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E-M:/ More on Sen. Levin's Reg Reform bill

Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com

FRom the Sierra Club "War on the Environment" report....


        July 18, 1997
 "Energy is the power that drives every human being.  It is not lost by 
 exertion but maintained by it, for it is a faculty of the pysche."
                                   -- Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch (1971)
 Sierra Club Legislative Hotline - 202-675-2394 
 Sierra Club National Headquarters - 415-977-5500
 Sierra Club World Wide Web - http://www.sierraclub.org
 White House Comment Line - 202-456-1111
 White House Fax Line - 202-456-2461
 Clinton's e-mail - president@whitehouse.gov
 Gore's e-mail - vice-president@whitehouse.gov
 White House Address - 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500
 US Capitol Switchboard - 202-224-3121 
 Clean Air Poll - Public Wants Cleaner Air
 Clinton Names New Directors for Parks and BLM
 Inside the Beltway - Regulatory Reform Update
 Outside the Beltway - Berkeley Joins Nigeria Business Ban

The Skinny on Regulatory Reform
 After Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Fred Thompson (R-TN) proposed the 
 "Regulatory Improvement Act of 1997" (S.981) about a month ago, Sierra Club, 
 along with other environmental groups, immediately targeted the bill as a 
 serious threat to current and future environmental regulation. With the 
 VA-HUD Appropriations bill in the clear for now, the Thompson-Levin bill is 
 viewed as the primary backdoor attack on the EPA's new clean air standards. 
 Yet, for reasons which similarly impact the air standards, this regulatory 
 reform bill would also undermine public health protection in the new Safe 
 Drinking Water Act Amendments of the last Congress. 
 First, there is no "savings" provision in S.981 which would expressly 
 preserve the current safeguards of landmark environmental legislation like 
 the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments.
 The new "net benefits" test required in S.981 is perhaps the most menacing 
 feature of this legislation. In essence, only the regulations having the 
 greatest "net benefit" would be issued or even discussed. In the case of most 
 environmental legislation, the benefits are not easily measurable in 
 calculated and quantified units. Dangerous parasites which routinely poison 
 our drinking water would not be controlled as readily due to the fact that 
 the benefits from water purification technology, or the lives saved, cannot 
 be easily quantified against the cost of this purification technology. 
 Another effect of this "net benefit" requirement is that the EPA would be 
 less attentive to the needs of more vulnerable members of the population, 
 like children and the elderly. In other words, if the entire population was 
 not suffering from poor water quality, the EPA would not be in a position to 
 toughen the water standards. Needless to say, the "net benefit" test would 
 severely impair the EPA's ability to set safe drinking water standards.  
 Amazingly, the public-right-to-know would also be damaged by the "net 
 benefits" condition. Under this rule, the EPA would only be able to disclose 
 notices and  information which produce the greatest "net benefit." 
 Senators Levin and Thompson will insist that their regulatory reform bill is 
 better than those proposed in the past, but it really isn't much different. 
 In the same way that this bill would attack current and future drinking water 
 standards, it would also affect the air standards, and just about any other 
 environmental regulation. 
 Hearings for the Levin-Thompson bill will not be scheduled until after 
 campaign finance reform is over which will probably be close to the end of 
 September.   Stay tuned.

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

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