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Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 14 July 1997

                   Northeast-Midwest Institute

                          WEEKLY UPDATE

                           14 July 1997

                         TOP OF THE NEWS

     The Great Lakes Task Force on Monday, July 14, is hosting a
briefing for congressional staff on ecological services in the coastal
Great Lakes.  The briefing, by Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS)
officials, will provide an overview of agency operations on endangered
species, habitat conservation, and environmental contaminants.

     The session also will focus on several specific F&WS activities,
including conservation, coastal wetland restoration in Saginaw River
and Saginaw Bay (Michigan), northwest Indiana Dune Swale habitat
protection, contaminant remediation in the Fox River and Green Bay
(Wisconsin), and riparian habitat and coastal wetland restoration in
the Ottawa River (Ohio).

     The briefing will be held on Monday, July 14, from 2:00 pm until
3:00 pm in room SC-4 of the U.S. Capitol.

     CONTACT:  Rochelle Sturtevant at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-4229).

     The Departments of Transportation for Illinois and Wisconsin last
week released a report finding that "reducing the travel time by rail
between Chicago and Milwaukee is a goal worth pursuing."  This study
complements an August 1996 report by the Federal Railroad
Administration (FRA) that found a midwestern high-speed rail network
-- including service from Chicago to Milwaukee, Detroit, and St. Louis
-- would have a higher benefit-cost ratio than any other high-speed
rail project being considered nationwide.

     Also recently, the Working Group on Intercity Passenger Rail, a
13-member commission established by the House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure, suggested that the operations side
of passenger rail be divorced from the ownership of the rails and
other infrastructure.  The report recommended that Amtrak serve as
only one of many service providers, and that the federal government,
not Amtrak, develop the infrastructure along selected rail corridors. 
At a press conference, members of the Working Group suggested a
midwestern rail corridor, much like the one designated by the FRA for
high-speed rail development.

     CONTACT:  David Richardson at the Northeast-Midwest Institute

     The House of Representatives last week approved by voice vote an
amendment to the Interior appropriations bill that would add $8
million to energy efficiency efforts.  The amendment, introduced by
Rep. David Skaggs (D-CO) and endorsed by Rep. Ralph Regula (R-OH),
chair of the Interior Appropriations panel, would spread the
additional funds among industrial, buildings, weatherization, and
state grant programs.  The increased monies for energy efficiency were
offset by a cut at the U.S. Forest Service.  The bill now provides
$644.8 million for energy conservation programs, $75 million more than
fiscal 1997.

     Efficiency has long been key for the Northeast-Midwest region,
which enjoys relatively few indigenous energy resources.  The
Northeast-Midwest organizations have been particularly supportive of
efforts to modernize and increase the efficiency of the region's

     CONTACT:  Diane DeVaul and David Richardson at the Northeast-
Midwest Institute (544-5200).

     Fourteen members of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition last
week asked their colleagues to sign a letter to Senator Arlen Specter
(R-PA), Chairman of the Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations
Subcommittee, in support of funding for the Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The letter requests $1.2 billion in
regular funds for fiscal 1998, an amount approximately equal to
spending thus far this year.  The letter also urges the appropriation
of at least $1.2 billion in advance LIHEAP funding for fiscal 1999. 
As of Friday, July 11, a total of 26 senators had signed on to the

     According to Senator James Jeffords (R-VT), co-chair of the
Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, "The battle for LIHEAP funds
doesn't stop with the spring thaw.  It's a 12-month fight."

     CONTACT: Geoff Brown at the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition