Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Congress introduces National Service bill (includes environmental work); Obama administration near curb on some strip mining

Congress is considering the “Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act” HR 1388, and it has been placed on the calendar. This bill is essentially a "national service" act with carrots but no sticks. The govtrack reference is here. The bill was introduced by Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) on March 9, 2009. The New York Times has an editorial March 24 “Expanding National Service” on p A24, link here.

The bill attempts to raise the number of volunteers from 75000 to 250000 and offers a stipend of about $5300, similar to a Pell Grant. There will also be a program for those over 55 years old. The positions include mentoring, but also include energy efficiency and environmental cleanup.

The March 29 Time has an op-ed by President Obama "Building a New American Era Needs Your Service: A New Era of Service Across America" here. There is a picture in which Obama lends a hand at Sasha Bruce Youthwork in Washington on Jan. 19.

Regarding the environment, there are stories floating (as on ABC World News Tonight) that the Obama administration will soon restore more restrictions on “mountaintop removal” in strip mining for coal. Apparently Obama will roll back Bush's relaxation of stripping rules in December 2008. Specific references will be supplied when available.

Picture: Mountaintop removal from Wikimedia (public domain -- go to Wikipedia article on "mountaintop removal"), believed to be in southern W Va. I visited the area in 1999 but public highways do not lead to views of the mine; they may be seen from the air from flights around Charleston W Va.

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