CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 629, TEXAS LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL COMPACT CONSENT ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 144, No. 104
(House of Representatives - July 29, 1998)

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   CONFERENCE REPORT ON H.R. 629, TEXAS LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE 
                      DISPOSAL COMPACT CONSENT ACT

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Before recognizing the gentlewoman, the 
Chair would like to wish her a happy birthday.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, that is very kind. I appreciate that.
  Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House 
Resolution 511 and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

                              H. Res. 511

       Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be 
     in order to consider the conference report to accompany the 
     bill (H.R. 629) to grant the consent of the Congress to the 
     Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact. All 
     points of order against the conference report and against its 
     consideration are waived.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Pryce) is 
recognized for 1 hour.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I 
yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. 
Slaughter), my good friend and colleague, pending which I yield myself 
such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, 
all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.


                             General Leave

  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks on this resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Ohio?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, July 28, the Committee on 
Rules met and granted a rule to provide for the consideration of the 
conference report accompanying H.R. 629, the Texas low-level 
Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Consent Act. The rule waives all 
points of order against the conference report and against its 
consideration.
  Mr. Speaker, in 1980, Congress passed legislation to provide a system 
for States to take responsibility for the disposal of low-level 
radioactive waste. Examples of low-level radioactive waste include that 
which is disposed of by hospitals, universities conducting research, 
and by electric utilities. This waste poses relatively few risks and 
typically does not require any special protective shielding to make it 
safe for workers and communities.
  When it passed the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980, 
Congress recognized that, while the Federal Government should handle 
high-level waste, that States should be primarily responsible for 
disposal of the low-level waste generated within their own borders. 
Through the 1980 act, Congress encouraged States to either build their 
own disposal sites or enter into compacts with other States to share 
waste disposal facilities. That is exactly what the States of Texas, 
Vermont and Maine have done.
  Mr. Speaker, on October 7, 1997, this body considered and passed H.R. 
629 by an overwhelming vote of 309 to 107. During its initial 
consideration in this body, an amendment was accepted to limit the 
compact disposal facility to accept waste solely from the States of 
Texas, Maine and Vermont. This amendment was accepted on the condition 
that the affected States would be consulted as to the impact such a 
limitation would have on their ability to effectively implement the 
compact.
  The conferees concluded, after consultation with the affected States, 
that the limiting language would not be in the best interests of the 
compact. The additional language would present serious questions 
regarding the need for reratification, and it would lead to costly 
litigation, and it would create an uneven playing field within the 
compact system. In addition, such a limitation would create a possible 
infringement on State sovereignty.
  Compacts are contractual agreements between the States, as required 
by Congress. In fact, Congress has historically ratified them without 
amendments. This rule will provide for the consideration of a clean 
bill that deals with a straightforward process, the ratification of an 
interstate compact under the 1980 law, as Congress intended.
  Once again, it is important to point out that the States of Texas, 
Maine and Vermont have done their job. They have negotiated a compact 
between them to provide for the responsible disposal of low-level 
radioactive waste and submitted it to this body as required under 
Federal statute, for the consent of the Congress. That is exactly what 
this conference report will allow us to do: tell the States of Texas, 
Maine and Vermont whether or not we accept their mutual agreement.
  As I have stated before, Congress has already given its consent to 
nine such compacts covering 41 States. This conference report will 
ratify compact number 10.
  This conference report has the strong support of the governors of the 
member States as well as the National Governors Association, the 
Western Governors Association, the National Conference of State 
Legislatures, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  Mr. Speaker, as we heard during the testimony in the Committee on 
Rules, this issue has been around for a long time. Adoption of this 
rule and the conference report will finally allow the States of Texas, 
Maine and Vermont to see light at the end of the tunnel.
  Therefore, I encourage my colleagues to support the rule so that we 
may consider the conference report on H.R. 629. I urge a ``yes'' vote 
on this rule.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  (Ms. Slaughter asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
her remarks.)
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding, and also wish her a 
happy birthday.
  Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 511 waives all points of order against the 
conference report on H.R. 629 and against its consideration. This 
conference agreement would grant congressional consent to an interstate 
compact among the States of Texas, Maine and Vermont providing for the 
disposal of low-level radioactive waste.
  Mr. Speaker, conference reports are normally privileged and do not 
require rules for their consideration on the House floor. Why does this 
report require a rule?
  The answer is that the conferees chose to delete from the conference 
report certain provisions included in both the Senate and House bills. 
This is a violation of clause 3 of rule XXVIII that requires conference 
reports to be within the scope of the disagreements submitted to the 
conference committee. In other words, despite the fact that both bills 
contain similar provisions, the conference report did not include those 
provisions.
  Under clause 6(f) of rule X, conferees shall ``include the principal 
proponents of the major provisions of the bill as it passed the 
House.''

