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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Marine Protected Areas: An Overview
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are generally defined as areas reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment. This report identifies a number of issues related to establishing MPAs in the United States. It begins by defining the concept and administrative actions taken to provide spatial protection in marine areas. It then considers some of the key issues and potential benefits and costs of designating additional MPAs. It concludes by considering potential areas of congressional interest for the 111th Congress. Existing federal laws related to the use of MPAs are summarized in the Appendix. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29650/
The Specialty Metal Provision and the Berry Amendment: Issues for Congress
In order to protect the U.S. industrial base during periods of adversity and war, Congress passed a set of domestic source restrictions which became known as the Berry Amendment. Specialty metal represented one of fourteen items previously covered under the Berry Amendment. Congress took action in the FY2007 National Defense Authorization Act to move the specialty metal provision from the Berry Amendmgent into a separate section of Title 10. This report examines the specialty metal provision, potential oversight issues for Congress, and options that Congress may choose to consider. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29685/
The Millennium Development Goals: The September 2010 U.N. High-level Meeting
This report discusses overarching trends in Millennium Development Goals (MDG) progress and lessons learned from previous and ongoing efforts to achieve them. The MDGs are a group of measurable development targets agreed to by 189 U.N. member states - including the United States - as part of the 2000 Millennium Declaration. The MDGs cover a number of issues, such as eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, combating HIV/AIDS, and promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. This report examines U.S. policy toward the MDGs and how, if at all, the Goals fit into U.S. development and foreign assistance policy. It also examines different schools of thought regarding the effectiveness of the Goals, their role in international development, and their long-term sustainability. This report addresses the MDGs as a whole; it does not assess or analyze issues pertaining to the individual Goals. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29607/
The Endangered Species Act and Private Property
If the 103rd Congress embarks upon an effort to reauthorize the Endangered Species Act (ESA), it will run into an old acquaintance: the property rights issue. As now written, the ESA has at least the potential to curtail property rights (whatever its actual impact as implemented may be). This report explores the legal repercussions of those impacts, especially whether they constitute takings of property under the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26028/
Estimates of Carbon Mitigation Potential from Agricultural and Forestry Activities
Numerous theoretical and empirical studies estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential of farm and forestry activities, and suggest that the potential for carbon uptake in agricultural soils and forest lands is much greater than current rates. Following a discussion of the estimated current emissions and carbon sequestration by the agricultural and forestry sectors, this report presents a brief overview of the available estimates from USDA and EPA carbon mitigation studies, and then discusses some of the limitations of the available data and modeling results. This report is organized into four parts, including a brief overview of the agriculture and forestry sectors within the broader climate change debate, as well as various data and information on potential for carbon storage and mitigation from farming and forestry activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26136/
Brief Summaries of Federal Animal Protection Statutes
This report contains summaries of federal animal protection statutes, listed alphabetically. It does not include treaties, although it does include statutes enacted to implement treaties. It includes statutes concerning animals that are not entirely, or not at all, animal protection statutes. For example, it includes a statute authorizing the eradication of predators, because one of the statute's purposes is to protect domestic and "game" animals; and it includes statutes to conserve fish, although their ultimate purpose may not be for the fishes' benefit. It also includes statutes that allow the disabled to use service animals, and even includes statutes aimed at acts of animal rights advocates (the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, and the Recreational Hunting Safety and Preservation Act of 1994). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26053/
Biological Diversity Treaty: Fact Sheet
As human activity continues to change and modify natural areas, widespread extinctions of plants, animals, and other types of species result. In 1992, negotiations conducted under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were completed on a comprehensive global treaty to protect biological diversity (biodiversity). In June 1993, President Clinton signed the treaty and sent it to the Senate for advice and consent. It is not pending in the Senate. The treaty entered into force on December 29, 1993. As of May 15, 1995, 118 nations had ratified the treaty. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26102/
Market-Based Environmental Management: Issues in Implementation
Increasingly, efforts to protect integral features of the natural environment that are essential to human well being face a double challenge. First, the magnitude of some conventional and emerging threats to environmental quality is growing, despite solid progress in controlling some causes. This is particularly the concern on a global scale in terms of atmospheric changes and loss of biological diversity. Second, easily-implemented uniform control methods using feasible technologies or other direct regulatory approaches are already in place for many pollution and resource management problems in the United States. Additional progress with so-called command and control policies can be expensive and disruptive, and thus counter productive to overall economic well being. This type of dilemma is common where environmental deterioration results from diffuse and complex causes inherent in technically-advanced high-consumption industrial societies such as the U.S. Solutions to these types of environmental problems are complicated by the diffuse benefits which obscures the net gains of additional controls that have concentrated and highly visible costs. Given this double bind, many policy analysts and academics have for years advocated more cost-effective and flexible approaches relying on market forces to further some environmental management objectives. Although market-based theory and practical environmental policy are still far apart, the incremental approach to environmental policymaking since the late seventies has resulted in some market-type innovations within traditional regulatory frameworks at all levels of government. The most prominent examples are the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) air emissions trading program and the recently enacted sulfur dioxide allowance trading program under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26038/
