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Senator McCain on EPA's New Source Review Amendment

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, I voted in support of the Edwards amendment to delay the implementation of the EPA's final rule on New Source Review for six months for the purpose of ascertaining the impact on air quality and human health. There has been significant controversy and uncertainty about the effects of this rule. I believe in this case we need to have an independent assessment in order to assure the public that this regulatory change will not jeopardize existing air quality or human health.

Given that the rule represents a significant change in national clean air policy, we should have this essential information in hand at this final phase of the rule-making process. However, we haven't seen any thorough or independent analysis of the pertinent data or a definitive assessment of impacts.

I have stated my strong view on the issue of global climate change that we have sufficient information to move forward to define effective measures to address this most serious environmental problem. In order to move forward responsibly with this significant change of air emissions regulation, we apparently need additional scientific information.

I am struck by the extent of disagreement over the effects of this change amongst air quality experts, members of the regulated community, air quality regulators on the federal, state, and local levels, and environmental groups. I believe the federal taxpayers who pay for this regulatory program, in terms of both dollars and health impacts, would want Congress to approve the implementation of this new regulatory regime only if we are certain the costs are commensurate with the benefits.

At this point, there is significant confusion on this score. The EPA has testified that 50 percent of the facilities that are now subject to the Clean Air Act's technology requirements would fall out of those requirements under the rule changes. A number of reputable studies indicate that emissions will increase as a result. The argument has also been made by the Administration and others that air quality will improve because facilities would be encouraged to install new, more energy-efficient technology.

This amendment provides a six month period for an independent panel of scientific experts to give us the information that we need in order to assert that this policy change will benefit the public and the environment, as well as the regulated community. Once we have this information, we should move forward decisively to either put the final rule in place or reject this approach.

Mr. GRASSLEY. I ask unanimous consent that this letter be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

U.S. CONGRESS,

Washington, DC, January 23, 2003.

The Hon. TED STEVENS,

Chairman, Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.

The Hon. DANIEL K. INOUYE,

Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Defense, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN STEVENS AND RANKING MEMBER INOUYE: We very much appreciate your efforts on behalf of including in the FY03 Omnibus Appropriations bill an amendment we have worked on relating to the Department of Defense Total Information Awareness Program.

We wish to let you know that as the Senate moved toward final passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill this afternoon, our office continued to be engaged in a discussion with other interested offices about the wording of the language in Sec. 111©(2)(B) of Amendment No. 59 affecting the scope of the Office of Total Information Awareness. Questions have been raised that the wording of this subsection of the amendment, as adopted, could be interpreted to inhibit lawful foreign intelligence activities. That is not the intent of the amendment, and to correct the problem we propose to strike in that subsection (B) all after the word "activities." We are committed to working jointly with you to address this concern through enactment of this change in conference.

Again, we appreciate your willingness to include a provision establishing strong Congressional oversight over this program, and look forward to working with you to correct the language to reflect our intent more accurately.
 
Sincerely,

Charles E. Grassley.

Ron Wyden.

Mr. MCCAIN. Mr. President, after six continuing resolutions to keep the Federal Government operating and more than 3 months into the new fiscal year, the appropriations process for fiscal year 2003 is finally coming to an end. Of the 13 appropriations bills that were required to be passed and enacted into law last year to fully fund programs for fiscal year 2003, only two were passed and enacted. The 11 remaining bills have been bundled up in this so-called "omnibus" appropriations legislation.

And once again, as in past years, we are faced with voting on a massive legislative package without adequate time for thorough review and debate. The 1,052-page bill before us, which appropriates approximately $400 billion, was not made available for review at 9:00 p.m. on the night before the first full day of debate on the bill. The managers submitted for the RECORD what would have been the committee reports for the 11 bills encompassed in this omnibus, but it was not available for review until debate on this bill was well under way. Have members and their staffs even spent the time to learn what is contained in this monstrous vehicle?

When will we ever learn? I hope that the 108th Congress brings with it a renewed spirit of bipartisan cooperation. In the last Congress, such cooperation took a backseat to election year politics, partisan bickering, and ill-advised parliamentary tactics that had the effect of further polarizing this body. If we continue on this troubled path, we will be in the same situation 1 year from now. And again, this will be at the cost of the American taxpayer.

During times of threats to our national security, it has been common practice to ask Americans to sacrifice to protect our homeland. However, today some believe it appropriate to merely craft this appropriations bill with little regard for the severe security and fiscal challenges confronting our Nation. We are on the verge of a possible war, and our economy is in distress. So what are we appropriating scarce resources for? Orangutans, pig waste, and sea otter commissions.

There is approximately $11 billion in pork-barrel spending and a number of legislative riders that are riddled throughout this bill. In fact, Congressional earmarks reached their highest level during the last fiscal year, increasing 32 percent from the previous year. The multitude of unrequested funding earmarks buried in this 1,052-page bill will undoubtedly further burden American taxpayers. While the amounts associated with each individual earmark may not seem extravagant, taken together, they represent a serious diversion away from Federal programs that have undergone the appropriate merit-based selection process.