                              {time}  1030

  This provision is designed to ensure that the House conferees fight 
for the provisions of the House bill. However, in this case, a conferee 
testified at the Committee on Rules that he checked with the Governor 
of Texas and followed his wishes, rather than the expressed will of the 
House. Apparently neither the House nor the Senate conferees fought for 
the provisions in each of their bills that the conference report 
deleted.
  As we all know, conference committees have enormous power to shape 
legislation. The only checks on that power are the handful of points of 
order that individual Members can raise against the consideration of 
the conference report.
  Under the rules of this House, a single Member can make a point of 
order against this conference report because it eliminated the 
provisions contained in the House and Senate versions. But the rule we 
are now considering prohibits that point of order from being raised. 
The proposed rule prohibits Members from exercising the protections 
expressly included in the House rules for the situation.
  I am not taking a position on the deleted material nor on the 
conference report itself. However, I have to ask Members, particularly 
the vast majority of us who do not serve on conference committees, to 
not lightly

[[Page H6517]]

waive their rights to challenge conference reports.
  Today's provision that the conference committee discarded may not be 
important to some Members, but waiving this point of order makes it 
easier to waive it the next time, and further erodes protections 
afforded every Member by House rules. Next time a Member might be the 
champion of a provision included in both the House and Senate bills 
through his or her strenuous efforts, but then would see it discarded 
by the conference committee.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask that my colleagues defeat the rule in order to 
uphold their own rights as guaranteed in the House rules.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Henry Bonilla).
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Ohio for 
yielding time to me.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose this rule. I realize that the majority 
on the Committee on Rules always tries to do their utmost to provide 
this body with the fairest of rules possible. In fact, this is a fair 
rule, considering the parliamentary needs that are required to consider 
this legislation.
  But I hope that the Members understand that I am going to oppose this 
rule because I am doing everying I possibly can to defeat this 
legislation, because this legislation is about something happening in 
my congressional district.
  This is the same legislation that was overwhelmingly defeated in the 
104th Congress by an overwhelming vote of 243 to 176 against. This is 
about allowing a low-level dump site of nuclear waste to be constructed 
in one of the poorest areas of the country that falls in the heart of 
my congressional district. So honestly, it does not matter what kind of 
rule was granted, because my constituents and I think this legislation 
is beyond repair.
  There are other developments that have occurred in this that have 
indicated it is dangerous to the environment in my congressional area. 
I will bring those up later, but at this point I would just like to 
advise my colleagues I oppose this rule.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 9 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Doggett).
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding time 
to me.
  Mr. Speaker, as the gentlewoman from New York has pointed out quite 
eloquently, regardless of one's position on the merits of this compact, 
the rules of the House have been violated and the instructions of the 
Senate and of the House have been disregarded.
  When this measure went to the conference committee, there were 
guarantees to protect the folks in Texas, that they would not be taking 
waste from States other than Maine and Vermont. There were guarantees 
that the people, the poor people of the Sierra Blanca area in the 
district of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla), would have some 
rights and remedies if their interests were abused, as they surely will 
be if this waste site is located in Sierra Blanca. But this is more 
than a matter of abuse of the rules of the House and the Senate and of 
parliamentary procedure and insider talk.
  I would suggest to my colleagues that anyone who has come to Texas 
has learned that one of the great qualities of our entire State is 
something called Texas hospitality. If you choose to visit our State, 
you will get more than just a pleasant ``Howdy,'' you will get nods and 
smiles, and ``How are you doing,'' from folks that do not even like you 
down there.
  We believe in genuine hospitality. It is a warm State in more than 
