ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS

Since the 104th Congress, Republicans have drafted, promoted and passed a host of environmental bills. These bills were written and sponsored by Republicans and were passed in a largely bipartisan manner.

The Republican-controlled 104th and 105th Congresses accomplished more than the previous two Democrat-controlled Congresses combined.

* Democratic-controlled 102nd and 103rd Congress major environmental accomplishments = 4

* Republican-controlled 104th and 105th Congress major environmental accomplishments = 32

Overall, 74 major pro-environment measures have been passed from the beginning of the 104th Congress through the 108th Congress. This does not include a wide array of measures aimed at protecting specific rivers, lakes, wilderness regions, conservation areas, and other pieces of important wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation areas.

Republicans were successful because they combined input from local officials and communities with common sense approaches.

The Republican Congress drafted and passed fourteen major pieces of environmental legislation in the 104th Congress, while only one was enacted in the 103rd. In the 105th Congress, Republicans continued their commitment to environmental issues, passing 18 major pro-environment bills. In the 106th Congress, Republicans enacted 20 significant environmental measures as well as a host of measures to protect specific wilderness areas. This effort continued in the 107th and 108th Congresses, when 22 measures were enacted.

While some are quick to label Republicans "anti-environment," the record clearly shows otherwise. Republicans will continue to promote local control and community-based solutions to environmental issues.

The environmental accomplishments of the 104th Congress are:

Safe Drinking Water Act — improves the original law through the use of advanced science and research to improve drinking water quality and funds for new water projects and systems. Also establishes a Community Right-to-Know measure on the quality of their local water supplies.

Water Resources Development Act — improves and restores the environmental quality of our nationís rivers, harbors, lakes and beaches. Improves protection of drinking water sources, thereby restoring and creating wetlands and beach habitat.

Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act -- (Sustainable Fisheries Act) — provides the most comprehensive conservation and habitat protections of Americaís fishery resources ever approved by Congress. Establishes a new commitment to long-term ecosystem protection with greater local input to reduce overfishing and rebuild depleted commercial stock.

The Omnibus Parks Package of 1996 — the largest parks and public lands package since 1978, it creates new parks, protects existing park units and historic sites, and establishes new memorials in over 40 states. This historic parks bill includes new protections for major parks such as the Everglades, Yellowstone National Park, and Sterling Forest.

International Driftnet Moratorium — strengthens U.S. efforts to assist the United Nations in stopping the use of large-scale driftnets that have killed hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, sea turtles, and birds.

Coastal Zone Management Act — extends federal funding for the creation and implementation of coastal management programs. Improves the water quality of coastal habitats, such as beaches, wetlands, and marshes, for wildlife as well as recreation.

National Marine Sanctuaries Preservation Act — provides for the management, recovery, and preservation of the U.S.S. Monitor marine reserve and establishes mechanisms to enhance the financial viability of the 13 national marine sanctuaries (underwater parks) located along the U.S. coastline.

Food Quality Protection Act — ensures environmentally safe standards for the use of pesticides on our food.

Antarctic Environmental Protection Act — provides for the implementation of an environmental protocol to establish important protections in the Antarctic for flora and fauna and impose strict limits on activities in the region.

Conservation Title of the Farm Bill — provides protection of 36 million acres of erodible and environmentally sensitive farmland. Improves farming practices to reduce environmental impact and creates millions of acres of wildlife habitat on or near farms.

California Bay-Delta Environmental Enhancement and Water Security Act — provides funding for the restoration of the Bay-Delta estuary and provide clean water. It prevents water pollution at its sources, protects wildlife habitat and fisheries, and provides local flood protection projects.

National Invasive Species Act — protects lake, river, and harbor wildlife habitat from invasive non-indigenous species and highly destructive aquatic plants that threaten these habitats and water resource infrastructure.

Everglades Protection Amendments — improvement of habitat for many endangered and threatened species that depend on the Everglades for survival and improves water quality for local populations.

Battery Recycling Act — reduces levels of mercury and other toxic metals in waste disposal sites by removing barriers that prevented proper disposal and recycling of batteries.

The environmental accomplishments of the 105th Congress include:

National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act — improves the federal management and conservation of Americaís national wildlife refuges.

African and Asian Elephant Conservation Acts — assists in the conservation of two species that suffered extreme population decreases in the 1970s and 1980s.

International Dolphin Conservation Program Act — implements an international treaty to protect dolphins and ecosystem protections for other marine life in yellowfin tuna fisheries.

