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GLIN==> Northeast-Midwest Weekly Update -- 2 October 2000


* Combined Sewer Overflows
* LIHEAP Emergency Funds
* High Energy Costs and Low-Income Families
* Weatherization
* Energy Policy and Conservation Act Amendments
* Regional Dairy Agreement
* Brownfields
* Upper Mississippi River Navigation Study
* Great Lakes Appropriations
* Farmland Protection Bill

      The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week
approved a bill that authorizes $1.5 billion for grants addressing
combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, and storm water
infrastructure, which are  major needs of communities throughout the
Northeast and Midwest.  The bill combines provisions of H.R. 828 and
H.R. 3570, which had been introduced by Reps. Jim Barcia (D-MI), Steve
LaTourette (R-OH), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ).

      Along with codifying existing Environmental Protection Agency
regulations, the committee-approved bill authorizes grants in fiscal
2002 and 2003 to communities and states for water infrastructure
projects, with special consideration given to those that are
financially distressed.  The bill also authorizes $45 million for an
EPA pilot program and technology clearinghouse that would help
communities employ state-of-the-art designs and equipment in their
wastewater discharge plans.  The Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee has not yet marked up a companion bill.

      Information about combined sewer overflows and related challenges
can be found at http://www.nemw.org/natresource.htm#CSO.

      CONTACT:  Tim Daniels at the Northeast-Midwest Congressional
Coalition (226-8636) and Olwen Huxley at the Northeast-Midwest
Institute (544-5200).

      The Clinton Administration last week released $400 million in Low
Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding.  The
Northeast-Midwest Coalitions had been pushing the administration to
provide this advance funding since September 8 when 18 Coalition
senators sent a letter to the president requesting such a release.

      Half of the funding, $200 million, will be released using the
regular funding allocation formula, which takes into account energy
costs, eligible households, and heating degree days.  The other $200
million will be based on the percentage of households using oil,
natural gas, and liquified petroleum gas (propane, butane, etc).  The
administration lifted the funding carry-over limits, thereby
eliminating requirements for funding expenditures in the current
fiscal year.

      The Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition last week sent separate
letters to the president and appropriators seeking additional funding
for several energy programs that could combat high fuel costs this
winter, such as Weatherization Assistance and the State Energy

      Data on the LIHEAP allocations to individual states can be found
at http://www.nemw.org/LIHEAP2000allot.htm.  Information on the
allocation formula can be found at

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

      The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on
Tuesday, October 3, will hold a hearing highlighting the effects of
high fuel prices on low-income families.  The panel, chaired by
Northeast-Midwest Coalition co-chair Jim Jeffords (R-VT), has
authorizing jurisdiction over LIHEAP and is concerned that the funding
decline over the past 15 years may impact adversely the program's
ability to address the energy needs of low-income families during this
period of high fuel costs.

      The October 3 hearing will begin at 9:30 am in room 430 of the
Dirksen Senate Office Building.

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

      Last year's Interior Appropriations bill included a provision
mandating states to provide a 25-percent cost share, or state match,
in order to receive their Weatherization Assistance grants.  In
conference negotiations over the fiscal 2001 bill, however, an
agreement was reached to provide a waiver so that states could pay
only a 12.5-percent match for the next two years, after which time the
match rate would rise to 25 percent.  Many Northeast-Midwest Coalition
members still hope to repeal outright the higher match.

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

      The Senate last week began consideration of S. 2557, a package
that includes several proposals by Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and
other Republicans, meant to reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil to
50 percent by 2010.  Although Northeast-Midwest senators are concerned
about several elements of this large package, the Energy Policy and
Conservation Act (EPCA) Amendments of 2000 include numerous provisions
important to the region, including:

      * improvements to the Weatherization Assistance program (S.

      * establishment of an education campaign regarding summer fill
and fuel budgeting programs (S. 2224);

      * creation of a Northeast home heating oil reserve (revised
version of S. 2047);

      * establishment of an Annual Home Heating Readiness Report (S.

      * creation of a national oil heat research alliance (S. 348); and

      * authority for oil exchange from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve
(revision of S. 1951).

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

      Vermont and Wisconsin senators last week introduced legislation
to establish a Dairy Farmer Viability Improvement Commission that
would make recommendations to Congress on ways to improve price
stability, competition, farmer leverage in the marketplace, and access
to exports.  Although Vermont and Wisconsin often differ on national
dairy strategies, the bill was cosponsored by Senators Jim Jeffords
(R-VT), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Herb Kohl (D-

      CONTACT:  Andrew Meyer with Sen. Jeffords (224-5141).

      The Senate Smart Growth Task Force last week encouraged President
Clinton to support the Brownfields Revitalization and Restoration Act
(S. 2700), which invites private investment in reuse projects, allows
communities to define and promote the advantages of brownfield sites
as a viable alternative to sprawl, and ensures that emerging
opportunities for redevelopment realize their full potential.  Task
Force co-chairs, Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jim Jeffords (R-VT),
argued that the bill's approach has been endorsed by diverse groups 
business, environmental, and community organizations  that have the
common goal of environmentally responsible economic revitalization.

      CONTACT:  Charles Bartsch at the Northeast-Midwest Institute

      The Rock Island District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last
week announced the delay of its controversial Upper
Mississippi/Illinois Waterway Navigation Expansion Study.  This most
recent delay of the seven-year, $55-million study comes as the Corps
attempts to incorporate into its economic models new estimates of
future barge traffic on the Mississippi River.  Even small changes to
the traffic estimates could alter significantly the benefit-cost
analysis being used to evaluate the proposed $1.2-billion project to
expand the Mississippi River lock and dam system.

      Until recently, the Corps had expressed confidence that it would
complete its feasibility study and draft environmental impact
statement by September 30.  Environmental groups had criticized the
Corps for pushing to meet this deadline, arguing that the
recommendations of an ongoing National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
review, due at the end of the year, should be incorporated into the
Corps' report on the project's feasibility.

      CONTACT:  Allen Hance at the Northeast-Midwest Institute (544-

      The Energy and Water Appropriations Conference increased funding
for a variety of Great Lakes and invasive species programs.  Details
on those and other appropriations can be found at

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

      Reps. Ron Klink (D-PA) and Joseph Hoeffel (D-PA) last week
introduced the Farmland Protection and Sprawl Reduction Act (H.R.
5054).  The bill provides farmers and other landowners with an
incentive to preserve their land as open space by granting to them tax
exemptions for income from the sale of conservation easements.

      Nearly 16 million acres of forests, farmland, and open space were
converted to other uses between 1992 and 1997, according to the
National Resources Inventory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      CONTACT:  Liza Mientus with Rep. Klink (225-2565).

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