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Charles Schumer on Environment

Democratic Sr Senator (NY)


Relax restrictions on over-fishing to help fishermen

Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Frank Pallone have introduced a bill called The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act. "Flexibility" means bending to the will of fishermen who want to keep vacuuming up depleted fish populations before they have a chance to recover.

The bill would poke holes in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the basic law governing fishing in federal waters. The act imposes ambitious timetables for rebuilding fish stocks and gives scientists a say in setting limits.

The bill would allow the government to consider the economic consequences of fishing restrictions, and prolong the deadlines for rebuilding fish stocks. But the fluke fishery--to name one of many--has not yet been rebuilt. The point of Magnuson-Stevens was to give impartial scientists, not self-interested fishermen, a greater say in deciding how many fish to take from the sea. The health of the oceans has never benefited from putting short-term profits ahead of long-term, sustainable fishing.

Source: New York Times Op-Ed on fishing bill , Jun 12, 2009

Voted YES on protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Whitehouse Amdt. No. 803 to S.Amdt. 799 to S. 601 (Water Resources Development Act of 2013): To create the National Endowment for the Oceans to promote the protection and conservation of United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.

MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.

Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.

Schumer says, "Schumer (D-NY)"

Reference: National Endowment for the Oceans; Bill S.Amdt. 803 ; vote number 13-SV116 on May 8, 2013

Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill; Bill H.R. 3435 ; vote number 2009-S270 on Aug 6, 2009

Voted NO on prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land.

To prohibit the involuntary acquisition of farmland & grazing land by government for parks, open space, or similar purposes. Exceptions include takings for use by:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.

CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.

HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.

Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:

"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."

Reference: Craig Amendment to Farm Bill Extension Act; Bill S.Amdt. 3640 to H.R. 2419 ; vote number 2007-429 on Dec 13, 2007

Voted YES on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations.

A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 15, 2005, relating to the removal of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units from the list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule:
Reference: EPA's Clean Air Mercury Rule; Bill S J Res 20 ; vote number 2005-225 on Sep 13, 2005

Voted NO on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.

Vote to confirm the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. [Ms. Norton generally favors conservative or libertarian stances on the environment.]
Reference: Bill Confirmation vote ; vote number 2001-6 on Jan 30, 2001

Voted NO on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat.

The Bryan Amdt (D-NV) offered an amendment to raise funding levels for Forest Service road maintenance and wildlife and fisheries habitat management programs. Senator Craig (R-ID) motioned to table this amendment. [A YES vote is considered pro-business].
Status: Table Motion Agreed to Y)54; N)43; NV)3
Reference: Motion to table Bryan Amdt. #1588; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-272 on Sep 14, 1999

Remove PCBs from Hudson River by dredging 200 miles.

Schumer signed a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman:

Dear Administrator Whitman:

We would like to convey our strong support for EPA’s proposal to remove sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the “hot spots” in the upper Hudson River. This clean-up plan is a crucial first step towards restoring the Hudson’s tremendous social, ecological, and economic value for the people of NY and NJ.

The Hudson River has been designated as an American Heritage River. Unfortunately, since 1983, 200 miles of the Hudson have also been designated as a Superfund site due to the damage caused by the estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs released by General Electric Company.

PCBs pose a serious threat to public health; they are probable human carcinogens and are known to cause neurological, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. Since 1976, because of PCB contamination, women of childbearing age and children [have been advised] not to eat any fish from any location along the Hudson. Unfortunately, low-income and subsistence fishermen and their families continue to consume fish contaminated with PCBs.

This contamination also adversely impacts longstanding commercial, recreational, and cultural activities on the Hudson River. For example, the commercial striped bass fishery was once a $40 million a year industry. However, due to PCB contamination, the state closed the fishery in 1976, all but ending a way of life along the river.

Environmental dredging in the Hudson will allow future dredging to ensure commercial craft continue to ply the waters of the upper Hudson River, and reduce the adverse affects of PCBs on the aquatic ecosystem. This means EPA’s remediation plan is a critical first step in reducing threats to public health, reviving local economies, reopening recreational opportunities and reinvigorating cultural ties along the river.

Source: Letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman 01-EPA1 on Apr 6, 2001

Rated 95% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes.

Schumer scores 95% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003

EPA must do better on mercury clean-up.

Schumer signed a letter from 45 Senators to EPA

To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPA’s current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.

Source: Letter from 45 Senators to EPA 04-SEN1 on Apr 1, 2004

Sponsored bill for commission to examine Katrina response.

