Policy Group Addresses Environmental Justice

Article excerpt

Major issues addressed by the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee at their recent meeting in Tucson, Arizona included environmental justice, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), the role of states in the administration of the Clean Water Act, stormwater, CAFE, (corporate average fuel economy) standards for motor vehicles, global climate change, and market power.

Under the leadership of the EENR chair, Mayor Jim Naugle of Ft. Lauderdale, they completed their agenda and finalized recommendations which will be submitted to the full NLC membership in December.

Environmental Justice

Following a spirited discussion with Anne Goode, Director of EPA's Civil Rights Office, and Sarah Lile, director of environmental affairs for the City of Detroit, committee members agreed to recommend new policies with respect to EPA's recent draft guidance on environmental justice. The recommended policies call for mandatory involvement of local governments in, and recognition of the economic and social impacts of permitting decisions.

Clean Water Act Issues

The committee will recommend new policy language with respect to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), an anticipated new unfunded federal mandate which will require further pollutant reductions from cities and possibly impose federal restrictions limiting growth in urban areas. Committee member, Council President Bill Nielsen of Eau Claire, Wisconsin--who served for NLC on a recently concluded Federal Advisory Committee on TMDLs--lead the discussion. The committee approved language which highlights the basic parameters within which cities can support such an initiative including the development of enforceable means to insure that nonpoint sources participate in reducing pollutants; a recognition of the vital role of cities in protecting water quality; mechanisms to foster sensible growth in urbanized areas; and deference to local land use planning authority.

In addition, the committee revisited and strengthened existing NLC policy with respect to the role of the States in administering the Clean Water Act by supporting the application of clean water goals on a uniform national basis. The Committee also will recommend revisions to the stormwater policy by calling for an "alternative (to the current NPDES) permit program more appropriately tailored to the nature of stormwater"

The Committee also approved modest revisions to NLC's policy on combined sewer overflows and will recommend inclusion of the resolution on pfiesteria as part of the policy statement. …