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Congressional Activity, Week of July 24, 2017

 

Nevertheless, they persisted:
No weekly congressional tracking report would be complete without health care. Specifically, the Republican plan to repeal and replace the ACA, which appears to be DOA. As previously mentioned, the House bill, the American Healthcare Act and the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act, have run afoul of the ideological extremes of the Republican party. Despite the Congressional Budget Offices’ report on the effects of a straight repeal, which includes a doubling of premiums and an additional 32 million uninsured Americans by 2026, (nevertheless) it appears that the Senate will (persist) with a vote to do just that. It is hard to imagine that the moderate wing of the Republican Caucus will be on board with a straight repeal. But, the proposed repeal will kick the can of replacement two years down the road (after the 2018 elections). With the political consequences of a straight repeal deferred, predicting how this will end is difficult.

 

Energy and air pollution:
With the Senate occupied with health care reform, the House passed major legislation on both fronts. Most alarming is the passage of H.R.806 – “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017.” This bill, if passed into law, would:
• Delay implementation of the new ozone standard promulgated by the EPA in 2015 until 2025.
• Reduce the frequency that the EPA could reviews toxic air contaminants that require regulatory action.
• Require the EPA too conduct a study to determine the degree to which the transport of pollutants from foreign sources contribute to domestic air quality. (Presumably to justify moves to relax air quality standards.)

 

Other legislation that will reduce regulatory control of the energy sector:
The house also passed H.R.2883, the “Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act.” This legislation, if passed into law, would substantially relax environmental standards for companies that seek to build natural gas, oil, and electrical transmission lines that cross international borders.

 

H.R.2910, the “Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act” would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) overarching authority to determine what agencies are allowed to require permitting and reporting for the development of natural gas pipelines that cross state boundaries.

 

H.R.2786, “to amend the Federal Power Act with respect to the criteria and process to qualify as a qualifying conduit hydropower facility,” would reduce public notification requirements from 45 days to 30 days. It would also increase the number of conduit projects eligible for exemption from FERC’s jurisdiction. These changes would apply to conduit that are operated to distribute water for agricultural, municipal, or industrial uses.

 

Remember, H.R. 806, H.R. 2883, H.R. 2910 and H.R. 2786 have only passed one house of congress and it is incumbent on us as activists to contact our senators to vote against these bills as they move through the Senate.

 

If you want to keep up on what is going on in Congress, I strongly recommend subscribing to This Week in Congress. A highly digestible summary of congressional activity that comes out every week Congress is in session.

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