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Newsletter: Energy, Lyme Disease, Dulles Rail

Location: Unknown

Dear Friends,

Congress is back in session this week after its traditional August recess. I returned to Capitol Hill several times during the recess to call upon the House majority leadership to take action on the nation's energy crisis. It's imperative that Congress have a fair and open debate on energy policy. We need a comprehensive plan with everything on the table -- alternative and renewable energy sources, conservation and development of our own energy resources onshore and offshore. I believe there is a bipartisan consensus to get something done.

In addition to taking action on energy solutions, Congress also must pass legislation before the federal government's new fiscal year begins October 1 to fund the government for the next fiscal year.

Lyme Disease Forum
I hosted an educational forum in Loudoun County in August on Lyme disease, a debilitating disease that is affecting a growing number of people in northern Virginia. Nearly 300 people took time out of their busy schedules to attended. For those who were unable to attend, audio and video of the forum, as well as questions submitted to our guest speakers, are available on my Web site.

I would also like to share my letter to the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services. The letter asks the department to review its continued link to Lyme treatment guidelines published by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) in light of a finding by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that several IDSA panel members may hold conflicts of interest.

Dulles Rail
The Dulles Rail project has cleared another major hurdle. In late August, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) gave the project the green light to proceed with construction using the project's current funds. While this approval does not yet commit federal funding, it is an important step toward that goal.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) will use this approval to begin site preparation and construction for portions of the line in Tysons Corner. MWAA will also continue with utility relocation, which began in January.

I remain hopeful that the FTA will approve a full-funding grant agreement (FFGA), which would commit federal funding to the project, before the end of this year.

SCC Appointment
I want to share a copy of my letter expressing my concern about Governor Kaine's nomination of James C. Dimitri for the open seat on the State Corporation Commission (SCC), which is one of the primary regulatory agencies for the state of Virginia. I became deeply troubled when I learned that Mr. Dimitri has represented several commercial interests in recent cases before the SCC.

In 2003, Mr. Dimitri represented the Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II) in their successful effort to get SCC approval for a 50% increase in the ceiling on Dulles Greenway tolls. He has also been the lead attorney representing Dominion Virginia Power in its proposal before the SCC to build 500-kilovolt power lines in northern Virginia.

I believe the nomination of Mr. Dimitri, who has connections to two major companies that are regulated by the SCC, raises questions about the SCC's ability to remain impartial and serve its role as a neutral authority and whether the views of consumers will be represented fairly.

I hope this information is helpful. Please visit if you need additional information on these or any other issues.

Best wishes.

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