Aug 30, 2002

Washington News

Senate Panel Backs EPA on Water Security

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is
urging that EPA retain its leading role in protecting the nation?s water
infrastructure from threats of terrorist attacks.

Chairman Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., and top Republican member Bob
Smith, N.H., said the agency would cooperate with the Department of Homeland
Security in meeting that responsibility but should not surrender the
responsibility to the new Security department.

At President Bush's request, Congress is in the
process of creating the Homeland Security organization from all or parts of a
wide range of existing federal agencies.

In communication to the Senate Government Affairs Committee
that is dealing with the Homeland Security measure, Jeffords and Smith said
that "the President's proposal implies that the new Department will
be responsible for water and wastewater infrastructure protection" but it
"does not explicitly identify this function as a priority." The
committee leaders continued,"It is clear that EPA is already performing
many of these functions for the water sector."

Jeffords and Smith told the Government Affairs Committee
that EPA should retain water security responsibilities ?"because of the
Agency's unique, specific, technical knowledge about drinking water and
wastewater systems that is imperative in evaluating risks and making decisions
about the security of these facilities."

Lawmaker Cites "Second Generation" Challenges

The chairman of a key House panel on environmental policy is
urging Congress to prepare for what he calls "the second
generation" of the nation's anti-pollution efforts.

Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., chairman of the Subcommittee on
Energy Policy, National Resources and Regulatory Affairs, said that major
progress has been made in cleaning up the industrial and municipal types of
wastes that sparked creation of the Environmental Protection Agency 30 years

Many of today's pollution problems, he explained,
"come not from large industrial sources but from the actions of everyday
citizens, from our cars, our yards, our homes, our cities and our farms."

"These more complex and intractable environmental
concerns defy the simple solutions mandated by the first wave of environmental
laws," Ose added. "The old 'command and control'
approach won't get us where we need to go. It is inflexible and the
compliance costs are too high."

The lawmaker commented in connection with his
subcommittee's renewed consideration of legislation to raise EPA to a
cabinet level position. While there is strong support in Congress for such a
step, the issue remains enmeshed in controversy over passing a straightforward
bill making the change or one that uses the opportunity to make basic changes
in environmental policy.

Drought Strikes One-Third of Nation

More than one-third of the continental United States has
suffered severe to extreme drought this summer, the National Climate Data
Center reported.

Noting those conditions, the Agriculture Department says
that only the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the drought of 1950 "stand out
as more significant, national-scale droughts since the beginning of the 20th

Shifting weather patterns have allowed the drought to remain
transient, the department said, and it has shifted from one area to another,
hitting some harder than others. In addition, "some parts of the U.S.
continue to struggle with a transformation of the drought-impacts picture due
to factors such as urbanization and changes in vegetation and water
consumption," the report said.

Resource Centers Opening

Eight Environmental Management Systems Local Resource Centers
are being established across the country to help local governments treat their
wastewater more effectively.

The new centers, which are housed in existing organizations
at their respective locations, will extend to local government a service
previously only available to private companies seeking assistance on better
management of anti-pollution efforts.

The facilities can be located through their respective host
institutions: Purdue University, West Lafayette,Ind.; University of
Wisconsin/Stout, Menomine, Wis.; University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.;
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.; University of Massachusetts,
Lowell, Mass.; Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, Texas; Virginia
Tech University, Roanoke, Va., and the Zero Waste Water Alliance, Portland,

EPA Marking Clean Water Act's Anniversary

EPA is launching a year-long celebration of the 30th
anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The agency said the nationwide campaign
would center on an educational program designed to inform the American public
about various aspects of clean-water strategy, including watersheds,
conservation, monitoring, nonpoint-source pollution and safe drinking water.

G. Tracy Mehan, assistant EPA administrator for water, said,
"By informing people of new ideas to solve environmental challenges, we
believe the campaign will further our efforts in meeting the Clean Water
Act's goals."

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