National Sea Grant College Program Reauthorization Act — provides $165 million for marine research, science and education programs at over 300 universities throughout the nation.

Sikes Act (contained in Dept. of Defense Reauthorization) — improves the fish and wildlife management on nearly 25 million acres of federal land under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense on over 90 U.S. military installations. Over 100 threatened and endangered species, along with other wildlife, will benefit from these improvements.

Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (Air Quality Section) — provides $1.5 billion a year for reducing highway congestion and improving air quality, encourages the development of pollution reducing fuels and alternative vehicles, increases the funding for aquatic resources protection by 20 percent, nearly doubles the availability of tax-free mass transit benefits to workers, and establishes a pilot program allowing state and local governments to plan environmentally sound development.

Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act — provides for efficient management of existing Atlantic striped bass populations, requires a continued study of fish stocks, and imposes a moratorium on states that do not comply with the management plan.

Drought Policy Act — integrates federal policies to better prepare for and respond to drought emergencies.

Tropical Forest Conservation Act — encourages participating nations to protect tropical rain forests through a "debt-for-nature" swap. Outstanding debt to the United States will be reduced in return for a trust fund to pay for rain forest protection.

Wildlife Refuge System Volunteer and Community Partnership Act — promotes volunteer participation in refuge maintenance, encourages community partnerships between the refuge and local groups, and provides incentives for private donations to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintain the nationís wildlife refuges.

Environmental Policy and Conflict Resolution Act — provides funds and establishes methods to resolve environmental disputes. This offers an effective alternative to costly and time-consuming litigation.

Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act — increases U.S. involvement in the international protection of endangered rhinos and tigers.

Rhinoceros and Tiger Product Labeling Act — prohibits the importation and exportation of any product containing any species of endangered rhinos or tigers in the United States.

Everglades Restoration — continues the federal commitment to restoring the Everglades, one of the countryís largest and most ecologically valuable wetlands.

Completion of the Appalachian Trial — establishes funding for purchasing the final portions of land to finish the Appalachian Trial. This completes one of the longest recreational trails in the nation, stretching from Maine to Georgia.

Vision 2020 National Parks Restoration Act — requires the National Park Service to streamline its management, follow a strategic management plan, and establish a formal training program for employees. It also extends a local fee system to allow parks to collect and keep more revenue to balance their debt and maintain their park services.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act — continues the federal protections for migratory birds by prohibiting baited fields to attract birds while ensuring that the sporting community is treated fairly and protected from wrongful accusations.

Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1998 — provides guidelines to develop and implement proposals to restore the fish and wildlife of the Great Lakes Basin. Specifically, it develops a program to reduce the sea lamprey population, an intrusive species that has reduced the Lakes fish population.

The major environmental accomplishments of the 106th Congress are:

Estuaries and Clean Waters Act — This measure seeks solutions to water pollution and habitat protection through federal, state and local cooperation, as well as public-private partnerships. Additionally, funding will be reinstated under the Clean Lakes Program to reduce acid rain in the northeast and combat nonpoint source pollution. Key estuaries that will receive protection and preservation are the Chesapeake Bay, Lake Pontchartrain Basin, Long Island Sound and the Tijuana River Valley.

Coral Reef Conservation and Partnership Act — Coral reefs are considered to be one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems, important as wildlife habitat and for local tourism economies. This measure provides $16 million annually for reef assistance grants to protect these ecosystems, provide for local law enforcement efforts, and allow for further research.

Water Resources Development Act of 1999 — improves and restores the environmental quality of our nationís rivers, harbors, lakes and beaches. Authorizes projects nationwide to ensure drinking water quality, environmental restoration, recreation and ecosystem protection.

South Florida Restoration Initiative — provides guidance and funding for the preservation of the Everglades ecosystem. Balances the needs of local communities and farmers, particularly water needs, with restoration of the unique and critical habitat in southern Florida.

Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Act — provides grants to state and local agencies, as well as the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, for wastewater treatment and stormwater management. This effort will improve marine habitats in the Florida Keys

Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act — Many neotropical migratory birds are listed as endangered or threatened, requiring thousands of mile of suitable habitat during annual migrations. This measure allows for conservation grants to preserve these habitats.

Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR 21) — provides the means to reduce aviation air and noise pollution. Funding for new technologies and incentive programs will encourage noise abatement projects and encourage airports to use low-emission vehicles. Additionally, it sets rules and regulations for air tours over our national parks to reduce noise and pollution.

