XL Pipeline: Development Issues

Keystone XL Presidential Permit

On March 23, 2017, the U.S. State Department issued a Presidential Permit for the border facilities of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, having determined that issuing the permit “would serve the national interest.” If constructed, the pipeline would transport oil sands crude from Canada as well as oil produced in North Dakota and Montana to a hub in Nebraska for further delivery to Gulf Coast refineries (Figure 1). The U.S. pipeline section would be 875 miles long with the capacity to deliver 830,000 barrels per day. Keystone XL requires a Presidential...

A Brief Overview of Rulemaking and Judicial Review

The Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which applies to all agencies of the federal government, provides the general procedures for various types of rulemaking. The APA details the rarely used procedures for formal rules as well as the requirements for informal rulemaking, under which the vast majority of agency rules are issued. This report provides a brief legal overview of the methods by which agencies may promulgate rules, which include formal rulemaking, informal (notice-and-comment or § 553) rulemaking, hybrid rulemaking, direct final rulemaking, and negotiated rulemaking. In...

Federal Citations to the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

Executive Order 12866 requires that federal agencies assess the cost and the benefits of intended regulations as part of their regulatory impact analyses (RIAs). The 1993 executive order stated that “recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, [each agency shall] propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs.”

Social cost, carbon, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases, regulatory impact analysis, cost-benefit analysis, benefit-cost analysis, Interagency Working...

EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure

For several years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with states and cities to develop and implement new approaches that will achieve water quality goals cost-effectively and in a manner that “addresses the most pressing public health and environmental protection issues first.” Two recent EPA initiatives are an integrated planning policy and a framework policy for assessing a community’s financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Pressed by municipalities about the financial challenges that they face in addressing...

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...

Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework

The development of offshore oil, gas, and other mineral resources in the United States is impacted by a number of interrelated legal regimes, including international, federal, and state laws. International law provides a framework for establishing national ownership or control of offshore areas, and domestic federal law mirrors and supplements these standards.

Governance of offshore minerals and regulation of development activities are bifurcated between state and federal law. Generally, states have primary authority in the three-geographical-mile area extending from their coasts. The...

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court

On January 31, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Tenth Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. Judge Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006. The Tenth Circuit’s territorial jurisdiction covers Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Yellowstone National Park that extend into Idaho and Montana.

Immediately prior to his appointment to 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...

Majority, Concurring, and Dissenting Opinions by Judge Neil M. Gorsuch

On January 31, 2017, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Tenth Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016. Judge Gorsuch has served as a judge on the Tenth Circuit since August 2006, and has also sat, by designation, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

This report provides a tabular listing of cases in which Judge Gorsuch authored a majority, concurring,...

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...

Key Historical Court Decisions Shaping EPA’s Program Under the Clean Air Act

This report provides a selective overview of court decisions that historically have most shaped EPA’s program under the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act). Court decisions described in the report deal with the following:

National ambient air quality standards (NAAQSs), holding that in setting the standards EPA is not to consider economic and technological feasibility.

State implementation plans for achieving NAAQSs, holding that EPA may not consider economic and technological feasibility in approving or disapproving such plans, or that the state plan is more stringent than necessary, or does not...

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...

Army Corps Easement Process and Dakota Access Pipeline Easement Status

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a 1,172-mile pipeline system to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline’s developer is pursuing a route that would cross under the Missouri River on federally owned land in North Dakota at the Lake Oahe project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Public debate and litigation over the pipeline has raised questions for Congress regarding the Corps’ process for granting pipeline easements to cross federally owned, Corps-managed land (hereinafter referred to as Corps land), including the scope of impacts considered, especially oil...

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...

Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements

Federal law authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct barriers along the U.S. borders to deter illegal crossings. DHS is also required to construct reinforced fencing along at least 700 miles of the land border with Mexico (a border that stretches 1,933 miles). Congress has not provided a deadline for DHS to meet this 700-mile requirement, and as of the date of this report, fencing would need to be deployed along nearly 50 additional miles to satisfy the 700-mile requirement. Nor has Congress provided guidelines regarding the specific characteristics of fencing or...

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,...

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act (NAHASDA): Issues and Reauthorization Legislation in the 114th Congress

The Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA; P.L. 104-330) replaced several existing sources of housing funding for Native Americans with a single block grant, the Native American Housing Block Grant (NAHBG). Through the NAHBG, tribes and Alaska Native villages receive formula funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use for a variety of affordable housing activities that benefit low-income Native American households living in tribal areas. NAHASDA also authorizes a loan guarantee program for tribes (the Title VI loan...

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...

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...

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Nationwide Permits Program: Issues and Regulatory Developments

Permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) authorize various types of development projects in wetlands and other waters of the United States. The Corps’ regulatory process involves two types of permits: general permits for actions by private landowners that are similar in nature and will likely have a minor effect on jurisdictional waters and wetlands, and individual permits for more significant actions. The Corps uses general permits to minimize the burden of its regulatory program: general permits authorize landowners to proceed with a project without the more...

The Office of Surface Mining’s Stream Protection Rule: An Overview

On July 16, 2015, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) of the Department of the Interior proposed a Stream Protection Rule that would revise regulations implementing Title V of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). Revised rules are intended to avoid or minimize adverse impacts of coal mining on surface water, groundwater, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources by limiting the mining of coal in or through streams, placement of waste in streams and limiting the generation of mining waste. Some of the existing regulations that would be...

Army Corps Projects and Tribal Consultation: Requirements, Policies, and Controversy

Much of the current congressional and public interest in tribal consultation related to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) water projects grew out of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) controversy. Part of the DAPL controversy involves easements at Corps projects for a private oil pipeline and how those easements may affect tribal resources—especially water supplies.

The Corps builds and operates water resource projects across the nation. The Corps’ inventory of water projects includes 702 dams and reservoirs and almost 12 million acres of Corps-owned or -managed lands. The Corps may...

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Regulations: Background and Issues for Congress

In 1970, Congress enacted legislation directing the President to promulgate oil spill prevention and response regulations. President Nixon delegated this presidential authority to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970. In 1973, EPA issued Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations that require certain facilities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to oil discharges that may reach navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.

In general, a facility must prepare an SPCC plan if the facility has an aboveground aggregate oil storage capacity...

Wetlands: An Overview of Issues

Recent Congresses have considered numerous policy topics that involve wetlands. Many reflect issues of long-standing interest, such as applying federal regulations on private lands, wetland loss rates, and restoration and creation accomplishments.

The issue receiving the greatest attention recently has been determining which wetlands should be included and excluded from requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA), especially the Section 404 permit program that regulates waste discharges affecting wetlands, which is administered by the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection...

EPA and the Army Corps’ Rule to Define “Waters of the United States”

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly announced a final rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The rule revises regulations that have been in place for more than 25 years. Revisions are being made in light of 2001 and 2006 Supreme Court rulings that interpreted the regulatory scope of the CWA more narrowly than the agencies and lower courts were then doing, and created uncertainty about the appropriate scope of waters protected under the CWA.

According to the agencies, the new...

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...

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...

Legislative Options in the 114th Congress for Financing Water Infrastructure

This report addresses several options considered by Congress to address the financing needs of local communities for wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects and to decrease or close the gap between available funds and projected needs. Some of the options exist and are well established, but they have been under discussion for expansion or modification. Other innovative policy options for water infrastructure have been proposed, especially to supplement or complement existing financing tools. Some are intended to provide robust, long-term revenue to support existing financing...

The “Waters of the United States” Rule: Legislative Options and 114th Congress Responses

On May 27, 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule revising regulations that define the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Discharges to waters under CWA jurisdiction, such as the addition of pollutants from factories or sewage treatment plants and the dredging and filling of spoil material through mining or excavation, require a CWA permit. The rule was proposed in 2014 in light of Supreme Court rulings that created uncertainty about the geographic limits of waters that are and are not protected...

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation: Background and Legislative Issues

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a wholly owned U.S. government corporation, is referred to as the U.S. development finance institution (DFI). It provides political risk insurance, project and investment funds financing, and other services to promote U.S. direct investment in developing countries and emerging economies that will have a development impact. It operates under the foreign policy guidance of the Secretary of State. OPIC’s governing legislation is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. §2191 et seq.).

Congress periodically has extended...

Clean Air Issues in the 114th Congress

Oversight of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory actions received significant attention in the 114th Congress. Of particular interest were two air quality issues: EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and related rules to regulate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new and existing power plants, promulgated on August 3, 2015; and a revision of the ambient air quality standard for ozone, promulgated on October 1, 2015.

Reducing GHG emissions to address climate change was a major goal of President Obama, but many in Congress have been less enthusiastic about it. In the absence of...

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...

Water Quality Issues in the 114th Congress: An Overview

Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established in 1972 in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. However, 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 are needed,...

Controversies over Redefining “Fill Material” Under the Clean Water Act

In May 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) announced a regulation redefining two key terms, “fill material” and “discharge of fill material,” in rules that implement Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. This report discusses the 2002 rule, focusing on how it changes which material and types of activities are regulated under Section 404 and the significance of these issues, especially for the mining industry.

The Clean Water Act contains two different permitting regimes: (1) Section 402 permits (called the National Pollutant...

Mountaintop Removal Mining: Background on Recent Controversies

Mountaintop removal mining involves removing the top of a mountain in order to recover the coal seams contained there. This practice occurs in six Appalachian states (Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Ohio). It creates an immense quantity of excess spoil (dirt and rock that previously composed the mountaintop), which is typically placed in valley fills on the sides of the former mountains, burying streams that flow through the valleys. Mountaintop removal mining is regulated under several laws, including the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Surface Mining Control...

Presidential Authority over Trade: Imposing Tariffs and Duties

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to impose and collect taxes, tariffs, duties, and the like, and to regulate international commerce. While the Constitution gives the President authority to negotiate international agreements, it assigns him no specific power over international commerce and trade. Through legislation, however, Congress may delegate some of its power to the President, such as the power to modify tariffs under certain circumstances. Thus, because the President does not possess express constitutional authority to modify tariffs, he must find authority for...

Senate Standing Committees’ Rules on Legislative Activities and Executive Business: Analysis for the 114th Congress

Senate Rule XXVI directs Senate committees to adopt rules of procedure and publish them in the Congressional Record by March 1 of the first year of a new Congress. A committee’s rules must be “not inconsistent” with the Senate’s rules. Committee rules, even if they have not been amended, must be revalidated in each Congress as provided in Rule XXVI.

Committee rules cover a variety of subjects—from meeting dates to quorums to processing nominations. Some Senate rules that are reflected in committees’ rules must be followed, such as the rule that requires a majority of a committee to be...

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,...

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA): Selected Legal Issues

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) (16 U.S.C. §§703-712) is a criminal environmental statute, enacted in 1918 to implement a 1916 treaty signed by the United States and Great Britain (acting for Canada) aimed at protecting birds that migrate between the two countries. The MBTA prohibits the taking and killing of migratory birds, but does not itself define the term “take.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) regulations define “take” as “to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect” or to attempt to do so.

The courts are divided on whether federal agencies are...

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...

Antiquities Act: Scope of Authority for Modification of National Monuments

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to declare, by proclamation, that objects of historic or scientific interest on federal lands are designated as national monuments. Over the course of more than a century, Presidents have cited the Antiquities Act as authority for protecting well over 100 land and marine areas, totaling hundreds of millions of acres, as national monuments. National monuments generally are reserved and protected from certain uses such as mineral leasing or mining, although management terms may vary by monument. Partly because of such restrictions, some...

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,...

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act in the 114th Congress: Background and Issues

Today stakeholders broadly agree on the need for strong measures to control vessel discharges, especially ballast water discharges, which can introduce a wide range of contaminants into U.S. and international waters. Ballast water has been identified as a major pathway for introduction of aquatic nuisance, or invasive, species that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Vessel discharge requirements in the United States are a result of U.S. Coast Guard regulations; a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit; and individual state requirements that apply in nearly one-half of the states....

The High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Grant Program: Overview

Since 1964, when Japan opened the first rail line allowing trains to travel safely at speeds greater than 150 miles per hour, several European and Asian countries have built high-speed rail lines. There have been frequent calls for the United States to develop similar high-speed rail services, but none have been built. The financial challenge of building high-speed rail lines, which requires many billions of dollars to be spent over a lengthy period before service opens and revenues begin to be collected, makes government financial support unavoidable. Governments in other countries have...

Ocean Dumping Act: A Summary of the Law

The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA) has two basic aims: to regulate intentional ocean disposal of materials, and to authorize related research. Permit and enforcement provisions of the law are often referred to as the Ocean Dumping Act. The basic provisions of the act have remained virtually unchanged since 1972, when it was enacted to establish a comprehensive waste management system to regulate disposal or dumping of all materials into marine waters that are within U.S. jurisdiction, although a number of new authorities have been added. This report presents a...

Clean Water Act: A Summary of the Law

The principal law governing pollution of the nation’s surface waters is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, or Clean Water Act. Originally enacted in 1948, it was totally revised by amendments in 1972 that gave the act its current dimensions. The 1972 legislation spelled out ambitious programs for water quality improvement that have since been expanded and are still being implemented by industries and municipalities.

This report presents a summary of the law, describing the statute without discussing its implementation. Other CRS reports discuss implementation, including CRS Report...

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...

EPA’s Vessel General Permits: Background and Issues

In November 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed two Clean Water Act (CWA) permits to regulate certain types of vessel discharges into U.S. waters. The proposed permits would replace a single Vessel General Permit (VGP) issued in 2008 that was due to expire in December 2013. As proposed, the permits would apply to approximately 71,000 large domestic and foreign vessels and perhaps as many as 138,000 small vessels. This universe of regulated entities is diverse as well as large, consisting of tankers, freighters, barges, cruise ships and other passenger vessels, and...

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...

What Does Fish Consumption Have to Do With Water Quality Standards?

Controversies have arisen in several states over establishment of ambient water quality standards. At issue is whether states are setting standards at levels that adequately protect public health from pollutants in waterways. Some groups argue that states are adopting overly stringent standards that are unattainable and unaffordable and are being pressured to do so by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Others contend that the states are failing to protect population groups that consume large amounts of fish, such as members of Indian tribes that have treaty fishing rights. The...

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...

EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Highlights of the Final Rule

On August 3, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized regulations that address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the electric power sector. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) final rule requires states to submit plans that would reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or emission rates—measured in pounds of CO2 emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity generation—from existing fossil fuel electricity generating units. EPA estimates that in 2030, the CPP will result in CO2 emission levels from the electric power sector that are 32% below 2005 levels.

The CPP is the subject of...

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 114th Congress

The House and the Senate have considered immigration measures on a variety of issues in the 114th Congress. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (P.L. 114-113) extends four immigration programs through September 30, 2016: the EB-5 immigrant investor Regional Center Pilot Program, the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, the Conrad State program for foreign medical graduates, and the special immigrant religious worker program. P.L. 114-113 also contains provisions on the Visa Waiver Program and certain nonimmigrant visa categories.

