environment

Florida Delegation Playing Hardball to Extend Offshore Drilling Moratorium
Sunshine State Democrats and Republicans may target NDAA

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., says he doesn’t see “any light between Republicans and Democrats” on the issue of offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Emboldened by a Defense Department report that expressed worries about unfettered offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s House delegation is preparing to throw its weight around to win a multiyear extension of a moratorium off its coasts.

The bipartisan commitment from the third largest congressional delegation, reached last week, may affect the $708.1 billion defense authorization bill that is being considered by the Rules Committee Monday and Tuesday ahead of a vote as soon as Wednesday.

Podcast: Potential Hiccups to the Interior-Environment Spending Bill
CQ Budget, Episode 61

EPA Director Scott Pruitt arrives April 26, 2018 to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee on his agency's fiscal 2019 budget.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Opinion: As Hurricane Season Approaches, It’s Time to Fix Disaster Funding
Our federal government should stop treating natural disasters as surprises

A school bus crosses a makeshift bridge for vehicles in Morovis, Puerto Rico, in December near where the original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Maria flooding. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is just over ten days away. As the nation continues to grapple with the emotional and economic scars of last year’s natural disasters, it is hard to fathom the possibility of a new spate of storms. And while we can’t predict the extent of trauma that awaits us in 2018, one thing is for sure — we are not prepared.

Last year, the United States saw 16 weather-related disasters that each exceeded $1 billion in costs and damages. Total costs of disaster recovery for the year are expected to surpass $300 billion.

EPA’s Pruitt Faces Bipartisan Criticism at Senate Spending Panel
Discussion of agency’s budget takes back seat to scandals

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt faced some hard questions when he appeared before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced a bipartisan lashing at a Senate Interior-Environment Appropriation Subcommittee hearing where agency scandals largely eclipsed discussion of the fiscal 2019 budget.

“I am concerned that many of the important policy efforts that you are engaged in are being overshadowed because of a series of issues related to you and your management of the agency,” Subcommittee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said as she kicked off a hearing on the EPA’s fiscal 2019 budget.

Yucca Mountain’s Lone Ranger Finally Corrals House Attention
Nuclear waste bill passes easily in House, faces roadblocks in Senate

Rep. John Shimkus says his aggressive questioning of Obama-era energy officials reflected his “righteous anger.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Visiting Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011 was like walking through a ghost town, Rep. John Shimkus recalled in an interview this week.

It was the year after the Obama administration surrendered to fervent local opposition and halted work by the Department of Energy to prepare the site to store the nation’s commercial nuclear waste, even though Congress designated it for that purpose in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Frozen, Canned Fruit Could Become Norm for Fresh Produce Program
Measure to ease restrictions on processed goods included in House farm bill

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, is championing a proposal in the new House farm bill that would include frozen and canned fruit in the federal Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the House GOP wrestles with whether to overhaul the food stamp program and tie it to work in the new farm bill that passed the Agriculture Committee in April, other small changes to the previous law stand out that could markedly affect longstanding federal nutrition programs.

Some lawmakers want to add frozen, canned, pureed and dried produce to the menus of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for schoolchildren.

Bipartisan Support for Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Bill — Except in Nevada
State’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments, but hardly any reached the floor

Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., says “people are ready to do something” on a bill that would pave the way for storing nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will take up legislation this week that would help restart the stalled process for making Nevada’s Yucca Mountain a central repository for commercial nuclear waste. After years of false starts and misses, the bill is moving with bipartisan support.

In Nevada, however, there is bipartisan opposition to the Yucca project, and the state’s congressional delegation prepared a series of amendments meant to ensure that the House would consider key safety provisions for the project, which is located about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas and adjacent to the land where the government tested nuclear weapons.

Podcast: New Climate Change Threats Alarm Scientists
CQ on Congress, Episode 99

A catfish on the shore of Lake Erie near North Toledo, Ohio, in 2017. (Andy Morrison/The Blade via AP)

A CQ Magazine special report this week examines alarming new consequences of climate change, such as beetles killing trees, coral reef die-offs and food losing nutritional value. Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists and CQ reporter Elvina Nawaguna explain the threats.

GAO: Pruitt’s Pricey Privacy Booth Violated Federal Law
Monday report states funds were not legally available

A staffer exits the Senate subway on April 11 with a poster detailing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s ethics issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The EPA violated federal law when it paid more than $43,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt without first notifying congressional appropriators, the Government Accountability Office said.

The agency violated the law by using more than $5,000 of fiscal 2017 appropriated funds for an unintended purpose without giving lawmakers advance notice, GAO investigators wrote in a report released Monday.

EPA Pesticide Approval Without Endangered Species Review in Farm Bill
Environmental groups describe provision as an ‘unprecedented attack’

A provision in the 2018 farm bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without reviews aimed at protecting endangered species. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

A provision in the 2018 farm bill would allow the EPA to approve pesticides without undertaking reviews now required to protect endangered species.

Environmental groups say the provision is an “unprecedented” attack that could have lasting ramifications for ecosystems across the nation.