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Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 17 July 1998

Posted on behalf of Glenn Starnes <gstarnes@nemw.org>

        In a letter sent to Senate appropriators on Tuesday, July 14,
1998, 52 Senators declared their strong support for the Low-Income Home
Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  The program provides heating and
cooling assistance to an estimated 4.3 million low-income families
nationwide, and has recently received no funding by House appropriators.

        The letter, spearheaded by members of the Northeast-Midwest
Senate Coalition, calls for $1.2 billion in regular LIHEAP funding for
fiscal 1999, and $1.3 billion in advance regular LIHEAP funding for
fiscal 2000. Nearly all members of the Senate Coalition, chaired by
Senators James M. Jeffords (R-VT) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY),
signed the letter.  In total, 16 Republicans and 36 Democrats --
representing 34 states -- urged appropriators to restore funding.

        CONTACT:  Cameron Taylor at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-0606).

        The House VA-HUD Appropriations bill contains language that
would limit the EPA's brownfield activities to site assessments only. 
Concerned that these restrictions would damage the program's ability to
promote clean-up and redevelopment of brownfield sites, Rep. Rodney
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Rep. Louis Stokes (D-OH), and Rep. Diana DeGette
(D-CO) will be offering a floor amendment to strike this restrictive
language and increase funding from $75 to $90 million for fiscal 1999. 
This action would reinstate the Environmental Protection Agency's
authority to pursue their multifaceted brownfield program.  The
Conference of Mayors and other groups have endorsed the amendment.

        Rep. Frelinghuysen holds a seat on the VA-HUD subcommittee, and
Rep. Stokes is the subcommittee's ranking member.  The VA-HUD bill is
being considered by the full House beginning on Friday, July 17,
although the amendment might not be voted on until Monday, July 20.

        CONTACT:  Tim Daniels at the Northeast-Midwest Congressional
Coalition (225-5361).

        Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ) and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA), co-chairs
of the Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, today sent a letter
encouraging House members to support the Fox-Skaggs floor amendment to
the Energy Conservation section of the House Interior Appropriations
bill.  Initiated by Rep. Jon Fox (R-PA) and Rep. David Skaggs (D-CO),
the amendment seeks to raise the overall funding level for the Energy
Conservation programs by $40-$50 million for fiscal 1999.

        The Energy Conservation section of the Interior bill contains
several programs important to the Northeast-Midwest region.  Among them
are the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) -- which weatherizes
low-income homes against extreme temperatures -- with about 60 percent
of funds going to states in the region, and the Office of Industrial
Technology (OIT) that develops energy-saving technologies for the most
energy-intensive industries such as steel, glass, and chemicals.  The
Interior bill is expected to reach the floor for consideration on
Tuesday, July 21.

        CONTACT:  Tim Daniels at the Northeast-Midwest Congressional
Coalition (225-5361).

        On July 17, 1998, the Senate passed the fiscal 1999 VA-HUD
Appropriations bill by unanimous consent.  The funding levels for
several Northeast-Midwest priorities are as follows:

        *  $4.75 billion for Community Development Block Grants, with a
lead-based paint hazard reduction program set-aside of $70 million

        * $25 million in HUD for Brownfields and $90 million in EPA for

        * $800 million for Drinking Water State revolving funds

        * $1.4 billion for Clean Water State revolving funds

        CONTACT:  Cameron Taylor at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-0606).