Other enacted immigration-related...

Volkswagen, Defeat Devices, and the Clean Air Act: Frequently Asked Questions

The German automotive manufacturer Volkswagen Automotive Group (VW) has admitted to installing a software algorithm in several of its diesel-fueled vehicle engines that acts as a “defeat device”: the software detects when the vehicle is undergoing compliance testing and activates certain pollution control devices to reduce tailpipe emissions. During normal driving situations, however, the control devices are turned off, resulting in higher emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and other air pollutants than claimed by the company. Federal and California regulators and the European Union (EU)...

Clean Air Permitting: Implementation and Issues

The 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments required major industrial sources of air pollutants to obtain operating permits. These permits, authorized in Title V of the act, are intended to enhance environmental compliance by detailing for each covered facility all of the emission control requirements to which it is subject. Title V also was intended to generate permit fees that would be used by state and local permitting authorities for administering the program. Implementation of these requirements affects more than 15,000 industrial sources of air emissions, as well as state and local air...

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...

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA): Gaming on Newly Acquired Lands

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (P.L. 100-497) generally prohibits gaming on lands acquired for Indians in trust by the Secretary of the Interior (SOI or Secretary) after October 17, 1988. The exceptions, however, raise the possibility of Indian gaming proposals for locations presently unconnected with an Indian tribe. Among the exceptions are land (1) acquired after the SOI determines acquisition to be in the best interest of the tribe and not detrimental to the local community and the governor of the state concurs; (2) acquired for tribes that had no reservation on the date of...

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...

The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21, 2016, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, September 7-18, 2016. Notably, these are the first games to be hosted by a South American city. Reportedly, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the Olympics, including 555 athletes from the United States. Most Olympic events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. In addition to Rio de Janeiro, soccer matches will be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, São Paulo, and Salvador.

Host countries and cities often have to...

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...

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...

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 Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA; H.R. 5278, S. 2328)

Representative Duffy introduced H.R. 5278, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), on May 18, 2016. This bill is a revised version of H.R. 4900, introduced by Representative Duffy on April 12, 2016. The House Committee on Natural Resources marked up H.R. 5278 on May 25, 2016. Amendments include technical corrections and extensions of certain studies on the Puerto Rico government and economy. The major provisions of the bill were unaffected. The House passed an amended version of H.R. 5278, which is organized into seven titles, on June 9, 2016,...

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...

Public Transportation Capital Investment Grant (New Starts) Program: Background and Issues for Congress

The Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, often called New Starts, is a discretionary funding program for the construction of new fixed-guideway public transportation systems and the expansion of existing systems. Eligible projects include transit rail, including subway/elevated rail (heavy rail), light rail, and commuter rail, as well as bus rapid transit (BRT) and ferries.

The CIG program is one element of the federal public transportation program that is administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) within the Department of Transportation (DOT). In December 2015, the CIG...

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...

Canada-U.S. Relations

Relations between the United States and Canada have generally been cordial. Bound together by a common 5,500 mile border—“the longest undefended border in the world”—as well as shared democratic traditions, the two countries are also increasingly integrated economically through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The two North American countries continue to cooperate widely on international security and political issues, both bilaterally and through numerous international organizations. Canada’s foreign and defense policies are usually in harmony with those of the United...

Air Quality Issues and Animal Agriculture: A Primer

From an environmental quality standpoint, much of the public and policy interest in animal agriculture has focused on impacts on water resources, because animal waste, if not properly managed, can harm water quality through surface runoff, direct discharges, spills, and leaching into soil and groundwater. A more recent issue is the contribution of air emissions from animal feeding operations (AFOs), enterprises where animals are raised in confinement. This report provides background on the latter issue.

AFOs can affect air quality through emissions of gases such as ammonia and hydrogen...

Animal Waste and Hazardous Substances: Current Laws and Legislative Issues

The animal sector of agriculture has undergone major changes in the last several decades: organizational changes within the industry to enhance economic efficiency have resulted in larger confined production facilities that often are geographically concentrated. These changes, in turn, have given rise to concerns over the management of animal wastes and potential impacts on environmental quality.

Federal environmental law does not regulate all agricultural activities, but certain large animal feeding operations (AFOs) where animals are housed and raised in confinement are subject to...

Allocation of Wastewater Treatment Assistance: Formula and Other Changes

Congress established a statutory formula governing distribution of financial aid for municipal wastewater treatment in the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. Since then, Congress has modified the formula and incorporated other eligibility changes five times. Federal funds are provided to states through annual appropriations according to the statutory formula to assist local governments in constructing wastewater treatment projects in compliance with federal standards. The most recent formula change, enacted in 1987, continues to apply to distribution of federal grants to capitalize state...

Animal Waste and Water Quality: EPA’s Response to the Waterkeeper Alliance Court Decision on Regulation of CAFOs

In October 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a regulation to revise a 2003 Clean Water Act rule governing waste discharges from large confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The 2008 action was necessitated by a 2005 federal court decision (Waterkeeper Alliance et al. vs. EPA, 399 F.3d 486 [2nd Cir. 2005]), resulting from challenges brought by agriculture industry groups and environmental advocacy groups, that vacated parts of the 2003 rule and remanded other parts to EPA for clarification.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from any “point...

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...

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...

Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater

For decades, stormwater, or runoff, was considered largely a problem of excess rainwater or snowmelt impacting communities. Prevailing engineering practices were to move stormwater away from cities as rapidly as possible to avoid potential damages from flooding. More recently, these practices have evolved and come to recognize stormwater as a resource that, managed properly within communities, has multiple benefits.

Stormwater problems occur because rainwater that once soaked into the ground now runs off hard surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, and streets in excessive amounts. It flows...

The Wetlands Coverage of the Clean Water Act (CWA): Rapanos and Beyond

In 1985 and 2001, the Supreme Court grappled with issues as to the geographic scope of the wetlands permitting program in the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). In 2006, the Supreme Court rendered a third decision, Rapanos v. United States, on appeal from two Sixth Circuit rulings. The Sixth Circuit rulings offered the Court a chance to clarify the reach of CWA jurisdiction over wetlands adjacent only to nonnavigable tributaries of traditional navigable waters—including tributaries such as drainage ditches and canals that may flow intermittently. (Jurisdiction over wetlands adjacent to...

Judge Merrick Garland: His Jurisprudence and Potential Impact on the Supreme Court

On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Judge Garland was appointed to the D.C. Circuit by President Clinton in 1997, and is currently its chief judge, an administrative position that rotates among the active judges on the circuit. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Garland served in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he notably oversaw...

EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options

In August 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated standards to limit emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from both new and existing fossil-fueled electric power plants. Because of the importance of electric power to the economy and its significance as a source of GHG emissions, the EPA standards have generated substantial interest. The economy and the health, safety, and well-being of the nation are affected by the availability of a reliable and affordable power supply. Many contend that that supply would be adversely impacted by controls on GHG emissions. At the same...

Lead in Flint, Michigan’s Drinking Water: CRS Experts

Head Start; Home Visiting; Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting; MIECHV; Early Childhood; Child Development; blood lead reference level; blood lead level; lead poisoning prevention; health registries; EPA; toxicology of lead poisoning; EPSDT; Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment; special education; Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes; healthy homes; Safe Drinking Water Act; SDWA; Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund; Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, water infrastructure; Lead and Copper Rule; corrosion control; Water Infrastructure...

Congressional Efforts to Amend Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)

This report examines selected differences between the House and the Senate legislation that would amend Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA; 15 U.S.C. 2601-2629). Title I of TSCA is the principal federal statute that applies to the regulation of the lifecycle of commercial chemicals from their manufacture (defined to include importation) to disposal if elements of the lifecycle are found to present unreasonable risks.

Proposed Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in the 114th Congress: H.R. 2576 Compared with the Senate Substitute Amendment

This report compares H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015, as passed by the House on June 23, 2015, and the Senate’s substitute amendment (S.Amdt. 2932) to H.R. 2576, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, as passed by the Senate on December 17, 2015. The Senate amendment is based, in part, on S. 697, as reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on April 28, 2015.

The House bill and the Senate amendment would amend Title I of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Enacted in 1976, TSCA is the primary federal law that authorizes...

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...

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...

Cleanup at Inactive and Abandoned Mines: Issues in “Good Samaritan” Legislation in the 114th Congress

On August 5, 2015, an accidental spill from the Gold King Mine, a long-abandoned gold mine site in Colorado, released an estimated three million gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) wastewater into a tributary of the Animas River. The Colorado spill has raised interest in facilitating cleanup of legacy pollution at inactive and abandoned mine sites, especially hardrock mines such as Gold King, in order to prevent similar accidents. Several federal agencies have authority to clean up abandoned mines on public lands, but resources are limited, and most sites on private lands are not included....

Lead in Flint, Michigan's Drinking Water: Federal Regulatory Role

This report discusses the federal regulatory role in regards to drinking water, more specifically in the context of the Flint water crisis. EPA's current Flint responses include providing technical assistance for water testing and treatment, conducting water monitoring, and identifying lead service line locations.

Rural Water Supply and Sewer Systems: Background Information

The Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act impose requirements regarding drinking water quality and wastewater treatment in rural as well as urban areas of the United States. Approximately 19% of the U.S. population lives in areas defined by the Census Bureau as rural. Many rural communities need to complete water and waste disposal projects to improve the public health and environmental conditions of their citizens. Small water infrastructure systems often have higher rates of noncompliance than larger systems. In addition, because small systems generally lack economies of scale,...

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...

Surface Transportation Funding and Programs Under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94)

On December 4, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94). The act authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research activities, and rail programs for five years, through September 30, 2020. The act’s authorization totaled roughly $305 billion for FY2016 through FY2020. This included $233 billion for highways and highway safety, $61 billion for public transportation, and more than $10 billion for Amtrak.

Most of the funding for surface transportation bills...

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...

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...

Regulation of Power Plant Wastewater Discharges: Summary of the EPA Final Rule

To implement the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues effluent limitation guidelines (ELG), or technology-based standards, for categories of industrial dischargers. These standards are implemented through permits issued by states or EPA to individual facilities. In November 2015, EPA promulgated revised effluent limitations for the steam electric power industry to replace rules that were issued in 1982. The new rule was effective on January 4, 2016.

Two factors have altered existing wastestreams or created new wastestreams from many power plants since...

Highways and Highway Safety on Indian Lands

Cars and trucks are the primary means of transportation on Indian lands, mostly rural areas that cover about 56 million acres. There are about 145,000 miles of roads, owned variously by tribal, federal, state, and local governments, which provide access to and within these areas. Although comprehensive data are not available, roads on Indian lands are typically rudimentary and in poor condition.

A large share of federal funding for highways on Indian lands is provided through the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP), which is jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)...

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...

2013 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5): Designating Nonattainment Areas

On April 7, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published amendments to the January 15, 2015, final rule designating areas for compliance with the 2013 primary annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Revising a NAAQS established under the Clean Air Act (CAA) sets in motion a process under which the states and EPA identify areas that exceed the standard (“nonattainment areas”) using multi-year air quality monitoring data and other criteria, requiring states to take steps to reduce pollutant concentrations in order to meet the...

Air Quality: EPA’s 2013 Changes to the Particulate Matter (PM) Standard

On January 15, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM). The revised air quality standards were completed pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA) and, in part, in response to a court order and consent agreement. Based on its review of scientific studies available since the agency’s previous review in 2006, EPA determined that evidence continued to show associations between particulates in ambient air and numerous significant health problems, including aggravated asthma, chronic...

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...

Federalism Issues in Surface Transportation Policy: A Historical Perspective

P.L. 114-94, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, was signed by President Obama on December 4, 2015. The act reauthorizes federal highway and mass transit programs through the end of FY2020. It also authorizes to be appropriated about $305 billion for these programs, an increase of about 4.2% over current funding levels plus projected inflation for highway programs and 7.9% over current funding levels plus projected inflation for public transportation programs.

Although the federal presence, and influence, on surface transportation policy remains significant, FAST is a...

Doubling Research and Development for Clean Energy: "Mission Innovation"

This report briefly provides background for "Mission Innovation," a new initiative crafted by 20 countries to increase their public investment in research and development (R&D) in "clean energy" technologies.

International Climate Change Negotiations: What to Expect in Paris, December 2015

The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) convenes for the 21st time (COP21) in Paris, France, from November 29 to December 11, 2015. The United States ratified the UNFCCC in 1992. Accordingly, the United States and the other 195 UNFCCC Parties already have legally binding but qualitative obligations under the treaty. COP21 intends to finalize an agreement under the UNFCCC to address climate change from 2020 on. A major focus is to lay out a path toward stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere to avoid...

The State Department's Final Decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline

This report briefly discusses the State Department's denial of TransCanada's request for a Presidential Permit for proposed pipeline facilities.

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...

Greenhouse Gas Pledges by Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

International negotiations are underway toward an agreement, due in December 2015, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regarding commitments and actions to address human-related, global climate change from 2020 on. This report summarizes the existing commitments and pledges of selected national and regional governments to limit their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as contributions to the global effort.

The negotiations cover additional topics, including adaptation to the impacts of climate change and financing to assist the efforts of low-income...

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...

EPA's New Ozone Standards: A Few Thoughts

This report discusses the EPA's review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). After several years of analysis, EPA proposed more stringent standards last November. This began a public comment period, leading toward the final decision.

The President Pro Tempore of the Senate: History and Authority of the Office

The U.S. Constitution establishes the office of the President pro tempore of the Senate to preside over the Senate in the Vice President’s absence. Since 1947, the President pro tempore has stood third in line to succeed to the presidency after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House.

Although the President pro tempore’s powers are limited and not comparable to those of the Speaker of the House, as the chamber’s presiding officer, he is authorized to perform certain duties. For example, he may decide points of order (subject to appeal) and enforce decorum in the Senate chamber and...

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): A Summary of the Act and Its Major Requirements

This report summarizes the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the major regulatory programs dealing with chemical production and distribution in U.S. commerce. Issues related to TSCA implementation over time are addressed in CRS Report RL34118, The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges, by Linda-Jo Schierow.

President Ford signed TSCA into law on October 11, 1976. Subsequently, five titles were added to address specific concerns—asbestos in 1986 (Title II, P.L. 99-519), radon in 1988 (Title III, P.L. 100-551), lead in 1992 (Title IV, P.L. 102-550),...

Surface Transportation Program Reauthorization Issues for Congress

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141), a two-year authorization of federal spending on highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research, and some rail programs, was set to expire September 30, 2014. MAP-21 has been extended three times since then, most recently through October 29, 2015, by the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-41). That legislation also transferred $8.07 billion from the Treasury general fund to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).

Nearly all the...

Statutory Qualifications for Executive Branch Positions

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some Members of Congress and others questioned the competence of leadership at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). After investigating the federal response to the hurricane, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concluded that the agency’s leader had “lacked the leadership skills that were needed for his critical position.” In response, the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-295, 120 Stat. 1394) stipulated that the FEMA Administrator, among other top agency leaders, must meet certain...

