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JD, Harvard Law School, 1966-69
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BA, Economics, Whitman College, 1960-64
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(2010) HR 4785 Authorizing Loans for Energy Efficiency Purposes
Outcome: Bill Passed (240/172)
- Establishes the Home Star Energy Efficiency Loan Program, under which loans shall be offered at zero percent interest to States to support financial assistance provided by qualified financial entities for the installation of energy saving measures that meet one of the following criteria (Sec. 1):
- Are published by the Secretary of Energy as part of a master list of residential energy efficiency measures determined to be cost-effective, readily available from commercial sources, permanently installed in a primary residence, and capable of supporting measurement and verification of energy savings that result from their adoption;
- Are additions to the aforementioned master list that are recommended by the Secretary of Agriculture, calculated to achieve sufficient energy savings that they will achieve "a simple payback" within 10 years or less, and permanently installed in a primary residence; or
- Are stipulated in a whole-house analysis that simulates energy use before and after a retrofit and are demonstrated to improve residential energy efficiency in a manner that can be determined "with confidence" to be cost-effective and to recover their own cost in savings within the term of the proposed loan.
- Defines a "qualifying financing entity" as a State, political subdivision of a State, tribal government, electric utility, natural gas utility, nonprofit organization, energy service company, retailer or any other entity which meets the following qualifications (Sec. 1):
- Offers a financing product whereby applicants make payments over time for the cost of installation;
- Requires all financed installations to be performed by contractors in a way that meets building code requirements;
- Establishes standard underwriting criteria to determine the eligibility of Home Star Loan Program applicants;
- Makes efforts to make loans available in areas that have a poverty rate of 12 percent or more in a proportion that at least equals the proportion that residents of such areas make up of the total population;
- Is not an entity that has an ongoing capital repayment obligation to the Department of the Treasury pursuant to the Troubled Asset Relief Program (Public Law 110-343); and
- Is designated as qualified by the Governor of a state.
- Defines "eligible participant" as a homeowner with a gross annual household income of less than $250,000 who receives financial assistance from a qualified financing entity (Sec. 1).
- Limits participation in the Home Star Energy Efficiency Loan Program to homeowners with a gross annual household income of less than $250,000 who receive financial assistance from a qualified financing entity, are not also qualified consumers under the Rural Energy Savings Program, and have not been more than 6 months delinquent in child support payments (Sec. 1).
- Establishes the Rural Star Energy Savings Program for the purpose of making no-interest loans with terms of no more than 20 years to eligible entities that agree to accept the loan funds in order to make loans to qualified consumers for the purpose of implementing residential energy efficiency measures or farm efficiency measures approved by the Secretary of Agriculture (Sec. 2).
- Defines an "energy efficiency measure" as a fixed structural improvement and investment in a cost-effective, commercial technology to reduce residential energy use (Sec. 2).
- Defines a "farm efficiency measure" as an energy saving application that is a fixed improvement on a building or structure on a farm at a total loan value of $50,000 or less, that is not otherwise an energy efficiency measure and that would achieve enough energy savings to repay the cost of the measure in 10 years or less (Sec. 2).
- Specifies that loans made to consumers under the Rural Star Energy Savings Program by eligible entities shall have terms that include, but are not limited to, the following (Sec. 2):
- They may bear no more than 3 percent interest;
- They shall finance only energy efficiency or farm efficiency measures for the purpose of decreasing energy usage costs by an amount such that a loan term of no more than 10 years will achieve a "simple payback" of the amount invested;
- They shall be repaid through charges added to the electric bill for the property for which the efficiency measures will be implemented, except that the property owner may voluntarily prepay the loan and certain other qualifying repayment mechanisms may be used; and
- They shall require an energy audit to determine the impact of proposed energy efficiency measures on the energy costs and consumption of the consumer.
- Requires lenders making loans under either of the aforementioned programs to give priority to active duty members of the Armed Forces and veterans (Sec. 3).