As I discussed earlier today, one of the most egregious riders we consistently see in appropriation bills are the Army Corps of Engineers's water projects. Water projects have become synonymous with pork because of the habitual authorization of these projects in appropriation bills. These water projects continue to be slipped into appropriation bills without congressional consideration as to their effects on the environment and without going through established project evaluation procedures.

Today's Washington Post reports that the Yazoo Pump project in central Mississippi—which would involve building the world's largest hydraulic pumping plant—would authorize $15 million to drain 200,000 acres of wetlands that is home to both waterfowl and rare plants. The sole purpose of this project is to drain environmentally sensitive wetlands for agricultural production. Touted as a "flood control project," the Yazoo pump is not designed to save homes or land but to drain the wetlands for soybean and cotton production. More importantly, $30,000 of federal taxpayer money has already been spent to preserve these wetlands because of their unique features as a bird sanctuary. At a minimum, we should allow the EPA to complete its study of this project—environment review is still ongoing. In fact, in the draft environmental review, the EPA gave the Yazoo the lowest possible rating calling the project "flawed and inadequate." If this project could not proceed forward on the merits, why should Congress give its blessing to it in a rider to an omnibus appropriation bill?

The next project, located in Devil's Lake, North Dakota not only authorizes a wasteful and highly controversial project but the rider also exempts the project from standard evaluation procedures. Today's Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the rider provides $100 million for pipeline into the Sheyenne River, which flows into the Hudson Bay. Because of widespread water quality concerns on connecting rivers and lakes, there is strong opposition to this project from the Canadian government, the States of Missouri and Minnesota, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the EPA, national conservation organizations and environmental groups in North Dakota. Despite this opposition and the complex ecological issues raised by this project, funding has been authorized and standard language requiring the Corps to evaluate the merits of the project has been omitted. The bottom line: If this project was ever assessed on its merits, it would likely never survive.

The report language for this bill directs the Agency for International Development to provide at least $2.5 million to the Orangutan Foundation located in Indonesia. The foundation likes to call the orangutan "the neglected ape." Luckily for them, they are not being neglected by the Appropriations Committee. And, the appropriators not only like orangutans, they also are fond of gorillas. The Committee gave $1.5 million to groups like the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Mr. President, why stop at giving special preference to these two primates? What about the other members of the animal kingdom? Which brings us to the lowly catfish and its heretofore unknown relation to the cow. In the emergency disaster relief section of this bill, a provision was included that would qualify catfish farmers for livestock compensation payments. As my colleagues know, the livestock compensation program is a Federal farm program that compensate eligible livestock producers—such as owners of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, or certain breeds of buffalo—who have suffered losses or damages as a result of a severe drought.

While I often take issue with various farm policies that disproportionately benefit large agribusiness of farms at the expense of small farmers and taxpayers, or those that compromise American agricultural trade commitments, this effort to compensate catfish farmers from a farm program that is intended for livestock stands out. I am certain that catfish proponents will offer a dozen different explanations to justify this provision. However, not even hog, poultry, or horse producers are eligible under the livestock compensation program. Why should catfish then get livestock payments? Mr. President, when did a catfish become analogous to a cow?

Catfish farmers are hardly left out in it the cold—they are eligible for other types of emergency assistance from USDA. Also, in the recent 2002 farm bill, domestic catfish proponents were successful in banning all catfish imports by requiring that foreign catfish be labeled as something other than catfish. It seems very clear to me that catfish farmers do not want to compete on a fair basis, domestically or abroad, and are willing to double-dip into disaster-relief funding intended for other farmers in need. Mr. President, let's remove this extraneous provision and let livestock be livestock, not catfish.

Other interesting earmarks include: $200,000 for the Anchorage People Mover in Alaska; $250,000 for the Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia for the Center for the Exceptionally Gifted; now they really are exceptionally gifted; $1.5 million for WestStart's Vehicular Flywheel Project in the State of Washington; an extra $1 million for the National Center for the Ecologically-based Noxious Weed Management at Montana State University; $600,000 to treat waste on small swine farms in South Carolina; $1 million for a DNA bear sampling study in Montana; $100,000 for the Alaska Sea Otter Commission; $300,000 to the Southern Regional Research Center at New Orleans, LA, for termite detection systems, evaluation of wood products for protecting building materials, and bait technology; $200,000 to study seafood waste at the University of Alaska; $300,000 for Old Stoney feasibility study in Wyoming; $650,000 for grasshopper and Mormon cricket activities in the State of Utah;

I am pleased to see that $1.5 billion was added to this legislation to supplement the $50 million that was originally appropriated to fund the recently-passed "Help America Vote Act." However, I am concerned that this funding has only been added as a common pool and not designated according to the legislation that Congress passed last year. For example, the bill would not explicitly fund the program to improve accessibility for disabled voters at the poling places. I urge my colleagues to address this discrepancy in the House-Senate Conference.

