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Inside the Beltway Roundup

The following is a compilation of short summaries about some of the miscellaneous goings on inside the Beltway in Washington, D.C.:

  • Administrator Jackson’s Tenure:  Putting to rest rumors that she is planning to step down, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said, “No ma’am” when asked the question directly by a reporter.  The supposed cause was the Administration’s recall of the ozone standards proposal.
  • FY 12 Appropriations Outlook:  Although some progress is being made in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, nothing seems to be happening with Interior & EPA funding for FY 12.  The House has introduced a continuing resolution (see separate article) in the expectation that few, if any, appropriations bills will be sent to the President before the September 30 end of the fiscal year.  Expectations are high that, once again, we will be funded by an Omnibus Appropriations measure.
  • Chemical Security Legislation:  CFATS (chemical facility antiterrorism standards) issues received some attention this week.  In the Senate, the Homeland Security Appropriations Committee included another one year extension for the program.  The action is a straightforward funding of the program as it currently exists with no programmatic additions or deletions.  In the House, Homeland Security Committee member Hansen Clarke (D-MI), introduced HR 2890 which would remove the water and wastewater exemption from existing CFATS legislation.  Clarke introduced the legislation principally to keep the issue alive, since the Committee has already passed HR 901 that does not include such changes.
  • House Republican Majority Increased:  Party ratios in the House now lean more heavily in favor of the Republicans as a result of two special elections held September 13.  In New York, Bob Turner (R) will fill the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner (D) and Mark Amodei (R) will take the open 2nd district seat in Nevada.  This gives the Republicans of 50 seat majority (242 Republicans to 192 Democrats), with one remaining vacancy (formerly held by Oregon Democrat David Wu).
  • Perchlorate Plume Study Legislation:  The House Natural Resources Committee subcommittee on Water and Power, heard testimony Wednesday on HR 200 sponsored by Rep Baca (D-CA) to require USGS to study the perchlorate plume in the Rialto-Colton Basin in California.  Perchlorate and TCE have contaminated the aquifer and caused the loss of 13 wells for the City of Rialto.  USGS has done some work on the problem already but a $4 million project will be needed to get the level of detail necessary to characterize the plume and make treatment decisions.  There seems to be bipartisan support.  However, Republicans did take the opportunity to challenge the Administration’s priorities for the USGS Cooperative Water Program when studies related to dam removal were being funded and this important drinking water project required special legislation.