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August 2011 Issue

Republicans on Subcommittees Consider Changes To Ballast Water Discharge Regulations
The U.S. House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), and the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), held a joint hearing in July to explore ballast water and incidental discharge management.

The discharge of ballast water and other substances from vessels is currently regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, the EPA, 26 states, two Native American tribes and a U.S. territory. The Republican majority said the overlapping ballast water regulations “hampers the flow of commerce, threatens international trade, unduly burdens vessel operations in U.S. waters, undermines job creation and hurts our economy.”

“We have to overcome this mind-set that mandating a dozen different, unachievable standards, each more stringent than the next, somehow protects our environment,” LoBiondo said.

Gibbs echoed LoBiondo’s call for improvement to the current system: “We should not burden our shippers with unobtainable, unrealistic, expensive regulations that have not demonstrated a significant environmental benefit. Instead we need a common-sense approach that can be enacted quickly, protects the environment, reduces red tape, grows maritime jobs and opens the flow of maritime commerce.”

House Caucus Aims to Find Sustainable Energy Sources for US Military
Four members of Congress announced in July the creation of a caucus focused on educating members of Congress and the public on the value of sustainable energy sources for the U.S. military. The caucus said it will also highlight and support established and emerging defense energy initiatives, and find solutions to energy challenges facing the Department of Defense (DOD).

The Defense Energy Security Caucus is made up of Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).

“Working together, I believe we can transform the way the department uses energy, which will improve capabilities for our warfighters, cut costs for American taxpayers and ultimately save lives,” said Sharon Burke, the assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs, who delivered remarks at the caucus’ kickoff event.

Hinchey highlighted the volatility fuel costs pose to the U.S. military—the Pentagon’s fuel costs increase by $130 million for every dollar increase per barrel of oil—as well as the dangers faced by fuel convoys in areas of combat.

The caucus intends to be a forum through which the DOD, the armed forces, the energy industry and members of Congress can exchange ideas and give defense energy security policy an additional synergistic platform that will contribute to mission success, protect lives, save money and safeguard the environment. 

The caucus began recruiting members in May.

Subcommittee Republicans Come Out Against Higher Spending on Clean Energy Technology
Republicans on the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment in June criticized proposed increases in the Department of Energy (DOE) fiscal year 2012 budget, with the subcommittee chairman expressing concerns over “indications of wasteful, duplicative and inappropriate spending.”

The DOE funds a range of clean energy technologies, including energy efficiency and nuclear energy, but it is also a major source of funding for projects in marine and hydrokinetic technology development. For example, DOE funds have helped establish two national marine renewable energy centers, created a national wave energy database and funded several wave and tidal technology projects.

The committee chairman, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), said cutting the funding would help the U.S. grow by “unleashing its entrepreneurial spirit.” He added that “the best way to put American back to work is to get the government out of the private sector’s way.”

Ranking member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who was in support of the DOD funding, said the clean energy programs “lay the groundwork for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.”

A 2009 National Research Council report found energy efficiency technologies that exist today or that are likely to be developed in the near future could lower U.S. energy use 17 to 20 percent by 2020, and 25 to 31 percent by 2030.


House Science Committee Debates NOAA Climate Service
The debate over having NOAA create a climate service was split on party lines in a June hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, with the members in the Republican majority objecting to the proposal and Democrats voicing their support.

In its proposed budget request, NOAA plans to reorganize the agency to create a climate service, spending $346 million in fiscal year 2012.

The climate service would provide a “single point of contact in NOAA to provide credible, useful and timely information products,” said Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator and under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. The service would also be of importance to the U.S. Navy, as it would help them anticipate threats and changes in national security, said Robert Winokur, deputy oceanographer for the Navy.

Committee Chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) said he objected to the proposal because it would transfer resources from fundamental science to “mission-oriented research and service-driven products.”

Democrats on the committee cited climate modeling results that suggest the extreme weather events seen in 2011 could become more common as one of the reasons to create the climate service.

“From the tornados in the South, drought and fires in the West and flooding in the Midwest, regardless of their relation to climate change, we have seen in recent months how even isolated instances of these phenomena can devastate economies,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), the ranking member on the committee.



2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2011:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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