McCrory Leads Broad Energy and Environment Policy Debate
By Kevin McCarty
Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory led members of the Conference’s Energy and Environment Committee through several policy debates on issues ranging from new policies calling for a ban on the fuel additive, MTBE, to new public/private strategies of "share responsibility" for waste reduction.
The Energy and Environment Committee, which is chaired by McCrory, met June 10 to consider 12 proposed policy statements, recommending ten new policy statements to the full membership for consideration at its June 12th Business Meeting. The membership approved the panel’s recommendations and also adopted 78-36 a global warming policy statement, which was a revised version of a proposal that was tabled for further study during Committee action.
The Committee continued its recent emphasis on policies pertaining to the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields and the challenges of clean air rules, recommending action on three brownfield-related policies and three clean air-related policies. McCrory sponsored a brownfields resolution that conveys the Conference’s support for a bipartisan Senate proposal that was recently developed by Senators Lincoln Chafee (RI), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Robert Smith (NH) and Max Baucus (MT), the top leadership of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This resolution calls on the Senate to act expeditiously on this proposal (S. 2700) in order to ensure final Congressional action this year on brownfields cleanup and redevelopment legislation. The bipartisan bill, the statement emphasizes, addresses the top concerns of mayors, such as direct funding to cities for site assessments and cleanups, liability reforms to protect innocent parties and clarification of the respective roles of U.S. EPA and the states over brownfield sites.
The Committee approved a statement calling for an increased role by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in assisting communities in assessing and cleaning up brownfields. A policy statement offered by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, which calls for action on tax law changes to qualify more areas of the nation for "expensing" (i.e. to make deductible) of brownfields cleanup costs, was also approved.
On clean air, the Committee recommended banning the future use of MTBE (the fuel additive now used in areas with air problems), increased federal commitments to alternative fuel development and expanded EPA policy efforts to provide "air credits" for local initiatives that promote brownfield, in-fill and transit-oriented development.
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, along with four other mayors, sponsored a policy statement further clarifying the Conference’s position on "shared responsibility" for solid waste, urging businesses and mayors to collaborate on new practices to reduce waste materials and to give more consideration to the full life cycle of products in the marketplace.
On water issues, the Committee adopted statements calling for a broader commitment of federal resources to water and wastewater infrastructure needs and setting forth the Conference’s position on EPA’s pending rules on the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. Finally, the Committee acted on a resolution urging Congress and the states to emphasize the use of renewable resources in any electric restructuring legislation and to ensure that waste-to-energy facilities are included in the definition of renewable resources.