Congressional Watch, March 2011 Edition
Like the 2011 Montana State Legislature, the 112th session of Congress is marked by unprecedented attacks on our clean air, clear water, public health, fish and wildlife, and our incredible legacy of public lands. These attacks threaten the recent progress to move our state and nation towards a clean, renewable energy economy, and freedom from our dependency on oil produced in countries with repressive governments.
Montana’s Congressional Delegation – Senator Max Baucus, Senator Jon Tester, and Congressman Denny Rehberg – are critical in these debates. They represent us and each hold important leadership posts affecting our future. This edition of Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund’s Congressional Watch tells the story of their leadership, or lack of leadership, on issues affecting the Clean Air Act and ensuring the Environmental Protection Agency can continue to protect our health; on renewable energy and energy conservation; on subsidies to the oil and gas industry; on public lands, and transportation. Don’t miss the recent polling showing what Montanans and Americans value. Make your voice heard as our Congressional delegation winds up their recess and heads back to Washington next week.
Congressional Watch is an e-newsletter of Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund, letting you know about the votes and actions of Montana's Congressional Delegation - Senator Max Baucus, Senator Jon Tester, and Congressman Denny Rehberg – affecting energy issues, toxics, transportation and the environment.
On the heels of proposed new EPA rules requiring power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants by over 90 percent, the Senate is poised to consider three proposals – including one by Sen. Baucus – to curtail EPA’s responsibility and authority to protect public health through regulation of toxics and greenhouse gas pollutants. The House, meanwhile, may vote in early April on H.R. 910, a proposal by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) to repeal EPA’s scientific finding that greenhouse gases threaten human health and welfare and block EPA’s ability to limit carbon pollution, a proposal dubbed the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011.
The three Senate proposals include one by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to amend the Upton language to a unrelated small business research bill. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) responded to McConnell’s surprise move by suggesting he might try to add his language, introduced last year, that would delay EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources for at least two years.
Sen. Baucus is circulating his amendment to exempt agricultural sources from greenhouse gas permitting requirements and to codify the permitting thresholds in a previous EPA tailoring rule to prevent regulation of small emitters. His proposal would prohibit the EPA from including any greenhouse gas emissions from changes in land use and the growing of commodity crops, livestock, fruits and vegetables, and certain other agricultural operations in its emissions calculations. All three amendments could come up shortly after the Senate reconvenes March 28.
For more information on the amendments:
- NRDC Switchboard: Clean Air Act Phobia (March 17, 2011)
“It’s a sad state of affairs when members on both sides of the aisle in Congress seem to think it is a good idea to attack the Clean Air Act – the landmark law that Richard Nixon signed and George H. W. Bush strengthened…The latest development comes from Senator Max Baucus of Montana. The trade press reports (subscription required) that the purpose of his amendment is to codify EPA’s rule that exempts small pollution sources from certain Clean Air Act permitting rules. If the Baucus amendment did only that, there is a good case that Congressional action would make sense. But, whether intended by Senator Baucus or not, his amendment contains two very damaging provisions that go far beyond codifying the tailoring rule….” More…
- Politico: Dems hope to derail GOP’s climate proposal (March 25, 2011)
Senate Democrats hope to siphon votes from a GOP bid to hamstring EPA climate rules by voting first on a Democratic alternative. Top Democrats plan to hold a vote next week on an amendment from Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus before allowing a vote on a more sweeping climate amendment from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a senior Democratic leadership aide told POLITICO on Thursday. More…
- OMB Watch: Congress Pushes to Strip EPA Authority to Regulate Greenhouse Gases (March 22, 2011)
Congressional leaders are acting on several proposals to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A House committee has passed one piece of legislation, and the Senate is expected to vote on a similar measure when it reconvenes in late March. More…
For more information on the recently released EPA rule:
- EPA: Fact Sheet on proposed mercury and air toxics standards (March 16, 2011)
You can also link to EPA’s proposed rule and overview presentation here.
- Wall Street Journal: EPA Rule Targets Mercury Pollution (March 17, 2011)
The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed requiring power plants using coal or fuel oil to reduce emissions of mercury and certain other hazardous pollutants by 91%, in a move that could accelerate the U.S. shift toward natural gas.
If adopted, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said, the standards would prevent as many as 17,000 premature deaths a year. More…
HOW THEY VOTED
Rehberg supports polluters over the health of Montana’s children
- MCV: Congressman Rehberg Supports Polluters Over Health of Children (March 3, 2011)
Montana Conservation Voters has long worked on the issue of clean, renewable energy, often shining the spotlight on candidates and elected officials who consistently side with big polluters. There has never been a better time to hold Congressman Rehberg accountable for doing a poor job working for Montana, and a good job working to help big oil and coal companies. Montana Conservation Voters released a press report this week that highlights how many children and adults are living with asthma in Montana, as well as related legislation Congressman Rehberg has been sponsoring. These are bills that continue to harm our public health by giving big polluters free rein when it comes to how much, and what, they are polluting.
