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Press Releases :: January 24, 2007

Committee Advances First Legislation of 110th Congress

Methamphetamine Clean-Up, Commemoratives Now Set for Vote by Full House

In its first full Committee meeting of the 110th Congress, the House Committee on Science and Technology today officially organized and adopted rules for the new session.

The Committee also approved three pieces of broadly supported bipartisan legislation aimed at cleaning up methamphetamine abuse in local communities, supporting science education and honoring U.S. engineers.

"I’m proud these bills are the first to clear our Committee in the new Congress," said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).  "One will bring much needed help to state and local law enforcement communities working to combat our country’s dangerous ‘meth’ problem; the others will raise the importance of science and engineering; and each underscores areas the Committee will be active in this Congress."

Ranking Member Ralph Hall (D-TX) said, "I am very pleased that the Science and Technology Committee was able to start off the new Congress on such a positive note.  We came together for the first time and passed valuable legislation that will help communities handle the cleanup of dangerous pollutants from methamphetamine labs.  We were also able to honor the great work of America’s engineers and African American chemists.  I look forward to working with Chairman Gordon on many more important issues this Congress."

H.R 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2007, cleared the Committee with unanimous support.  The legislation focuses on the clean-up needs for former methamphetamine or "meth" labs – one of the most devastating problems facing communities across the country.

"While Tennessee has been hit especially hard by meth abuse, the problem isn’t limited to any one state," said Gordon.  "We must take action now to get this dangerous drug out of our nation’s communities and to clean up former meth labs."

An extremely addictive drug, meth continues to gravely damage the lives of individuals and families in nearly every area of the country.  Its production and use has taken a considerable human and environmental toll on local communities.  Untrained individuals "cook" meth using toxic chemicals in makeshift laboratories leaving behind dangerous, often hidden residues that threaten the health of all who come into contact with them.

H.R 365:

  • Requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop model, voluntary, health-based clean-up guidelines for use by states and localities;
  • Authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to initiate a research program to develop meth detection equipment for field use; and
  • Requires a study by the National Academy of Sciences on the long-term health impact of exposure to meth labs on children and first-responders.

Chairman Gordon first introduced the bill in the 109th Congress (H.R. 798).  It passed both the House and Senate, but failed to complete the process before time expired in the 109th session.  The consensus bill reintroduced in the 110th session contains two changes from the original – (1) it moves responsibility for oversight of the program from the Assistant Secretary of the Office of R&D at EPA to the EPA Administrator, and (2) the funding and authorization levels have been slightly reduced.

The legislation is expected to clear both the House and the Senate in short order.

"Unfortunately the need for this legislation is as strong today as when I first introduced it a year and a half ago," added Gordon.

Two commemorative resolutions also cleared the Committee today.

H. Res. 59, a resolution Supporting the Goals and Ideals of National Engineers Week, sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), expresses the House’s support for this honorary week, aims to increase interest in engineering and technology careers, and promotes literacy in math and science.  National Engineers Week (February 18-24, 2007) plays a significant role in raising public awareness of the important and positive contributions made by engineers to our quality of life.

"Now, more than ever, it is important to recognize the many contributions that engineers have made to all Americans and the role they must continue to play if we are to remain competitive in an increasingly connected global economy," said Lipinski.

H. Con. Res. 34, a resolution Honoring the Life of Percy Lavon Julian, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) honors the life’s accomplishments of Dr. Julian, a black chemist who overcame tremendous obstacles to earn a masters degree from Harvard and doctorate from the University of Vienna.  Dr. Julian is credited with the synthesis of a chemical treatment for glaucoma, and he also synthesized cortisone for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.  A similar Senate measure was introduced on January 23 by Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).

"As a black chemist of international fame, Dr. Julian is a role model for future generations of minority scientists," said Johnson.  "I hope the Committee will continue to consider policies that encourage more women and minorities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math."

Chairman Gordon expects these bills to be considered soon by the full House.

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