Trade and Environment: Treatment in Recent Agreements--GATT and NAFTA
This report reviews some of the concerns surrounding the environment work program and other environmental issues. It briefly describes work underway in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and current thinking underlying development of U.S. positions on trade and the environment in the GATT. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26036/
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) was agreed to in 1982, but the United States never became a signatory nation. In the 111th Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 13, 2009, acknowledged that U.S. accession to the LOS Convention would be an Obama Administration priority. This report describes provisions of the LOS Convention relating to living marine resources and discusses how these provisions comport with current U.S. marine policy. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26214/
Measuring and Monitoring Carbon in the Agricultural and Forestry Sectors
Proposals to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases often include the use of forestry and agricultural practices and lands for carbon sequestration. However, uncertainty about the accuracy of measuring carbon from these activities has led some to question this potential. Basic approaches for measuring forest and agricultural carbon include on-site measurement; indirect measurement from off-site tools; and estimation using models or inferences. Because of challenges associated with balancing the cost and accuracy of these measurement tools, any practicable system for measuring forest and agricultural carbon might require a mix of these approaches. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10802/
Disaster Tax Relief for the Midwest
The Midwestern Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2008 is intended to assist with the recovery from the severe weather that affected the Midwest during the summer of 2008. The Jobs, Energy, Families, and Disaster Relief Act of 2008 includes some similar provisions, but these are not limited to the Midwest disaster. The disaster relief in the three bills is similar to that provided to assist with the recovery from the 2005 hurricanes and the 2007 Kansas tornadoes. This report broadly discusses the disaster relief provisions in other relevant legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10785/
Energy and Mineral Issues in the FY2006 Budget Reconciliation Bill
Several resource issues that are designed to generate revenue for the federal Treasury have been proposed for the FY2006 budget reconciliation bill. The most controversial of these provisions recommended by the House Resources Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil and gas development. The House panel also approved a provision that would allow coastal states to “opt out” of the current offshore oil and gas development moratoria, increase fees for hardrock mining and patents, dispose of certain federal lands, and begin an oil shale and tar sands leasing program. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10130/
The Weatherization Assistance Program: A Fact Sheet
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Ecosystem Management Tools and Techniques: Proceedings of a CRS Workshop
The House Subcommittee on Technology, Environment, and Aviation of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (103rd Congress) requested that Congressional Research Service (CRS) hold a workshop on the tools and techniques of ecosystem management. The purposes of this workshop were to demonstrate tools and techniques used in scientific research on ecosystems and to address technological aspects of developing and administering a national policy for ecosystem management. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10004/
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and Department of Defense (DOD) Readiness Activities: Background and Current Law
This report provides a brief overview of how the Endangered Species Act (ESA)1 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)2 and their relevant regulations may apply to military training and readiness activities of the Department of Defense (DOD). Military activities may “take” protected creatures directly (e.g,. killing with ordnance during rifle, gunnery or assault drills), or might destroy habitat (e.g., artillery or bombing practices), even if these results are not the purpose of the activities. The applicability of the MBTA and ESA to military readiness activities has been controversial recently and legislation has been enacted in both the 107th and 108th Congresses on these topics. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10071/
Soil and Water Conservation Issues
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Soil and Water Conservation Issues
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Soil and Water Conservation Issues
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Soil and Water Conservation Issues
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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 109th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices
The 109th Congress is considering proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, modifying critical habitat (CH) procedures, incorporating further protection and incentives for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton Administration. This report identifies other bills that have been introduced in the 109th Congress to address specific concerns related to how the ESA is implemented and how endangered species are managed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10138/
Water Quality: Implementing the Clean Water Act
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The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 109th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices
The 109th Congress is considering proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act (ESA; P.L. 93-205, 16 U.S.C. §§1531-1543). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, modifying critical habitat (CH) procedures, incorporating further protection and incentives for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated enacting as law some ESA regulations promulgated during the Clinton Administration. This report identifies other bills that have been introduced in the 109th Congress to address specific concerns related to how the ESA is implemented and how endangered species are managed. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10137/
South Florida Ecosystem Restoration and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
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South Florida Ecosystem Restoration and the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan
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Mining on Federal Lands
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The Role of Designation of Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
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Designation of Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The agencies that implement the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regard the designation of critical habitat (CH) as providing only very limited benefits beyond those achieved through the listing of species and the avoidance of jeopardy to them. Several courts have now held that the relevant regulation and interpretation that result in this conclusion are erroneous and do not carry out the intent of Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10094/
Upper Mississippi River System: Proposals to Restore an Inland Waterway's Ecosystem
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Endangered Species: Difficult Choices
This report discusses issues debated in the 108th Congress while is considering various proposals to amend the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). Major issues in recent years have included changing the role of science in decision-making, changing the role of critical habitat, reducing conflicts with Department of Defense activities, incorporating further protection for property owners, and increasing protection of listed species, among others. In addition, many have advocated including significant changes to ESA regulations made during the Clinton Administration in the law itself. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10040/
Wildfire Protection in the 108th Congress
The 2000 and 2002 fire seasons were, by most standards, among the worst in the past 50 years. Many argue that the threat of severe wildfires has grown in recent years because of unnaturally high fuel loads (e.g., dense undergrowth and dead trees), raising concerns about damage to property and homes in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) — forests near or surrounding homes. Debates about fire control and protection, including funding and fuel treatments (e.g., thinning and prescribed burning), have focused on national forests and other federal lands, but nonfederal lands are also at risk. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs10033/
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Army Corps of Engineers Authorization Issues in the 109th Congress
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Upper Mississippi River - Illinois Waterway Navigation Expansion: An Agricultural Transportation and Environmental Context
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U.S. Agricultural Biotechnology in Global Markets: An Introduction
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The Wetlands Coverage of the Clean Water Act is Revisited by the Supreme Court: Rapanos and Carabell
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The Endangered Species Act: A Primer
The Endangered Species Act (ESA)1 receives significant congressional attention. The associated power and reach of its comprehensive protection for species identified as endangered or threatened with extinction has ignited concern that there be appropriate bounds on this power. The following discussion provides an overview and background on the various features of the ESA that contribute to its stature and yet spark an ongoing debate over its implementation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9678/
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Army Corps of Engineers Authorization Issues in the 109th Congress
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Upper Mississippi River - Illinois Waterway Navigation Expansion: An Agricultural Transportation and Environmental Context
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U.S. Agricultural Biotechnology in Global Markets: An Introduction
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The Wetlands Coverage of the Clean Water Act is Revisited by the Supreme Court: Rapanos and Carabell
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The Endangered Species Act: A Primer
The Endangered Species Act (ESA)1 receives significant congressional attention. The associated power and reach of its comprehensive protection for species identified as endangered or threatened with extinction has ignited concern that there be appropriate bounds on this power. The following discussion provides an overview and background on the various features of the ESA that contribute to its stature and yet spark an ongoing debate over its implementation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9669/
The Endangered Species Act and "Sound Science"
This report provides a context for evaluating legislative proposals through examples of how science has been used in selected cases, a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9938/
Mercury Emissions from Electric Power Plants: States are Setting Stricter Limits
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Land and Water Conservation Fund: Overview, Funding History, and Current Issues
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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR): Controversies in the 109th Congress
This report discusses the ongoing debate about whether or not to approve energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Current law forbids energy leasing in the Refuge. This report addresses several legislative options on the issue, as well as policymakers' arguments for and against development, especially in the wake of increasing terrorism since 2000-2001. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9459/
Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): Army Corps of Engineers Authorization Issues
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Agricultural Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues
Since the first genetically engineered (GE) crops (also called GM [genetically modified] crops, or GMOs, genetically modified organisms) became commercially available in the mid-1990s, U.S. soybean, cotton, and corn farmers have rapidly adopted them. As adoption has spread, there have been policy debates over the costs and benefits of GE products. Issues include the impacts of GE crops on the environment and food safety, and whether GE foods should be specially labeled. Congress generally has been supportive of GE agricultural products, although some Members have expressed wariness about their adoption and regulation. The 109th Congress will likely continue to follow trade developments, particularly the U.S.-EU dispute, as well as U.S. regulatory mechanisms for approving biotech foods. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9392/
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): Background and Issues
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has been ratified by 167 nations, including the United States. It regulates the international trade in animals and plants that may be threatened by trade. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metacrs9261/
Sport Hunting in Alaska
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Regulation of Plant-Based Pharmaceuticals
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