Beaches Environmental Awareness, Cleanup and Health Act of 1999 — directs the Federal government to make a more complete determination of potential health risks at our nationís beaches and coastlines. By establishing information on possible health risks and collecting a database on these risks, states will be able to ensure public health and safety for recreation and wildlife.

Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act— reauthorizes the Act to maintain 1.3 million acres of coastal barriers that preserve and protect coastal ecosystems and national marine sanctuaries. Additionally, it encourages private landowners to donate their property to the system, thereby discouraging development and preserving these environments.

National Marine Sanctuaries Enhancement Act — protects and preserves marine environments as a system of sanctuaries. This represents the preservation of important environments for conservation, recreational, ecological and aesthetic value, such as coral reefs and historical marine sites.

Marine Mammal Rescue Act of 1999 — provides aid for the rescue of marine mammals stranded on American shores. The measure also provides for research and rehabilitation of marine mammals.

Superfund Recycling Equity Act of 1999 — reduces the chance of public health risk from waste sites, as companies are encouraged to develop and maintain a recycling program. While being held free from liability, companies will reduce the amount of materials disposed in waste sites.

Arctic Tundra Habitat Conservation Act — This measure will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the fragile Arctic tundra ecosystem.

Oceans Act — Establishes an Ocean Commission to study and recommend ways to preserve the worldís oceans. These are some of the most diverse ecosystems, providing wildlife habitat and economic resources.

Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act Reauthorization — continues to provide for efficient management of existing Atlantic striped bass populations, requires a continued study of fish stocks, and imposes a moratorium on states that do not comply with the management plan.

Shark Conservation Act (Shark Finning Prohibition Act) — Outlaws the wasteful and barbaric act of removing the fins of the shark and discarding the remainder of the fish in U.S. waters. Sharks numbers have dwindled due to these fishing practices and other commercial interests.

Lake Tahoe Restoration Act — Directs the U.S. Forest Service to develop plans to protect the Lake Tahoe basin from erosion, catastrophic wildfires and water pollution.

Red River National Wildlife Refuge Act — Under this measure, the ecosystem of this degraded Mississippi River tributary and the surrounding valley will be cleaned up and preserved. It is not only an important commercial and recreational span, but also a migratory corridor for over 350 bird species.

Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act — This act establishes a 3,500-acre refuge in Bibb County, Alabama, protecting the stateís longest free-flowing river and its unique wildlife habitat of 131 fish species and 69 threatened and endangered species.

Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act — establishes the Cat Island refuge along the Mississippi River as key wildlife habitat for bald cypress trees, shorebirds and migratory birds

In 1999 and 2000, Republicans made great strides in establishing wilderness areas and preserving land as wildlife habitat and for recreation. The following are just a few of the measures that were passed with local input and cooperation, instead of executive orders:

Black Canyon National Park and Gunnison National Conservation Area of Act — Colorado — recognizes the 20,766-acre Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument as a national park, along with 7,000 acres of adjacent land. It also creates a 57,725 acre national conservation area near Gunnison Gorge and begins land-use studies on the 42,000 acre Curecanti National Recreation Area. In total, over 127,000 acres will be preserved and studied.

Duggar Mountain Wilderness Act — Alabama — designates 9,200 acres in the Talladega National Forest as wilderness.

Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999 — California — sets aside the 18,500-acre site as wilderness on the California — Mexico border, protecting wildlife habitat for several sensitive species.

Coastal Heritage Trail — New Jersey — provides funding towards maintenance and preservation of this recreation area along the New Jersey coast.

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area — Georgia — protects the 100-year floodplain, or roughly one-half mile on each side of a 48-mile segment of the river from overdevelopment. This river is key habitat and recreational area.

Las Cienegas National Conservation Area Establishment Act of 1999 — Arizona — sets aside 42,000 acres in Pima and Santa Cruz Counties, including part of the Coronado National Forest, as a conservation area. Additionally, it provides mechanisms for the management of an additional 137,000-acre conservation area and for future acquisitions of conservation land within the Sonoita Valley.

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Act of 2000 — California — establishes the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains as a national monument, providing protecting for this wilderness area for wildlife habitat and for its recreational and cultural significance.

Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area and Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness Act of 2000 — Colorado and Utah — establishes a comprehensive plan for the long-range protection and management of the Colorado Canyons and Black Ridge.

Valles Caldera Preservation Act — New Mexico — authorizes the acquisition of Baca Ranch and establishment of coordinated land management practices within the Lower Alamo watershed, allow for improved management of elk and other wildlife populations ranging between the Santa Fe National Forest and the Bandelier National Monument.