the temperature at this time, and those of us who grew up in Texas take 
a special pride in that Texas hospitality.
  But a very good and rare quality is being taken just a little too far 
when it comes to this compact, because there are those in Texas who 
basically are saying, ``Send us your radioactive garbage.'' 
Unfortunately, at the top of the list is our Governor, George W. Bush.
  It seems to me that the slogan that one can find on one pickup truck 
after another around Texas, and even a few other vehicles, ``Don't mess 
with Texas,'' is being converted by that administration into another 
slogan, ``Send us your mess; and in particular, send us your nuclear 
mess.''
  Governor Bush and other Statewide officials in Texas mostly have 
become largely silent on what is to become a nuclear waste dumping 
ground for this entire country, and that is the Sierra Blanca waste 
dump site in far West Texas.
  On April 19 Governor Bush was quoted in the Houston Chronicle with 
some very positive comments about the issue that this conference 
committee has now dumped. He said, ``My pledge is to make sure that 
those are the only two States beside our own to use this dump site.'' I 
was very encouraged by his comments, though he had been largely silent.
  Then I learned that within only a few days of that comment in Texas, 
that Governor Bush signed a letter on April 22 of 1998, within the same 
week, in which he urged the conferees to end the provisions that would 
provide the very protection that in Texas he said he was for.
  He was quoted the other day down in Brownsville as saying that he 
believed that this concept of limiting the dump to Texas, Vermont, and 
Maine, two small New England States sending a minimum amount of 
radioactive poisonous content to Texas, was such a good idea that he 
would be willing to write a State law to deal with this issue. The only 
problem is that if you have signed a compact ratified by Congress that 
provides otherwise, how are you going to write a State law?
  If it is such a good idea in Texas and Brownsville and in Houston to 
limit the nuclear radioactive garbage that is about to be dumped in the 
pay toilet out in West Texas, if it is such a good idea to write a 
State law, then why not speak up vigorously for what has been done by 
the United States Senate and the United States House, and that is to 
write it into Federal law that we were limiting that amount of garbage 
that will come to Texas, not to the world but to those two small New 
England States, which was the original justification for having this 
compact?
  We cannot have it both ways. Either we are in favor of protecting the 
people of Texas, as the Houston Chronicle called for yesterday in an 
editorial, we are either in favor of protecting the people of Texas, or 
we are in favor of extending that Texas hospitality a little too far 
and saying to the people of the United States, wherever they are, all 
of them who are in States who, since 1980, have not been able to get a 
single licensing agreement for a radioactive waste garbage site, ``We 
are sorry you had problems, but we in Texas love having nuclear 
radioactive garbage from all over the country, and send it down to the 
poor people of Sierra Blanca. Send it to the good people, send all your 
nuclear garbage to the good people of Sierra Blanca down in the 
district of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla), on the edge of the 
district of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes), because they love to 
have your garbage.''
  I want to tell the Members that the folks of that area do not want 
the nuclear garbage, and neither do many people across the State of 
Texas. The more they learn about the dangers of this dump site, the 
less they are going to want it.
  There is a significant question here about why this particular site 
was chosen in the first place. I understand, and I am sure Members will 
hear that, oh, no, this does not have anything to do with the selection 
of a particular site. We are just going to arrange for all the garbage 
from around the country to roll into Texas. There is no guarantee it is 
going to go to Sierra Blanca.
  Indeed, some administrative law judges in Texas have recently 
questioned the Sierra Blanca site. The Sierra Blanca site was not 
chosen because it was the best place in the United States to locate 
nuclear garbage, or even the best place in the State of Texas. It was 
not chosen because it happens to be near a fault that recently had an 
earthquake and has had tremors, and might well expose this nuclear 
waste to flowing down the Rio Grande River, since it is so near the Rio 
Grande, poisoning the water supply for literally millions of people on 
both sides of the Rio Grande River.
  It was not chosen for those reasons. It was chosen because it was 
perceived that the people of Sierra Blanca lack

