As business owners, we are constantly challenged to find the right balance on environmental issues. We realize that having a clean environment requires a long-term commitment, yet we also know our success in business inherently is based on making it through the short-term. We want government to enact reasonable protections, yet we also fear too much regulation and too burdensome a cost.
When we weigh these considerations, though, we still emerge with a clear consensus: leaving a clean environment for future generations is not only our ethical responsibility, but also makes good business sense. It is an investment in healthier workers and in resources to sustain us through the next century.
During this last session, concerned citizens and business owners watched with dismay as many in Congress tried to turn back the clock on the environmental gains of the last few decades. These attacks were unrelenting: rolling back safe drinking water and clean air protections, easing enforcement against polluters, limiting citizens' right to know what toxins are in their community, and slashing the budget and undermining the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Reasonable Regulatory Reform (yes)
The Glenn-Chafee amendment (to S. 343), was a balanced, bi-partisan effort to ease regulatory burdens while still protecting those environmental standards that have improved the quality of water, air, health and safety. The measure was an alternative to a more extreme bill. Though a similar version of Glenn-Chafee passed unanimously in committee, by the time it reached the floor, partisanship won out and the measure failed, 48-52 (7/18/95).
Weakening the Community Right-to-Know Act (no)
The Community Right-to-Know Act requires that companies list their release levels of certain chemicals in the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). Since the program, environmental release levels of these chemicals have dropped 40 percent. Sen. Dole tried to weaken the program and successfully killed an amendment by Sen. Lautenberg (to S. 343) that attempted to save it. The measure passed, 50-48 (7/13/95)
HOUSE VOTESCostly Regulatory Reform (no)
We generally applaud efforts to ease regulatory burdens on business. But sometimes these reforms go so far as to endanger our citizen's health and safety. A case in point is an amendment by Rep. Barton (to H.R. 1022) that could have forced the government to defend itself against costly lawsuits or else abandon many important existing regulations. The measure failed, 206-220. (2/28/95)
Undermining the Environmental Protection Agency (no)
When House leaders proposed drastically weakening the authority of the EPA, a group of moderate Republicans joined Democrats in protesting that these efforts had gone too far. A bi-partisan amendment by Reps. Stokes and Boehlert would have removed provisions (to H.R. 2099) to limit the EPA's ability to regulate industrial emissions, raw sewage overflows, arsenic and radon in drinking water and cancer-causing substances in processed foods. The amendment passed initially, but three days later, a second vote was held and the effort failed, 210-210. (7/31/95).
Weakening the Clean Water Act (no)
This measure (H.R. 961) by Rep. Shuster will relax or waive federal water pollution control regulations, weaken treatment requirements for toxic pollution and subject public health protections to bureaucratic and costly analyses. The measure passed, 240-185 (5/16/95).