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...

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)...

Gold King Mine Spill May Renew Interest in "Good Samaritan" Legislation

This report discusses legislation related to an accidental spill from the Gold King Mine, a long-abandoned gold mine site in Colorado, which released acid mine drainage (AMD) wastewater into a tributary of the Animas River and downstream to the San Juan River. The proposed legislation would authorize Good Samaritan remediation, in which third parties who have no history of polluting at a particular site or legal responsibility for its pollution step forward to clean up AMD or other historic mine residue of pollution.

Agricultural Biotechnology: Background, Regulation, and Policy Issues

Biotechnology refers primarily to the use of recombinant DNA techniques to genetically modify or bioengineer plants and animals. Most crops developed through recombinant DNA technology have been engineered to be tolerant of various herbicides or to be pest resistant through having a pesticide genetically engineered into the plant organism. U.S. soybean, cotton, and corn farmers have rapidly adopted genetically engineered (GE) varieties of these crops since their commercialization in the mid-1990s. Over the past 15 years, GE varieties in the United States have increased from 3.6 million...

Microbeads: An Emerging Water Quality Issue

This report discusses the debate over how to address growing environmental concerns regarding microbeads (synthetic particles made of either polyethylene or polypropylene plastic) and whether federal regulation to control or ban them is needed. A number of companies are voluntarily removing microbeads from their products, and some states--eight so far--have passed laws to ban manufacture and sale of products with microbeads.

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...

Transportation Conformity Under the Clean Air Act

Under the Clean Air Act, areas that have not attained one or more of the six National Ambient Air Quality Standards (currently more than 100 areas with a combined population of 143 million) must develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) providing for implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of the NAAQS. The act requires that, in these areas, federal agencies not engage in, approve, permit, or provide financial support for activities that do not “conform” to the area’s SIP.

Although a wide range of federal funding and programs is subject to conformity, it is transportation planning...

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...

Locate an Agency or Program Within Appropriations Bills

This report provides an alphabetical listing of federal agencies and programs, and it is an aid to identify the major source of their appropriated funding. A listing of House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees is provided. Finding an agency.

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...

Export-Import Bank: Overview and Reauthorization Issues

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank or the Bank), a wholly owned U.S. government corporation, is the official export credit agency (ECA) of the United States. Its mission is to assist in the financing of U.S. exports of goods and services to support U.S. employment. The FY2015 continuing resolution (§147 of P.L. 113-164) extends its general statutory charter (Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §635 et seq.) through June 30, 2015. The 114th Congress may debate whether to renew Ex-Im Bank’s authority; if so, for how long and under what terms; and if...

Commemorative Works in the District of Columbia: Background and Practice

In 1783, the Continental Congress authorized the first memorial in American history, an equestrian statue to honor George Washington that was to be constructed by the “best artist” in Europe. Since that time, Congress has authorized more than 100 commemorative works in the District of Columbia. Even with multiple authorized works, however, no specific process existed for the creation of commemorative works for almost two centuries. While Congress has long been responsible for authorizing memorials on federal land, the process for approving site locations, memorial design plans, and funding...

Food Safety Issues: FDA Judicial Enforcement Actions

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a statutory mission to ensure the safety of all food except for meat, poultry, and certain egg products over which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has regulatory oversight. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), the FDA has the authority to regulate the manufacturing, processing, and labeling of food, with the primary goal of promoting food safety.

Congress has vested the FDA with the authority to take both administrative and judicial enforcement actions. The agency initiates and carries out administrative...

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...

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...

Issues in the Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

The funding authorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), expires on September 30, 2015. In addition to setting spending levels, FAA authorization acts typically set policy on a wide range of issues related to civil aviation. This report considers topics that are likely to arise as the 114th Congress debates reauthorization.

Most FAA programs are financed through the Airport and Airway Trust Fund (AATF), sometimes referred to as the Aviation Trust Fund. The financial health of the AATF, which is funded...

Defense: FY2015 Authorization and Appropriations

In contrast with the debate over the FY2014 defense budget, congressional action on the FY2015 Department of Defense (DOD) “base budget” (that is, the part of the budget not associated with operations in Afghanistan or other situations designated by the President as emergencies) was not complicated by disputes over the total amount at issue. For both the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the FY2015 Defense Appropriations Act, President Obama’s request, and versions of the legislation that were passed by the House, approved by the relevant Senate committees, and finally...

U.S. Natural Gas Exports: New Opportunities, Uncertain Outcomes

As estimates for the amount of U.S. natural gas resources have grown, so have the prospects of rising U.S. natural gas exports. The United States is expected to go from a net importer of natural gas to a net exporter by 2016. With recent natural gas prices relatively low compared to global prices and historically low for the United States, producers are looking for new markets for their natural gas. Projects to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) by tanker ship have been proposed—cumulatively accounting for over 60% of current gross U.S. natural gas production. Pipeline exports, which...

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...

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...

The Oregon and California Railroad Lands (O&C Lands): Issues for Congress

The Oregon and California Railroad (O&C) lands consist of 2.6 million acres of timberland in western Oregon. The majority of these lands (2.5 million acres) were originally granted to the Oregon & California Railroad Company in 1866 for constructing approximately 300 miles of the Oregon portion of a railroad from Portland, OR, to Sacramento, CA. However, in 1915 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the railroad company violated the terms of the grant. The disposition of these lands was eventually resolved with the O&C Act of 1937, which revested the lands back into federal ownership to be...

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...

Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Canadian Oil Sands and Climate Change

Recent congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has focused in part on ways through which the United States could secure more economical and reliable petroleum resources both domestically and internationally. Many forecasters identify petroleum products refined from Canadian oil sands as one possible solution. Increased production from Canadian oil sands, however, is not without controversy, as many have expressed concern over the potential environmental impacts. These impacts include emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) during resource extraction...

Analysis of H.R. 5781, California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014

California is experiencing serious water shortages due to widespread drought. Both of the state’s large water infrastructure projects, the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP), have had to reduce water deliveries in 2014 to the farmers and communities they serve. Dry hydrological conditions, in combination with regulatory restrictions on water being pumped from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers Delta confluence with the San Francisco Bay (Bay-Delta) to protect water quality and fish and wildlife, have resulted in water supply cutbacks for CVP and SWP...

Overview of Federal Real Property Disposal Requirements and Procedures

The federal government holds thousands of properties that agencies no longer need to accomplish their missions. When the government disposes of unneeded properties—through transfer, donation, or sale—it generates savings by eliminating maintenance costs. In addition, when state or local governments, nonprofits, or businesses acquire unneeded federal properties, they may be used to provide services to the public, such as temporary housing, or contribute to economic development.

The General Services Administration (GSA) plays a central role in disposing of unneeded property at most federal...

Cost-Benefit and Other Analysis Requirements in the Rulemaking Process

Regulatory analytical requirements (e.g., cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis) have been established incrementally during the last 40 to 50 years through a series of presidential and congressional initiatives. The current set of requirements includes Executive Order 12866 and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-4, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA). These requirements vary in terms of the agencies and rules they cover, and the types of analyses that are required. For example, a regulatory analysis under the Regulatory...

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...

President Obama's November 2014 Visit to China: The Bilateral Agreements

This report discusses President Obama's visit to China, in November-10-12. The purpose of the visit was focused on increasing cooperation on global and regional challenges such as climate change, global economic governance, non-proliferation, and pandemic diseases like Ebola; improving the military-to-military relationship; and expanding business and people-to-people ties.

Immigration Legislation and Issues in the 113th Congress

Immigration reform was an active legislative issue in the first session of the 113th Congress. The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744), a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes provisions on border security, interior enforcement, employment eligibility verification and worksite enforcement, legalization of unauthorized aliens, immigrant visas, nonimmigrant visas, and humanitarian admissions. For its part, the House took a different approach to immigration reform. Rather than considering a single comprehensive...

EPA's Clean Power Plan Proposal: Are the Emission Rate Targets Front-Loaded?

On June 18, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations (the "Clean Power Plan") addressing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired electric generating units. This report briefly discusses this proposal.

EPA's Upcoming Ozone Standard: How Much Will Compliance Cost?

This report briefly discusses upcoming changes in climate policy and cost associated with them. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under a court order to complete a review of its ambient air quality standard for ozone (the "ozone NAAQS") by October 1, 2015. The agency must propose any change to the standard by December 1 of [2014].

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...

Public Transportation Program and Funding Issues

The federal public transportation program, administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), is the primary means by which the federal government funds and regulates public transportation, such as local buses, subways, and ferries. The program was reauthorized through FY2014 as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141) and extended through May 31, 2015, as part of the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-159). Funding was authorized at $10.6 billion in FY2013 and $10.7 billion in FY2014, with the extension continuing...

Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends

The exercise of the judicial power of the United States often requires that courts construe statutes to apply them in particular cases and controversies. Judicial interpretation of the meaning of a statute is authoritative in the matter before the court. Beyond this, the methodologies and approaches taken by the courts in discerning meaning can help guide legislative drafters, legislators, implementing agencies, and private parties.

The Supreme Court has expressed an interest “that Congress be able to legislate against a background of clear interpretive rules, so that it may know the...

Climate Summit 2014: Warm-Up for 2015

This report discusses Climate Summit 2014, its context, and its impact on future international climate initiatives.

FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program: Overview and Issues

Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), as federal law and a program activity, began in 1997. Congress established a pilot program, within the Appropriations Act, which FEMA named Project Impact, to test the concept of investing prior to disasters to reduce the vulnerability of communities to future disasters. Several years later, P.L. 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, authorized the PDM program in law as Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. However, unlike the rest of the Stafford Act which has a freestanding authorization, the PDM program...

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...

Manufacturing Nuclear Weapon “Pits”: A Decisionmaking Approach for Congress

A “pit” is the plutonium “trigger” of a thermonuclear weapon. During the Cold War, the Rocky Flats Plant (CO) made up to 2,000 pits per year (ppy), but ceased operations in 1989. Since then, the Department of Energy (DOE) has made at most 11 ppy for the stockpile, yet the Department of Defense stated that it needs DOE to have a capacity of 50 to 80 ppy to extend the life of certain weapons and for other purposes. This report focuses on 80 ppy, the upper end of this range.

Various options might reach 80 ppy. Successfully establishing pit manufacturing will require, among other things,...

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...

Federal Response to Drought in California: An Analysis of S. 2198 and H.R. 3964

California is experiencing serious water shortages due to widespread drought. Even though much of the state is served by two large water infrastructure projects that store water for future use—the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) and the State Water Project (SWP)—both projects have had to reduce water deliveries to the farmers and communities that they serve. Many water users have received no water from the CVP and SWP this year and are supplementing surface water supplies with groundwater. Some water basins are experiencing overdraft of local aquifers (i.e., extracting of more ground...

H.R. 3964: Analysis of Key Provisions

For most of the last 20 years, some water contractors in California’s Central Valley have received less than their full contract water supplies from federal and state water resource 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...

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...

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...

Analysis of Senate-Passed 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 state’s largest reservoirs. Groundwater levels in many areas of the state also have declined due to increased pumping over...

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...

Reauthorization Issues for the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

The 113th Congress is actively considering reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA). The MSFCMA governs the management and conservation of commercial and recreational fisheries in U.S. federal waters (3-200 nautical miles from shore). The MSFCMA was last reauthorized and extensively amended in 2006 (P.L. 109-479). Although the authorization of appropriations under the MSFCMA expired at the end of FY2013, the act’s requirements continue in effect and Congress has continued to appropriate funds to administer the act. Historically,...

S. 2262, Shaheen-Portman Bill 2014: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act

S. 2262 has four energy efficiency titles, which address buildings, industry, federal agencies, and certain regulatory measures. Title V would provide a budgetary offset for bill authorizations. The bill was derived directly from S. 1392, often referred to as the Shaheen-Portman bill of 2013. During the first session, floor action on S. 1392 was halted by a push for votes on controversial non-energy amendments. Many energy amendments were also prepared for S. 1392, but floor action stopped before formal consideration.

In the second session, anticipating the potential for further procedural...

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...

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...

Forestry Provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill (P.L. 113-79)

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79, the 2014 farm bill) was signed into law by President Obama on February 7, 2014, after both the House and Senate voted to approve a conference agreement. The 2014 farm bill establishes agricultural and food policy for the next several years, and also addresses several aspects of federal forestry policy.

Forestry provisions were included in the Forestry title (Title VIII) of the 2014 farm bill as well as in some of the other titles. The 2014 farm bill generally repeals, reauthorizes, and modifies existing forestry assistance programs and provisions...

Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as to encourage adaptation to expected climate change. During his speech, the President made reference to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and stated that an evaluation of the project’s impacts on climate change would factor into the U.S. State Department’s national interest determination. The State Department, in the March 2013 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Keystone XL Pipeline, reports estimates for both...

Highway and Public Transportation Infrastructure Provision Using Public-Private Partnerships (P3s)

Growing demands on the transportation system and constraints on public resources have led to calls for more private sector involvement in the provision of highway and transit infrastructure through what are known as “public-private partnerships” or “P3s.” A P3, broadly defined, is any arrangement whereby the private sector assumes more responsibility than is traditional for infrastructure planning, financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance. Some P3s involve the leasing by the public sector to the private sector of existing infrastructure, while others provide for a...

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...

U.S. Nuclear Weapon “Pit” Production Options for Congress

A “pit” is the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon. Until 1989, the Rocky Flats Plant (CO) mass-produced pits. Since then, the United States has made at most 11 pits per year (ppy). U.S. policy is to maintain existing nuclear weapons. To do this, the Department of Defense states that it needs the Department of Energy (DOE), which maintains U.S. nuclear weapons, to produce 50-80 ppy by 2030. While some argue that few if any new pits are needed, at least for decades, this report focuses on options to reach 80 ppy.

Pit production involves precisely forming plutonium—a hazardous, radioactive,...

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...

Whether Logging Road Runoff Requires a Clean Water Act Permit: Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center

U.S. forests are crisscrossed by thousands of miles of logging roads. When it rains or snow melts, runoff from these roads can be environmentally harmful, so how to address this runoff under the Clean Water Act (CWA) has long been an issue.

On March 20, 2013, the Supreme Court in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center addressed one aspect of this issue: logging road runoff that is discharged into CWA-covered waters from ditches, culverts, or other channels. Such conveyances arguably make the runoff a “point source” under the CWA, which normally means that a permit under the...

Crude Oil Properties Relevant to Rail Transport Safety: In Brief

The dramatic increase in U.S. crude oil production, coupled with the increase in crude oil transport by rail, has raised questions about whether properties (e.g., flammability) of these crude types—particularly Bakken crude oil from North Dakota—differ sufficiently from other crude oils to warrant any additional handling considerations. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Safety Alert to notify emergency responders, shippers, carriers, and the public that recent derailments and resulting fires indicate that the type of crude oil transported from...