[[Page H6518]]

the political power to be able to do something to protect their 
neighborhood; that it was okay to take this garbage from across the 
United States and put it into a poor neighborhood that would not be 
able to resist.
  That is just not my comment on it. I turn to the comments of some two 
Texas A&M professors, employed by who actually promote this dump. This 
is in an article that appeared in the Texas Observer on October 24 of 
last year.
  They said, ``The findings of this survey suggest that a broad-based 
public information campaign designed to familiarize the general public 
with all aspects of waste disposal siting might prove detrimental. A 
preferred methodology might be to develop public information campaigns 
targeted at specific populations. One population that might benefit 
from such a campaign is Hispanics. This group is the least informed of 
all segments of the population. The authorities should be aware, 
however, that increasing the level of knowledge of Hispanics may simply 
increase opposition to the site.''

  And indeed, that is exactly what has happened. The more that 
particularly the heavily Hispanic population of West Texas has learned 
about the dangers of this dump site, the more they have questioned it.
  Indeed, the more people of any ethnic origin in Texas, including, I 
am sure, the readers yesterday of the Houston Chronicle, learned that 
this is about to become a dump site for garbage from all over the 
country, the more they are going to resist the idea, and say, ``We 
still like the sign that we see on the bumper stickers on the back of 
pickup trucks all over Texas: ``Don't mess with Texas.'' Don't send us 
your nuclear garbage.
  Another phony argument that the supporters of this compact advance is 
that if we do not have this dump site, we are going to practically end 
medical and academic and industrial research in this country.
  Ninety-nine, to be charitable to the supporters of this dump, 98 
percent of the garbage that is going to be dumped here does not have 
anything to do with medical, academic, or even industrial research. 
Most of this garbage is coming out of decommissioned nuclear power 
plants.
  It may well be that some with Maine Yankee Power think they can cut a 
better deal to put it somewhere else, and then assign their rights to 
others who have nuclear garbage around the country. That is why this 
provision is so anti-Texas, and why it is so strange that, as we gather 
here today, despite a vote of the United States Senate and of the 
United States House in favor of limiting this dump to Texas, Vermont, 
and Maine, that the conference committee has taken that protection off, 
that it has removed the protection to the people of Sierra Blanca and 
the surrounding area that Senator Wellstone put in, and why this rule 
should be rejected.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to 
the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Dan Schaefer), the chairman of the 
Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman 
very much for yielding time to me.
  Mr. Speaker, I stand today in support of House Joint Resolution 511. 
This is a rule providing, as we all know, for the consideration of the 
conference report to accompany H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste Compact Consent Act.
  This important legislation, of course, would grant the consent of 
Congress to the States of Texas, Maine, and Vermont to enter into a 
compact for the disposal of low-level, low-level radioactive waste. I 
might say that nine other States have already done this. This would be 
the 10th State to do it.
  The rule waives all points of order against consideration of this 
report. This is necessary for the House to consider a clean, clean 
compact bill as the conferees have recommended.
  During the consideration in the House, an amendment was adopted which 
restricts the Texas compact to accept waste solely from Texas, Maine, 
and Vermont. Now, this language was accepted on one condition. That is 
that we have a chance to consult with the Governors of the three 
affected States regarding its impact on the ability to implement the 
compact.
  The consultations were emphatic. All three Governors, all three 
Governors, opposed the amendment adopted by the House. The opposition 
was not limited to these three States. The National Governors 
Association, the Western Governors Association, the National Conference 
of State Legislators all contacted us in opposition to the House-passed 
language.
  The Low-level Radioactive Waste Policy Act passed by Congress in 
1980, 1980, provided the States with great latitude in implementing its 
requirements.

