Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Description: This report discusses the use of biomass as an energy feedstock, which is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. This report discusses legislation regarding biomass, the evolving definition of biomass, and the positions of supporters and detractors of biomass as an alternative energy source.
Date: October 28, 2010
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Oil Spill Legislation in the 111th Congress

Description: 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.
Date: October 15, 2010
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Immigration Reform Issues in the 111th Congress

Description: This report synthesizes the multi-tiered debate over immigration reform into key elements: legal immigration; legalization; immigration control; refugees, asylees, and humanitarian migrants; and alien rights, benefits, and responsibilities. It delineates the issues for the 111th Congress on permanent residence, temporary admissions, border security, worksite enforcement, employment eligibility verification, document fraud, criminal aliens, and the grounds for inadmissibility.
Date: October 29, 2010
Creator: Wasem, Ruth Ellen
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Armed Career Criminal Act (18 U.S.C. 924(e)): An Overview

Description: This report briefly explores the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), which requires imposition of a minimum 15-year term of imprisonment for recidivists convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. 922(g). Section 924(e) applies only to those defendants who have three prior state or federal convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. The report includes descriptions of constitutional challenges to the application of section 924(e), which have been generally unsuccessful.
Date: October 13, 2010
Creator: Doyle, Charles
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

False Patent Marking: Litigation and Legislation

Description: This report will describe and analyze the Federal Circuit's 2009 decision that requires a per-article penalty for false marking, as well as two subsequent Federal Circuit decisions in 2010 that answer several questions that have arisen during the recent false patent marking litigation. It also identifies and discusses legislation in the 111th Congress that would amend § 292 in order to retroactively end qui tam false marking suits and with the intent of reducing the number of false marking suits filed in the future.
Date: October 20, 2010
Creator: Yeh, Brian T.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

The Federal Government's Role in Electric Transmission Facility Siting

Description: This report looks at the history of transmission siting and the reason behind the movement toward an increased federal role in siting decisions, explains the new federal role in transmission siting pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and discusses legal issues related to this and any potential future expansions of the federal role.
Date: October 28, 2010
Creator: Vann, Adam
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Iran Sanctions

Description: There appears to be a growing international consensus to adopt progressively strict economic sanctions against Iran to try to compel it to compromise on its further nuclear development. The U.S. view - increasingly shared by major allies-is that sanctions should target Iran's energy sector, which provides about 80% of government revenues, and try to isolate Iran from the international financial system. U.S. efforts to curb international energy investment in Iran's energy sector began in 1996 with the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA). ISA has been expanded significantly in 2010. This report discusses said expansions, provides background on the ISA, and explores how this Act has affected
Date: October 7, 2010
Creator: Katzman, Kenneth
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Intermediate-Level Blends of Ethanol in Gasoline, and the Ethanol "Blend Wall"

Description: This report discusses the growing interest in the potential for ethanol to displace petroleum as a transportation fuel, as well as related issues, including current Clean Air Act (CAA) limitation on ethanol content in gasoline; the requests of ethanol producers for an increase of this limitation; and the effects the limitation has upon vehicle and engine warranties and the infrastructures of the automobile and fuel industries.
Date: October 18, 2010
Creator: Yacobucci, Brent D.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Food Safety on the Farm: Federal Programs and Legislative Action

Description: In recent years, major outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, product recalls, and reports about unsafe food imports have caused some to question the adequacy of the U.S. food safety system. Stakeholders appear to agree that an optimal system should encompass a comprehensive, preventive approach to food safety, focusing on those foods and points in the food system that pose the greatest public health risks, starting at the point of production - that is, on farms and ranches. This report discusses differing opinions on this topic, as well as related legislation.
Date: October 5, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened concerns about the region's future. Issues such as Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation, competition, or conflict. This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues.
Date: October 15, 2010
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Description: This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs: federal crop insurance, NAP payments, emergency disaster loans, the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), and four other smaller disaster programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The second section reviews the recent history of emergency supplemental farm disaster assistance.
Date: October 25, 2010
Creator: Shields, Dennis A. & Chite, Ralph M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Water Infrastructure Projects Designated in EPA Appropriations: Trends and Policy Implications

Description: 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.
Date: October 28, 2010
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Unauthorized Alien Students: Issues and "DREAM Act" Legislation

Description: Supporters of comprehensive immigration reform have urged the President and Congress to pursue reform legislation. While legislative action on comprehensive reform does not appear likely during the remainder of the 111th Congress, there may be an effort to enact a measure, commonly referred to as the "DREAM Act," to enable certain unauthorized alien students to legalize their status. This report discusses the DREAM act and related issues.
Date: October 27, 2010
Creator: Bruno, Andorra
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Piracy: A Legal Definition

Description: Pirate attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought continued U.S. and international attention to the long-standing problem of piracy in the region. A recent development in one of the piracy trials in Norfolk, VA, has highlighted a potential limitation in the definition of piracy under the United States Code. This report first examines the historical development of the offense of piracy, as defined by Congress and codified in the United States Code. The focus then turns to how contemporary international agreements define piracy. Finally, the report highlights a recent federal district court ruling that the offense of piracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1651 requires a robbery at sea.
Date: October 19, 2010
Creator: Mason, R. Chuck
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Pesticide Use and Water Quality: Are the Laws Complementary or in Conflict?

Description: 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.
Date: October 13, 2010
Creator: Copeland, Claudia
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Description: The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened concerns about the region's future. Issues such as Arctic sovereignty claims; commercial shipping through the Arctic; Arctic oil, gas, and mineral exploration; endangered Arctic species; and increased military operations in the Arctic could cause the region in coming years to become an arena of international cooperation, competition, or conflict. This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues.
Date: October 8, 2010
Creator: O'Rourke, Ronald
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Responsibility Determinations Under the Federal Acquisition Regulation: Legal Standards and Procedures

Description: This report discusses the standards and procedures that federal agencies use in making responsibility determinations under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It discusses (1) how responsibility determinations relate to other mechanisms that the government relies upon to ensure that contractors are responsible and otherwise eligible for federal contracts; (2) the performance-related and collateral standards used in making responsibility determinations; (3) the procedures for making responsibility determinations; and (4) recently enacted or proposed amendments to the standards or procedures for responsibility determinations.
Date: October 1, 2010
Creator: Manuel, Kate M.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Environmental Laws: Summaries of Major Statutes Administered by the Environmental Protection Agency

Description: This report summarizes several federal statutes providing legal authority for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) programs and activities. These include: the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Ocean Dumping Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Solid Waste Disposal Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), the Emergency Planning Act, and the Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
Date: October 8, 2010
Creator: Bearden, David M.; Copeland, Claudia; Luther, Linda; McCarthy, James E.; Schierow, Linda-Jo & Tiemann, Mary
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department