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Mark Pocan on Environment

 

 


Sponsored tightening restrictions on hydrogen sulfide emissions.

Pocan co-sponsored BREATHE Act

Congressional Summary:This Act may be cited as the 'Bringing Reductions to Energy's Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act' or the BREATHE Act.

Proponent's argument for bill: (StopTheFrackAttack.org, July 2012 BREATHE Act Fact Sheet):

The BREATHE Act would close two exemptions in the Clean Air Act (CAA) that threaten the health of communities wrestling with oil and gas production in their backyard. The CAA established limits for major pollution sources; smaller sources of pollutants that are controlled by a single operator, located close to each other, are "aggregated" and considered as one source of emissions. Unfortunately, the CAA exempts oil and gas wells from aggregation. The BREATHE Act would apply the CAA to oil & gas production.

A 1993 EPA Report to Congress on Hydrogen Sulfide Air Emissions Associated with the Extraction of Oil and Natural Gas clear

Source: H.R.1154 13-H1154 on Mar 14, 2013

Extend to 2023 Superfund hazardous waste cleanup.

Pocan co-sponsored Superfund Reinvestment Act

Congressional summary: Authorizes the use of funds in the Hazardous Substance Superfund for environmental cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Provides that disbursements of the Hazardous Substance Superfund:

  1. shall not be counted as new deficit for purposes of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, or the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010;
  2. shall be exempt from any general budget limitations; and
  3. shall be available only for the purposes specified in CERCLA.
      Authorizes Superfund through Dec. 31, 2023.

      Proponent's argument in favor (Sponsor's introductory remarks): Last week, the House passed legislation [outlined below] to weaken and fragment the already underfunded federal Superfund program. I am reintroducing legislation to reauthorize Superfund taxes on polluting industries; and provide more funds to clean up toxic waste sites. The Superfund program has resulted in the cleanup of more than 1,000 toxic waste sites. In the majority of cases, EPA works with the parties who have been found responsible for the pollution and they pay for the cleanup. [My bill] will reinstate Superfund taxes [on oil, chemicals, and corporations] to their previous levels.

      Opponent's argument against: (Chamber of Commerce's July 29 2013 letter supporting those House-passed bills): The US Chamber of Commerce strongly supports HR2279, the "Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act;" HR2318, the "Federal Facility Accountability Act;" and HR2226, the "Federal and State Partnership for Environmental Protections Act." These three bills aim at modernizing CERCLA. HR2279 removes two impractical and unnecessary deadlines. HR2318 ensures that the federal government is a "good neighbor" when operating a superfund cleanup site. HR2226 would clarify that EPA must consult with the state when selecting a remedial action.

      Source: H.R.3870 14-H3870 on Jan 14, 2014

      Require reporting lead in drinking water to the public.

      Pocan co-sponsored H.R.4470

      Congressional Summary:

      • The EPA Administrator shall, in collaboration with operators of public water systems, establish a strategic plan for outreach, education, technical assistance, and risk communication to populations affected by lead in a public water system.
      • Each operator of a public water system shall identify and provide notice to persons who may be affected by lead contamination of their drinking water, and corrosivity of the water supply sufficient to cause leaching of lead
      • In making information available to the public, the Administrator shall target groups within the general population that may be at greater risk than the general population of adverse health effects from exposure to lead in drinking water.
      OnTheIssues Notes: This bill responds to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In April 2014, the city of Flint (with a large minority population) switched its drinking water supply from the Detroit-based system to a river-based system, to save the city money. In August 2014, residents began complaining about water discoloration and a bad taste and odor. The city of Flint insisted the water was safe, but by 2015, high levels of lead and other contaminants were found in the water. In Oct. 2015, Flint switched back to the Detroit water supply, using an emergency loan of $7 million from the state of Michigan; that switch should slowly clear up the contaminants. The issue was still volatile enough that a Republican primary debate was held in nearby Detroit on March 3, 2016, and a Democratic primary debate was held in Flint on March 6, 2016
      Source: Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act 16-HR4470 on Feb 4, 2016

      Voted NO on requiring limited GMO labeling.

      Pocan voted NAY DARK Act

      A BILL to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods.

      Cato Institute recommendation on voting YES: President Obama quietly signed legislation requiring special labeling for commercial foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)--plants and animals with desirable genetic traits that were directly implanted in a laboratory. Most of the foods that humans & animals have consumed for millennia have been genetically modified, by cross-fertilization. Yet the new law targets only the highly precise gene manipulations done in laboratories. Anti-GMO activists oppose the new law because it preempts more rigorous regulation. And that's exactly the goal of this bill, to the frustration of the anti-GMO crowd.

      JustLabelit.org recommendation on voting NO (because not restrictive enough): Senators Roberts (R-KS) and Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a compromise bill that would create a mandatory, national labeling standard for GMO foods. This bill falls short of what consumers expect--a simple at-a-glance disclosure on the package. As written, this compromise might not even apply to ingredients derived from GMO soybeans and GMO sugar beets. We in the consumer rights community have dubbed this the "Deny Americans the Right-to-Know" Act (DARK Act). We need to continue pressing for mandatory GMO labeling on the package.

      Heritage Foundation recommendation on voting NO (because too restrictive): The House should allow [states, at their choice,] to impose [a more] restrictive labeling mandate, but prohibit the state from regulating out-of-state food manufacturers engaged in interstate commerce. Instituting a new, sweeping, federal mandate that isn't based on proven science shouldn't even be an option.

      Legislative outcome: Passed by the Senate on July 7th, passed by the House on July 14th; signed by the President on July 29th

      Source: Supreme Court case 16-S0764 argued on Jun 23, 2016

      2017-18 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Environment: Mark Pocan on other issues:
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      Page last updated: Jun 04, 2020