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Category Archives: Legislation

Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies

CRS Report – Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies. Claudia Copeland, Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy. April 20, 2015.
“Mountaintop removal mining involves removing the top of a mountain in order to recover the coal seams contained there. This practice occurs in six Appalachian states (Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Ohio). It creates an immense quantity of excess spoil (dirt and rock that previously composed the mountaintop), which is typically placed in valley fills on the sides of the former mountains, burying streams that flow through the valleys. Mountaintop mining is regulated under several laws, including the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). Critics say that, as a result of valley fills from mountaintop mining, stream water quality and the aquatic and wildlife habitat that streams support are destroyed by tons of rocks and dirt. The mining industry argues that mountaintop mining is essential to conducting surface coal mining in the Appalachian region and that it would not be economically feasible there if operators were barred from using valleys for the disposal of mining overburden. Critics have used litigation to challenge the practice. In a number of cases, environmental groups have been successful at the federal district court level in challenging permits for mountaintop mining projects, only to be later overturned on appeal. Nonetheless, the criticisms also have prompted some regulatory changes…This report provides background on regulatory requirements, controversies and legal challenges to mountaintop mining, and recent Administration actions. Attention to EPA’s veto of the West Virginia mining permit and other federal agency actions has increased in Congress. Congressional interest in these issues is discussed, including legislation seeking to restrict the practice of mountaintop mining and other legislation in tended to block the Obama Administration’s regulatory actions.”

Google Spends Record $5.47 Million On 1st Quarter Lobbying

Consumer WatchDog: “Google spent a record $5.47 million on lobbying during the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 43 percent from $3.82 million in the comparable 2014 period, according to disclosures just filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Comcast, which is seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission and the JusticeContinue Reading

SEC Implements Dodd-Frank Reporting and Dissemination Rules for Security-Based Swaps

SEC Implements Dodd-Frank Reporting and Dissemination Rules for Security-Based Swaps Posted by Kobi Kastiel, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Sunday, April 19, 2015 [The following post comes to us from Arthur S. Long, partner in the Financial Institutions and Securities Regulation practice groups at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, andContinue Reading

House Reconsiders Data Breach Bill

EPIC – “Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee have convened to rework the Data Security and Breach Notification Act. The Act, introduced by Reps. Blackburn and Welch, would require businesses to notify consumers of a data breach “unless there is no reasonable risk of identity theft or financial harm.” The bill would also preemptContinue Reading

CRS – Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile

Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile. Jennifer E. Manning, Information Research Specialist. March 31, 2015. “This report presents a profile of the membership of the 114th Congress (2015-2016). Statistical information is included on selected characteristics of Members, including data on party affiliation, average age, occupation, education, length of congressional service, religious affiliation, gender, ethnicity,Continue Reading

H.R. 1560, Protecting Cyber Networks Act

“H.R. 1560 would establish within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) a center that would be responsible for analyzing and integrating information from the intelligence community related to cyber threats. In addition, the bill would require the government to establish procedures for sharing information and data on cyber threats between the federalContinue Reading

The Emerging Interactionist Paradigm and the Ideals of Democracy and Rule of Law

van der Burg, Wibren, The Emerging Interactionist Paradigm and the Ideals of Democracy and Rule of Law (April 4, 2015). Erasmus Working Paper Series on Jurisprudence and Socio-Legal Studies No. 15-01. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2589808 “In this chapter, I present the theory of interactive legislation in the context of a broader interactionist paradigm.Continue Reading

S. 766, Driver Privacy Act of 2015

CBO – “S. 766 would establish that any data collected by event data recorders (EDRs) in motor vehicles are the property of the owner or lessee of the vehicle and would set broad conditions under which such data could be retrieved by others for purposes such as judicial proceedings, investigations, and traffic safety research. TheContinue Reading

Terrorism Risk Insurance Program

Insurance Information Institute – Terrorism Risk Insurance Program – Renewed and Restructured – April 2015. “Since its initial enactment in 2002 the terrorism risk insurance program has been revised and extended three times. The most recent extension—the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TRIPRA)—ensures its continuation until December 31, 2020. On January 8,Continue Reading

Legislating for Drones: A Guide and Model Ordinances

McNeal, Gregory S. and Rule, Troy A., Legislating for Drones: A Guide and Model Ordinances (April 2, 2015). Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2589975 “Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, present enormous benefits for local government officials, but they are also creating new conflicts with existing land uses. The growing popularity of drones necessitatesContinue Reading

Are BHC and Federal Reserve Stress Test Results Converging? What Do We Learn from 2015?

Federal Reserve Bank of New York – Liberty Street Economics – Beverly Hirtle, Anna Kovner, and Eric McKay: “In March, the Federal Reserve and thirty-one large U.S. bank holding companies (BHCs) announced results of the latest Dodd-Frank Act-mandated stress tests. Some commentators have argued that BHCs, in designing their stress test models, have strong incentivesContinue Reading

Brookings Essay – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorists

The Big Snoop – The divergent views of four respected experts help frame the debate over the future of the NSA in the Snowden Era – Stuart Taylor, Jr.:  “With the approach of the first anniversary of the most copious and sensational leakage of intelligence secrets in history, the consequences of his actions continue toContinue Reading