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...

Transportation Spending and “Buy America” Requirements

The Buy America Act is the popular name for a group of domestic content restrictions that have been attached to funds administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These funds are used to make grants to states, localities, and other non-federal government entities for various transportation projects. Specific sources of funding administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) are covered...

Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN) Homeporting at Mayport: Background and Issues for Congress

The Navy’s proposed FY2014 budget, like the Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget, requested no funding for Military Construction (MilCon) projects required to homeport a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier (CVN) at Mayport, FL. The Navy’s FY2013 budget deferred the Navy’s plan to homeport a CVN at Mayport, and the Navy’s FY2013-FY2017 Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) contained no funding for MilCon projects required to homeport a CVN at Mayport. The Navy stated in its FY2013 budget submission: “Although the FY 2013 budget does not contain a construction project supporting the homeporting of a CVN in...

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

Environmental Requirements Addressed During Corps Civil Works Project Planning: Background and Issues for Congress

Under its civil works mission, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) undertakes water resource projects. The majority of Corps civil works projects involve commercial navigation, flood risk management, and ecosystem restoration.

Before Congress will authorize the construction of or appropriate funds for most Corps civil works projects, the agency must prepare various studies, reports, and evaluations of project benefits and detriments, including adverse environmental impacts. Those impacts, in turn, may obligate the Corps to demonstrate compliance with certain environmental...

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...

Chevron Deference: Court Treatment of Agency Interpretations of Ambiguous Statutes

An administrative agency may generally only exercise that authority which is provided to it by Congress. Often, however, congressional delegations of authority are imprecise, and, as a result, agencies must construe ambiguous terms and make interpretive decisions in order to implement Congress’s delegation. The Supreme Court, in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, outlined a limited role for courts in reviewing these types of agency interpretations. The now famous “Chevron two-step” test has been arguably the most important pillar of administrative law since 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...

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.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform in the 113th Congress: Major Provisions in Senate-Passed S. 744

For several years, some Members of Congress have favored “comprehensive immigration reform” (CIR), a label that commonly refers to omnibus legislation that includes increased border security and immigration enforcement, expanded employment eligibility verification, revision of nonimmigrant visas and legal permanent immigration, and legalization for some unauthorized aliens residing in the country. The omnibus legislative approach contrasts with incremental revisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that would address some but not all of these elements, and with sequential...

The Federal Rulemaking Process: An Overview

Federal regulation, like taxing and spending, is one of the basic tools of government used to implement public policy. Although not as frequently examined as congressional or presidential policy making, the process of developing and framing rules is viewed by some as central to the definition and implementation of public policy in the United States.

Regulations generally start with an act of Congress, and are the means by which statutes are implemented and specific requirements are established. The terms “rule” or “regulation” are often used interchangeably in discussions of the federal...

Trade Reorganization: Overview and Issues for Congress

On January 13, 2012, President Obama asked Congress for authority to reorganize and consolidate, into one department, the business- and trade-related functions of six federal entities: Department of Commerce; Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank); Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC); Small Business Administration (SBA); Trade and Development Agency (TDA); and Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Bills based on the proposal were introduced in the 112th Congress. The President reiterated the proposal in his FY2014 budget request, and he may resubmit his request for...

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...

Deregulating Genetically Engineered Alfalfa and Sugar Beets: Legal and Administrative Responses

Monsanto Corporation, the developer of herbicide-tolerant varieties of genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa and sugar beet (called Roundup Ready alfalfa and Roundup Ready sugar beet), petitioned USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for deregulation of the items. Deregulation of GE plants is the final step in the commercialization process. Monsanto filed a petition for deregulation of its GE alfalfa in 2004, and for GE sugar beets in 2005.

As part of the deregulation process, APHIS conducts an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to...

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...

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,...

Hydraulic Fracturing and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Selected Issues

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations. This process involves pumping fluids under high pressure into the formations to crack them, releasing oil and gas into the well. The technique has been the subject of controversy due to some of its potential effects on the environment.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider the potential environmental consequences of the actions they propose to take by preparing one of three NEPA documents. Actions that fit within 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...

Energy Projects on Federal Lands: Leasing and Authorization

Recent concerns over energy supply and pricing have led some to look increasingly to federal lands as a potential energy source. This report explains the legal framework for energy leasing and permitting for onshore lands subject to the control of the federal government.

The report first reviews the laws and regulations affecting leasing of federal lands for exploration and production of oil, natural gas, and coal, as well as the permits that lessees must obtain in order to explore for and produce these resources. This leasing process has evolved over the last century under the framework...

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...

Analysis of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013

Hurricane Sandy caused extensive human suffering and damage to public and private property. In response to this catastrophic event, Congress considered legislation to provide supplemental appropriations to federal disaster assistance programs. In addition, Congress considered revisions to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act, P.L. 93-288 as amended), which is the primary source of authorities for disaster assistance programs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a result, Congress passed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of...

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Transfer and Disposal of Military Property

The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (P.L. 100-526) and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (P.L. 81-152) provide the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. In general, property at BRAC installations is first subjected to screening for use by the Department of Defense and by other federal agencies. If no federal use for the property can be found or if an application for transfer is rejected, the property is deemed “surplus” to the needs of the federal...

Nondiscrimination in Environmental Regulation: A Legal Analysis

The enactment of various conservation and environmental protection statutes in the 1960s and 1970s created a new awareness of environmental harms. At the same time, the civil rights initiatives also secured nondiscrimination in a number of legal rights, including education, employment, housing, voting, etc. Over the following decades, the development of these movements eventually converged, raising concerns that minority groups face disproportionate exposure to environmental risks and harms.

Individuals and communities claiming to be disproportionately and adversely affected by how an...

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...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 112th Congress

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat. Aquaculture or fish farming enterprises seek to supplement food traditionally provided by wild harvests.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles in the federal exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the federal government (National Marine...

Public Transportation New Starts Program: Background

The New Starts program is a discretionary funding program for the construction of new fixed-guideway public transportation systems and the expansion of existing systems. Eligible projects include transit rail, including subway/elevated rail (heavy rail), light rail, and commuter rail, as well as bus rapid transit (BRT) and ferries. Public transportation, as defined in federal law, does not include transportation by school bus, intercity bus, or intercity passenger rail (Amtrak).

The New Starts program is one element of the federal public transportation program that is administered by the...

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 112th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543) was enacted to increase protection for, and 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 water...

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...

Clean Air Issues in the 112th Congress

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...

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...

Independent Regulatory Agencies, Cost-Benefit Analysis, and Presidential Review of Regulations

When issuing regulations that have the full force and effect of law, agencies are required to follow certain procedures. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 set up the basic framework for rulemaking: agencies are required to publish a notice of rulemaking in the Federal Register, take comments on the proposed rule, and publish a final rule in the Federal Register. Since the passage of the APA, additional procedures have been established in various statutes, executive orders, and guidance documents.

One potential change to the rulemaking process that has been discussed over the...

Government Transparency and Secrecy: An Examination of Meaning and Its Use in the Executive Branch

From the beginnings of the American federal government, Congress has required executive branch agencies to release or otherwise make available government information and records. Some scholars and statesmen, including James Madison, thought access to information—commonly referred to in contemporary vernacular as “transparency”—was an essential cornerstone of democratic governance. Today, the federal government attempts to balance access to information with the need to protect certain information (including national security information and trade secrets) in order to achieve transparency....

Emergency Relief Program: Federal-Aid Highway Assistance for Disaster-Damaged Roads and Bridges

Report that looks at the eligibility of major highways and bridges recently damaged by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene to receive Emergency Relief Program assistance from the Federal Highway Administration.

Reallocation of Water Storage at Federal Water Projects for Municipal and Industrial Water Supply

Pursuant to congressional authorization, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the agencies with primary responsibility for federal water resources management, operate water projects for specified purposes. In the case of Corps dams and their related reservoirs, Congress generally has limited the use of such projects for municipal and industrial (M&I) water supply, but growing M&I demands have raised interest in—and concern about—changing current law and reservoir operations to give Corps facilities a greater role in M&I water storage....

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...

Presidential Appointments, the Senate’s Confirmation Process, and Changes Made in the 112th Congress

The responsibility for populating top positions in the executive and judicial branches of government is one the Senate and the President share. The President nominates an individual, the Senate may confirm him, and the President would then present him with a signed commission. The Constitution divided the responsibility for choosing those who would run the federal government by granting the President the power of appointment and the Senate the power of advice and consent.

Several hundred people go through the appointments process each year. Prior to the adoption of the measures discussed...

Surface Transportation Funding and Programs Under MAP-21: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (P.L. 112-141)

On July 6, 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21; P.L. 112-141). The act authorized spending on federal highway and public transportation programs, surface transportation safety and research, and some rail programs and activities through September 30, 2014. MAP-21 authorized roughly $105 billion for FY2013 and FY2014 combined. It also extended FY2012 surface transportation authorizations to the end of the fiscal year, raising the total authorization to approximately $118 billion.

Most of the funding for surface transportation...

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,...

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...

Aviation and the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme

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...

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).

FDA Regulation of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate cosmetic products and their ingredients. The statutory provisions of the FFDCA that address cosmetics include adulteration and misbranding provisions. In addition to the FFDCA, cosmetics are regulated under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) and related regulations. The cosmetics provisions were amended by the Color Additive Amendments Act of 1960 and the Poison Prevention Packaging Act, but remain basically the same as the provisions in the 1938 FFDCA....

Military Construction: A Snapshot of the President’s FY2013 Appropriations Request

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. Title I of the bill capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. Other titles within the legislation fund veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provide for the...

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....

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...

Closing Yucca Mountain: Litigation Associated with Attempts to Abandon the Planned Nuclear Waste Repository

Passed in 1982, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (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 order to achieve this goal, and in an effort to mitigate the political difficulties of imposing...

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...

The Role of the Environmental Review Process in Federally Funded Highway Projects: Background and Issues for Congress

Under programs administered by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), certain highway and bridge projects may be eligible for federal funding. Project approval and the receipt of federal funds are conditioned on the project sponsor (e.g., a local public works or state transportation agency) meeting certain standards and complying with federal law. Activities necessary to demonstrate compliance with those requirements may be completed at various stages of project development. Although the names of each stage may vary from state to state, project...

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...

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...

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...

U.S. National Science Foundation: Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)

The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) was authorized by Congress in 1978, partly in response to concerns in Congress and the concerns of some in academia and the scientific community about the geographic distribution of federal research and development (R&D) funds. It was argued that there was a concentration of federal R&D funds in large and wealthy states and universities, and that the continuation of such funding patterns might ensure a dichotomy between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

EPSCoR began in 1979 with five...

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Highlighted Activities

A look at legislative reforms that have been passed and are in process in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on April 20, 2010.

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...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FY2012 Appropriations

Enacted December 23, 2011, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74, H.R. 2055), finalized appropriations for FY2012 for those agencies typically funded under nine of the 12 regular appropriations bills. Not including a 0.16% across-the-board rescission, Title II of Division E under P.L. 112-74 provided $8.46 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for FY2012. The total was an increase above the $7.15 billion proposed by the House Appropriations Committee (H.R. 2584 as reported), but less than the $8.62 billion proposed in a draft released by the bipartisan...

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,...

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,...

Army Corps Fiscal Challenges: Frequently Asked Questions

The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for much of the federal water resources infrastructure in the United States. The Corps is faced with more demands for building and maintaining its projects than available federal funding allows. This situation is raising basic questions about how the Corps functions, including the efficacy, efficiency, and equity of Corps planning and implementation.

Corps fiscal challenges have multiple underlying causes. The Corps and its infrastructure is expected to help meet the nation’s increasing demands on water resources and the services they provide;...

Wild Horses and Burros: Issues and Proposals

The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (the 1971 Act) protects wild horses and burros on federal lands, and places them under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS). Under the 1971 Act, the agencies are to inventory horse and burro populations on federal land to determine appropriate management levels (AMLs). They are authorized to remove animals exceeding the range’s carrying capacity. First, the agencies are to destroy “old, sick, or lame animals” by the most humane means available. Second, they are to remove healthy animals for...

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) FY2012 Appropriations: Overview of Provisions in H.R. 2584 as Reported

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal departments and agencies funded within the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill are currently operating under a continuing resolution (P.L. 112-55), which runs through December 16, 2011, while the debate over FY2012 appropriations continues. In July 2011, the House Appropriations Committee reported H.R. 2584 (H.Rept. 112-151) with $27.52 billion in appropriations for FY2012 for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Title II of H.R. 2584, as reported, would provide a total of $7.15 billion for EPA,...

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...

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...

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...

Forest Certification Programs

The national forests have been the focus of controversy for many years. Reduced timber harvests, increased wildfire risks, degraded forest health, and disagreements among users and other stakeholders have led to congressional disputes over appropriate management. Some interests have suggested third-party certification of sustainable management of the national forests as a possible solution to many of these difficulties. There are two major certification programs in the United States: the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) program.

The FSC and...

H.R. 1 Full-Year FY2011 Continuing Resolution: Overview of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Provisions

P.L. 112-10, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (H.R. 1473), enacted April 15, 2011, provided $8.70 billion for EPA for FY2011 prior to a 0.2% across-the-board rescission. None of the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY2011, including the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill that includes funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), were enacted before the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2010. Prior to the enactment of P.L. 112-10, a series of temporary continuing resolutions (CRs) were enacted that sequentially...

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...

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...

Accelerating Highway and Transit Project Delivery: Issues and Options for Congress

Major highway and transit facilities can take somewhere on the order of 10 to 15 years to plan and build. The environmental review process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal environmental laws and regulations is often cited as the main culprit for long delivery times. Available data and research, however, show that environmental review is typically not the greatest source of delay in surface transportation projects. Developing a community consensus on what to do, securing the funding, and dealing with affected residents and businesses, including...

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...

Flood Damage Related to Army Corps of Engineers Projects: Selected Legal Issues

Over the past century, the federal government has undertaken a number of civil works projects to prevent widespread damage from flooding of various waterways. These flood control projects generally have been designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Despite the existence of these flood control structures, floods have caused major damage to various regions of the country. Hurricane Katrina was the most costly natural disaster ever to hit the United States. Striking land in August 2005 as a Category 3 hurricane, Hurricane Katrina left 80% of New Orleans under...

Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Animal agriculture is being transformed by rapid advances in biotechnology—a term that encompasses a variety of technologies, including genetic engineering (GE), genetic modification, transgenics, recombinant DNA techniques, and cloning, among others. Producers are interested in the application of biotechnology to improve productivity, consistency, and quality; to introduce new food, fiber, and medical products; and to protect the environment. Potential human health applications of transgenic animals include producing biopharmaceuticals and generating organs, tissues, and cells for...

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...

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....

