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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Clean Water Issues in the 107th Congress: An Overview
Key water quality issues that may face the 107th Congress include: actions to implement existing provisions of the Clean Water Act, whether additional steps are necessary to achieve overall goals of the Act, and the appropriate federal role in guiding and paying for clean water activities. This Act is the principal law that deals with polluting activity in the nation’s lakes, rivers, and coastal waters and authorizes funds to aid construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants. Legislative prospects for comprehensively amending it have been stalled over whether and exactly how to change the law. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs2041/
San Diego Wastewater Treatment: Current Issues
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Phosphorus Mitigation in the Everglades
This report discusses the FY2004 appropriations provisions that condition federal funding for Everglades restoration on compliance with water quality standards, provides a side-by-side analysis of pending appropriations legislation, and provides background and a timeline of efforts to address Everglades phosphorus pollution (from Summary). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs7374/
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: Program Overview and Issues
In the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996 (P.L. 104-182), Congress authorized a drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF) program to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to protect public health. Under the program, states receive capitalization grants to make loans to water systems for drinking water projects and certain other SDWA activities. Since the program was first funded in FY1997, Congress has provided $7.8 billion, including roughly $844 million for FY2005. The President has requested $850 million for FY2006. Through June 2004, the DWSRF program had provided $7.9 billion in assistance and had supported 6,500 projects. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs7773/
Water Quality: Implementing the Clean Water Act
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Animal Waste and Water Quality: EPA Regulation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
This report describes the revised environmental rules of the Clean Water Act, the background of previous Clean Water Act rules and the Clinton Administration proposal for revising these rules, and perspectives of key interest groups on the proposal and final regulations. It also identifies several issues likely to be of congressional interest as implementation of the revised rules proceeds. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9077/
Federally Supported Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Programs
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Ocean Dumping: A Time to Reappraise?
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The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues
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U.S. Disposal of Chemical Weapons in the Ocean: Background and Issues for Congress
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The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues
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U.S. Disposal of Chemical Weapons in the Ocean: Background and Issues for Congress
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Stormwater Permits: Status of EPA's Regulatory Program
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Water Quality: Implementing the Clean Water Act
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Clean Water Act and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of Pollutants
Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters that are impaired by pollution, even after application of pollution controls. For those waters, states must establish a total maximum daily load (TMDL) of pollutants to ensure that water quality standards can be attained. Implementation of this provision has been dormant until recently, when states and EPA were prodded by numerous lawsuits. The TMDL issue has become controversial, in part because of requirements and costs now facing states to implement a 25-year-old provision of the law. Congressional activity to reauthorize the Act, a possibility in the 2nd Session of the 105th Congress, could include TMDL issues, but the direction for any such action is unclear at this time. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10107/
Clean Water Action Plan: Budgetary Initiatives
In October 1997, Vice President Gore directed federal agencies to develop a Clean Water Initiative to improve and strengthen water pollution control efforts. The multiagency plan was released on Feb. 19, 1998, and identifies nearly 100 key actions. Most are existing activities, now labeled as part of the Initiative. The President's FY1999 budget requests $2.2 billion for five departments and agencies to fund implementation of the Plan. While Congress is considering appropriations bills to fund the Plan, federal agencies are beginning or accelerating activities to carry out the actions under the Plan. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10008/
Clean Water Act: Legislation Concerning Discharges from Recreational Boats
The Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to develop a regulatory response to a 2006 federal court ruling that vacated a long-standing rule that exempts discharges associated with the normal operation of vessels from permit requirements of the Clean Water Act. Concern that this ruling could require millions of recreational boaters to obtain permits has led to the introduction of legislation to exempt these and other types of vessels from water quality regulation. This report discusses background to the issue; bills introduced in response, two of which were passed by Congress on July 22; and draft permits proposed by EPA on June 17. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10738/
Clean Water Act: Legislation Concerning Discharges from Recreational Boats
The Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to develop a regulatory response to a 2006 federal court ruling that vacated a long-standing rule that exempts discharges associated with the normal operation of vessels from permit requirements of the Clean Water Act. Concern that this ruling could require millions of recreational boaters to obtain permits has led to the introduction of legislation to exempt these and other types of vessels from water quality regulation. This report discusses background to the issue; bills introduced in response, two of which were passed by Congress on July 22; and draft permits proposed by EPA on June 17. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10739/
Ocean Acidification
With increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, the extent of effects on the ocean and marine resources is an increasing concern. One aspect of this issue is the ongoing process whereby seawater becomes acidified (i.e., ocean acidification) as more CO2 dissolves in it, causing hydrogen ion concentration in seawater to increase. While not yet fully understood, the ecological and economic consequences of ocean acidification could be substantial. Congress is beginning to focus attention on better understanding ocean acidification and determining how this concern might be addressed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26133/
Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations
The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). In appropriations legislation, funding for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) wastewater assistance is contained in the measure providing funds for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This report summarizes, in chronological order, congressional activity to fund items in the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account since 1987. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26111/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress
This report reviews the history and trends of oil spills in the United States; identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup; and examines the threats of future oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26249/
Federally Supported Water Supply and Wastewater Treatment Programs
This report provides background information on the types of water supply and wastewater treatment projects traditionally funded by the federal government and the several existing programs to assist communities with water supply and wastewater treatment. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26196/
Water Infrastructure Projects Designated in EPA Appropriations: Trends and Policy Implications
This report discusses appropriations for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water infrastructure programs, focusing on congressional special project designations in the account that funds these programs. While some Members of Congress, interest groups, and Administration officials are critical of these types of congressional actions, there is little indication that the practice will cease. Information on the programmatic history of EPA involvement in assisting wastewater treatment and drinking water projects also is provided in two appendixes. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29651/
Oil Spill Legislation in the 111th Congress
This report summarizes provisions of selected legislation - enacted and proposed - that address oil spill policy issues raised after the April 20, 2010, explosion and resulting oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This report focuses primarily on oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, and the liability and compensation framework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29615/
Pesticide Use and Water Quality: Are the Laws Complementary or in Conflict?
This report provides background on the conflict over interpretation and implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act. A brief discussion of the two laws is followed by a review of the major litigation of interest. EPA's efforts to clarify its policy in this area and the November 2006 rule and the 2009 federal court ruling are discussed, as well as possible options for EPA and Congress to further address the FIFRA-CWA issues. In June, EPA proposed a draft general CWA permit that it intends to finalize by April 2011 in response to the court ruling. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29658/
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and the resulting oil spill began a cascade of effects on the coastal areas of the Gulf and on the wealth of species that inhabit those areas. This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues. The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, although a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed, along with issues that may arise as response and recovery transition to restoration of the Gulf. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29596/
Tax Issues and the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Legal Analysis of Payments and Tax Relief Policy Options
This report will briefly discuss existing disaster-related tax provisions and their application to the recent Depewater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The report then provides an analysis of the tax treatment of the BP payments to the individuals and businesses impacted by the oil spill as well as various policy options for providing tax relief to oil spill victims, highlighting the circumstantial differences between previous natural disasters and the current oil spill. The report concludes with a brief summary of current legislative efforts. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29598/
Reorganization of the Minerals Management Service in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
This report provides background and context on the origins of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior (DOI). The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill refocused attention on MMS, which had previously endured management challenges. The report also discusses Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar's handling of conflicts within MMS, potential congressional options regarding MMS reorganization, historical examples of similar reorganization efforts, and information on related legislative initiatives. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29631/
Safeguarding the Nation's Drinking Water: EPA and Congressional Actions
The events of September 11, 2001, focused heightened attention on the security status of the nation's drinking water supplies and the vulnerability of this critical infrastructure sector to attack. This report reviews governmental and water utility efforts to improve drinking water security. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc31400/
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Highlighted Actions and Issues
This report highlights actions taken and issues raised as a result of the April 20, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig, and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Readers can access more extensive discussions in various CRS reports, identified at the end of this report. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc40106/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance
This report provides background information regarding oil spills in U.S. coastal waters and identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup. Based on data between 1973 and 2009, the annual number and volume of oil spills have shown declines- in some cases, dramatic declines. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc84066/
Clean Water Act Section 401: Background and Issues
Section 401 of the Clean Water Act requires that an applicant for a federal license or permit provide a certification that any discharges from the facility will comply with the Act, including water quality standard requirements. Disputes have arisen over the states' exercise of authority under Section 401. Until recently, much of the debate over the Section 401 certification issue has been between states and hydropower interests. A 1994 Supreme Court decision which upheld the states' authority in this area dismayed development and hydroelectric power interest groups. The Court revisited these issues in a 2006 ruling that unanimously upheld the states' authority to condition hydropower licenses. The dispute between states and industry groups about Section 401 authority has been a legislative issue on several occasions, but Congress has not responded by modifying the provision's scope. In addition, there has been interest in clarifying whether Section 401 certification applies to nonpoint source discharges, such as rainfall runoff, as well as point source discharges from pipes or ditches. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83833/
