By Caroline Fuller
Recess Appointment for Wehrum Likely
George W. Bush, president, will likely appoint William Wehrum to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) assistant administrator for air and radiation. Due to likely opposition from many Democratic senators, Wehrum's appointment will probably come during a recess when no confirmation vote is needed. Recent EPA air policies have Democratic senators such as Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concerned about Wehrum's Clean Air Act "interpretations."
Boxer said that since Wehrum's tenure at EPA began in 2001, she has seen a "pattern of discounting health impacts and ignoring scientific findings" with respect to the agency's air policies. Wehrum has been involved in the EPA's recent rule to cut mercury emissions, EPA's New Source Review and a draft EPA rule that would lower the threshold for facilities to win exemptions from air toxics requirements. Defending Wehrum, Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; Christopher Bond, R-Mo.; and George Voinovich, R-Ohio; all defend the EPA's policies, including the mercury rule, and believe that Wehrum is well-qualified for this position.
U.S. Takes Steps In Auto Parts Case Against China
The United States has announced plans to move forward in a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against China and what the United States views as China's unjust treatment of U.S. auto parts. Considered a major player in international trade, China's trade and currency policies are causing concern around Capitol Hill. Many believe that China should be held more accountable for its actions and responsibilities.
According to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Rob Portman, "China's regulations on imported parts appear to violate its WTO obligations." The European Union (EU) has joined the U.S. in its concerns over China's trade practices. According to USTR, China's WTO commitments limit its tariffs on imported auto parts to rates substantially below those on finished vehicles. Senate Finance ranking member Max Baucus, D-Mont., applauded the move - saying he has "long urged USTR to take strong enforcement action."
Little Follow-Up to '05 Energy Bill Expected
Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., predicts Congress will approve neither climate change legislation nor broad energy legislation this year. This lack of approval will most likely stem from the shortened election year congressional calendar. However, Bingaman is confident that the offshore energy bill he and Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., co-sponsored has a good chance of passing this year. This particular bill would expand offshore energy production in the eastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bush administration promotes mandatory controls of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The House of Representatives may renew a debate on several different proposals to strengthen energy supply that were rejected by Congress in 2005. These proposals could include encouragement to additional refining capacities, boosting of natural gas development and modernizing renewable energy projects on public land. In April 2006, Senate and House Democrats asked the White House to organize an "emergency bipartisan national energy summit" to address the United States' dependence on foreign oil.
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