Steering Committee Evaluates NLC's Environmental, Energy Policy

Article excerpt

The Energy, Environment, and Natural (EENR) Resources Steering Committee met in Bellevue, Wash., last month to recommend policy on water infrastructure financing, energy and the Clean Air Act.

T.J. Patterson, councilmember, Lubbock, Tex., and chair of EENR, welcomed the group to the meeting on Friday morning and called on the Steering Committee to acknowledge the great loss of life on September 11, 2001 with a moment of silence.

"I am so pleased that this committee came together in this beautiful city to continue the important work of the National League of Cities during this trying time. Members of the EENR Committee will find strength in each other, and together we can begin to rebuild our country," Patterson said.

Clean Air Act Update

Jeffrey Clark, director of policy analysis from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discussed Clean Air Act reauthorization issues with the committee. He identified coal-fired power plants, new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and mobile source pollution as possible issues in the reauthorization.

A lively question and answer period followed Clark's presentation.

After reviewing current policy on the Clean Air Act, the steering committee made no policy recommendations but directed NLC staff to follow the issue closely and update the policy committee at next year's Congressional City Conference.

Water Infrastructure Financing

A funding gap of $1 trillion in infrastructure needs has been identified by the drinking water industry and the clean water industry.

One of the few options available for federal funding for water systems, the State Revolving Loan Funds, can only be used to meet compliance with EPA regulations and not for infrastructure investment.

Without federal grants for infrastructure investment, the cost of rebuilding clean water and drinking water infrastructure systems could more than double the cost of water for individuals.

Current policy on Water Infrastructure Financing includes two separate sections on the State Revolving Loan Funds -- one supporting the SRF for drinking water, and one supporting the SRF for clean water. Since the policy written to support the clean water SRF was written before the statute authorizing the drinking water SRF was passed, the language did not specify which SRF it supported; as a result, that section read as statement of support for both SRF programs. …