Water Infrastructure Financing: History of EPA Appropriations
The principal federal program to aid municipal wastewater treatment plant construction is authorized in the Clean Water Act (CWA). In appropriations legislation, funding for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) wastewater assistance is contained in the measure providing funds for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. This report summarizes, in chronological order, congressional activity to fund items in the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account since 1987. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83826/
Water Quality Issues in the 111th Congress: Oversight and Implementation
This report discusses the water quality issues. Although much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established more than 35 years ago to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc86536/
Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species
This report provides background on various approaches to ballast water management and reviews current ballast water management laws and programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87282/
Cruise Ship Pollution: Background, Laws and Regulations, and Key Issues
This report describes the several types of waste streams that cruise ships may discharge and emit. It identifies the complex body of international and domestic laws that address pollution from cruise ships. It then describes federal and state legislative activity concerning cruise ships in Alaskan waters and activities in a few other states, as well as current industry initiatives to manage cruise ship pollution. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87283/
Controversies over Redefining “Fill Material” Under the Clean Water Act
This report discusses the Clean Water Act that contains two different permitting regimes: (1) Section 402 permits (called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit program) address the discharge of most pollutants, and (2) Section 404 permits address the discharge of dredged or fill material into navigable waters of the United States at specified sites. These permit programs differ in nature and approach. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87257/
Wastewater Treatment: Overview and Background
The Clean Water Act prescribes performance levels to be attained by municipal sewage treatment plants in order to prevent the discharge of harmful wastes into surface waters. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87125/
Stormwater Permits: Status of EPA's Regulatory Program
This report discusses the regulation of stormwater drainage. Stormwater discharge systems are the pipes and sewer lines that carry rainwater or snow melt, but not domestic sanitary wastes, away from urban areas and commercial and industrial facilities. For many years the focus of the nation's water quality programs was on controlling pollutants associated with industrial process wastewaters and municipal sewage discharges. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87123/
Clean Water Act: A Summary of the Law
This report presents a summary of the law, describing the essence of the statute without discussing its implementation. Other CRS products do discuss implementation, including CRS Report RL33800, Water Quality Issues in the 110th Congress: Oversight and Implementation, and numerous products cited in that report. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87245/
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSR): Program Overview and Issues
This report discusses the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996, which authorized a drinking water state revolving loan fund (DWSRF) program. The program was intended to help public water systems finance infrastructure projects that were needed to comply with federal drinking water regulations and to meet the Act's health objectives. It includes an overview of funding, allotments and set-asides, drinking water infrastructure needs, program issues, and legislative activity. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94206/
Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: Prevention and Cleanup
This report addresses a nationwide water pollution problem caused by leaking underground storage tanks (USTs). The report discusses key issue that state resources have not met the demands of administering the underground storage tanks (UST) leak prevention program. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94179/
Arsenic in Drinking Water: Regulatory Developments and Issues
This report discusses the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996. These amendments directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the standard for arsenic in drinking water. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94173/
Water Quality Issues in the 110th Congress: Oversight and Implementation
This report discusses issues surrounding the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972 and programs set up to meet the water quality standards that it outlined. The report focuses specifically on the legislative issues for the 110th Congress in relation to the CWA including the authorization of water infrastructure funding, regulatory protection of wetlands, and other CWA issues that may require separate oversight or legislation. It also includes a brief comparison of the expected appropriations for FY2008 and FY2009. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc94085/
Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard
This report discusses the U.S. Coast Guard's (USCG's) environmental activities, which focus on the prevention of oil spills and pollution. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98125/
Perchlorate Contamination of Drinking Water: Regulatory Issues and Legislative Actions
This report reviews perchlorate water contamination issues and developments. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98121/
Oil Spill Legislation in the 112th Congress
This report focuses primarily on oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, liability and compensation, and Gulf restoration. For the most part, the underlying statutes for these provisions are found in either the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Clean Water Act (CWA) and its amendments, or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and its amendments. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc98967/
Liability and Compensation Issues Raised by the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill
The first section of this report provides an overview of the existing liability and compensation framework as it relates to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The second section highlights many of the liability and compensation issues raised by the event. The third section discusses options for policymakers to adjust, amend, or supplement the current framework. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103145/
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the Gulf of Mexico Fishing Industry
This report summarizes information related to damages caused by the Deepwater oil spill to Gulf fisheries and efforts to mitigate these damages. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103126/
Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species
This report provides background on various approaches to ballast water management and reviews current ballast water management laws and programs. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc103169/