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Business Groups Support Ozone Implementation Legislation

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The Business Council of Alabama joined other business groups to support federal legislation that would extend the ozone standards deadline until 2025. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce circulated a letter in support of H.R. 4775, the “Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016,” which the BCA signed along with more than 200 business and industry groups.

The letter to Congress supporting H.R. 4775 also was signed by a total of 75 local and state chambers.

The U.S. Chamber said H.R. 4775 would phase in implementation of the 2008 and 2015 ozone standards and extend the deadline to 2025. Permitting requirements also would be adjusted under the phased implementation schedule.

In addition, the bill would change the review for National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) from five to 10 years, and allow the EPA Administrator to consider technological feasibility as a secondary consideration when revising the NAAQS. The U.S. Chamber has more information on ozone issues.


 

GOOD NEWS FOR THE 4,000 EMPLOYEES OF AUSTAL USA IN MOBILE

A critical congressional piece of legislation – the annual National Defense Authorization Act – has rejected the president’s efforts to cut the number of Littoral Combat Ships being built by Austal USA in Mobile in fiscal year 2017, al.com reported.

The Obama administration sought to cut the number of the ships built by Mobile’s Austal USA from three to two but an amendment by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Fairhope, to prevent the cut was approved by the House Armed Services Committee Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee on Wednesday.

Austal USA is building a version of the Littoral Combat Ship. President Obama wants to cut the LCS program from 52 total ships to 40 and reduce ship production to a single LCS supplier, Rep. Byrne said.

Rep. Byrne’s amendment would prevent any funds from being used to “select only a single contractor for the construction of the Littoral Combat Ship or any successor frigate class ship program” until the Secretary of the Navy certifies a number of requirements to Congress.

Byrne’s amendment was adopted on a voice vote.

“Congress should not allow a Secretary of Defense with less than a year left in office to decide the fate of a critical Navy program like the LCS,” Byrne said. “My amendment will block the Pentagon from spending any money to move forward with a down select to a single LCS supplier and will help eliminate unnecessary confusion and uncertainty in the industrial base.”


 

U.S. SENATE PASSES LANDMARK LEGISLATION TO MODERNIZE THE NATION’S ENERGY POLICY

The legislation would be the first broad energy law in nearly a decade, the Hill reports. The bill contains policy changes aimed at tasks like electric grid modernization and natural gas exports. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 85-12.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and lead author of the bill, hailed it as a “broad, bipartisan and, some would suggest, long-stalled energy bill,” The Hill reported.

The bill includes numerous bipartisan priorities. It pushes to improve the nation’s electric grid, streamline the process for exporting liquefied natural gas, indefinitely renew the country’s main conservation fund, clean up outdated regulations and spur more energy efficiency in buildings and elsewhere, among other provisions, the Hill reported.

In January, a group of electricity and business organizations wrote a letter to Senate leaders endorsing the bill, praising its energy efficiency measures and saying it “includes pragmatic, reasonable energy policies.”


 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Senate Measure to Stop Obama Water Rule Fails
The Hill (Henry 4/21) “Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a Republican effort to prevent further spending on an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule designed to establish federal regulatory control over small waterways. The measure, from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Democratic filibuster; the vote was 56-42.

“Hoeven’s measure would have amended the chamber’s energy and water spending bill to block funding spending on the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, also called the Waters of the United States rule. Though a federal court has already put the rule on hold, Republicans said say ending it legislatively is important as well.  Republicans, rural interests and the agriculture industry argue the rule is executive overreach.

“‘The EPA wants to now define ‘navigable waters’ as all the water basically in the country, because they want to say it’s any water that can run into any water that can run into any water. I don’t know how many reiterations of that there could be’,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

“Most Democrats have defended the water rule, and the White House said Wednesday that President Obama would veto any energy and water spending bill that tries to eliminate the rule. Obama already vetoed a Congressional Review Act challenge to the regulations in January.”

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