Your Congress in Action: Vol. 8

07/10/2020 10:00 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

Your Congress in Action is a series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

  • Duke Energy and Dominion Energy announced that they are cancelling the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Despite their victory in the Supreme Court over a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, they cited the likely risk and expense of future litigation as the cause for their decision. They also focused on the recent court decision to suspend the Army Corps’s use of Nationwide Permit 12. Following that announcement, Dominion announced it is selling its Natural Gas assets to Berkshire Hathaway.
    • The Supreme Court subsequently lifted the stay on the use of Nationwide Permit 12 all but Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.
    • A district court ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline must shut down by August 5 while the court-ordered environmental review takes place. The review is likely to end into 2021. If this decision is upheld on appeal, it will mark the first time that a major, in-service oil pipeline is forced to shutter because of environmental concerns.
  • The Department of Homeland Security deployed a special task force charged with protecting federal monuments over the July 4 weekend. On Twitter the President reminded everyone of his executive order threatening prison sentences of more than 10 years for anyone convicted of harming a federal statue. In similar news, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bill requiring a minimum 1-year prison sentence for anyone convicted of defacing or destroying a veteran’s memorial.
  • President Trump used his July 4 celebration at Mount Rushmore to announce that he was signing an executive order creating a National Garden of American Heroes. The order proposes statues of 28 Americans, among them John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Davy Crockett, Frederick Douglass, Amelia Earhart, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman and George Washington. It also mentions Christopher Columbus and Junipero Serra as possible candidates for inclusion. No Native Americans or Latinos are included in the list of possibilities. All statues would have to be realistic and lifelike – nothing abstract or modern. The order also establishes an inter-agency task force whose membership would include the Chairs of the NEA, NEH and the ACHP.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and 35 of her fellow Democrats introduced legislation that would require removal, within one year of the law’s enactment, of any Confederate names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia from any Defense Department asset. An exception would be made for grave markers. President Trump has taken a hard line, resisting calls to do away with vestiges of past celebrations of Confederates and has threatened to veto the defense bill over the issue.
  • The House passed its $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. President Trump threatened to veto it because it doesn’t eliminate or reduce environmental reviews. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) submitted an amendment to the bill regarding the NHPA, but it was not included in the final package of amendments. The text of her amendment said:

    “Expresses a Sense of the Congress affirming the requirement that the Department of Transportation ensure that when funding an infrastructure project follow the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires steps to be taken to preserve and protect historic places that may be near construction or infrastructure improvement projects.”

  • William Perry Pendley was formally nominated by President Trump to head the Bureau of Land Management, a position he has held in an acting capacity since summer 2019.
  • John Frey, a Connecticut State Representative, has been formally nominated to be a member of the ACHP. We previously reported this appointment on the ACRAsphere in late June.
  • Following decades of legal battles over potential oil and gas development in the Badger- Two Medicine, the Blackfeet Nation has publicly released a legislative proposal to designate the 130,000-acre wildland as a Cultural Heritage Area.
  • John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, which memorializes Tulsa's bleakest days – the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot - of and one of its most distinguished sons, has been added to the National Park Service's African American Civil Rights Network.
  • Congressman Joe Neguse, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Congressman Jason Crow (all from Colorado) called on the House Committee on Appropriations to include $515 million in future Coronavirus relief funding for State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs), Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), and small museums. This effort was spearheaded by a lobbying group in Colorado.
  • House Democratic appropriators are proposing the federal government spend $13.83 billion to fund activities within the Department of the Interior for fiscal 2021 — $304 million above what was allocated in fiscal 2020 and $1.8 billion beyond the administration's initial request. They are suggesting the National Park Service remove "all physical Confederate commemorative works, such as statues, monuments, sculptures, memorials, and plaques."
  • The draft House Interior appropriations bill provides the following for the Historic Preservation Fund:
    • $136,425,000 for HPF (an $18 million increase over FY2020)

    • $7.5 for restoring sites of national, state, local significance

    • $10 million HBCUs

    • $22.25 for grants honoring Civil Rights movement

    • $1 million for underrepresented communities grants

    • $25 million for Save America's Treasures

    • $7.4 million for the ACHP

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