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Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 7 September 1998

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

     Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), other lawmakers, and the
Northeast-Midwest Institute on Thursday, September 10, will hold a
press conference to discuss pending appropriation and policy issues
facing the Tennessee Valley Authority and to release RESTRUCTURE TVA: 

     The Institute's 54-page monograph explains that the nation's
largest electric utility suffers an enormous $29-billion debt,
mismanagement, and falling political support at the very time that
lawmakers are restructuring the nation's electric utility industry and
transforming the way consumers buy electricity.  It also describes
TVA's taxpayer subsidies and exemptions from federal and state laws
and regulations, its role as one of the nation's largest air
polluters, its six-figure bonuses and secret retirement funds for top
executives, and its non-competitive consulting contracts to cronies of
those officials.  The report calls for restructuring and privatizing
this outmoded government agency that has become too expensive for both
taxpayers and ratepayers.

     Information on logistics for the press conference will be
available early in the week. 

     CONTACT:  Dick Munson at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-

     The Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition in July spearheaded a
letter from 52 senators supporting the Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  On September 1, the Senate Labor-HHS
Appropriations Subcommittee, due to the leadership of chairman Arlen
Specter (R-PA) and ranking member Tom Harkin (D-IA), provided $1.1
billion in regular LIHEAP funding, $1.1 billion in advance funding for
fiscal 2000, and $300 million in emergency funding.  The House Labor-
HHS bill, in contrast, provides zero funding for LIHEAP.  The
Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition later this month will circulate a
LIHEAP-supportive letter to appropriation conferees.

     The House and Senate also diverged in their LIHEAP
reauthorizations.  The Senate approved legislation, introduced by
Coalition co-chair Jim Jeffords (R-VT), that provides $2 billion
annually for five years, fiscal 1999 through fiscal 2004.  A House
panel, in contrast, passed a two-year reauthorization, providing "$1.1
billion for fiscal 2000, and such sums as may be necessary for fiscal
year 2001."

     CONTACTS:  Cameron Taylor at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-0606) and Tim Daniels at the Northeast-Midwest
Congressional Coalition (225-5361).

     The Northeast-Midwest Senate and Congressional Coalitions are
sending letters to leaders of the VA-HUD Appropriations Committees
regarding brownfield funding and program flexibility.  Specifically,
the letters encourage the adoption of Senate language providing $25
million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's
brownfield initiative that is not earmarked within Community
Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

     The letter also urges full funding for the Environmental
Protection Agency's brownfield effort, as well as flexibility to
complete the important tasks of research, technical assistance, and
job training.  Finally, it asks appropriators to extend language in
the fiscal 1998 appropriation bill that made brownfields a CDBG-
eligible activity, allowing states and communities the flexibility to
use their allocated CDBG funds for brownfield purposes.

     CONTACT:  Charles Bartsch at the Northeast-Midwest Institute

     The Northeast-Midwest Institute, building on its work to advance
brownfield reuse, recently launched an Urban Environment Project that
seeks, in part, to identify federal barriers to smart growth efforts
in urban, suburban, and rural communities.  Relevant to that effort,
Vice President Al Gore last week offered programs to help communities
complete better planning, invest in walkable communities, and preserve
open space by purchasing conservation easements on farmland at risk of
being developed.  Through the Fannie Mae Corporation, the
administration will commit $100 million to finance approximately 1,500
Location Efficient Mortgages which enable homeowners living near and
using mass transit to qualify for larger mortgages.  Communities also
will be eligible for grants to set up geographic information systems
that can map scenarios for future growth and land use.  Finally, the
federal government will spend $70 million to preserve approximately
53,000 acres from 217 farms in 19 states.

     CONTACT:  Elizabeth Collaton at the Northeast-Midwest Institute

     The Senate on July 30 approved a measure, S. 1360, to address
concerns regarding potential U.S.-Canadian border restrictions.  (The
House had passed a similar bill, H.R. 2920, last November.)  The
measure amends the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, clarifying and improving the
requirements for developing an automated entry-exit control system. 
Passage of S. 1360 followed closely on the heels of Senate-passage of
the Commerce-Justice-State fiscal 1999 appropriations bill (S. 2260),
which repeals IIRIRA's Section 110, and the mandate for an automated
entry/exit control system no later than September 30, 1998.

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

     Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Bill Frist (R-TN) on Friday,
September 11, will host a briefing on the state of U.S. research and
development.  The session will feature GOING GLOBAL:  THE NEW SHAPE OF
AMERICAN INNOVATION, a new report by the Council on Competitiveness
that reflects the input of 120 heads of research at companies and
universities which control some $70 billion in national R&D
investments.  The study tracks the global business and technology
trends in five sectors -- health, advanced materials, information
technology, automotive, and express package transport and logistics. 
The Friday briefing will began at 11:00 am in room 708 of the Hart
Senate Office Building.

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

     The Northeast-Midwest Institute this week will release
140-page publication, done in cooperation with Ohio's Department of
Development and Environmental Protection Agency, that highlights the
state programs that Ohio businesses can use to help improve their
efficiency and productivity.  The directory is divided into four
sections:  financial assistance, technology assistance, business
operations assistance, and training. 

     The report is available in hard copy for $50 from the Northeast-
Midwest Institute.  It soon will be posted on the Ohio EPA's web site
-- http://www.epa.ohio.gov.

     CONTACTS:  Diane DeVaul, Charles Bartsch, and Christine Anderson
at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-5200).

     Reps. Bob Franks (R-NJ) and Marty Meehan (D-MA), co-chairs of the
Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition, recently highlighted a new
General Accounting Office study revealing that "current monitoring
activities do not ensure that the federal government recovers the full
cost of its power-related activities from the beneficiaries of federal
power."  According to the GAO, the ineffective monitoring system of
the Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) has resulted in financial
losses to the federal government.

     GAO concluded that "neither the Department of Energy nor the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is effectively monitoring the
rate-making process and the amounts due and repayments made to ensure
their accuracy, completeness, and timeliness."  It also found that
current monitoring activities are less extensive than those performed
in prior years, and that "in several instances in which problems with
the repayment of power-related costs have been reported to PMA
management, progress toward resolving the issues has been slow or

     CONTACT:  Dick Munson at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-