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GLIN==> NEMW/Great Lakes Hill Update - Appropriations Update



     GLIN-folks!

        It's good to be back, though I have to admit that my maternity leave was
all too short.  I'm jumping right in today with an update on Appropriations 
progress relating to the Great Lakes.  The charts on our web site (www.nemw.org 
- select 'Great Lakes' and 'Congressional Updates') have the latest information 
in place, if you need more details check there first!

        The VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill was signed by 
the President today, meaning that half (of the 6 bills we track anyway) of the 
budget is finished.  The President has also signed the Energy and Water 
Development Appropriations and Transportation Appropriations bills.  The 
Agriculture Appropriations conference has been approved by both chambers, and 
the House approved the Commerce, Justice State conference today.  So there is 
still hope that we will avoid a shutdown.

        Highlights:

        The CJS conference mark includes the $1 million increase recommended by 
                the Senate for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.

        The E&W conference report removed House language which would have closed
                the Chicago regional headquarters office for the Army Corps of  
                Engineers.

        The E&W conference report includes nearly all of the specific projects  
                in the Great Lakes region that were previously included in the  
                separate House and Senate reports (at the higher funding        
                levels).  It also includes the higher of the two (House/Senate) 
                funding levels for most of the national environmental programs  
                (e.g., Section 1135, Section 206, and Section 204) which should 
                spell good news for Great Lakes projects which are funded       
                through these programs.  

        On a sadder note, the E&W conference report provides only $1 million for
                zebra mussel control efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers.    
                The Senate bill language (added as a floor amendment led by our 
                GLTF co-chairs - Senators Levin and DeWine) was stricken, even  
                though House committee staff had indicated that the House report
                should also be interpreted as supporting the Administration     
                budget request of $1.5 million.  It is not clear at this point  
                what effect this change will have on the ACoE plans to expand   
                the program to include other Aquatic Nuisance Species.

        The final Transportation Appropriation generally supported the higher   
                House mark for Great Lakes programs (Icebreaking, Ballast Water,
                Seaway, etc.).  The Coast Guard's "Ballast Water Guidelines and 
                Prevention Program" (including the information clearinghouse and
                other CG studies) is funded at a total of $4 million, $3.5      
                million through Operation and Maintenance and $0.5 million      
                through Research and Development.

        The EPA Congressional liaison office has confirmed our interpretation of
                the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies conference report language 
                as supporting the Senate mark of 'at least' FY 1999 funding     
                [$14.7 million] for the Great Lakes National Program Office.

        Conference report language indicates that the EPA should provide        
                "adequate" funding for the ATSDR's Great LAkes Fish Consumption 
                Study.  EPA has not yet determined the distribution of funds for
                either the Administration recommended cut (cut $12 million below
                FY 1999) or the final cut ($6 million below FY 1999).

        No specific language was included in the final VA, HUD and Independent  
                Agencies conference report which would set aside funding for the
                EPA's Clean Lakes program (Section 314), though program         
                elements may remain eligible for funding through the Section 319
                program.


That's all for now...I hope to have more (CJS) news by tomorrow morning.    



     
     Rochelle Sturtevant
     Coordinator, Senate Great Lakes Task Force
     459 Russell Senate Building
     Washington, DC 20510
     Rochelle_Sturtevant@levin.senate.gov
     
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