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High Hopes and Failed Expectations: The Environmental Record of the 103d Congress

February 1995

Citation: ELR 10089

Author: James E. Satterfield

When the 103d Congress convened on January 5, 1993, many observers believed that it would make up for the dismal environmental record of its predecessor. The 102d Congress had tried and failed to reauthorize the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA),1 the Endangered Species Act (ESA),2 and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).3 Its attempt to elevate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a cabinet-level department had been blocked in the House of Representatives, and its attempt to reform the General Mining Law of 18724 had been blocked in both houses.5

The new Congress would be different, many pundits predicted. A Democrat was President for the first time in 12 years, and Democrats held majorities in both houses of Congress. Environmentalists predicted that the union of these forces would facilitate the passage of significant environmental legislation. And the new Congress had an ambitious environmental agenda: Not only did the FWPCA, the ESA, and RCRA6 need reauthorizing, but Superfund7 authorization was set to expire, state and local governments called for revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA),8 and many legislators still supported mining law reform.

Mr. Satterfield is a Senior Associate Editor of ELR — The Environmental Law Reporter. After receiving a J.D. from Columbia University in 1983, he practiced corporate law in New York City for seven years. The author wishes to express his gratitude to Catlan Thorne for her invaluable assistance in the preparation of this Comment.