The major environmental accomplishments of the 107th Congress are:

Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act — This Act promotes the cleanup and redevelopment of abandoned urban industrial sites for reuse. These brownfields are not only eyesores, but can cause air and groundwater contamination of the local area. With revitalization, these sites are turned into productive businesses, stimulating the local economy through increased tax revenue and jobs. This urban development also reduces sprawl and traffic congestion by limiting the development of "greenfields," suburban and rural open spaces.

North American Wetlands Conservation Reauthorization Act — Reauthorizes these important wetlands conservation programs for the next five years and increases funding to $75 million a year by 2007. The program provides matching grants to protect vital wetlands habitat in Mexico, Canada and the U.S., especially important to migratory birds and waterfowl. Since its passage in 1989, the law is responsible for protecting and restoring over 8.7 million acres of wetlands.

Conservation Aspects of the Farm Bill — Despite the criticisms from some that it does not go far enough to protect the environment, this Act substantially promotes conservation techniques and practices. A total of $17.1 billion in funding over the next ten years is devoted to wildlife, water and soil preservation programs. This includes the reauthorization of the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wetlands Reserve Program, including an additional 150,000 acres of wetlands preserved annually, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. These programs will offer farmers, ranchers, and other landowners incentives to set aside land, increase riparian buffers and reduce nonpoint runoff to protect local water supplies and wildlife habitat.

Yucca Mountain Development resolution — Approves the development of the Yucca Mountain repository to safely store the nationís high-level nuclear waste. Currently, this waste is stored at 131 sites in 39 states, often close to communities and bodies of water. This is not only a potential threat to public health, but also the environment. Many years and billions of dollars have been spent studying Yucca site and determine it is a safe storage site, and this measure will allow the process to continue.

Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 — Authorizes $50 million a year for 5 years to assist the Environmental Protection Agency in assessing and cleanup of over two dozen contaminated sites in the Great Lakes region. There are over 40 contaminated sites in the Great Lakesí rivers, harbors and bays. Cleanup of contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxin and mercury will protect the health of local wildlife and preserve their habitat, as well as protect public health from consumption of fish and wildfowl.

Death Tax Elimination Act of 2001 — The death tax forces families to sell farmland and property in order to pay federal taxes upon a family memberís death. Not only is this a financial burden, but also can have a drastic impact on the environment. This land may be sold for development, which can contribute to rapid suburban development on former farmland, and can impact local water quality through erosion from construction, as well as overburden local water supplies.

Wildland Fire Management — Annually, catastrophic wildfires destroy thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and threaten human lives. This Act provides additional funding and requires federal agencies to work cooperatively in fire prevention to reduce the risk of wildfires. Not only do these fires destroy wilderness and habitat, but also ash and soot pollutes local air and harms water quality through runoff and erosion.

Fisheries Conservation Act of 2002 — Extends the authority for several specific fisheries Acts to continue the preservation of these vital ocean habitats and commercial fisheries. Not only will the striped bass and tuna benefit specifically, but also fisheries along the Atlantic and Northwest coasts.

National Sea Grant College Program Act Amendments of 2001 — Reauthorizes funding for marine research, science and education programs at over 300 universities throughout the nation. This program provides for crucial environmental education and research programs to protect and preserve coastal and marine ecosystems and habitats.

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Reauthorization Act — Authorizes funding for the Chesapeake Bay Estuarine Resources Office, providing assistance for the cleanup and preservation of the Chesapeake Bay through community projects and restoration grants. The Bay is not only unique wildlife habitat, but is vital for local recreation and commerce.

Asian Elephant Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2001 — This Act assists in the conservation of a species that has suffered extreme population decreases in the 1970s and 1980s though public —private partnerships and the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

African Elephant Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2001 — Similar to its counterpart for the Asian elephant, this Act provides annual funding for the preservation of the African elephant, such as anti-poaching efforts, population surveys and herd and habitat conservation.

Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Reauthorization Act of 2001 — This Act increases U.S. involvement in the international protection of endangered rhinos and tigers.

Connecticut River Salmon Act — Extends the interstate compact and programs to restore the habitat and numbers of Atlantic Salmon in the Connecticut River Basin, which extends from Vermont and New Hampshire to the Long Island Sound.

Chiloquin Dam Fish Passage Feasibility Study Act of 2001 — Seeks to provide adequate upstream and downstream migratory passage to two threatened species of suckerfish. Without such alternative passageways, only 5% can make it to spawning grounds above the dam.

