September 20, 2010

House Passes Rural Energy Efficiency Bill

The House passed the Rural Energy Savings Program, HR 4785, on Sept. 16 by a vote of 240-172.  The bill establishes a Department of Agriculture program to loan money to homeowners in rural communities for energy efficiency upgrades.  The loans would be administered by rural cooperatives and available to homeowners for a variety of upgrades including installation of new windows, insulation improvements, and energy efficient water heaters.  Loans would be repaid by charges added onto consumers’ electric bills.  

WIN Pushing Lame Duck Strategy for State Revolving Fund Program

The Water Infrastructure Network, of which ACWA is a member, sent out a letter on Aug. 31 urging Congress to take up S. 1005, the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, in the lame duck session after the November election. S. 1005 reauthorizes the Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the State Drinking Water Act SRF, at a $38 billion funding level.

S. 1005, which is authored by Senators Boxer, Inhofe, Cardin and Crapo, passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in July 2009 on a 17-2 vote. The bill has bipartisan support and is also supported by ACWA.

Federal Appropriations Grind to a Halt

With Congress set to recess by Sept. 30 in order to spend time campaigning for the upcoming elections, the appropriations process has ground to a halt. Whether or not the 13 appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government can be passed after the elections in a lame duck session remains unclear at this point.

View a chart showing the status of appropriations bills.

Congress: Pre-Election Agenda Shrinks

“Off the table until after the elections” is the most common refrain heard in Washington, DC these days. A desire for members to be out of town and in their congressional districts has forced congressional leaders to shrink their pre-election to do list. Casualties so far include a defense authorization bill, an immigration measure, food safety legislation, expiring tax cut extensions, a stem cell research proposal, a measure to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba and fiscal appropriations bills needed to fund the federal government.

ACWA Comments on EPA’s Draft Clean Water Strategy

ACWA submitted comments Sept. 17 urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote incentive-based partnerships as part of its strategy to protect and restore water quality in the nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and oceans.

Noting that significant progress has been made to address water quality concerns since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, ACWA’s comment letter calls on EPA to recognize ongoing local efforts to protect water quality and rising costs associated with increasingly stringent water quality regulations.

House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on Water Quality, Economy

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's subcommittee on water resources and the environment will hold a hearing titled "Impact of Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Development on the Nation's Water Quality, Economy and Communities" on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m. in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.