- Prohibits the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy from providing funds authorized by this bill to any contractor that employs an employee to work in a consumer's home if that employee has been convicted of or plead guilty to a crime of child molestation, rape, or any other form of sexual assault, or to any contractor that has been convicted of or plead guilty to any fraudulent offense (Secs. 4 and 7).
- Prohibits loans from being provided under this bill to federal employees who meet any of the following criteria (Sec. 5):
- Have a "seriously delinquent" tax debt;
- Received a payment under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Act of 1981 but were ineligible to receive the payment; or
- Have been officially disciplined for viewing, downloading, or exchanging pornography, including child pornography, on a Federal Government computer or while performing official Federal Government duties.
(2010) HR 3534 Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments
Outcome: Bill Passed (209/193)
- Defines a "nonrenewable resource" as oil or natural gas, and a "renewable resource" as the following (Sec. 2):
- Wind energy;
- Solar energy;
- Geothermal energy;
- Landfill gas; and
- Marine and hydrokinetic energy.
- Establishes the Bureau of Energy and Resource Management within the Department of the Interior, with authority over a comprehensive program of nonrenewable and renewable energy and mineral resource management (Sec. 101):
- On the Outer Continental Shelf;
- On Federal public lands;
- On acquired Federal lands;
- On the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska;
- On any Federal lands pursuant to the mineral leasing law; and
- Pursuant to all other Federal applicable laws, including the administration and approval of all instruments and agreements concerning renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources development activities.
- Establishes the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement within the Department of the Interior with authority over, but not limited to, the following (Sec. 102):
- Overseeing the application of environmental reviews;
- Suspending or prohibiting operation activity on leases held on the Outer Continental Shelf or Federal lands;
- Requiring comprehensive safety and environmental management programs connected with exploration, development and production of energy or mineral resources;
- Developing and implementing regulations for Federal employees to carry out inspections and investigations for health, safety and environmental regulations;
- Implementing the Offshore Technology Research and Risk Assessment Program under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act; and
- Levying fines and penalties against disqualifying operators.
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior to issue supplementary ethics guidance for employees who have "regular, direct contact" with lessees and operators as part of their official duties, and requires the Secretary to update such guidance at least once every 3 years thereafter (Sec. 104).Abolishes the Minerals Management Service (Sec. 106).
- Establishes the Outer Continental Shelf Safety and Environmental Advisory Board to provide the Department of the Interior with technical and scientific advice on safe and environmentally compliant exploration, development and production of renewable and nonrenewable energy and mineral resources (Sec. 108).
- Establishes a fine of $200 million for every 1 million barrels of oil or other hazardous substance discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from an offshore facility, which shall be in addition to any other penalties that the owner or operator may incur (Sec. 504).
- Repeals the limit on liability for oil pollution from an offshore facility other than a deepwater port, which in existing law equals no more than the total of all removal costs plus $75 million (Sec. 702).
- Establishes the following minimum requirements for blowout preventers on oil wells (Sec. 205):
- Two sets of blind shear rams that are appropriately spaced to prevent blowout preventer failure;
- Redundant emergency backup control systems capable of activating components of the blowout preventer;
- Regular testing of backup control systems; and
- "As appropriate," remotely operated vehicle intervention capabilities for secondary control of all sub sea blowout preventer functions.
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior establish "appropriate" standards for the approval of independent third-party certifiers of functions for blowout preventers, well design and cementing (Sec. 205).
- Requires cement bond logs for all cementing jobs intended to provide a barrier to hydrocarbon flow, and requires cement bond logs or other integrity tests prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior for other cement jobs (Sec. 205).
Prohibits the requesting or bidding for a permit to drill on the outer continental shelf by a person (including organizations) that was found to have done the following in connection with oil industry activities in the previous 7 years (Sec. 206):
- Committed "willful or repeated" violations under the "Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970" (29 U.S.C. et seq.) at a rate higher than 5 times the oil industry average;
- Been convicted of a criminal violation for death or serious bodily injury;
- Had more than 10 fatalities at its exploration, development and production facilities and refineries as a result of health, safety or environmental law violations; and
- Been assessed civil penalties and criminal fines for violations committed under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) and the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.) in a total amount of more than $10 million for each of the aforementioned Acts.
