An Environmental Report Card on the 104th Congress

Policy Backgrounders | Environment

No. 141
Tuesday, January 14, 1997
by H. Sterling Burnett


Introduction

Because political rhetoric in the 104th Congress reached a fever pitch, assessing its environmental record is difficult. Some environmentalists portrayed congressional attempts to modify clean air, clean water and safe drinking-water laws as giving corporations license to pollute and to endanger America's children. Others saw these efforts as bringing common sense and sound science to bear on environmental policy.

"Rhetoric reached a fever pitch; accomplishments were modest"

Congress produced three major environmental laws: the Freedom to Farm Act, the Food Safety Act and the Safe Drinking-Water Act reauthorization. It also passed two important regulatory reform measures, providing regulatory exemptions for small businesses and congressional oversight of agency rules. Meanwhile, work on property rights protection, Superfund and Endangered Species Act reauthorization remains unfinished, as does regulatory reform.
This report card examines the good, bad and ugly in the environmental record of the 104th Congress.


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