Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Comparison of Anti-Public Health, Anti-Environment Post-Hurricane Bills

Comparison of Anti-Public Health, Anti-Environment Provisions of
Post-Hurricane Bills in the 109th Congress

> By far the worst, most sweeping, and environmentally destructive proposal, S. 1765 was introduced by Senator Landrieu (D-LA) and others on September 22, 2005. This 450+ page bill, named the “Louisiana Katrina Reconstruction Act,” contains several provisions that automatically override or allow the President to waive numerous public health and environmental laws, as well as other laws. Specifically, in terms of waivers, the bill:
1) allows the President to issue “emergency permits” to state and local governments or private entities for 2 years for projects related to Katrina; these emergency permits can waive any law in the United States of America;
2) creates a “Pelican Commission” to work with the Army Corps to develop new flood control, navigation, and “ecosystem restoration” projects; any project approved by the Commission is automatically and permanently deemed to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act and NEPA (even if the project meets none of the terms of those laws);
3) waives Clean Water Act and FIFRA requirements as they relate to the application of pesticides to control the mosquitoes and waives laws relating to timber production for salvage purposes or to ensure a secure timber supply for the pulp and paper industry;
4) automatically waives NEPA for any project or activity relating to recovery, reconstruction, or repair in any area declared a major disaster. (No action has been taken yet on this bill).

> S. 1711, sponsored by Senator Inhofe (R-ID) and others, gives EPA the authority to waive any federal law or regulation under EPA’s jurisdiction, or any state or federal law or regulation that applies to an EPA project or activity. To invoke the law, EPA need only determine that such a waiver is “necessary to respond, in a timely and effective manner, to a situation or damage relating to Hurricane Katrina,” and is “in the public interest,” taking into account emergency conditions relating to Hurricane Katrina and consequences to public health or the environment from granting the waiver or modification. These waivers could last up to 18 months. (No action has been taken yet on this bill).

> S. 1761, introduced by Senator Thune (R-SD) and others, would put the public at greater risk of harm in post-disaster situations by removing important deterrents against irresponsible
conduct that harms public health or environmental safety by federal contractors. This bill would give federal disaster contractors unprecedented legal immunity against environmental citizens suits and, in most cases, relieve federal contractors from responsibility for personal injuries and property damage they cause. (The Senate Environment Committee has a hearing scheduled for this bill on November 9, 2005).

> H.R 3893, sponsored by Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), would undue Clean Air Act safeguards, limit the development of clean fuels, allow indefinite controls on toxic fuel contents, and weaken the enforcement provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act by limiting penalties for price gouging to $11,000 per day. This Act attempts to justify these rollbacks using the false assumption that public health protections are preventing oil companies from investing in the additional refining capacity that is needed to supply an oil-thirsty nation. (Status: This bill passed the House by 2 votes in October; it has yet to be taken up in the Senate).

1 Comments:

Anonymous Tina said...

The waiver of environmental laws is shocking and appalling. Haven't Gulf Coast people suffered enough?
Tina

9:55 AM  

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