Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Congress Continues to Addresses Environmental Issues

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Congress Continues to Addresses Environmental Issues

Article excerpt

In a flurry of activity, House and Senate panels continue to address energy and environmental finance and infrastructure issues, including support for federal leadership and incentives on "green" buildings.

Opposing proposed cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF), expressing skepticism over the value of public/private partnerships as a panacea to the nation's infrastructure needs and promoting federal leadership on energy efficiency, committees in both the House and Senate asserted their new leadership with approval of several pieces of legislation and a series of hearings in the past two weeks.

In a heating before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee for Water Resources and Environment, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) faulted the administration for failing "to recognize that continued investment in water-related infrastructure is a key element for stimulating and improving the U.S. economy--an economy built on the investments of our predecessor."

"Increased funding of water infrastructure projects is essential to the economic and environmental health of the nation," said Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.), chairman of the committee. "Our population is growing at an increased pace, putting more pressure on already over-burdened systems. In addition, much of the wastewater infrastructure in this country is rapidly approaching or has already exceeded its projected useful life."

For fiscal year 2008, the administration again proposed a reduction in Clean Water SRF spending. Congress funded the program at $1.1 billion for fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007 but would cut $412 million, to $688 million under the administration's proposal.

Earlier this month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved HR 720, the Water Quality Financing Act of 2007, to authorize the Clean Water SRF at $20 billion for the next five years. …

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