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Sheldon Whitehouse on Environment

Democratic Jr Senator, previously attorney general


Protect our public wetlands from development

Sheldon Whitehouse is a proven and passionate fighter to protect our environment. Sheldon argued before the US Supreme Court to protect our public wetlands from development, and sued to block Bush administration efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act. He led the investigation into a devastating oil spill in Narragansett Bay, and made sure the fine- he largest in the state’s history-was used for conservation. As. Senator, he’ll protect our wild spaces from oil exploration.
Source: 2006 Senate campaign website, www.whitehouseforsenate.com , Jul 27, 2006

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.

Whitehouse says, "Whitehouse (D-RI)"

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

Grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act.

Whitehouse 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

    Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements.

    Whitehouse 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

    Regulate all dog breeders down to kennels of 50 dogs.

    Whitehouse 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

    Establish an International Conservation Strategy.

    Whitehouse co-sponsored Global Conservation Act

    Requires a report to Congress on existing US international conservation policies and programs to determine the extent to which such programs are:

    Source: H6038/S3356 12-HR6038 on Jun 27, 2012

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

    Whitehouse 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

    Sponsored enforcing against illegal ocean fishing.

    Whitehouse co-sponsored International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act

    Congressional Summary:

    Proponent's argument for bill:(by Mission Blue): Recognizing the growing threat posed by foreign illegal fishing, the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act would safeguard U.S. ports, strengthen enforcement, and protect American fishing interests. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing spans the globe, threatening legitimate fishing operations, undermining sustainable fisheries management, and stealing a vital resource from needy communities and the world economy. Criminal fishing worldwide is estimated to take $10 billion to $23.5 billion worth of seafood annually, or 11 million to 26 million tons of fish--three to six times more fish than the entire U.S. commercial fishing industry catches legally every year.

    Source: S.269 / H.R. 69 13-S269 on Feb 11, 2013

    Sponsored matching grants for wetlands conservation projects.

    Whitehouse co-sponsored North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (NAWCA)

    Congressional Summary: Extends through 2017 the allocations to carry out approved wetlands conservation projects.

    Proponent's argument for bill:(US Fish and Wildlife Service statement on NAWCA): The North American Wetlands Conservation Act of 1989 provides matching grants to carry out wetlands conservation projects in the US, Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands-associated migratory birds and other wildlife. The Standard Grants Program supports projects that involve long-term protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats. The Small Grants Program supports the same type of projects but project activities are usually smaller in scope, [under] $75,000.

    Opponent's argument against bill: (Heritage Foundation 2008 statement on wetlands enforcement): The 2006 Supreme Court ruling in Rapanos v. US restricts the EPA from setting a strict and expansive definition on what classifies as a wetland and what can and can't be regulated. The EPA defines wetlands as "including swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas", but it is more complicated than that. For instance, in the Rapanos case, Rapanos' land was 20 miles away from navigable water, but under the EPA's unrestrained definition, the term "navigable water" was also broadly defined. Having such an expansive definition would allow the EPA to run wild with environmental regulation. A less expansive definition may beget more uncertainty as to how the EPA should regulate wetlands, but it will also lead to more careful deliberation rather than unwarranted regulations.

    Source: S.741 / H.R.2208 13-S741 on Apr 16, 2013

    Other candidates on Environment: Sheldon Whitehouse on other issues:
    RI Gubernatorial:
    Donald Carcieri
    Lincoln Chafee
    RI Senatorial:
    Jack Reed

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    Page last updated: Dec 27, 2013