01/1999 News Briefs

Published January 1, 1999

Montana Lobbying Ban Rejected by Federal Judge

A Montana statute banning lobbying by for-profit companies was struck down by a federal court judge who deemed it a violation of companies’ First Amendment right of free speech.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Lovell’s law came too late, however, to affect the outcome of a November 3 ballot measure expected to have a significant impact on Montana’s nearly 4,000 for-profit mining companies.

The lobbying ban was challenged in court by the Northwest Mining Association (NWMA) and Montana Chamber of Commerce. The ban had prevented the NWMA from lobbying against Initiative-137, a voter initiative that would ban the future use of cyanide in gold mining and other applications in the state. The initiative was approved by 52 percent of Montana voters on November 3.

Pennsylvania, Others Oppose New EPA Funding Formula

A proposed revision to the Environmental Protection Agency’s formula for distributing water pollution control funds would result in significant losses to 19 states, mostly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Pennsylvania alone stands to lose up to $900,000 per year, roughly 30 percent of its annual EPA allocation for such programs as wastewater facility inspection, groundwater protection, and stream and lake assessments.

In a letter addressed to Chuck Fox, acting EPA assistant administrator for water, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter and nine of his colleagues called EPA’s proposed formula revision “unacceptable.” The senators also criticized as “exclusive and restrictive” the process EPA used to develop the revisions.

Department of Energy, Lockheed to Pay Half-million Dollar Fine

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has imposed a fine of $424,500 against the U.S. Department of Energy and Lockheed Martin Energy Systems Inc. for improperly disposing hazardous waste. The fine is the highest ever imposed against the DOE in Tennessee.

Lockheed Martin was found to have improperly labeled drums of hazardous incinerator ash, which DOE improperly accepted for disposal at its Oak Ridge landfill. Officials at the Department of Environment and Conservation determined that cleaning up the Oak Ridge landfill would likely cause even more environmental damage, and gave Lockheed Martin and DOE the option of spending most of the fine money on cleaning up a landfill in Anderson County.

Clinton Administration Takes Aim at Livestock Waste

The Clinton administration has announced a “national strategy” for managing livestock waste by asserting Clean Water Act authority over the nation’s pig, cattle, and poultry farms. The plan would subject some 450,000 animal-feeding operations in the U.S. to Clean Water Act permitting requirements.

The plan was developed by EPA and the Department of Agriculture. According to EPA, a major source of water quality degradation in rivers and streams is large livestock farms that produce many of the 7.6 billion chickens and 161 million cows and hogs raised in the U.S. annually. Farm animals create 1.4 billion tons of manure every year.

The proposal would require so-called “factory farms” to file detailed plans in 2003 for managing animal waste; smaller farms would be required to start filing plans in 2008. Livestock farmers would be required to change the diet of animals where possible to reduce the amount of nutrients in manure, and to implement improved practices to handle the waste and prevent leaks.

The plan has many detractors, from environmentalists who fear the measure does not go far enough to farmers who fear financial hardships because of the tighter regulation.

Senate Bill Would Give Credit for Early Emission Reductions

Two Beltway heavyweights promised to push legislation in Congress next year that would reward companies for voluntarily cutting greenhouse gas emissions ahead of regulatory mandates in the Kyoto climate change treaty.

Sen. John Chafee (R-Rhode Island) and EPA Administrator Carol Browner in separate speeches before the National Association of Manufacturers annual meeting said that S. 2617–derisively referred to as “Kyoto Lite” by opponents–provides needed assurance to companies that their good-faith reductions in carbon dioxide now will be honored if the controversial Kyoto climate change treaty is ratified by the U.S. Senate in the future. The bill, jointly sponsored by Chafee and Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) and Connie Mack (R-Florida), faces strong opposition from businesses that doubt the need for Kyoto-style emission reductions, and because implementation would fall under the Clean Air Act, giving EPA oversight control–a daunting prospect for many firms.