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A Tale of Sound and Fury: The Environmental Record of the 102d Congress

January 1993

Citation: ELR 10015

Author: James E. Satterfield

Editors' Summary: The 102d Congress adjourned on October 9, 1992, leaving a mixed record of environmental successes and failures. The three principal environmental statutes before it — RCRA, the FWPCA, and the ESA — all failed to win reauthorization. Much heralded proposals to elevate EPA to cabinet-level status got nowhere. Bills to protect banks and municipalities from CERCLA liability and reform federal mining law stalled and died. However, Congress did pass a landmark national energy policy bill, and extensive hearings were held on the bills that were not enacted.

In this Comment, the author examines the battles fought in the 102d Congress over each of the principal items on its environmental agenda. He explores the reasons why enacted bills acquired the form they did and why unenacted bills failed to pass. Finally, he concludes that, despite its failures, the 102d Congress may have laid the groundwork for the next Congress, when Democrats will control both houses of Congress and the White House.

Mr. Satterfield is an Associate Editor of the Environmental Law Reporter. After receiving a J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1983, he practiced corporate law in New York City for seven years.

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