International Climate Change Financing: Needs, Sources, and Delivery Methods

Many voices, domestic and international, have called upon the United States to increase foreign assistance to address climate change. Proponents maintain that such assistance could help promote low-emissions and high-growth economic development in lower-income countries, while simultaneously protecting the more vulnerable countries from the effects of a changing climate. Recent studies estimate the needs for climate change financing in the developing world to range from US$4 billion to several hundred billion annually by the year 2030. The United States has pledged funds in such fora as...

National Forest System (NFS) Roadless Area Initiatives

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 2010 Oil Spill: MMS/BOEMRE and NEPA

This report reviews the environmental procedures required following the explosion of an oil well on a tract leased by BP from the federal government.

Environmental, Health, and Safety Tradeoffs: A Discussion of Policymaking Opportunities and Constraints

A policymaker making a decision on approving a program may face the questions, What are the tradeoffs? What alternatives are foregone by committing resources to that program? This issue has been sharpened in environmental, health, and safety policy because studies indicate that some programs are more cost-effective than others, suggesting that redirecting resources from less efficient to more effective programs would increase overall national economic welfare.

Actually making implied tradeoffs has proved difficult, however. One reason is continuing controversy over methods for evaluating...

Export-Import Bank: Background and Legislative Issues

The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), an independent federal government agency, is the official export credit agency of the United States. It helps finance American exports of manufactured goods and services, with the objective of contributing to the employment of U.S. workers, primarily in circumstances when alternative financing is not available. Ex-Im Bank also may assist U.S. exporters to meet foreign, officially sponsored, export credit competition. Ex-Im Bank's main programs are direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital guarantees, and export credit...

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...

Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Issues in the 111th Congress

Fish and marine mammals are important resources in open ocean and nearshore coastal areas; many federal laws and regulations guide their management as well as the management of their habitat.

Commercial and sport fishing are jointly managed by the federal government and individual states. States generally have jurisdiction within 3 miles of the coast. Beyond state jurisdiction and out to 200 miles, the federal government manages fisheries under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) through eight regional fishery management councils. Beyond 200 miles, the...

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 111th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) has been one of the more contentious environmental laws. This may stem from its strict substantive provisions, which can affect the use of both federal and nonfederal lands and resources. 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. Once a species is listed, powerful legal tools are available to aid its recovery and protect its habitat. ESA may also be controversial because dwindling species are...

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;...

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...

International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) serve as the raw material used by plant breeders and farmers to create new crop varieties. As such, they are viewed by many as the foundation for modern agriculture and as essential for achieving global food security. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that more than three-quarters of the increased crop productivity of the past 30 years is the result of plant breeding, and that future global food security depends to a large extent on the continued improvement of food crops—for example, developing new...

International Climate Change: A Negotiations Side-by-Side

This report discusses various cooperative international efforts to address the issue of global climate change. The two major international agreements discussed in a side-by-side comparison are the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2010 Copenhagen Accord. The report discusses how many observers are hoping that initiatives carried out under the Copenhagen Accord may help bridge divides between the various tracks and economic groupings established under the Kyoto Protocol.

Accelerated Vehicle Retirement Programs in Japan and South Korea: Background for Congress

This report discusses the accelerated vehicle retirement (AVR) programs initiated in 2009 by the United States, Japan, South Korea, and other industrial nations (commonly known in the U.S. as the "cash for clunkers" program). The U.S. program began in June 2009, when President Obama signed the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act. The report discusses how these various AVR programs affected the automobile industries in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea, specifically. Neither Japan nor South Korea imports large numbers of foreign vehicles, a circumstance not much altered by AVR...

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....

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...

Public Transit New Starts Program: Issues and Options for Congress

The New Starts program provides federal funds to public transit agencies on a largely competitive basis for the construction of new fixed-guideway transit systems and the expansion of existing fixed-guideway systems. New Starts has funded the development of bus rapid transit (BRT) and ferries, as these are eligible under the definition of fixed-guideway, but the vast majority of funding has gone to transit rail systems. Partly as a result of federal support, rail transit route-mileage in the United States almost doubled between 1985 and 2008, and rail transit passenger trips and passenger...

Recreation on Federal Lands

The 2010 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. When resources in the public trust are harmed by contamination, federal, state, foreign, and tribal governments may seek compensation for damage to natural resources under certain laws. This is done in two steps: first, by assessing the harm; then, by determining how and what restoration will take place. Compensation for natural resource damage is intended to restore the natural resources to their...

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

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

Congressionally Designated Special Management Areas in the National Forest System

In 1891, Congress authorized the President to reserve public forests to protect the lands and resources. The many presidential proclamations and subsequent land purchases have led to the current National Forest System. These lands are managed to balance the many purposes and values through an interdisciplinary planning process, with public involvement, under the Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1960 and the National Forest Management Act of 1976.

Congress has also designated many specific national forest areas to emphasize particular values or resources, and continues to consider...

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Implementation: The Future of Commercial Trucking Across the Mexican Border

This report discusses the implementation of trucking provisions set forth by NAFTA that would have opened the border states to cross-border trucking competition in 1995 and all of North America in 2000. The full implementation of the provisions has been stalled because of concern with the safety of Mexican trucks.

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...

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...

Automobile and Light Truck Fuel Economy: The CAFE Standards

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.

How Agencies Monetize “Statistical Lives” Expected to Be Saved By Regulations

Federal health, safety, and environmental regulations are often designed to reduce the risk of death, illness, or injury from exposure to a particular hazard (e.g., arsenic in drinking water or rollover car crashes). As part of an economic analysis required by Executive Order 12866, the issuing agencies often place a monetary value on these expected health benefits by determining the number of “statistical lives” that the rules are expected to extend or save, and then multiplying that number by an estimated “value of a statistical life” (VSL). For example, if 100,000 people are each...

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...

Accelerated Vehicle Retirement for Fuel Economy: "Cash for Clunkers"

This report outlines the key provisions of the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) program established by P.L. 111-32, which provide rebates to prospective purchasers toward the purchase of new, fuel-efficient vehicles, provided the trade-in vehicles are scrapped. It discusses the impact of the program on the economy and also summarizes similar programs in other industrial countries.

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...

Repairing and Reconstructing Disaster-Damaged Roads and Bridges: The Role of Federal-Aid Highway Assistance

This report describes Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) assistance for the repair and reconstruction of disaster-damaged highways and bridges or catastrophic failures (such as a bridge collapse).

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...

Managing Coal Combustion Waste (CCW): Issues with Disposal and Use

In 2008, coal-fired power plants accounted for almost half of the United States’ electric power, resulting in as much as 136 millions tons of coal combustion waste (CCW). On December 22, 2008, national attention was turned to issues regarding the waste when a breach in an impoundment pond at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Kingston, TN, plant released 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry. The estimated cleanup cost will likely reach $1.2 billion.

The characteristics of CCW vary, but it generally contains a range of heavy metals such as arsenic, beryllium, chromium, lead, and...

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...

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...

An Overview of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Control Policies in Various Countries

Congressional Review Act: Rules Not Submitted to GAO and Congress

This report discusses the Congressional Review Act (CRA; 5 U.S.C. §801-808), which was enacted to improve congressional authority over agency rulemaking, and requires federal agencies to submit all of their final rules to both houses of Congress and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) before they can take effect.

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...

International Forestry Issues in Climate Change Bills: Comparison of Provisions of S. 1733 and H.R. 2454

Deforestation releases substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, about 17% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Legislation has been proposed for U.S. targets to reduce GHG emissions. The two primary bills, H.R. 2454 and S. 1733, include provisions that would reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; these activities are referred to as REDD. Both bills would use allowances to build capacity in developing countries and supplement U.S. emissions reductions; both would allow offsets for U.S. industries; and both contain a reserve to stabilize carbon prices.

The...

Legal Consequences of EPA’s Endangerment Finding for New Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions

On December 15, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took its most important action to date related to climate change. EPA published its final determination that the combined greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles in the United States contribute to an “endangerment” from climate change. More precisely, EPA found that such emissions, in the words of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 202(a), “cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” Under section 202(a), this finding requires that EPA promulgate...

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...

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. 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,...

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...

Surface Transportation Reauthorization Legislation in the 111th Congress: Summary of Selected Major Provisions

The existing authorization for federal surface transportation programs provided by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: a Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA) expires on September 30, 2009. Congress is now considering legislation that would either reauthorize these programs or extend the existing program into at least part of the next fiscal year.

While it considers reauthorization or extension legislation, Congress has also had to address an ongoing financial shortfall in the highway account of the Highway Trust Fund. Just before leaving for its...

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.

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...

Changes to the Consultation Regulations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires all federal agencies to consult with either the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) to determine whether their actions may jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat of listed species. In August 2008, FWS and NMFS proposed changes to the regulations that address the consultation process. Final regulations were published December 16, 2008, and took effect on January 15, 2009. On May 4, 2009, those regulations were withdrawn and the...

Military Installation Real Property and Services: Proposed Legislation in the 111th Congress

Several bills (S. 590, H.R. 1959, and H.R. 2295) that would modify or expand statutory authorities granted to senior executives of the Department of Defense (DOD) have been introduced to the 111th Congress. These authorities relate to the exchange of real property, the outsourcing of some military installation support services, and the reimbursement by DOD of some costs associated with military site cleanup. The proposed legislation would also amend the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, the BRAC law, to expand existing legal protections granted to those who have taken title...

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)....

U.S. Motor Vehicle Industry: Federal Financial Assistance and Restructuring

This report focuses on the current situation faced by the Detroit 3, key aspects of their current crisis, including possible consequences of a failure of one or more companies, and some aspects of legislative actions that have been considered to bridge their financial conditions to a more stable situation.

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...

General Oversight Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA): Requirements and Related Issues

In the wake of a rapidly deteriorating economic picture and year-long recession that the Congressional Budget Office has called the most severe since World War II, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5). This report discusses ARRA’s “general oversight provisions” and several related issues for Congress. For purposes of this report, the term “general oversight provision” means an oversight-related provision that addresses multiple programs, agencies, or appropriations accounts. Provisions that are specific to a single program or appropriation...

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs): Federal Legal Authority

Recent events, including the release of the President’s U.S. Ocean Action Plan and reports issued by the United States Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, have prompted a reexamination of U.S. ocean policy and debate over an “ecosystem approach” to ocean resource management. One proposed mechanism for conserving ocean resources is the Marine Protected Area (MPA), conceptualized as a zoning system for the portions of the ocean under U.S. jurisdiction. This has been highlighted by the issuance of the Revised Draft Framework for Developing the National System of Marine...

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...

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)...

Title X of H.R. 146: San Joaquin River Restoration

Historically, the San Joaquin River in Central California has 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...

Border Security: Barriers Along the U.S. International Border

Congress has repeatedly shown interest in examining and expanding the barriers being deployed along the U.S. international land border. The United States Border Patrol (USBP) deploys fencing, which aims to impede the illegal entry of individuals, and vehicle barriers, which aim to impede the illegal entry of vehicles (but not individuals) along the border.

The USBP first began erecting physical barriers in 1990 to deter illegal entries and drug smuggling in its San Diego sector. The ensuing 14-mile-long San Diego “primary fence” formed part of the USBP’s “Prevention Through Deterrence”...

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...

Polar Bears: Listing Under the Endangered Species Act

On May 14, 2008, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the listing of polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The controversial decision highlights the intersection of two significant issues currently before Congress—climate change and species protection. Under the ESA, a listing decision must rest solely on the best available scientific information concerning the species. Habitat loss has been a major reason for many decisions to add species to the list—in this case, loss of Arctic sea ice. The listing itself was praised by some environmentalists, who...

The Supreme Court Accepts Five Environmental Cases During Its 2008-2009 Term

In the Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 term, which likely will conclude in late June, 2009, the Court has accepted for argument five environmental cases—an unusually large number out of the roughly 85 cases accepted for argument. This report reviews the cases, decided and undecided, and then briefly comments.

The one case of the five that is already decided is Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, holding that the national security interest in the Navy’s being able to conduct exercises using “mid-frequency active sonar” clearly outweighs the danger to whales from use of such sonar. In so...

Whales and Sonar: Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training

This report discusses laws related to the protection of marine mammals when using mid-frequency active sonar including the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The report discusses each of the laws generally, and then reviews the litigation surrounding the Navy's compliance with these laws in the context of using the sonar for training purposes off California's coast.

General Oversight Provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009: Brief Comparative Analysis of House and Senate Versions

This report provides a brief analysis of selected “general oversight provisions” in the House- and Senate-passed versions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, H.R. 1, 111th Congress). The analysis is included in a side-by-side discussion of similar provisions in each bill.

For purposes of this report, the term “general oversight provision” means an oversight-related provision that addresses multiple agencies or programs. Therefore, oversight-related provisions that are specific to a single program or appropriation, such as appropriations set-asides, are excluded...

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...

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...

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 110th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices

The 110th Congress took limited action to oversee implementation and funding of the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1543) and to consider proposals to amend the act. Major issues in recent years have included the role of science in decision-making, consultation requirements for federal agencies, critical habitat (CH) designation and procedures, protection by and incentives for property owners, and appropriate protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton...

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.

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...

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...

Issues Affecting Tidal, Wave, and In-Stream Generation Projects

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...

Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants

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...

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.

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....

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...

Snowmobiles: Environmental Standards and Access to National Parks

For at least a decade, the use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone and other national parks has been controversial because of the potential impacts on wildlife and, until recently, the absence of standards for snowmobile emissions and noise. The National Park Service has attempted to address the issue by developing Winter Use Plans that establish regulations and limits at individual park units. These plans have been the subject of numerous legal challenges. On September 15, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the National Park Service’s most recent Winter Use Plan...

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...

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...

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.

Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Drought: Species and Ecosystem Management

Drought in the Southeast has brought congressional attention to an ongoing interstate water conflict among Alabama, Florida, and Georgia over water allocation and management of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) basin. Reservoir drawdown and predictions for a continued drought have Georgia’s upper basin municipal and industrial customers concerned about depleting their principal (in some cases, their only) water supply, Lake Lanier in northern Georgia. Alabama, Florida, and Georgia’s lower basin interests are concerned about sustaining river flows to meet their municipal,...

Global Climate Change: Status of Negotiations

This report discusses a broad array of issues surrounding the global climate change, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto Protocol, and “conference of the parties” (COP-13) in 2007.

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...

Climate Change: Comparison of S. 2191 as Reported (now S. 3036) with Proposed Boxer Amendment

This report discusses S. 2191 (the Lieberman-Warner CLimate Security Act of 2008), which was reintroduced as S. 3036 with a deficit reduction amendment. In particular, it provides a comparison of five key differences between the bill and the proposed Boxer Amendment.

Global Climate Change and Wildlife

Recently projected climate changes could have widespread effects on wildlife species. These effects might be positive or negative, depending on the species. Some effects might include extinction, range shifts, mismatches in phenology (timing of pollination, flowering, etc.), and population changes. If the effects of climate change are widespread, there is uncertainty on how wildlife will adapt. Some suggest that evolution and migration will enable species to adapt, whereas others contend that adaptation will be minimal because of limited habitat, and changes in climate that may occur may...