                              {time}  1045

  It was not the intention of Congress to create a prescriptive idea 
for the States to adopt. In considering H.R. 629, the States have 
reminded us of this fact. The action to eliminate the provision which 
requires us to seek this rule is a necessary one to preserve the 
flexibility of the States. And I say to the States, we want States' 
rights in implementing not only the Texas compact but the 
administration of the entire compact system.
  All eight conferees, both Republicans and Democrats, House and 
Senate, agreed that this was a proper course of action. The States of 
Texas, Maine, and Vermont have fulfilled their responsibilities. They 
have negotiated a disposal contract between themselves and have 
presented it to Congress for our consent. This is a very good rule. It 
will allow the House to do the right thing for the States of Texas, 
Maine, and Vermont.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support for the rule.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. I yield to the gentleman from Texas, 
one of the cosponsors of the bill.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I will be brief because I know we 
have a long way to go today.
  Notwithstanding my great respect for the gentleman from Travis 
County, Texas (Mr. Doggett), I opposed his amendment on the floor here. 
But the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) and others of us got together 
and I think we thought, not hysterically but from the standpoint of 
reason, it was the easiest way to deal with it, to send it on to 
conference and we could work it out.
  Mr. Speaker, we tried to do that, and we have been unsuccessful in 
working it out with the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett). We have 
carried out our part of the bargain. We sought the views of the 
governors; and, yes, we sought the views of Governor Bush, our 
governor, my governor, the governor of the State of Texas and the 
governors of the other two States. They oppose the Doggett amendment, 
and under these circumstances I fully support the conference report and 
the rule requested by the chairman.
  We will get a chance to talk about a lot of these things that the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) set out later today, because we have 
other phases of it. But Texas is not about to get all the garbage. I 
think it is everyone's knowledge that there is a limitation on the 
amount that can come. I think it is 1.8 million cubic feet. Of that, 
only 20 percent of that can come from the other States. There is not 
going to be a trainload and a truckload and an airplane load and a 
pickup truckload of garbage coming into Texas from all areas. It is 
relegated to that amount from those two States.
  That is the reason Congress passed this act to start with, to give 
States an opportunity to bind together to work out a situation to where 
they can put their low-level waste. That has happened and it has not 
been a one-way street. We have had hearings, public hearings. The three 
governors have had speeches and all over the State.
  We have debated this three or four or five times here on the floor, I 
think. It is just common knowledge that this is the ninth or tenth such 
program that Congress provided for. We followed that rule to the extent 
of the law, and we think that this rule ought to be granted.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Edwards).
  Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Speaker, it would be convenient if we lived in a 
country and a world that had no low-level nuclear waste. We would all 
like that. But we do not have the luxury of enjoying that convenience, 
because that is simply not the real world in which we exist.

[[Page H6519]]

