February 27, 2003
Endangered Subject? Environmental Protection in the 108th Congress
Under the shadow of the continued war on terror, potential for military conflict in Iraq and struggling economy, the 108th Congress was sworn in on January 7, 2003 with Republicans holding a 24 seat majority in the House and narrow 2 seat majority in the Senate. What is the potential for environmental legislation in this Congress? Will serious consideration of environmental legislation be out-competed by a focus on “more pressing issues?” On the other hand, will pressing issues such as the instability in oil-rich countries including Venezuela force Congress to focus on environmental concerns such as our nation’s energy supply? Will Bush’s environmental agenda prevail or is the Republican majority too slim?
On February 27, 2003, ELI and the DC Bar Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section co-sponsored an Associate seminar to explore these questions. Congressman Christopher Shays (Republican, 4th District, Connecticut) provided a keynote address on his views for potential environmental legislative challenges and victories over the next two years. A panel of Senate and House Committee staff responded to these remarks and discussed what they envision as the major pieces of environmental legislation and their potential for passage in the 108th Congress. The panel moderated by Bob Van Heuvelen, (Chief of Staff, Senator Kent Conrad) included, Dick Frandsen (Counsel, Committee on Energy and Commerce, US House), Chris Miller (Counsel for Air and Climate, Committee on Environment and Public Works, US Senate), Andy Wheeler (Staff Director, Environmental and Public Works, US Senate) and Bob Meyers (Counsel, Committee Energy and Commerce, US House).