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EPA UTILITY MACT - MARLO LEWIS
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote soon on legislation (S.J.Res.37) sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to overturn one of the most costly regulations ever adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Known as the Utility MACT Rule, the regulation establishes first-ever maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions from power plants. EPA contends that pregnant women in subsistence fishing households consume enough mercury in self-caught fish to impair their children’s cognitive and neurological development. Although that is theoretically possible, in the 22 years since Congress tasked the EPA to study the health risks of mercury, the agency has not identified a single child whose learning or other disabilities can be traced to prenatal mercury exposure. The EPA’s December 2000 “appropriate and necessary” determination, the trigger for the Utility MACT Rule, depicted power plant mercury emissions as a significant growing public health threat. That was sheer exaggeration.
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TRADE BARRIERS - ALEXANDER MOENS & FRED L. SMITH
Over the past few years, every state and the District of Columbia receive more in federal highway funding than the various federal excise taxes on highway activities within the state generated, according to the Government Accountability Office. During FY 2005–2009, the funding return on highway taxes ranged from $1.03 for every dollar collected in Texas to $5.85 in Washington, D.C. Massachusetts, on the low end of the scale, received $1.17 for every dollar collected. While the vast majority of Massachusetts highway funding comes from non-federal sources, if all highway funding responsibility were to be devolved to the states—as a growing number of fiscal conservatives in Congress advocate—additional revenue must be found. This issue brief examines the current funding realities and offers several potential mechanisms that could be used in Massachusetts to close the funding gap under a devolution scenario.