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Issues Paper

Energy Concerns:
There should be a focus on a sustainable energy policy, which pays special attention to the environment when there is resource extraction through mining and drill. In addition energy conversion, distribution and delivery, and efficiency of use should be of prime consideration. Careful attention should be given to the following:
  • Environmental consequences activities of energy related to Oil & Gas
  • Exploration, Production, Processing, and Transportation
  • Environmental systems and controls in areas related to fuels production,energy conversion, transmission.
  • Related issues in national security and defense
  • Renewable Fuels and Energy Concerns

Fuel Efficiency Standards
Background Information: Federal pollution-control programs have been controversial almost since their inception, with policy-makers questioning whether they really work and are worth the expense and effort. Several new Research Council reports examine some of the government's environmental programs in detail.
Retooling Federal Fuel Economy Standards The need for improved fuel efficiency was obvious back in 1975. Memories of the energy crisis during the preceding two years were still vivid, and people were concerned that they might again have to wait in long lines to buy gasoline atinflated prices. That is when the federal program known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards was established regulating the minimum gas mileage required for new cars and light-duty trucks sold in this country. But much has changed since 19'75. The long lines are gone, and in spite of fluctuating and sometimes rapid spikes in gasoline prices,
consumers are buying larger vehicles -- especially sport utility vehicles, minivans, and pickup trucks -- that are held to less stringent standards for fuel economy and typically use more gas than passenger cars. Given this trend, it should come as no surprise that the nation's overall fuel economy has been slipping. And with this slippage, the worry over U .S. dependence on foreign oil, as well as concerns about the contribution of vehicle emissions to global warming, continues to mount. Against this backdrop, Congress asked the National Research Council to study the effects of CAFE standards over the past 25 years, along with the effects that potential changes to the program might have. It can be concluded that these efforts have reduced the dependence on imported oil and lower emissions of greenhouse gases, changes to the CAFE program could achieve the same end more efficiently and more equitably and provide more flexibility to carmakers. "Technologies already exist today that could significantly reduce fuel consumption of new cars over the next 15 years, These include engine advances that reduce internal losses of energy, more efficient powertrains such as five-speed automatic transmissions, and aerodynamically improved vehicle designs. While these upgrades would add to the purchase price of new vehicles, the committee identified combinations of technologies that would produce gasoline savings more than sufficient to offset the initial increase in cost Even so, it could take decades before new, more fuel-efficient vehicles have replaced the 200 million cars currently on the road. Better fuel economy with larger vehicles tends to "lose." After examining analyses conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the committee estimated that the downsizing of vehicles -- whether spurred by the market or a result of CAFE standards -- has slowed the rate of decline in fatalities.
However, this area is quite controversial among analysts and the committee called on NH'1'SA to conduct further research. The report identifies a number of changes that could be made to improve the CAFE program. For example, the program's system of fuel economy credits should be expanded to give automakers financial incentives for improving fuel efficiency. Currently automakers can accumulate these credits if their fleets of cars or trucks exceed the standards and use them to make up for deficiencies in their flee another year. In an expanded scenario, those credits could be traded. Automakers could buy credits from other automakers if their fleets are below the standards, or they could buy credits from the government at a fixed price. Under this scheme, the ability for antomakers to profit from each gain in fuel efficiency would motivate them to continue making improvements even if their fleet's average fuel economy exceeded federal targets. In addition, Congress should consider switching the CAFE program to standards that axe based partially on weight instead of setting fuel economy standards on the basis of whether a vehicle is a car or truck. A weight-based system that encourages car manufacturers to downsize their largest vehicles could ultimately reduce the enormous variance between large and small vehicles, which is an important safety risk.

Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate average h'Wel Economy (CAFE) Standards Committee on Effectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Eael Economy
Standards; Board on Energy and En vironmental Systems, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; and the Transportation Research Board

Air Quality Concerns
There has been an alarming increase childhood and adult asthma in the state of Texas not to mention a host of other pulmonary disorders that can be directly traced to the quality of air. More must be done to address the issue of air quality as well as provide healthcare assistance to those afflicted. Many have proposed mass transit as a possible solution to pollution in the major cities of Texas. The use of fuel efficient vehicles and rail systems could assist in the reduction of motor vehicle contributes pollutant to our air. Increased emission standards for polluting industries is a must considering the deleterious impact they continue to have on our people, our climate and the quality of life on this planet

Food Safety Concerns
The dramatic incidents relative to food contamination in Europe especially in the cattle industry should heighten our awareness and concerns about the safety of our food sources. Issues such as bioengineered foods and feeding and medication practices for our animals needs much more vigorous scrutiny. The increase of other food borne illness also reinforces the need for more vigorous inspection through increased personnel in the U S Department of Agriculture.

Water Quality Concerns
Heavy metals and other containments in our waters has caused some alarm There is a report of increased and dangerous levels of mercury in many of our fish, as well as toxic levels of arsenic and other carcinogenic agents in our waters. We have the science and technology to address these issues if we decide to live up to them This concern also encompasses issues in pollutioncontrol, management of radioactive and toxic wastes,natural disaster mitigation, protection of water and other natural resources, exploration of earth's resources, fishing exploration, exploitation, and consumption issue

NAITA Concerns and Issues
I ) Roads Highways many have expressed concerns that motor vehicles coming form other countries as a part of NAIFTA do not have to meet the same safety and emission control standards as the vehicles of this nation. In addition there is a wear and tear on this states roads that is uncompensated. These issues must be addressed in future rule and treaty making.
II )Food Quality The foods stuff that is transported and imported to this country under the NAhTA provisions do not have to meet the same quality and safety standards as issued in the United States of America, thus exposing our populace to possible risk.
Land Use Concerns
Trinity and Coastal Shores to be studied and reported on

Global Issues

On June 11 2001 President Bush addressed the nation in the Rose Garden, where he outlined plans for addressing global climate change. Daring this event, he explained that cabinet-level members of the administration were working on the issue, and his administration would establish the US. Climate Change Research Initiative to explore the uncertainties and identify priority areas. The Climate Change Research Initiative and the Climate Change Technology Initiative both receive funding in the administration's FY2003 budget. On February 14, 2002, the President announced the new Clear Skies Initiative which would cut power plant emissions and decrease greenhouse gas intensity using business incentives for those who voluntarily utilize new technology to reduce emissions.
Global Change and Congress Both the House and the Senate take up legislation each session that pertains to global change. In addition the House committees and Senate committees will change testify and inform members of Congress of the current science and policy aspects. Current legislation introduced in this Congress:
- S. 1'716 Global Climate Change Act of 2001 (Introduced in the Senate)
- S. 1'766 Energy Policy Act of 2002 (Introduced in the Senate)
- H. R. 4 To enhance energ conservation, research and development and to provide for security and diversity in the energy supply for the
American people and for other purqses (Introduced in the House)

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