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...

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.

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...

Exemptions from Environmental Law for the Department of Defense (DOD)

Whether broader exemptions from federal environmental laws are needed to preserve military readiness has been an issue. Questions have been raised as to whether environmental requirements have limited military training activities to the point that readiness would be compromised. The potential impacts of broader exemptions on environmental quality have raised additional questions. Although certain exemptions the Department of Defense (DOD) first requested in FY2003 have been enacted into law, Congress has opposed others. The 107th Congress enacted an exemption from the Migratory Bird Treaty...

Environmental Impacts of Airport Operations, Maintenance, and Expansion

Funding authorization for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs set forth in the Vision 100—Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (P.L. 108-176, hereinafter referred to as “Vision 100”) expired at the end of FY2007. During the current reauthorization process, methods to address the environmental impacts associated with airport operations and expansion are being debated. This issue is important to various stakeholders, particularly those whose health, property values, and quality of life may be affected by such impacts. The concerns of community members and local, state, and...

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...

Global Environment Facility (GEF): Overview

The report provides an overview regarding the establishment and the role of Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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.

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.

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2008

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161) was the measure used by Congress and the President to wrap up action on the regular appropriations acts in late 2007. On December 19, 2007, Congress completed action on the act, and it was signed into law by President Bush on December 26, 2007. Previously, action had been completed on only one of the regular appropriations acts, the Defense Appropriations Act, FY2008 (P.L. 110-116) which was signed into law by President Bush on November 13, 2007. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 provides appropriations covered in the eleven...

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...

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...

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.

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,...

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...

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,...

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...

Land Exchanges: Bureau of Land Management Process and Issues

Walter Reed Army Medical Center: Realignment Under BRAC 2005 and Options for Congress

The 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended that the Department of Defense (DOD) establish a new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) on the site of the current National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, Maryland. The President approved the recommendation in September 2005, and the Secretary of Defense is required by statute to implement it within six years of the date of that approval.

Part of that recommendation is the realignment of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), which entails the transfer of many functions from...

Border Security: The San Diego Fence

This report outlines the issues involved with DHS’s construction of the San Diego border fence and highlights some of the major legislative and administrative developments regarding its completion; it will be updated as warranted. (For more analysis of border fencing and other barriers, please see CRS Report RL33659, Border Security: Barriers Along the U.S. International Border, by Chad C. Haddal, Yule Kim, and Michael John Garcia.) Congress first authorized the construction of a 14-mile, triple-layered fence along the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego in the Illegal Immigration Reform and...

The Marine Mammal Protection Act: Reauthorization Issues

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was last reauthorized in 1994. The MMPA’s authorization of appropriations expired at the end of FY1999. At issue for Congress are the terms and conditions of provisions designed to reauthorize and amend the MMPA to address a variety of concerns relating to marine mammal management. In the 109th Congress, the House passed a bill to reauthorize and amend the MMPA, but no further action was taken on this measure. The 110th Congress may again consider measures to amend and reauthorize the MMPA as well as bills to address specific marine mammal regulatory...

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...

Grazing Regulations: Changes by the Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued changes to grazing regulations (43 C.F.R. Part 4100) on August 11, 2006, after a three year review. Some portions of the regulations have been enjoined. The previous major revision of grazing rules, which took effect in 1995, was highly controversial. The 2006 changes addressed many of the same issues, and received mixed reviews. BLM asserted that the 2006 changes were needed to increase flexibility for grazing managers and permittees, to improve rangeland management and grazing permit administration, to promote conservation, and to comply with...

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...

Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): Background and Issues for Congress

Reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other aviation programs is likely to be a high priority in the 110th Congress. Funding authorizations for aviation programs, as well as authorization of existing aviation tax structure that provides revenue for the aviation trust fund, are set to expire at the end of FY2007. Congress may consider a variety of financing options to maintain the ability of the aviation trust fund to provide a sufficient revenue stream for ongoing operational costs and planned infrastructure improvements. One particularly controversial...

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...

Brownfields Tax Incentive Extension

This report discusses the brownfields tax incentive, which expires on December 31, 2007. Enacted in 1997, the provision allowed a taxpayer to fully deduct the costs of environmental cleanup in the year the costs were incurred, rather than spreading the costs over a period of years.

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...

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...

Radioactive Tank Waste from the Past Production of Nuclear Weapons: Background and Issues for Congress

How to safely dispose of wastes from producing nuclear weapons has been an ongoing issue. The most radioactive portion of these wastes is stored in underground tanks at Department of Energy (DOE) sites in Idaho, South Carolina, and Washington State. There have been concerns about soil and groundwater contamination from some of the tanks that have leaked. DOE proposed to remove the “pumpable” liquid waste, classify the sludge-like remainder as “waste incidental to reprocessing,” and seal it in the tanks with a cement grout. DOE has argued that closing the tanks in this manner would be a...

“Sensitive But Unclassified” Information and Other Controls: Policy and Options for Scientific and Technical Information

Providing access to scientific and technical information (S&T) for legitimate uses while protecting it from potential terrorists poses difficult policy choices. Federally funded, extramural academic research is to be “classified” if it poses a security threat; otherwise, it is to be “unrestricted.” Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, controls increasingly have been placed on some unclassified research and S&T information, including that used to inform decision making and citizen oversight. These controls include “sensitive but unclassified” (SBU) labels; restrictive contract...

Environmental Protection Issues in the 109th Congress

Cleanup at Abandoned Hardrock Mines: Issues Raised by “Good Samaritan” Legislation in the 109th Congress

In the 109th Congress, several bills were introduced to address the legacy of pollution from inactive and abandoned hardrock mines (IAMs) that degrades the environment throughout the United States, particularly in the West. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that 40% of headwaters in the West have been adversely impacted by acidic and other types of drainage from abandoned sites where gold, silver, copper, lead, and iron ore were mined. The core concept underlying the bills is that, in order to address the problem of pollution from IAM sites, it is appropriate to encourage...

Dam Removal: Issues, Considerations, and Controversies

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...

The Civil Works Program of the Army Corps of Engineers: A Primer

At the direction of Congress primarily through Water Resources Development Acts (WRDAs), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (an agency within the Department of Defense) undertakes water resources projects. The agency’s civil works mission has expanded beyond its original responsibility of improving and maintaining navigable channels; the mission now includes flood control, emergency and disaster response, environmental restoration, municipal water infrastructure, and other activities. The non-federal sponsors and the federal government (primarily through the annual Energy and Water...

Brownfields in the 109th Congress

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 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...

Implementing International Agreements on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): Proposed Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act

The focus of this report is on proposed amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The Supreme Court Takes a Global Warming Case: Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. EPA

On June 26, 2006, the Supreme Court agreed to review Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. EPA, a global warming-related case. In the decision below, the D.C. Circuit rejected 2-1 a challenge to EPA’s denial of a petition under the Clean Air Act requesting the agency to limit four pollutants emitted by new motor vehicles, owing to their alleged contribution to global warming. In resolving the case, the Court might address, among other things, Article III standing doctrine; whether the Clean Air Act reaches the global warming impacts of motor vehicle emissions; and the latitude allowed an agency...

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

Recreation on Federal Lands

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.

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...

NEPA and Hurricane Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding Efforts

Nuclear Energy Policy

Reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA): A Comparison of Pending Bills and a Proposed Amendment with Current Law

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects species that are determined to be either endangered or threatened according to assessments of their risk of extinction. The ESA has not been reauthorized since September 30, 1992, and efforts to do so have been controversial and complex. Some observers assert that the current ESA is a failure because few species have recovered, and that it unduly and unevenly restricts the use of private lands. Others assert that since the act's passage, few species have become extinct, many have improved, and that restrictions to preserve species do not place a...

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...

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. Growing population and changing values have increased demands on water supplies and river systems, resulting in water use and management conflicts throughout the country, particularly in the West, where the population is expected to increase 30% in the next 20-25 years. Debate over western water resources revolves around the issue of how best to plan for and manage the use of this renewable, yet sometimes...

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...

The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Biological Resources

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...

National Monument Issues

Presidential creation of national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 often has been contentious. Controversy was renewed over President Clinton’s creation of 19 monuments and expansion of 3 others. Issues have related to the size of the areas and types of resources protected, the inclusion of non-federal lands within monument boundaries, restrictions on land uses, and the manner in which the monuments were created. The Bush Administration reviewed President Clinton’s monument actions and continues to develop management plans for some of the monuments. Congress has considered...

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...

Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration: Analysis of an Energy Department Task Force Report

Congress annually funds the nuclear weapons complex (the Complex), those sites that develop, maintain, manufacture, and dismantle nuclear weapons. In hearings held in 2004, the House Appropriations Committee pressed the Secretary of Energy "for a systematic review of requirements for the weapons complex over the next twenty-five years." The committee expressed its concern that the Complex is not well suited to the post-Cold War situation, and should reflect presidential decisions on the stockpile as well as issues of cost, security, and Complex size. In response, the Nuclear Weapons...

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...

Protecting New Orleans: From Hurricane Barriers to Floodwalls

Breached floodwalls in downtown New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina caused significant flooding. Unlike most of the flooding in coastal Louisiana which resulted from water flowing over levees and floodwalls as the storm’s surge exceeded the structures’ height, preliminary evidence suggests that three downtown New Orleans breaches occurred before their design was exceeded. That is, these downtown breaches resulted not from structures weakened by overtopping, but from the failure of the floodwalls and their foundations. Findings of ongoing investigations into the causes of the floodwall...

The World Trade Organization: The Hong Kong Ministerial

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its 6th Ministerial summit in Hong Kong from December 13-18, 2005. WTO Ministerials are held every two years to bring together trade ministers from member states, often to make political decisions for the body. Although an original goal of the Ministerial was to agree on a package of modalities (methods by which the round is negotiated) for the ongoing Doha Development Agenda (DDA) round of trade negotiations, this aim was dropped in order to avoid a high-profile failure similar to previous Ministerials at Cancun and Seattle. Rather, members agreed...

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...

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...

Green Payments in U.S. and European Union Agricultural Policy

Green payments are generally defined as payments made to agricultural producers as compensation for environmental benefits that accrue at levels beyond what producers might otherwise achieve under existing market and regulatory conditions. They may support both environmental and farm income objectives. Modern U.S. agri-environmental programs began in 1985 by paying farmers to retire land and limiting conversion of wetlands and highly erodible land to cultivation, thereby reducing negative environmental effects associated with production agriculture. These initial programs focused on...

Drug Crop Eradication and Alternative Development in the Andes

The United States has supported drug crop eradication and alternative development programs in the Andes for decades. Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru collectively produce nearly the entire global supply of cocaine. In addition, Colombia has become a producer of high quality heroin, most of it destined for the United States and Europe. The United States provides counternarcotics assistance through the Andean Counterdrug Initiative (ACI). The program supports a number of missions, including interdiction of drug trafficking, illicit crop eradication, alternative development, and rule of law...

Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA): Selected Major Provisions

On August 10, 2005, President Bush signed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act—A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA) (P.L. 109-59). This act reauthorizes federal surface transportation programs through the end of FY2009. The reauthorization was long overdue, given that the previous long term authorization, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) (P.L. 105-206) expired on September 30, 2003.

The reauthorization debate was primarily characterized by two interrelated issues, money and how that money would be distributed among the...

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...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2006 and FY2007: An Overview

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State, foreign policy, and foreign assistance. Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The last time Congress passed a stand-alone foreign relations authorization bill was in FY2003 ( P.L. 107-228 ). Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to foreign countries,...

New Orleans Levees and Floodwalls: Hurricane Damage Protection

Surface Transportation Reauthorization: Environmental Issues and Legislative Provisions in SAFETEA-LU (H.R. 3)

On August 10, 2005, President Bush signed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU or SAFETEA). The act authorizes federal surface transportation programs (highway, highway safety, and transit programs) undertaken by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for FY2005-FY2009. The previous authorization for FY1998-FY2003, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21, P.L. 105-178 ), expired on September 30, 2003. Since then, surface transportation programs operated in accordance with a series of...

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...

“Corps of Engineers Reform” in WRDA 2005

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:

...

Streamlining Environmental Reviews of Highway and Transit Projects: Analysis of TEA-LU (H.R. 3) and SAFETEA (S. 732)

Before final design activities, property acquisition, or construction for a federally funded surface transportation project can proceed, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is required by law to comply with environmental review provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq.). In addition, any surface transportation project will potentially require compliance with a variety of federal, state, and local environmental laws, rules, and regulations, in turn requiring the cooperation of federal, state, and local agencies. Some Members of Congress have...

Vieques and Culebra Islands: An Analysis of Cleanup Status and Costs

For decades, the U.S. Navy conducted ship-to-shore bombing exercises and other live-fire training activities on Vieques Island and Culebra Island, located off the coast of Puerto Rico. In response to concerns about risks to public safety, human health, and the environment, Congress directed the Navy to close its training facilities on Vieques Island in 2003 and to relocate them elsewhere. The Navy has begun to investigate the presence of munitions and related contamination on Vieques to determine the cleanup actions that will be necessary to protect human health and the environment, and...

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...

The Availability of Judicial Review Regarding Military Base Closures and Realignments

The 2005 round of military base realignments and closures (BRAC) is now underway. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Base Closure Act), as amended, establishes mandatory procedures to be followed throughout the BRAC process and identifies criteria to be used in formulating BRAC recommendations. However, judicial review is unlikely to be available to remedy alleged failures to comply with the Base Closure Act’s provisions. A synopsis of the relevant law regarding the availability of judicial review in this context is included below:

The actions of the Secretary of...

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...

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...

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...

Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program: Issues for the 109th Congress

This report presents the issues considered by the 109th Congress related to the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps plans, constructs, and operates water resources facilities primarily for flood control, navigation, and environmental purposes.

Immigration: Analysis of the Major Provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005

During the 108th Congress, a number of proposals related to immigration and identification-document security were introduced, some of which were considered in the context of implementing recommendations made by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission) and enacted pursuant to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458). At the time that the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act was adopted, some congressional leaders reportedly agreed to revisit certain immigration and document-security...

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...

Legal Issues Related to Proposed Drilling for Oil and Gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

Congress is again considering whether to permit drilling for oil and gas in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), Alaska, to designate the area as wilderness, or to retain the status quo of maintaining the area as a Refuge without drilling. This area is rich in wildlife and wilderness values, but may also contain significant oil and gas deposits. H.R. 567 and S. 261 have been introduced in the 109th Congress to designate the coastal plain of ANWR a wilderness, but H.R. 6 has passed the House. Title XXII of the bill would authorize oil and gas leasing in...

