The Latest Bounce


Cara might yet become the girl she used to be (HCN, 11/6/00: CARA's not quite the girl she used to be). Last year, Congress whittled the $3 billion Conservation and Reinvestment Act, or CARA, down to a $1.6 billion appropriation in the Interior budget. Now, a resuscitated CARA has been approved by the House Resources Committee, and supporters hope it will reach the House floor by the end of the year. Like its predecessor, the bill would set aside $3 billion in offshore drilling revenues every year through 2015. The money would be used for wildlife conservation programs, land purchases and coastal restoration.

The Interior Department recently promised a federal judge that it would clean up its management of Indian trust accounts (HCN, 3/15/99: Indian money: Where is it?). But a court-appointed monitor found that the department's reports of its progress have been "over-optimistic at best and false at worst." Among other sins, reports the Washington Post, the department neglected to reveal ongoing snafus in its sophisticated new record-keeping system. The lapses could lead to contempt-of-court charges for some Interior staffers.

The law firm hired by the federal government to clear the way for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump (HCN, 7/2/01: Can Nevada bury Yucca Mountain?) has also been lobbying on behalf of the nuclear power industry. Though the law firm Winston and Strawn has worked for the Energy Department since 1992, reports the New York Times, the firm has recently lobbied Congress in support of several pro-nuclear bills. Winston and Strawn says it stopped all lobbying on July 11 of this year.

The Bush administration may roll back a powerful Clinton-era restriction on coal-fired power plants (HCN, 6/4/01: Energy plan eyes the Rockies). The New Source Review program, a part of the Clean Air Act, requires managers of old plants to install pollution-control devices before expanding their facilities. The Environmental Protection Agency has conducted a three-month review of the program; though details have not been released, agency officials say coming changes will provide the industry with more "certainty and flexibility."

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