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GLIN==> Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 13 March 2000

      Members of the Northeast-Midwest Senate and Congressional
Coalitions are circulating letters seeking appropriations for the Low
Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).  While commending
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the relevant subcommittee,
the Senate for his leadership in protecting the program's funding, the
senators asked for a fiscal 2001 appropriation of at least $1.4
billion in regular funds and $300 million in emergency funding.  The
Senate letter also urged the appropriation of at least $1.5 billion in
advance LIHEAP funding for fiscal year 2002.  A similar letter to
chairman John Porter (R-IL) of the Labor HHS subcommittee is being led
in the House by Reps. Joe Moakley (D-MA) and Jack Quinn (R-NY).

      Senators James Jeffords (R-VT) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-
NY), co-chairs of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition, are paying
particular attention to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
and the State Energy Program (SEP), key initiatives in light of the
recent fuel price spikes and low inventories.  The senators are
seeking $175 million for WAP and $44 million for SEP.  The Northeast-
Midwest Congressional Coalition also is focusing on these programs, as
well as efficiency programs  such as the Office of Industrial
Technologies  within the Department of Energy.

      Senators James Jeffords (R-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Olympia
Snowe (R-ME), and Susan Collins (R-ME) last week testified at a Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing on the nation's oil
supply.  In light of the recent rise in the price of crude oil,
heating oil, and transportation fuel, the senators discussed
additional funding for LIHEAP and weatherization, opening the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve, advocating summer fill efforts, and other
near- and long-term solutions to the energy crisis.

      Senators Jeffords (R-VT), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), John Kerry (D-
MA), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) last week
introduced the Summer Fill and Fuel Budgeting Act of 2000.  S. 2224
seeks to educate constituents about the benefits of filling their
propane, kerosene, and heating oil tanks in the summer and entering
into annual fuel budget contracts.  Such actions would help avoid
severe seasonal price increases.  Rep. Tim Holden (D-PA) soon will
introduce the same bill in the House.

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

      Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and other members of the Upper Mississippi
River Task Force this week will introduce the Upper Mississippi River
Basin Conservation Act.  The bill's purpose is to develop a
coordinated public-private approach to reducing nutrient and sediment
losses in the Upper Mississippi River basin.  Relying on existing
federal, state, and local programs, the bill establishes a water
quality monitoring network and an integrated computer modeling
program.  These monitoring and modeling efforts will provide the
baseline data needed to make scientifically-sound and cost-effective
conservation decisions.  The bill calls for an expansion of four USDA
programs: the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetland Reserve
Program (WRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).  Finally, the bill
contains provisions to protect the privacy of personal data collected
in connection with monitoring, modeling, and technical and financial
assessment activities.

      CONTACTS:  Allen Hance with the Upper Mississippi River Task
Force (225-5506) and George Dusenbury with the Northeast-Midwest
Institute (544-5200).

      The Great Lakes Task Forces are sending letters to six
appropriations subcommittees requesting adequate funding for Great
Lakes specific programs that enhance the environment and navigation.

      Among specific requests, the letters support the president's
budget request for Coastal Zone Management Grants, Estuarine Research
Reserves, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, design for a new Soo
Lock, Dredging Operations Environmental Research, USGS Great Lakes
work, and the Environmental Protection Agency's RAP & LaMP initiatives
(Coastal Environmental Management). The letters also include requests
for increases above the president's budget request for the Great Lakes
Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control, the Great Lakes
Environmental Research Lab (NOAA/GLERL), the International Joint
Commission, Great Lakes studies authorized under WRDA 1999, Corps RAP
Technical Assistance, Great Lakes Sediment Remediation Technology
Demonstrations, Sediment Transport Models, Great Lakes Fish and
Wildlife Restoration Grants, Fish and Wildlife Service Joint Ventures,
MACKINAW replacement, the Great Waters Program, the Great Lakes
National Program Office, and ATSDR's Great Lakes Human Health Effects
Research program.

      CONTACT:  Rochelle Sturtevant at the Senate Great Lakes Task
Force (224-1211).

      The Northeast-Midwest Senate and Congressional Coalitions are
leading letters seeking adequate appropriations for brownfield reuse
programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Of the EPA's total
brownfield request of $91 million, approximately a third is for
revolving loan funds, while $57 million is for grants for technical
assistance, assessment activities, and the development of state
Superfund and Voluntary Cleanup Programs.  With this funding level,
the EPA anticipates adding 50 new pilot communities to the existing
group of 307, which already receive brownfields grants.  The
Coalitions are supporting a $50 million appropriation for HUD's
Brownfields Economic Development Initiative.

      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 Institute and the Interstate Council on
Water Policy on Wednesday, March 15, will host a briefing on flooding
in the mid-Atlantic region, paying particular attention to gages and
tracking/early warning systems by the U.S. Geological Survey.

      The Wednesday session will begin at 2:00 pm in room EF-100 of the
U.S. Capitol.

      CONTACT:  George Dusenbury at the Northeast-Midwest Institute

      The Northeast-Midwest Congressional and Senate Coalitions also
are circulating letters seeking appropriations for the Trade
Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAA) program at the U.S. Department
of Commerce.  TAA has a successful history of assisting small and
mid-sized manufacturing firms and agricultural businesses experiencing
sales and job losses due to imports.  The program provides technical
assistance to firms needing to improve their operations, product
development, management information systems, marketing, and
production.  Costs associated with this program are typically shared
equally by the firm and the federal government.

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

      The Northeast-Midwest Senate and Congressional Coalitions are
sending letters to the appropriations committees requesting that the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) be given the authority to
operate the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and
Environmental Quality Incentives Program at currently authorized
levels.  In addition, they are asking for support of the Farmland
Protection Program as well as two critical programs through the
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): Conservation Technical
Assistance and the Resource, Conservation and Development Councils.

      Among specific requests, the letters support enrollment in fiscal
2001 of 40 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program, as
well as an increase in bonuses for a CRP continuous sign-up process
that requires the installation of best management practices; funding
for an additional 250,000 acres to be enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve
Program in fiscal 2001; the authorized level of $200 million for the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program and $65 million for the
Farmland Preservation Program; $654 million for Conservation
Operations directed to Conservation Technical Assistance, as well as
removal of the Section 11 cap on reimbursements for programs
administered through the Commodity Credit Corporation; and $53 million
for the Resource, Conservation and Development Councils.

      CONTACT:  Rochelle Sturtevant at the Northeast-Midwest Senate
Coalition (224-1211).

      Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are
spearheading a letter requesting appropriations for the Farmland
Protection Program.  The FPP, administered by the Natural Resources
Conservation Service, is a cost-share program with state and local
governments for the acquisition of conservation easements to protect
farmland across the nation.

      A recent study shows that 3.2 million acres a year of farmland
are being converted to non-agricultural uses, double the previous
rate.  Under FPP, landowners are encouraged to voluntarily convey the
development rights of their land to the state or county, while
retaining the right to use the property for agriculture.  Demand for
this program is currently 600 percent of the available supply.  The
senators are seeking $65 million for the FPP in fiscal 2001.

      CONTACTS:  Melody Burkins with Leahy (224-2409) or Jill Hershey
with Santorum (224-7755).

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