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This Week In Congress - April 2, 2010

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I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson of Capitol News Connection. This Week in Congress...

This week in Congress was relatively quiet, since Congress is out for a two-week recess.

A new study is out detailing the economic effects of a proposed crackdown on greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA is expected to flex its beefed-up muscle during this Administration in the name of protecting people’s health – but concerns about loss of jobs and income have opened up a rift within the Democratic base.

DURAN: This study shows that what the EPA is preparing to do with these regulations will take jobs away from the Latino community and all communities of color.

ALFORD: President Obama wants to price us out of energy, this is a war on how we live in America.

Carlos Duran is with a national organization of Latino evangelicals. Harry Alford is with the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Hispanic and African-American activists have been lobbying against the President’s agenda on this one, saying tougher regulation of greenhouse gas emissions will put a disproportionate squeeze on minority and low-income Americans.

ALFORD: We need to fight them, we need to fight them hard, fight them fierce.

If the rules get implemented, Democrats could feel a backlash in November. Niger Innis is with the civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality.

INNIS: We don’t plan to make a political statement as such in the upcoming elections but we do plan to support policies and candidates that support our agenda.

"This Week in Energy Policy" continued Wednesday with the President’s announcement of plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the waters off Florida and Virginia. According to the Interior Department, the plan amounts to the largest increase in offshore drilling in 30 years.

According to some Republicans, it doesn’t go far enough. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) finds fault with the part that says drilling has to be at least 100 miles off-shore.

BALART: It doesn’t seem to open anything up whatsoever of substance. It does have some very small tweaks of maybe opening up a couple spots. It does however delay, or frankly stop drilling, and the exploration in most parts.

While Republicans struggle to take ‘yes’ for an answer – some Democrats take exception to any new off-shore drilling, saying there are still untapped resources within current limits.

Coming close on the tail on the president’s announcement on off-shore drilling was the unveiling of new ‘clean car’ fuel efficiency standards. And the hood was still warm on those when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson hastily gathered the press for a telephone news conference to announce new rules for mountaintop mining.

JACKSON: Let me be clear: this is not about ending coal mining. This is about ending coal mining pollution. Coal communities should not have to sacrifice their environments or their health or their economic future to mountaintop mining.

The agency is sending "further guidance" to regional EPA offices in Appalachian states to clarify the Clean Water Act standards as they apply to surface coal mining projects. Companies with permit applications pending are likely going to have to rework those proposals.

After spending $350 million on marketing and outreach in 28 different languages, federal officials still find themselves really having to SELL a certain once-a-decade ritual.

NORTON: Today all over the United States, this is...Census Day!

At a rally Thursday in Freedom Plaza, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton didn’t focus on the importance of the Census in reapportioning Congressional seats. Instead she focused on the District’s piece of $400 billion in federal funds for health care, schools, law enforcement, transportation, and other government services.

That was This Week in Congress. I’m Elizabeth Wynne Johnson, Capitol News Connection.

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