- Appropriates $900 million from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues, for fiscal year 2011 and each year thereafter, to the Land and Water Conservation Fund to carry out the purposes of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 (sec. 207).
- Requires that all lessees operating under an approved exploration plan obtain a permit prior to drilling and prohibits the Secretary of the Interior from granting a permit prior to a full engineer review of the well system and the completion of a safety and environmental management plan (Sec. 208).
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior to carry out an offshore technology research and risk assessment program with focus on, but not limited to, the following (Sec. 211):
- Risk assessment using all available data;
- Oil spill response and mitigation;
- Technologies and methods to reduce the impact of geophysical exploration on marine life; and
- Renewable energy operations.
- Prohibits the Secretary from approving an application to drill a well unless the chief executive officer of the applicant states the following in writing (Sec. 212):
- The applicant is in compliance with all environmental and natural resource conservation laws;
- The applicant has the capability and technology to respond to a "worst-case" oil spill;
- The applicant has an oil spill response plan;
- The blowout prevent has redundant systems to prevent or stop a blowout;
- The well design is safe; and
- The applicant can begin and complete a relief well if necessary.
- Repeals certain incentives for natural gas production from deep wells in shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Section 344 of Public Law 109-58), and repeals the suspension of certain royalties for deep water production in the Gulf of Mexico (Sec. 345 of Public Law 109-58) (Sec. 219).
- Allows the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records, correspondence, memoranda, and other documents (Sec. 221).
- Exempts applicants for a permit to drill from the moratorium against drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if the Secretary of the Interior determines that the applicant has complied with the following (Sec. 241):
- The following notices handed down by the Minerals Management Service:
- "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 8, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N05); and
- "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 18, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N06);
- Additional safety measures recommended by the Secretary; and
- All required safety inspections.
- Appropriates $900 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund each fiscal year to carry out the purposes of this act, with 1.5 percent of that funding going toward the securing of public access to Federal land for recreational use (Sec. 403).
- Establishes a Gulf of Mexico Restoration Program to coordinate Federal, State and local restoration programs to maximize the efforts in restoring biological integrity, productivity and ecosystem functions in the Gulf (Sec. 501).
- Establishes the Gulf of Mexico Restoration Task Force consisting of the Governors of the Gulf Coast States and the heads of appropriate Federal agencies as selected by the President. The task force shall issue a comprehensive plan for long-term restoration of the Gulf of Mexico no later than 12 months after the enactment of this act and update the plan every 5 years thereafter (Sec. 501).
- Establishes a long-term, comprehensive marine environmental monitoring and research program for the marine and coastal environment of the Gulf of Mexico (Sec. 502). -Prohibits vessels that are not owned by a citizen of the United States from engaging in support of exploration, development, or production of resources in, on, above, or below the exclusive economic zone of the United States (Sec. 709).
- Requires that the Coast Guard develop and maintain operational capability to do the following (Sec. 719):
- Establish and enforce regulations and standards to prevent and contain a discharge of oil or hazardous substance from a tank or non-tank vessel or offshore facility, as the President designates; and
- Protect the environment and natural resources from impacts of oil or hazardous substance discharge or threat of substantial discharge.
- Prohibits a person from using an offshore facility for exploration, development or production of oil or natural gas in, above, or below the exclusive economic zone, unless the facility was built in the United States (Sec. 725).
- Expands the definition of a 'responsible party' under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (33 U.S.C. 2701(32)) to include any person, other than an individual, that has a direct or indirect ownership interest in a vessel, onshore facility, offshore facility, deepwater port, or pipeline that amounts to more than 25 percent of the total ownership interests in such entity, if the assets of the entity are insufficient to pay claims owed under the aforementioned Act (Sec. 731).
- Establishes, within 180 days after the enactment of this act, a conservation fee on Federal onshore and offshore lands of $2 per barrel of oil and $.20 per million BTU of natural gas (Sec. 802).