I believe it is beneficial that the Senate address physician and hospital fee schedules under Medicare. Recent Medicare physician fee reductions have forced many doctors across the Nation to reduce Medicare patients, leaving seniors without access to the care they need. Similarly, rural hospitals, particularly in my home State of Arizona, have experienced an unfair imbalance in payment schedules compared to their urban counterparts. Although our Nation's health care providers would benefit from provisions under this bill, I do not believe that appropriations bills are the venue for such legislative language. I am also concerned about giving hospitals and doctors well over $1 billion in additional funds from Medicare, without providing seniors with a much needed prescription drug benefit.

There are numerous provisions in this bill that circumvent the clear jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee. Perhaps the most egregious example is section 211 of Division B, which would grant new life to an already failed shipbuilding project that has cost the American taxpayer over $185 million, and give it to a foreign-owned corporation. I've already expressed my opposition to this special interest provision. But there are a host of other items that I wish to discuss.

Another section of the bill would allow a narrow class of airports to exclude air carriers that may want to provide scheduled air service. It is my understanding that this is so narrowly tailored that it benefits just one airport—Centennial Airport in Colorado.

Another provision would allow an airport to give Airport Improvement Program money back to the FAA enabling the agency to hire staff to speed up environmental reviews of that airport's projects. This is an area in which the Commerce Committee took action last year, and we will continue to monitor and pursue further action this year, should it be necessary. Appropriations bills are not the proper nor the traditional vehicles that should be used to address the AIP.

This bill also earmarks $1.2 billion for New Starts under the transit program. I find this set of earmarks to be particularly egregious. The earmarks do not just direct the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to spend the appropriated funds on pet projects in certain States, they also actually change the recommendations that FTA has made regarding which projects should be funded and the level of funding each project should receive in fiscal year 2003. Mr. President, when are we going to allow the FTA to do its job? The FTA, not the appropriators, should determine which projects have merit and should be funded.

This bill also would limit funding for the number of Coast Guard flag officers to 37. While the Coast Guard is authorized under title 14 to have 48 flag officers, it currently has 37 on active duty. But as the Coast Guard grows in size to meet its new homeland security missions, its authorized flexibility to promote additional flag officers would be severely restrained under this bill. If there is a concern that the Coast Guard has too many flag officers, then that concern should be addressed through the committee of jurisdiction—the Commerce Committee.

The bill provides $48.7 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for costs related to digital program developed associated with the transition of public broadcasting to digital broadcasting. This is $23.7 million more than the President's request, and it was not considered by the Commerce Committee, which is the authorizing committee. More importantly, I don't believe that Congress is exercising sound fiscal policy when we make a decision to appropriate millions of dollars to publicly funded television stations so that they may purchase the latest in digital technology. Rather the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should come before the authorizing committee to have a discussion with members on how to best achieve the goals of public broadcasters and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

The bill appropriates $100 million for fisheries disaster assistance. Of this, $35 million is for direct assistance to the State of Alaska, for any person, business, or town that has experienced an economic hardship even remotely relating to fishing. This money is in addition to the $20 million for developing an Alaskan seafood marketing program.

Of the remainder, $35 million is for the shrimp industries of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, to provide far-reaching assistance to these fisheries. $20 million is provided for voluntary capacity reduction programs in the Northeast and West Coast groundfish fisheries. $5 million is for Hawaiian fishermen affected by fishing area closures. And, 5 million for the blue crab fisheries affected by low harvest.

The bill provides these handouts without requiring any accountability on how the money is actually spent. Moreover, the allocations were made without offering any form of justification. How much federal money do these regions really need, if any? If these needs are legitimate, how do they compare to the needs of other regions? We may never know, because these appropriations circumvented every stage of committee review. We have no basis for determining how necessary this is or whether or not this is sound policy.

Another provision authorized the Secretary of Commerce to award grants to encourage individuals to travel to the United States and establishes the United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board; $50 million is appropriated to implement this section. This is yet another example of inserting authorizing language in an appropriations bill, and providing an enormous amount of money for an initiative that has not yet been fully examined and discussed by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the Federal Government had a budget deficit of about $109 billion during the first quarter of fiscal year 2003. That is significantly more than the $35 billion shortfall recorded over the same period last year. And all forecasts project growing deficits for as far as the eye can see.

Our current economic situation and our vital national security concerns illustrate that we need more than ever to prioritize our Federal spending. While I commend members of the Appropriations Committee for holding down spending to the level recommended by the President, some of these provisions, as is the case in virtually all appropriations legislation, serve no national priority. My friends on the committee are no doubt tired of hearing me say this, but I am obliged to do so; we can and we must do better.

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