In 2001 and 2002, bipartisan efforts allowed for great strides in establishing wilderness areas and preserving land as wildlife habitat and for recreation. The following are just a few of the measures that were passed with local input and cooperation:

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge Act — Colorado — Upon the final cleanup and decommissioning of the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, a former nuclear weapons research and processing site, this 11,000 acres will be set aside as wildlife habitat for the more than 250 species.

The James Peak Wilderness, Wilderness Study, and Protection Area Act — Colorado — After working closely with local communities to reach an agreement on recreational access, this Act provides further protection to portions of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests as the James Peak Wilderness, ensuring their preservation as wildlife habitat and for recreational opportunities.

Fern Lake Conservation and Recreation Act of 2001 — Kentucky and Tennessee — Expands the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park through the addition of Fern Lake and the surrounding watershed. This will protect the Pinnacle Overlook and surrounding areas as wildlife habitat and for recreational opportunities.

Craters of the Moon National Preserve — Idaho — Preserves this area as wildlife habitat and for recreation.

Bull Run Watershed Management — Oregon — Adds 2,890 acres of federal lands to the watershed and eliminates timber harvesting in the area.

Eight Mile River Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2001 — Connecticut — Begins the process of adding the Eight Mile River to the Wild and Scenic Rivers program. This aids in the preservation of the river as wildlife habitat and a historical site, as well as for recreation use.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Protection and Enhancement Act of 2002 — Nevada — Acquires and exchanges land for the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, expanding protection of the some of the most environmentally sensitive lands and habitat in the state.

The Moccasin Bend National Historic Site Establishment Act — Tennessee — Establishes this historic and archaeological national treasure as a National Park to ensure its future preservation.

Gunn McKay Nature Preserve Act — Utah — Designates 15-acres near the city of Huntsville as a nature preserve, protecting it from development. Also requires the city and local nonprofit organizations to establish a management plan.

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act — Michigan — Establishes an international wildlife refuge on the Lower Detroit River to protect and preserve aquatic habitats and ecological features. This will not only benefit these important habitats, but also enhance recreational and environmental education opportunities.

The environmental accomplishments of the 108th Congress are:

Healthy Forests Restoration Act — This is the first measure to significantly alter the federal governmentís approach to combating and preventing catastrophic wildfires. After decades of mismanagement, over 190 million acres are in danger of catastrophic wildfires that destroy habitat and private property and pollute the air and watersheds. The Act authorizes the immediate treatment through thinning and debris removal of 20 million acres of the most at-risk sections, beginning with populated areas of wildland-urban interface and leaving areas of designated wilderness untouched.

National Wildlife Refuge Volunteer Act of 2003 — Many wildlife refuges rely on volunteer efforts by private groups and partnerships with states and local communities to ensure they are well maintained and preserved. This Act expands funding and the number of projects that will protect these critical wildlife habitats and recreation areas.

Water Supply, Reliability, and Environmental Improvement Act (CALFED) — This Act will help coordinate water usage nationwide, as more and more water users, from wildlife to agriculture to residents, compete for a dwindling supply of fresh water. It also promotes the development of desalinization plants and ways to conserve water. Further, it expands the CALFED Bay — Delta program to coordinate water usage in California.

Marine Turtle Conservation Act of 2004 — This Act finances projects to protect marine turtles and their nesting grounds through the Multinational Species Conservation Act. It also establishes the Marine Turtle Conservation Fund and assists other nations with their conservation efforts to recover and sustain worldwide turtle populations.

Nutria Eradication and Control Act of 2003 — Nutria is an invasive species native to South America and is destroying wetlands at an alarming rate, pushing out native species in the Gulf and East Coasts. The measure authorizes the Interior Department to eliminate nutria in Louisiana and Maryland to protect vital habitats, including Louisianaís coastal wetlands, the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware Bay watersheds.

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Complex Expansion and Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Expansion Act — This measure will expand two of the largest refuges in the upper Midwest. The Ottawa and Detroit River Refuges protects over 300 plant species, critical marshlands of Lake Erie and is an important stopover for hundreds of migratory bird species. Additionally, it provides for an annual $1.5 billion recreation and tourism industry in Lake Erie and $2 billion in Ohio.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Michigan) — Expands the 35-mile stretch of coastline on eastern Lake Michigan by purchase of 104 acres from a willing seller. This will further protect the more than 71,000-acre park as wildlife habitat and for local recreation.

Updated January 18, 2005.