Schumer introduced establishing commission to examine Katrina response

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To establish a congressional commission to examine the Federal, State, and local response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Region, especially in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath, and make immediate corrective measures to improve such responses in the future.

EXCERPTS OF AMENDMENT:

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Rollcall vote #229; lost 44-54.

Source: Establishment of Katrina Commission (S.AMDT.1660 to HR.2862) 05-SP1660 on Sep 8, 2005

Grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act.

Schumer co-sponsored grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act

Beach Protection Act of 2008 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (popularly known as the Clean Water Act) to include among eligible grant activities the development and implementation of programs for source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address the identified sources of beach water pollution. Requires grant recipients to identify:

  1. the use of a rapid testing method;
  2. measures for communication within 24 hours of the results of a water sample concerning pollutants to specified officials with authority to require the prevention or treatment of the sources of beach water pollution;
  3. measures to develop and implement a beach water pollution source identification and tracking program for the coastal recreation waters that are not meeting applicable water quality standards for pathogens; and
  4. a publicly accessible and searchable global information system database with information updated within 24 hours of its availability, organized by beach and with defined standards, sampling plan, monitoring protocols, sampling results, and number and cause of beach closing and advisory days.
  5. Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.R.2537, S.1506. Senate Reports: 110-414.
    Source: Beach Protection Act (S.2844) 08-S2844 on Apr 10, 2008

    Inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources.

    Schumer co-sponsored inter-state compact for Great Lakes water resources

    A joint resolution expressing the approval of Congress to an inter-state compact regarding water resources. In the Great Lakes--St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact the Congress finds that:

    Source: Great Lakes Water Resources Compact (S.J.RES.45) 08-SJR45 on Jul 23, 2008

    Celebrate the recovery of the bald eagle.

    Schumer co-sponsored celebrating the recovery of the bald eagle

    A resolution designating June 20, 2008, as "American Eagle Day", and celebrating the recovery and restoration of the bald eagle, the national symbol of the United States.

    Source: x (S.RES.583) 08-SR583 on Jun 4, 2008

    Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.

    Schumer signed H.R.1831 & S.812

    Amends the Internal Revenue Code to make permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions by individuals and corporations of real property interests for conservation purposes. Known in the Senate as the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2009.

    Source: Conservation Easement Incentive Act 09-HR1831 on Mar 31, 2009

    Sponsored allowing longer than 10 years to rebuild depleted fisheries.

    Schumer sponsored Flexibility and Access in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act

    Congressional Summary:

    Co-sponsor's explanation: (Rep. Walter B. Jones, Dec. 16, 2011): H.R. 3061 would allow the 10-year time period for rebuilding fisheries to be extended under certain common-sense circumstances. In allowing such flexibility, the bill would provide for timely restoration of healthy fisheries while also preventing fishermen from being put out of business because of the rigid, arbitrary timelines contained in the Magnuson Act.

    Opponents' explanation Pew Environmental Group, April 7, 2009, www.endoverfishing.org): This bill is designed to weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the nation's primary law governing management of US ocean fish. This bill would:

    Source: H3061/S632 11-H3061 on Sep 21, 2011

    Regulate all dog breeders down to kennels of 50 dogs.

    Schumer co-sponsored PUPS: Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act

    Congressional Summary:Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and sells more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer.

    Promulgates requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by high volume retail breeders, including requiring daily access to exercise that allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping.

    Opponent's Comments (GSDCA, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America):In the past, legislation has excluded home/hobby breeders. This bill would, for the first time, require home/hobby breeders to follow the strict USDA requirements, such as engineering standards designed for large commercial kennels and not homes. Such regulations would exceedingly difficult to meet in a home/residential breeding environment. If passed, PUPS would disastrously reduce purposely-bred pups for the public.

    There is nothing in this bill that changes the status of already known substandard kennel violators. There is no increase in funding for additional inspectors, nor is increased inspection evaluation education included.

    Dogs purposely bred for showing, trialing or other events often are not bred for several years due to many different reasons. Some of these dogs may never be bred, yet are included in the count.

    Working kennels maintain a large dog population while they are evaluating dogs; if the dogs do not work out for the purpose for which they were intended, they are often sold as pets. This could bring those working/training kennels under USDA regulations.

    Source: HR835/S707 11-S0707 on Feb 28, 2011

    Rated 80% by HSLF, indicating a pro-animal welfare voting record.

    Schumer scores 80% by the Humane Society on animal rights issues

    112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.

    The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.

    Source: HSLF website 12-HumaneS on Jan 13, 2012

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    Page last updated: Dec 21, 2013