1982 Congress: Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and More

Learn about the issues up for debate in Congress in 1982, including legislation affecting the National Cancer Institute, Delaney Clause and more.

| May/June 1982

There's a lot of legislation up for discussion in the ninety-seventh Congress on issues of importance to MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers. Now's the time to become informed and make your voice heard.

A number of major decisions affecting this nation's health, environment and energy policies are likely to be made during the second half of 1982. And, unfortunately, in many instances the general public doesn't even hear about such legislation until after the votes are cast. However, though it's nearly impossible to predict exactly what Congress will be debating at any given moment, one of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' staffers has rounded up information on some of the issues that will be on the minds of the people on Capitol Hill during the current session.

We hope that the following list will be of interest to you . . . and that you'll take the time to voice your opinions on these issues to your elected representatives.

Environmental Bills in Congress

• The Clean Air Act, which is up for re-authorization, is likely to be one of the most important pieces of legislation acted upon this year. Not much progress had been made at the time of this writing, but several different bills have been introduced ... including one, sponsored by Michigan Democrat Bob Traxler (HR 4400), that would establish carbon monoxide standards for automobiles at 7 grams per vehicle mile (GPM) instead of the current 3.4 GPM. Another (bipartisan) bill, which was backed by the White House in mid-December, proposes an easing of auto emission limits (but doesn't say by how much) and would also extend the deadlines for meeting federal clean air standards to 1993 (from the current 1982 and 1987 target dates). This bill (HR 5252) is cosponsored by John D. Dingell, another Michigan Democrat who — it can be assumed — would like to accommodate the automobile industry's desire for major changes in the law.

• Several key environmental laws included in the Clean Water Act will be up for review this year as well. The authorization to fund many of the act's programs expires in September (except for those concerning sewer grants, which were reauthorized in 1981). In particular, a review of Section 404 — which states that federal permits are required for any dredging in wetland areas — can be expected to result in heated debate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeks to redefine "wetlands" to allow more builders to develop land without having to obtain federal permits. There is also still some question as to whether the Corps or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should issue such permits.

• Morris Udall, a Democrat from Arizona, has submitted a bill (HR 3208) that would increase appropriations to $450 million — from the present allocation of $100 million — for structural improvements to 48 federal dams in the western U.S. Udall states that the modifications are needed because the dams were built before current natural disaster prediction techniques were developed . . . and none of the dams would, at present, be capable of withstanding a major flood or earthquake.

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