- Prohibits an employer from discharging or discriminating against an employee who provides information or testimony concerning a violation of this act (Sec. 1002).
(2010) HR 5851 "Whistleblower Protection" for Offshore Oil Workers
Outcome: Bill Passed (315/93)
- Defines "employee" as an individual performing services, or applying to perform services, on behalf of an employer that is engaged in activities on or in waters above the Outer Continental Shelf related to 1 of the following (Sec. 3):
- Exploration, development, production, processing, or transportation of oil or gas; or
- Oil spill cleanup, emergency response, environmental surveillance, protection, restoration, or other oil spill activities related to occupational safety and health.
- Prohibits employers from terminating or discriminating against an employee because the employee did any of the following (Sec. 2):
- Providing, causing to provide, or being about to provide to the employer or a federal or state government official information on any act or omission that the employee "reasonably believes" to be a violation of any provisions of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 U.S.C. 1301 et seq.);
- Exercising any rights provided to employees under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act;
- Testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding, including a Congressional hearings, concerning an alleged violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act;
- Reporting an illness, injury, or "unsafe condition" related to the employer's activities to the employer or a state or federal government official;
- Refusing to perform duties, or exercising stop work authority, if the employee had a "good faith belief" that performing such duties could result injury, impairment of health, or cause an oil spill, meaning a "reasonable" individual under the same circumstance would conclude there is such a hazard; or
- Objecting to, or refusing to participate in any activity, policy, practice, or assigned task that the employee "reasonably" believes to be in violation of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
- Authorizes employees to file complaint with the Secretary of Labor alleging a termination or discrimination in violation of the aforementioned prohibitions within 180 days of the alleged violation or the date on which he or she "should reasonably have known" about the violation, and requires the Secretary to initiate an investigation within 90 days of receiving a complaint to determine if there is "reasonable cause" that a violation has occurred (Sec. 2).
- Requires the Secretary of Labor or, if a hearing is requested, an administrative judge to order employers to do the following if it is determined that a violation occurred (Sec. 2):
- Take affirmative action to abate the violation;
- Reinstate the employee to his or her former position together with compensation (including back pay and prejudgment interest), and restore the terms, conditions, and privileges associated with his or her employment; and
- Provide compensatory and consequential damages, and exemplary damages if the judge determines it's appropriate.
- Authorizes employers to request a hearing before an administrative law judge of the Department of Labor if the Secretary of Labor concludes that there is "reasonable cause" that a violation has occurred within 30 days of such determination, and requires the judge to issue findings within 90 days of the receipt of a request for a hearing (Sec. 2).
- Authorizes employers to appeal a determination made by the Secretary of Labor or an administrative judge of the Department of Labor that a violation had occurred, and authorizes the Secretary to designate such an appeal to a review board (Sec. 2).
- Authorizes the Secretary of Labor to require an employee pay the employer's attorney fees if the Secretary determines the complaint to be "frivolous" or to have been brought in "bad faith," provided that such payment does not exceed $1,000 (Sec. 2).
(2010) H Amdt 773 Ending Moratorium on Deepwater Drilling Rigs that Meet Certain Safety Standards
Outcome: Amendment Adopted (216/195)
- Exempts applicants for a permit to drill from the moratorium against drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if the Secretary of the Interior determines that the applicant has complied with the following (Sec. 231):
- The following notices handed down by the Minerals Management Service:
- "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 8, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N05); and "National Notice to Lessees and Operators of Federal Oil and Gas Leases, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)," dated June 18, 2010 (NTL No. 2010-N06);
- Additional safety measures recommended by the Secretary; and
- All required safety inspections.
- Requires the Secretary of the Interior to determine whether to issue a permit to an applicant within 30 days of making a determination that an applicant meets the aforementioned requirements (Sec. 231).
- Prohibits federal agencies from suspending the active consideration of, or preparatory work for, permits required to resume or advance activities suspended in connection with the moratorium (Sec. 231).