[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 12 October 1998

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

     The Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to obtain additional
subsidies in the omnibus appropriation bill, despite vehement
objections from appropriators and authorizers.  Highest on TVA's wish
list is permission to refinance its debt with the Federal Financing
Bank without paying its contractually required prepayment penalties, a
move that would cost taxpayers more than $1 billion.

     TVA also is seeking to overturn a provision in the recently-
approved Energy and Water spending bill that eliminated appropriations
for the utility's non-power programs.  Despite that legislation, TVA
supporters are seeking to sneak in $50-100 million in the omnibus
bill.  Bipartisan groups of members and taxpayer groups are trying to
block TVA's last-minute efforts.

     Congress recently approved the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife
Restoration Act, addressing recommendations put forth by the Great
Lakes Fishery Resources Restoration Study and encouraging federal and
non-federal cooperative habitat restoration and natural resources
management programs in the Great Lakes basin.  The bill had been a
priority of the House and Senate Great Lakes Task Forces.

     Finance Committee members, including six Northeast-Midwest
senators, wrote last week to urge panel chairman William Roth (R-DE)
to insist that reauthorization of the Trade Adjustment Assistance
programs be included in any trade extenders legislation.

     A tentative deal has been reached in the Commerce-Justice-State
Appropriations conference regarding Section 110 of the Illegal
Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which
mandates the development of an automated entry/exit border  control
system no later than September 30, 1998.  The agreement for a two-and-
a-half year delay in Section 110 implementation is a compromise
between repeal, which is favored by Northeast-Midwest senators, and a
one-year delay, supported by southern members.

     Both the House and Senate have passed the Human Services
Reauthorization Act of 1998, reauthorizing the Low Income Home Energy
Assistance Program (LIHEAP) through fiscal 2004.  The authorization
levels are "such sums" for fiscal 2000 and 2001 and $2 billion for
each fiscal year 2002-2004.

     The VA-HUD Appropriations conference bill passed both chambers
last week.  The following table charts the fiscal 1999 funding levels
for programs important to the Northeast-Midwest region.

Superfund                                   $1.5 b.
Brownfields*                                $25 m. HUD/$90 m. EPA
Community Development Block Grants          $4.75 b.
Clean Water State Revolving Fund            $1.35 b.
Pollution Prevention Program                $6 m.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund         $775 m.
Nonpoint source pollution grants            $200 m.
Lead-based paint hazard reduction program   $80 m.

*Brownfields clean-up considered an eligible CDBG activity.  EPA
authority to fund 100 Brownfield Revolving Loan Funds at 350,000 each.

     Due in part to efforts by the House and Senate Great Lakes Task
Forces, the bill includes $200 million for the Nonpoint Source Grants,
up $95 billion from fiscal 1998, providing needed funds to prevent and
control the largest source of pollution to the region's waters.  The
bill also directs that these funds be available for activities
performed under the Clean Lakes Program, and that the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) "work with a Great Lakes State, non-
governmental organizations, and other relevant stakeholders to
demonstrate how the total maximum daily load process can be
implemented, including options for measuring and monitoring nonpoint
sources of pollution."  The legislation also provides $14.7 million,
the Task Force's recommendation, for the Great Lakes National Program

     The House version of the VA-HUD appropriations bill would have
prevented EPA from dredging contaminated sediments until a National
Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on the topic was released.  Led by
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY), 52 House and Senate members
urged conferees to oppose the House language.  The conference
compromise "urges" (rather than "directs") EPA to await the completion
of the NAS study before spending any Superfund money on dredging,
initiating any new dredging action, or issuing any more dredging
orders.  In addition, several exceptions to the moratorium, including
many activities performed normally for Superfund dredging, were
included in the conference language.  Still, the moratorium could
affect the progress of non-Superfund-related remediation activities
throughout the Great Lakes and Northeast-Midwest region.

     The VA-HUD bill also provides full funding and flexibility for
brownfield programs at the Environmental Protection Agency and the
Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Despite past
prohibitions on brownfield revolving loan funds, this year's
legislation offers $35 million for EPA to capitalize such loan funds. 
The agency plans to capitalize 100 revolving loan funds at an average
of $350,000.  The cities that currently host EPA brownfield
demonstration projects are eligible to apply for this funding.  EPA's
project manager for the revolving loan fund program is Barbara
Bassuener (202-260-9347).