Hardrock Mining: State Regulation

Various state and federal laws play important roles in the regulation of mining activities. Mining for hardrock minerals on federal public lands is governed primarily by the General Mining Act of 1872. The General Mining Act authorizes a prospector to locate and claim an area believed to contain a valuable mineral deposit, subject to the payment of certain fees. The General Mining Act does not, however, require payment of a production-related royalty, as is required for federal oil, gas, and other minerals governed by more recently enacted laws. Critics of the General Mining Act suggest...

Power Marketing Administrations: Proposals for Market-Based Rates

The federal government operates four agencies created to market power generated at federally constructed multi-purpose dams. The four power marketing administrations -- Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA), Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA), and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) -- sell power to publicly or cooperatively owned utilities at rates based on their costs. These costs are specified in legislation and include the government’s cost of operating hydropower facilities, a portion of the construction costs, and interest payments...

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,...

Mining on Federal Lands

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Property Transfer and Disposal

The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 provide the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. This report provides an overview of the various authorities available under the current law and describes the planning process for the redevelopment of BRAC properties.

Federal Regulatory Reform: An Overview

Asbestos: Federal Regulation of Uses

Greenhouse Gases and Economic Development: An Empirical Approach to Defining Goals

This analysis identifies those nations that have combined the highest per capita GDPs with the lowest intensities of greenhouse gas emissions. Taking those nations as exemplars, it then examines possible outcomes from pursuing competing goals—economic growth and development versus constraining greenhouse gases—that are confounding efforts, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol, to address global climate change.

Eight nations—Austria, France, Italy, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland—combine high per capita GDP...

CALFED Bay-Delta Program: Overview of Institutional and Water Use Issues

The California Bay-Delta Program (CALFED) was initiated in 1995 to resolve water resources conflicts in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers Delta and San Francisco Bay (Bay-Delta) in California. The program planning effort focused on developing a plan to address three main problem areas in the Bay-Delta: ecosystem health, water quality, and water supply reliability. CALFED was initially authorized to receive federal funding from FY1998 to FY2000; and since that time only certain projects supporting CALFED goals received appropriations. The program was finally reauthorized October 25,...

Particulate Matter Air Quality Standards: Background and Current Developments

Following a brief summary of recent developments regarding the implementation and re-evaluation of the 1997 standards, this report provides a broad overview of the standard-setting process, followed by a description of revisions to earlier standards, legal challenges to the 1997 standard, and particulate matter health effects research. EPA’s ongoing progress in reviewing the 1997 standard is then summarized. Other activities that potentially impact the implementation and review of the particulate matter standards, such as other air quality regulations and proposed legislation, are also...

Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants

Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation of this provision has been dormant until recently, when states and EPA were prodded by numerous lawsuits. The TMDL issue has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement a 25-year-old provision of the law. Congressional activity to...

Energy Policy: The Continuing Debate and Omnibus Energy Legislation

Environmental Protection Issues in the 108th Congress

Wildfire Protection in the 108th Congress

The 2000 and 2002 fire seasons were, by most standards, among the worst in the past 50 years. Many argue that the threat of severe wildfires has grown in recent years because of unnaturally high fuel loads (e.g., dense undergrowth and dead trees), raising concerns about damage to property and homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) — forests near or surrounding homes. Debates about fire control and protection, including funding and fuel treatments (e.g., thinning and prescribed burning), have focused on national forests and other federal lands, but nonfederal lands are also at risk.

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.

Transportation Issues in the 108th Congress

NAFTA: Related Environmental Issues and Initiatives

National Park Management and Recreation

Interstate Shipment of Municipal Solid Waste: 2004 Update

This report, which replaces CRS Report RL31651(pdf) , provides updated information on interstate shipment of municipal solid waste (MSW). Since the late 1980s, Congress has considered, but not enacted, numerous bills that would allow states to impose restrictions on interstate waste shipments, a step the Constitution prohibits in the absence of congressional authorization. Over this period, there has been a continuing interest in knowing how much waste is being shipped across state lines for disposal, and what states might be affected by proposed legislation. This report provides...

The Supreme Court Revisits the Environment: Seven Cases Decided or Accepted in the 2003-2004 Term

In the Supreme Court's 2003-2004 term, concluded June, 2004, the Court accepted for review seven environmental cases -- an unusually large number. Five decisions were handed down during the term, and two cases were carried over to the upcoming 2004-2005 term. Of the five decided cases, three involve the Clean Air Act (CAA). Alaska Dep't of Environmental Conservation v. EPA asked whether EPA may issue CAA enforcement orders that effectively overrule a permit issued by a state under its EPA-approved air program. The Court said yes, though only by a 5-4 margin. In Engine Manufacturers...

Federal Land Management Agencies: Background on Land and Resources Management

This report provides an overview of how federal lands and resources are managed, the agencies that manage the lands, the authorities under which these lands are managed, and some of the issues associated with federal land management. The report is divided into nine sections.

Water Infrastructure Financing Legislation: Comparison of S. 2550 and H.R. 1560

This report provides a side-by-side comparison of two major bills in the 108th Congress concerning water infrastructure project financing. It compares provisions of S. 2550 , the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and H.R. 1560 , the Water Quality Financing Act of 2003, which would amend only the CWA. H.R. 1560 was approved by a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on July 17, 2003; S. 2550 was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 23, 2004. The CWA and...

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...

Anti-Corruption Standards of the International Financial Institutions

The international financial institutions (IFIs) all have procedures to prevent, identify, and punish corruption within their organizations. The World Bank appears to have the most extensive and detailed process for addressing corruption issues, but the other multilateral development banks (MDBs) have or are establishing similar procedures. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not make loans for specific projects; all its loans go directly to the central bank or finance ministry of the borrower country. Nevertheless, it also has procedures for preventing, investigating, and punishing...

Highway and Transit Program Reauthorization: An Analysis of Environmental Protection Issues

Balancing public needs for surface transportation infrastructure with protecting the environment has been a long-standing issue among states and local communities. These two objectives can often conflict due to the rise in pollution that typically results when new highways or roadways are constructed, or a highway is expanded, to provide greater traffic capacity. Expanding highway capacity can be especially challenging for states, if the resulting rise in pollution would be great enough to make compliance with federal air quality standards more difficult. In order to receive federal...

Public Participation in the Management of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management Lands: Overview and Recent Changes

Historically, opportunities for public participation in the management of the federal lands managed by the Forest Service (FS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) increased over the years as the statutes and regulations governing the lands were modernized, and the remaining federal lands became increasingly important to the public. Public participation in the management of FS and BLM lands derives primarily from four sources: (1) the relevant management laws, regulations, and agency guidance -- especially as to planning procedures; (2) the National Environmental Policy...

General Management Laws: A Compendium

This report (hereafter "compendium") is a companion to CRS Report RL32388(pdf) , General Management Laws: Major Themes and Management Policy Options . In combination, these reports have three main objectives: (1) to identify and describe the major management laws under which the executive branch of the federal government is required to operate, including their rationale, design, and scope; (2) to assist Members of Congress and their staff in oversight of executive branch management; and (3) to help Congress when considering potential changes to the management laws themselves, as well as...

Safe Drinking Water Act: State Revolving Fund Program

Safe Drinking Water Act: State Revolving Fund Program

Transportation Conformity Under the Clean Air Act: In Need of Reform?

Under the Clean Air Act, areas that have not attained one or more of the six National Ambient Air Quality Standards (currently more than 100 areas with a combined population of at least 159 million) must develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) demonstrating how they will attain the standards and, once they have attained them, how they will maintain air quality. The Act requires that, in these areas, federal agencies not engage in, approve, permit, or provide financial support for activities that do not "conform" to the area's SIP. Although a wide range of federal funding and programs...

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2004 and FY2005: State Department and Foreign Assistance

The foreign relations authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. Foreign assistance authorization measures (such as authorization for the U.S. Agency for International Development, economic and military assistance to...

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...

Defense Cleanup and Environmental Programs: Authorization and Appropriations for FY2004

The Department of Defense (DOD) administers five environmental programs in response to various requirements under federal environmental laws. These programs include environmental cleanup, environmental compliance, pollution prevention, environmental technology, and conservation. In addition, the Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for managing defense nuclear waste and cleaning up contaminated nuclear weapons sites. Some of the ongoing issues associated with these programs are the adequacy, cost, and pace of cleanup, whether DOD and DOE adequately comply with environmental laws and...

MTBE in Gasoline: Clean Air and Drinking Water Issues

MTBE in Gasoline: Clean Air and Drinking Water Issues

Climate Change: Senate Proposals to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A number of congressional proposals to advance programs that reduce greenhouse gases have been introduced in the 108th Congress. Proposals receiving particular attention would create a market-oriented greenhouse gas reduction program along the lines of the trading provisions of the current acid rain reduction program established by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. One bill ( S. 139 ) focuses directly on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while two others ( S. 366 and S. 843 ) incorporate carbon dioxide reduction schemes into an overall framework to reduce pollution from power plants....

Ozone and Particulate Air Quality: Should Deadlines for Attainment Be Extended?

Over the next year, Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will consider whether to maintain the Clean Air Act's strict requirements for areas that have not attained air quality standards. These "nonattainment" areas, many of which will be so designated for the first time as EPA implements more stringent standards for ozone and fine particles in 2004, must implement controls on pollution sources or face sanctions, including a cutoff of federal highway funds and requirements that new sources offset their emissions by reducing emissions at existing facilities. In its Clear...

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...

Background on NEPA Implementation for Highway Projects: Streamlining the Process

Before a federally funded surface transportation project can proceed, the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) must ensure compliance with all local, state, and federal legal requirements regarding the environment, including the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). NEPA requires all federal agencies to provide an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for every proposed major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the environment. Projects with uncertain or insignificant impacts also require...

Defense Cleanup and Environmental Programs: Authorization and Appropriations for FY2003

The Department of Defense (DOD) administers five environmental programs in response to various requirements under federal environmental laws. These programs include environmental cleanup, environmental compliance, pollution prevention, environmental technology, and conservation. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for managing defense nuclear waste and cleaning up contaminated nuclear weapons sites. The Administration requested a total of $11.17 billion for these programs in FY2003, about $390 million more than the FY2002 funding level of $10.78 billion. Some of the...

Chemical Facility Security: A Comparison of S. 157 and S. 994

The 108th Congress is considering legislation to reduce chemical facilities’ vulnerability to acts of terrorism, so as to protect critical sectors of the U.S. infrastructure and reduce risks to public health and the environment. Competing bills, S. 994 and S. 157, have been introduced into the Senate. Both would require chemical facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and develop and implement site security plans, but the approaches of the bills differ with respect to the chemicals and facilities covered, planning requirements and mechanisms for federal and facility accountability.

Environmental Streamlining Provisions in the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century: Status of Implementation

At the state and local level, many observers have expressed long-standing concerns over delays, duplication of effort, and additional costs frequently associated with the environmental review process for highway projects that must be completed under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA, P.L. 91-190). To address these concerns, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA21, P.L. 105-178), enacted in 1998, requires the Federal Highway Administration(FHWA) to streamline the environmental review process for highway projects.

Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations

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...

Mercury in Products and Waste: Legislative and Regulatory Activities to Control Mercury

Mercury is a highly volatile, naturally-occurring element. It is a potent neurotoxin that can cause brain, lung, and kidney damage. Mercury also has properties that make it useful in a variety of household, medical, and industrial products and processes. It is a component in such products as thermometers, flourescent lamps, electrical switches, dental fillings, and batteries. This report discusses the health effects of mercury, how it is released into the environment, and current federal and state activities and recent legislative activity in Congress to control mercury releases into...

Army Corps of Engineers: Civil Works Reform Issues for the 107th Congress

This report presents the issues considered by the 107th Congress related to the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Corps plans, constructs, and operates water resources facilities primarily for flood control, navigation, and environmental purposes.

Appropriations for FY2003: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

The Treasury and General Government accounts are funded for FY2003 through the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 ( P.L. 108-7 ; Division J). Because the accounts in this appropriation were not funded, other than under continuing resolution, as the 107th Congress adjourned, legislation was required for that purpose early in the 108th Congress. During the interim, the accounts were funded at FY2002 enacted levels. P.L. 108-7 also requires a rescission across all discretionary funding within the Act. On February 4, 2002, President George W. Bush submitted his FY2003 budget to...

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...

Superfund: A Summary of the Law

Homeland Security: Coast Guard Legislation in the 107th Congress

EPA's Water Quality Trading Policy

On January 13, 2003, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a Water Quality Trading Policy intended as an innovative approach to assist industry and municipalities in meeting Clean Water Act obligations. Trading allows one source to meet regulatory requirements by buying credit for pollutant reductions from another source that has lower pollution control costs. The policy revises a 2002 proposal which reflected lessons learned from a similar trading policy issued by the Clinton Administration in 1996. Water quality or effluent trading projects have occurred in the United States...

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles: Status and Issues

The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) was a cooperative research program between the federal government and the "big three" American automakers, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, and General Motors. It was financed by private contributions and the re-channeling of research funds for ongoing federal programs. Partners agreed to share research responsibilities and achievements. The goals of the program were to improve domestic manufacturing capabilities and to develop prototypes of a mid-sized family car with three times the fuel economy of a comparable 1994 model. All three...

Energy Provisions of the Farm Bill: Comparison of the New Law with Previous Law and House and Senate Bills

This report provides a side-by-side comparison of the energy provisions of the new law with previously existing law, as well as the versions engrossed by the House and Senate in the 107th Congress. While the energy provisions in the House version were spread throughout the bill, the Senate version consolidated most of its energy provisions into Title IX - Energy. Both bills provided for the use of reserve land for renewable energy production. The House version also allowed for loans to farmers in response to high energy prices, while the Senate version did not.

Interstate Waste Transport: Legislative Issues

This report discusses ten issues raised by proposed legislation to allow controls on interstate commerce in solid waste. Such legislation has been considered in every Congress since 1990. Renewed interest has been generated by developments in Michigan, which has seen a sharp increase in waste imports from Canada as Toronto has closed local landfills. New York City's closure of its last remaining landfill in March 2001 also generated concern in several states that now receive its waste. Issues discussed in the report include whether to presumptively ban new waste shipments, whether to...

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs): Background and Issues in the 107th Congress

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemicals that can harm human health and wildlife, do not break down easily in the environment, and tend to accumulate as they move up the food chain. Many POPs are transported in the air and water across international boundaries. In the last four years, the United States has joined in negotiations of three international agreements to address POPs: the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs Convention), negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), "to protect human health and the environment from persistent...

Invasive Non-Native Species: Background and Issues for Congress

This report compares an approach based on a species-by-species assessment, vs. one based on pathways of entry. It also assesses the choice of an emphasis on prevention vs. post hoc control and intra-state quarantine. It describes existing federal laws and federal agency roles, federal interagency cooperation, and the federal interaction with state governments. Finally, it outlines effects, costs, and issues surrounding 47 selected harmful non-native species.