  The fact is that, from hospitals to medical offices to dental 
offices, we have low-level nuclear waste. The question today is not are 
we going to have it or what amount are we going to have; the question 
is what to do with it. And that is exactly the question this Congress 
considered in 1985 when it passed the Low-Level Radioactive Waste 
Policy Amendments Act.
  In this act, Congress' intent was to give States the authority to 
work together so that we could provide sites for the location of low-
level nuclear waste, so that we could encourage management of low-level 
nuclear waste, so that we do not have literally thousands and thousands 
of sites, perhaps unsafe, low-level waste in utility companies' arenas 
and the back doors of hospitals all across this country. There was a 
reason why this Congress passed that compact and the reason is it was 
supported by the American people at that time.
  Since then, there has been a good reason why 42 States have chosen 
voluntarily to participate in this process of safely and smartly 
managing the inventory of low-level waste.
  Today, those of us from Texas that support this, and let me point out 
for the record, despite my good friends, whom I greatly respect, the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Doggett) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes), despite their 
opposition, the majority of the members of the Texas delegation here in 
the House support this compact.
  Republican Governor George Bush supports it. Democratic Governor Ann 
Richards at the time she was governor of Texas supported it. This is a 
compact that 42 other States have had the right to participate in since 
the passage of the original bill in 1985.
  Today Texas, Maine, and Vermont are not asking for anything special. 
We are just asking other delegations to respect our right to do what 
they chose to do under the 1985 law.
  Late last year, Mr. Speaker, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 
629, and the Senate passed it without objection. I believe it is time 
to put this issue to rest. It is time to vote on H.R. 629 so we can 
finally resolve the question of how to effectively manage low-level 
waste in our three particular States.
  Mr. Speaker, we gave the States responsibility to handle this waste 
and, as I have said, the governors have negotiated an interstate 
compact which comports with our policy and all three legislatures 
overwhelmingly approved that compact.
  Now, the opponents to this bill, and they have legitimate reasons and 
I respect their concerns and their reasons for opposition, but they 
want, in many cases want to change Federal policy regarding low-level 
radioactive waste. They want Congress involved in individual States' 
decision.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge support of this rule and urge passage of the 
bill.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Maine (Mr. Allen).
  Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. 
Slaughter) for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge support of this particular rule. 
This matter, as the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards) just said, has 
come before this House now on several occasions and all we are asking 
is to give the citizens of Texas, Vermont, and Maine a chance to enter 
into an agreement to dispose of their low-level nuclear waste in a way 
that makes sense.
  I would say this, the reason that it is important to do this without 
any amendment is that an amendment means delay. The agreement that was 
reached in Maine, it was adopted by referendum of all the people. Then 
it went to the State legislature. In both Vermont and Texas, it has the 
support of the legislature and the governors of those States. This is a 
matter that has come to us with unanimous approval of the State bodies 
that have jurisdiction over this particular issue.
  Mr. Speaker, all we are asking is to get it through and allow us to 
dispose of our low-level radioactive waste in a way that makes sense.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) was reminding those from that 
State that they are not going to see a flood of low-level radioactive 
waste from Maine and Vermont, and that is accurate. We are not 
generating low-level radioactive waste at such a level that it should 
be a burden. But we are committed to help pay for this facility. We are 
sharing in the cost of this. For that reason, what I am asking all 
Members to do today is respect what these three States have 
accomplished, support the rule, and I urge passage of the underlying 
bill.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of 
my time.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 8 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Reyes).
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. 
Slaughter) for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong opposition to this rule. I am 
here again today to ask that this body do the right thing for the 
people of West Texas. The conference report on H.R. 629, the Texas Low-
Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Act, is in my opinion and in the 
opinion of others, including those people that live in West Texas, an 
affront to all of us and to those of us that represent them in this 
body.
  This conference report strips a key provision from the bill that both 
the House and the Senate had adopted. Unlike both the House- and 
Senate-passed measures, the conference report does not include a 
provision that would restrict waste at the selected site to the States 
of Texas, Maine, and Vermont.
  I ask, how can this House in good conscience vote to waive all points 
of order against this report?
  Mr. Speaker, this is my first term, but as I heard and as I 
understand the comments of the gentlewoman from New York, this is a 
highly unusual way to bring back a conference report for a vote.
  I think that it is clear that the provisions that were both on the 
Senate and the House side were, to use an old West Texan term, finagled 
off in a highly unusual maneuver in requiring a rule on a simple 
conference report. I think that is wrong and I think that the people of 
West Texas deserve better treatment by this House than they have 
received on this.
  By voting for the conference report, my colleagues are saying to all 
the Members of this House that it is okay to ignore the will of this 
body, that it is okay for eight conferees to ignore the rest of all of 
the senators and representatives that represent the people throughout 
this country.
  Members should vote against this conference report because the 
conferees violated the scope of their authority. That I think is very 
clear. We should not let this House vote on a bill that ignores the 
will of both the House and the Senate. I am sure that without this key 
provision, which is the Doggett amendment which would restrict nuclear 
waste to Texas, Maine, and Vermont under H.R. 629, that bill would 
never have passed in the Senate.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to defeat this rule and send this 
bill back to conference where it belongs. Let us all together today 
send a strong message that the conferees cannot and should not ignore 
the will of the House and the Senate. I urge all of my colleagues to 
vote against this rule.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. REYES. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the States of 
Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New 
Jersey are not a part of the compact at present. My question is, are 
there not a number of very large States with a significant amount of 
potential to generate nuclear garbage, specifically Michigan, New 
Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, that do 
not have a compact partner right now and would love to send their 
garbage down to Sierra Blanca?
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, that is correct.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would continue to yield, 
indeed, did not the former governor of Connecticut already inquire and 
try to become associated with this compact?
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, as a point of reference, that is one of the 
major concerns that we have. That once the site is in place, it will 
become a profit-generating venture that would accept