VIDEO: YouTube NRDCflix: Congressman Denny Rehberg chooses polluters over children's health (March 1, 2011)
VIDEO: YouTube Environmental Defense: Mercury and Children (Rep. Rehberg) (March 1, 2011)
Rehberg’s votes on spending bill assault clean air, clean water, wildlife and wild places
- MCV: Montana Conservation Voters Announces Montana Delegation Score from LCV’s Special Edition National Environmental Scorecard (March 1, 2011) Full Scorecard available at www.lcv.org/scorecard-specialedition
BILLINGS, MONTANA – Today, Montana Conservation Voters joined the national League of Conservation Voters in releasing the Continuing Resolution Special Edition National Environmental Scorecard, revealing scores for the Montana delegation for environmental, public health, and energy votes taken on amendments to the House-passed spending bill. The Scorecard features an extensive scoring of the Congressional assaults on clean air, clean water, wildlife and wild places included in this legislation, making it the most anti-environmental piece of legislation in recent memory….
The Special Edition Scorecard includes 25 votes, 20 of which were amendments to make the underlying bill even worse. This includes several amendments offered to block the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting public health and holding polluters accountable. Other amendments would cut funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency, climate change research, lands conservation and restoration, and other important environmental programs.
Representative Rehberg scored a 4, having supported clean air, water, and energy, and wildlife and wild places, only once in those 25 votes.
"It is deeply disappointing that Representative Rehberg voted for the Continuing Resolution’s sweeping assaults on fish and wildlife and on the water we drink and air we breathe,” said Ryan Busse, Montana Conservation Voters Chairperson. “This vote endangers the jobs, health and well-being of all Montanans.” More…
- WORC: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a “Continuing Resolution" funding bill, H.R. 1, that deeply cuts clean water, clean air and clean energy programs….The House-passed bill to fund government operations for the rest of this fiscal year would:
- Cut nearly a billion dollars from clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, while cutting very little funding from dirty fossil fuel programs;
- Bar the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to force power plants, refineries and other large polluters to control their life-threatening carbon emissions;
- Block new rules that would protect our most fragile, smallest streams that don’t run year round under the Clean Water Act;
- Stop new rules to reform mountaintop mining permits and hazardous coal- plant waste disposal.
Rehberg cosponsors bills to block federal clean air protections
MCV: Representative Rehberg has agreed to co-sponsor bills to permanently block EPA from limiting carbon pollution (H.R. 97) and to prohibit the EPA from developing or enforcing standards to limit carbon pollution (H.R. 153), as well as a resolution to increase soot, mercury, toxic and other pollution from cement plants (H.J. 9). More…
CALL TO ACTION
- You want the EPA to ensure that polluting industries do not threaten the health of Montana’s citizens.
- You want Congress to support clean, renewable energy programs and protect clean water, wildlife and wild places.
- Let Sens. Baucus and Tester know you oppose all amendments that would restrict EPA’s authority to protect public health.
- Let Rep. Rehberg know you strongly disagree with his support for big oil companies over safer oil drilling and increased corporate financial responsibility for large oil spills like we have just witnessed in the Gulf.
ACTIONS AND OPINIONS
Baucus and Tester advance more protections for the North Fork of the Flathead from oil and gas development
- Baucus, Tester: Baucus, Tester announce additional lease retirements near North Fork of Flathead River (February 17, 2011)
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today that four additional companies have voluntarily agreed not to pursue oil and gas development on more than 15,000 acres near Montana’s North Fork of the Flathead River. To date, the Senators have secured return of more than 200,000 acres of oil and gas leases, or 80 percent of the total leased acreage on the American side of the border, at no cost to American taxpayers. More…
- Missoulian: Agreement to protect North Fork of Flathead from gold, coal mining finalized (February 15, 2011)
The deal to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mining and energy exploration got final approval on Tuesday at a gathering in Washington, D.C., with Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer. More…
- Missoulian: Tester, Baucus renew effort to protect Flathead River Basin (January 31, 2011)
A move to protect the Flathead River Basin on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border has been restarted in Congress, according to representatives of senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester. The North Fork Watershed Protection Act passed its committee review and made it to the Senate floor last year, but did not reach a final vote. It would officially close oil and gas exploration along the western edge of Glacier National Park, in conjunction with Canadian closures of coal and energy prospecting on the northern reach of the Flathead River. More…
Baucus, Tester introduce legislation to reduce dependence on foreign fuels
Baucus, Tester: Baucus, Tester reintroduce "Freedom Fuels" bill to boost Montana jobs (January 27, 2011)
(Washington, DC) - Montana's U.S. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester reintroduced legislation today aimed at boosting Montana jobs and reducing dependence on foreign fuels. More…
Rehberg introduces Montana Land Sovereignty Act to restrict wildlands designations
Missoulian: Rehberg's bill calls for more scrutiny of federal monument, wilderness designations (March 2, 2011)
Rep. Denny Rehberg and fellow Republican elected officials demanded sovereignty over future federal monument and wilderness designations on Tuesday…He introduced a bill to require more scrutiny of acts like President Bill Clinton's designation of the Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument in 2001. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, offered a similar measure for his state. More…
Tester leads Congressional Sportsmen’s Congress, appoints Montanans to advisory panel
- KPAX: Tester takes over Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus (January 25, 2011)
WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Jon Tester took the gavel as the new chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. The bipartisan group includes members from the House and Senate. It deals with such issues as public access, guns, fishing and hunting. More…
- Great Falls Tribune: Tester names members to Sportsmen's Caucus group (February 10, 2011)
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., on Thursday issued a press release naming 19 sportsmen and women to his Montana Sportsmen's Advisory Panel. The panelists will advise Tester in his new role as the chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus.