Foreign Relations Authorization, FY2003: An Overview

Congress is required by law to authorize the spending of appropriations for the State Department and foreign policy activities every two years. The authorization process dovetails with the annual appropriation process for the Department of State (within the Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agency appropriation) and foreign policy/foreign aid activities (within the foreign operations appropriation). While Congress intended the legislation would serve as authorization for both FY2002 and FY2003, the delay in getting it through Congress led to a waiver of the authorization...

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 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...

Agriculture: A List of Websites

This list provides a sampling of the rapidly proliferating number of agricultural resources available on the Internet. It is not intended to be exhaustive. It is divided into 24 main categories and 16 subcategories.

Federal Interagency Coordinative Mechanisms: Varied Types and Numerous Devices

Interagency coordinative mechanisms at the federal level have become more prominent and prevalent recently. The Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and the companion Homeland Security Council (HSC), along with proposals for change, are the most visible. Other examples not only include such well-known entities as the National Security Council (NSC) and the so-called “drug czar” but also extend to a multiplicity of nearly anonymous working groups and task forces. Some of them have short life spans, while others have remained in place for long periods.

Seven different types of interagency...

Air Toxics: What Progress Has EPA Made in Regulating Hazardous Air Pollutants?

The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 contained four programs to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would regulate hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) more quickly than the Agency had under the original act. The first program directed EPA to establish emission standards for stationary sources of HAPs based on maximum achievable control technology (MACT). The second program, known as the residual risk program, required EPA to examine the risk remaining from these sources after implementation of MACT standards. If warranted, EPA must promulgate additional standards to protect...

Exemptions for Military Activities in Federal Environmental Laws

Under several federal pollution-control statutes, activities of the U.S. military are subject to federal, state, and local environmental requirements, both substantive and procedural, along with activities of federal agencies generally. Each of these statutes. however, authorizes the President to grant exemptions (generally, up to one year and extendable by one year at a time) when he determines it to be in the "paramount interest" or "national security interest" of the United States. In addition, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act provide the President with further exemption authority...

Water Infrastructure Financing Legislation: Comparison of S. 1961 and H.R. 3930

This report provides a side-by-side comparison of two major bills in the 107th Congress concerning water infrastructure project financing. It compares provisions of S. 1961 , the Water Investment Act of 2002, which would amend both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and H.R. 3930 , the Water Quality Financing Act of 2002, which would amend only the CWA. It also describes relevant provisions of current law that would be affected or modified by the bills. The CWA and SDWA provisions that these two bills would amend are principally the portions of those laws...

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,...

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: Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government

The Treasury, Postal Service, Executive Office of the President, and General Government FY2002 appropriation, P.L. 107-67 , totals $32.4 billion. Congressional Budget Office scorekeeping puts the totals at $32.8 billion ($15.7 billion mandatory and $17.1 discretionary. The House passed an appropriation totaling $32.7 billion. The Senate-passed bill would have funded the accounts at $32.8 billion. The conference agreement would provide a 4.6% pay adjustment in January 2002 for federal civilian employees. Several of the accounts within the bill are also receiving funding through...

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: The Next Chapter

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.

Appropriations for FY2002: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (P.L. 107-73)

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 Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies.

Aviation Congestion: Proposed Non-Air Traffic Control Remedies

The debate amongst airlines, airports, and government as to who should be blamed for the record flight delays is long-standing. A concomitant debate continues to occur as to solutions to this problem. The two apparent points of agreement are that ultimately there is no single cause of the delays and there is no single solution to the problem. Congress and the Bush Administration are examining a number of non-air traffic control strategies that might be useful in reducing delay both in the short and long term. Most of these efforts focus on expanding airport capacity or using existing...

Airline Passenger Rights Legislation in the 107th Congress

This report examines legislation pertaining to airline consumer protection in the 107th Congress. For background it first summarizes legislation proposed in the 106th Congress and the airlines’ response. The report then briefly examines the findings of the Department of Transportation Inspector General’s February 13, 2001 report on airline customer service. It then discusses the legislative remedies proposed in the 107th Congress. Finally, a side-by-side

presentation of provisions from six airline passenger rights bills is set forth.

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...

Legislation to Expedite the Construction of the World War II Memorial in the District of Columbia

Legislation has been introduced in the 107th Congress which would have the effect of expediting the construction of the previously authorized World War II memorial in the District of Columbia. This report examines the proposed legislation.

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 Pocket Veto: Its Current Status

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Policy: Key Issues in the 107th Congress

Among the 107th Congress' first orders of business will be dealing with the initiatives--both domestic and foreign policy--proposed by President Bush throughout his presidential campaign. The 2000 congressional campaigns suggested that the agenda of the 107th Congress will be largely domestic: Social Security, health care, education, taxes, and military pay were prominent in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, many issues discussed in this report will be affected by the resolution of a contentious battle for the presidency. In the Congress, the 50-50...

The Supreme Court Addresses Corps of Engineers Jurisdiction Over "Isolated Waters": The SWANCC Decision

On January 9, 2001, the Supreme Court handed down Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers . At issue in SWANCC was the scope of Clean Water Act section 404, which requires permits for the discharge of dredged or fill materials into "navigable waters," defined by the Act as "waters of the United States." Section 404 is the charter for the federal wetlands permitting program. SWANCC explicitly held that the Corps of Engineers' use of the "migratory bird rule," adopted by the agency to interpret the reach of its section 404 authority over...

The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program: Status and Legislative Issues

In 1990, Congress enacted legislation requiring coastal states and territories to develop programs to help address the problem of nonpoint source pollution in coastal waters, which are especially threatened by pressures of population growth, development, and pollution. The coastal nonpoint pollution program is unique because it expressly links federal and state coastal zone management and water quality programs. Coastal states are now implementing these requirements. Congress has not changed the program since its enactment, but one issue receiving attention is whether to integrate...

Biosafety Protocol for Genetically Modified Organisms: Overview

The Biosafety Protocol to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted in January 2000, by the 176 nations that are parties to the CBD. Not having ratified the CBD, the United States participated in the negotiations as an observer, but nevertheless was an active participant in the discussions. The Protocol addresses a major area of concern that was not resolved by the parent CBD in 1992 the safe handling, transfer and trade of biological organisms. In recent years, this issue has gained new prominence and controversy as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become...

Defense Cleanup and Environmental Programs: Authorization and Appropriations for FY2001

The Department of Defense operates six environmental programs: cleanup of past contamination at military facilities, acceleration of cleanup at military bases designated for closure, compliance with environmental laws and regulations that apply to ongoing military operations, pollution prevention, natural resource conservation, and environmental technology. In addition to these activities, the Department of Energy is responsible for managing defense nuclear waste and remediating contaminated sites. This report discusses the federal laws that established these programs, describes their...

Superfund and the Brownfields Issue

Superfund and the Brownfields Issue

Superfund and Natural Resource Damages

Clean Water Issues in the 107th Congress: An Overview

Key water quality issues that may face the 107th Congress include: actions to implement existing provisions of the Clean Water Act, whether additional steps are necessary to achieve overall goals of the Act, and the appropriate federal role in guiding and paying for clean water activities. This Act is the principal law that deals with polluting activity in the nation’s lakes, rivers, and coastal waters and authorizes funds to aid construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants. Legislative prospects for comprehensively amending it have been stalled over whether and exactly how to...

Water Quality Initiatives and Agriculture

Congress most recently enacted amendments to the nation's water quality law, the Clean Water Act (CWA), in 1987. But national water quality policy has evolved in the intervening years, as a result of implementation of the 1987 amendments and related Administration initiatives intended to fulfill the requirements and meet the goals and objectives of the Act. Agriculture, which has been a relatively minor component of national water quality policies and programs, especially regulatory policies, is now involved in several aspects of three recent initiatives. In the Clean Water Action Plan,...

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 -- ...

Clean Air Standards: The Supreme Court Agrees to Review

In May, 2000, the Supreme Court agreed to review this decision, raising the prospect of a major pronouncement on the non-delegation doctrine, the enforceability of the revised ozone standard, and the role of compliance costs in setting nationwide air quality standards.

Appropriations for FY2001: VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies (P.L. 106-377)

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 Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Authority of a President to Modify or Eliminate a National Monument

President Clinton created a number of new national monuments, using authority given the President under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many of the designations were controversial and renewed discussion of that Act and whether a President can modify or eliminate a Presidentially created national monument. This report examines that question. The report is not expected to be updated.

EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program: Highlights of the Final Revised Rule

On July 11, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a final rule making revisions to existing EPA regulations that implement a program in the Clean Water Act intended to improve the quality of waterways that have not yet attained applicable standards. The rule requires states to implement plans to clean up these polluted waters. From the August 1999 proposal of this rule through the Administrator's signature, EPA's actions have been controversial. Most recently in Congress, at the end of June, the House and Senate approved a provision in an appropriations...

Environment and the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Seattle: Issues and Concerns

As the United States prepared for the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle, Washington, held November 30 - December 3, 1999, environmental issues were once again a focus of attention. This meeting of the decision making body of the WTO was expected to make decisions that would lead to another round of negotiations on a wide variety of trade rules and related issues. Although the United States continues to assert the necessity of pursuing the twin goals of free trade and environmental protection and to argue that these need not be in conflict, controversy...

Appropriations for FY2000: VA, HUD, and Independent 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 Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Global Climate Change: Lowering Cost Estimates through Emissions Trading -- Some Dynamics and Pitfalls

A major element in the debate about global climate change has been how to minimize costs by selecting the most economically efficient strategies to reduce greenhouse gases. With the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol, international emissions trading has become a focal point of attention. Indeed, the Administration believes that the goals of the Kyoto Protocol can not be achieved without effective emissions trading. International emissions trading is one of four "flexibility mechanisms" contained in the Kyoto Protocol (article 17). A review of existing cost analyses of U.S. compliance with...

Biosphere Reserves and the U.S. MAB Program

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). Each participating nation establishes its own domestic MAB program, which includes a wide variety of ecosystem and biological research. As part of the U.S. MAB program, 47 biosphere reserves have been established in the United States. These sites are part of a network of 356 such areas worldwide, in which scientists conduct research and communicate about their findings. Biosphere reserves are nominated by...

Russia's Economic and Political Transition: U.S. Assistance and Issues for Congress

The adoption by Russia of a democratic political system and free market economic system is an objective of U.S. foreign policy facilitated by the foreign aid program funded under the New Independent States (NIS) account of the foreign operations appropriations. Since 1992, an estimated $2.3 billion has been obligated to assist this transition. The history of the aid program has been characterized by a declining amount of resources, multiple objectives, implementation problems, and mixed results. Some programs have had little positive impact and others have been affirmatively appraised by...

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...

Foreign and Defense Policy: Key Issues in the 106th Congress

When the 106th Congress comes to work in January, its first order of business will be to deal with the impeachment of the President of the United States. The 1998 congressional campaigns and elections suggested that the agenda of the 106th Congress also will be largely domestic in its focus: Social Security, health care, and education were the order of the day in campaigns across America and on post-election news programs. Indeed, of the issues discussed in this report, only increased defense spending to address military readiness and retention of trained military personnel has been...

Appropriations for FY1999: VA, HUD, and Independent 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 Subcommittees on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations.

Appropriations for FY1999: Interior and Related Agencies

The Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes funding for agencies and programs in five separate federal departments as well as numerous smaller agencies and diverse programs. On February 2, 1998, the President submitted his FY1999 budget to Congress. The request for Interior and Related Agencies totals $14.26 billion compared to the $13.79 billion enacted for FY1998 ( P.L. 105-83 ), an increase of $470 million. The actual increase for Title I and Title II agencies in the FY1999 request is $1.17 billion, offset by a nonrecurring appropriation of $699 million for...

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.

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...

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.

Supreme Court Opinions: October 1997 Term

This report contains synopses of Supreme Court decisions issued from the beginning of the October 1997 Term through the end of the Term on June 26, 1998. The purpose is to provide a quick reference guide for identification of cases of interest. These synopses are created throughout the Term and entered into the CRS Home Page on the Internet, and into the Scorpio database. The report supersedes an earlier cumulation issued as a general distribution memorandum dated March 20, 1998. Included are all cases decided by signed opinion and selected cases decided per curiam . Not included are...

Department of Energy FY1999 Research and Development Budget: Description and Analysis

This report focuses on the R&D programs. It divides the programs into four categories: energy resources R&D, science, national security R&D, and environmental quality R&D. Those categories, which approximate the way DOE has divided up its programs, are set up to keep similar research activities together.(1) R&D funding is concentrated in the first three. The report gives a description of the programs within each category including their research objectives and the activities where significant budget changes were requested for FY1999. It then describes the request, and congressional...

Statutory Modifications of the Application of NEPA

From time to time, Congress has considered the operation of the National Environmental Policy Act. While Congress has amended the statute itself only twice since its enactment, Congress has often enacted provisions that modify the application of the Act or specify the extent of the documents that need be prepared in particular instances or contexts. This report collects and lists examples of such provisions and will be updated as legislative action warrants.

Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997 - The Provisions

The Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, P.L. 105-115 , is the first comprehensive revision of the Nation's food, drug, and medical device laws in 30 years. This statute establishes new standards for product review and regulatory approval under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Service Act. Several of the changes made by the new law codify regulatory initiatives undertaken previously by the Food and Drug Administration. Title I deals with various drug regulatory concerns. Key provisions include a five-year reauthorization of the...

The Forage Improvement Act of 1997: An Analysis of H.R. 2493

This report analyzes most of the provisions of H.R. 2493 , which addresses the grazing programs of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Forest Service (FS). The bill was sponsored by Rep. Bob Smith, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and others, and was reported by that committee on September 24, 1997 and was reported by the House Resources Committee on October 8 and October 22, 1997. Both committees amended the bill and it was further amended before passage by the House on October 30, 1997. The bill is considerably shorter than was legislation in the 104th Congress and...

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...

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.

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...

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.

Superfund Cleanup Standards Reconsidered

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...

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...

The Endangered Species Act and Private Property: A Legal Primer

If the 103rd Congress embarks upon an effort to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it will run into an old acquaintance: the property rights issue. As now written, the ESA has at least the potential to curtail property rights (whatever its actual impact as implemented may be). This report explores the legal repercussions of those impacts, especially whether they constitute takings of property under the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The first type of possible impact occurs when the ESA directly bars an activity on private land because it might adversely affect an...

The Radwaste Paradox

The Availability of Nonfuel Minerals on Federal Lands: Background on the Issue

The following report reviews the laws and practices that govern the extraction of non-fuel minerals from federal lands, and the restrict ions against such extract ions. Moreover, the federal land management agencies that regulate such activities are identified, and their responsibilities discussed.

Development of National Urban Growth and Rural Development Policy: Legislative and Executive Actions in 1970 and 1971

The 1970 Acts require the executive branch to submit the reports on the further development of urban growth policy, the location of Federal facilities, acceleration of the availability of government services and financial assistance (among other subjects) in support of rural community development. This report should assist in the evaluation of these submissions received from the President and executive departments and agencies. The report's basic purpose is to place individual legislative actions in the larger context of interrelated national urban and rural development objectives set...