Tester said he plans to use the group's input to craft legislation aimed at protecting Montana's and America's outdoor heritage. More…
Members include MCV Chair Ryan Busse, Montana Trout Unlimited Executive Director Bruce Farling, NWF Board member Kathy Hadley, MWF Conservation Director Ben Lamb, Missoula attorney Pat Smith, MT Fish and Game Commissioner Dan Vermillion, Billings resident John Gibson, Helena resident Gayle Joslin, and Missoula resident Land Tawney.
- KFBB.COM: Senator Tester Hosts Sportsmen's Caucus Advisory Group Meeting (March 19, 2011)
US Senator Jon Tester stopped in Great Falls today to hold an open forum with Montana sportsmen…Tester says hunting and fishing are critical to the state's economy and it's important to support the industry. Saying, “The role that hunting and fishing have on the economy is huge and the jobs it has created and the towns and businesses it supports, it’s big. So the ability to have access for good hunting and fishing is very critical.” More…
Survey Conducted in MT-At Large Congressional District Tracks With National Survey Findings; Clear Local Message: Let the Environmental Protection Agency Do Its Job of Protecting Public Health and the Environment. (February 23, 2011)
WASHINGTON (February 23, 2011) – A clear majority of registered voters in the Montana Congressional District oppose the votes last week by Rep. Denny Rehberg to block the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from updating clean air safeguards needed to protect the health of Americans, according to major new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). More…
- Colorado College: Majority of Western Voters Believe Environmental Protections, Strong Economy Can Co-Exist (February 25, 2011)
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — A new bi-partisan poll of inter-mountain West voters shows that a strong majority (77 percent) believe that environmental standards and a strong economy can coexist. The findings, from the first-ever “Conservation in the West Survey,” reveal differences and many points of agreement among voters on issues such as conservation, regulations, renewable energy and other environmental issues. More…
- Helena Independent Record: Groups rally to protect environment (February 21, 2011)
An estimated 600 people from throughout Montana rallied at the state Capitol at noon Monday to show their anger with legislative proposals that they believe would harm the environment…. Tom French (sp) with the National Wildlife Federation noted that environmental issues aren't limited to Montana, and he urged the crowd to contact their congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., as they vote this week to do away with numerous programs. The House of Representatives zeroed out state wildlife grants programs, tribal lands programs and cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 75 percent, French said. "These guys went at the budget with an ax and never asked what kind of legacy they'll leave," French said. "We need to ask the senate to bring some sense to this drama. "... I know they have to figure out the budget, but conservation should not be on the cutting block when it will harm this and future generations." More…
- Flathead Beacon: Don’t Undermine Environmental Protections (March 20, 2011)
- Montana Standard: House bill makes it easier to pollute with mercury (March 20, 2011)
- Kalispell Daily Interlake: Clean Air Act good for Montana's economy (March 17, 2011)
- Billings Gazette: U.S. Senate must stop the defunding of the EPA (March 15, 2011)
- Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Tell Rehberg to protect our air, water, environment (March 13, 2011)
- Montana Standard: Rehberg encouraged to reject EPA ‘attack’ bill (March 11, 2011)
- Billings Gazette: Rehberg votes hurts recreation (March 6, 2011)
- Missoulian: Congress: Rehberg votes against health, parks (March 2, 2011)
- Missoulian: Mercury pollution: Support stronger EPA standards (February 13, 2011)
- EPA: EPA Report Underscores Clean Air Act’s Successful Public Health Protections/Landmark law saved 160,000 lives in 2010 alone (March 1, 2011)
- NWF: Sportsmen Urge Action on Air Pollution: New Report Shows Dangers to Wildlife, Support for Expected Pollution Rules Due This Week (March 16, 2011)
- Montana Public Radio: NWF Report release (March 16, 2011) starts at the 5:35 mark of the broadcast
- Missoulian: Changes to pollution regulations threaten Montana's wildlife heritage, advocates say (March 16, 2011)
- American Lung Association: Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants (March 8, 2011)
HOW TO CONTACT THE MONTANA CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION
511 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
724 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-2604
Phone: (202) 224-2644
Fax: (202) 224-8594
2448 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC, 20515
Phone: (202) 225-3211
Fax: (202) 225-5687
CONTRIBUTE to Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund today!
MCVEF is a non-profit, non-partisan, tax exempt organization dedicated to educating citizens on conservation and environmental policy. MCVEF provides voter participation services to over 42,000 members of Montana's conservation and environmental community. Give a tax exempt gift to MCVEF today to help us publish Congressional Watch.