[[Page H6520]]

waste material not only from Texas, Maine, and Vermont but literally 
from throughout the country.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, without the amendment that this House and 
the Senate approved, there is absolutely nothing to keep a group of 
unelected commissioners, appointed by the same governors who may have 
said, as in our case, one thing in Texas and another thing up here in 
Washington about this compact, from taking that nuclear waste from any 
of those States; or maybe some of the ones that are in compacts already 
but are part of those compacts that have been unable to get a licensing 
agreement since way back in 1980, almost 20 years ago?
  Mr. REYES. That is correct. And the potential exists that this waste 
disposal site in Sierra Blanca, Texas, could conceivably become the 
only site where nuclear waste could be disposed of and could be stored. 
That is a very real concern for those of us that live in West Texas.

                              {time}  1100

  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will continue to yield, 
and then I noticed an editorial in my hometown paper, the Austin 
American Statesman, back in April that was entitled, ``Okay, If You 
Must, Keep It As Just Three.''
  It concludes, if a three-State compact really means just three, no 
one should fear putting that into law. It is the very least that can be 
done to reassure Texans they are not getting suckered.
  I want to ask the gentleman if he feels that the people of Sierra 
Blanca and west Texas will be suckered if this kind of proposal without 
the three-State limitation is approved.
  Mr. REYES. Absolutely. That is a very real concern that all of us 
have about this site that is scheduled to be into Sierra Blanca.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I know the gentleman is familiar with the 
terms of some of the other compacts that have been approved in the 
country for other States. We have heard so much about this Congress 
approving other compacts.
  Is it not true that some of those other compacts have provided 
representation for the very county and the very region where the 
regional facility would be located and that this particular compact 
does not give the people of El Paso or Sierra Blanca or Van Horn or 
Pecos or any of the area affected or any of the places through which 
that waste might be moved like Austin, Texas, they do not get any 
representation guaranteed in this compact agreement, do they?
  Mr. REYES. They do not. And therein lies the liability, not just for 
the people of Sierra Blanca, not just for those of us who live in west 
Texas, but literally for communities throughout this country that this 
waste material would be transported through to get to Sierra Blanca.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. REYES. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman has listed the three 
States that embody this agreement and he has listed five other major 
States that would like to send their low-level waste to Texas. I would 
like to add the other 44 States that would probably like to send their 
low-level waste to wherever they want to send it. When the gentleman 
says there is no way to keep them from it, I know that he is aware of 
the application, he is aware that the application limits it to 1.8 
million cubic feet, and that only 20 percent of that can come from the 
other two States. It does not allocate any to come from all the States 
the gentleman has named, nor the other 44.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will continue to yield, I 
am aware of the limitation and the application starting this out. But 
we are approving a compact that is to last for the ages. My concern is 
that, as the gentleman just pointed out, and I could not agree with him 
more, that all 50 States would like to send their garbage to Texas. My 
guess is that with the kind of hospitality that they are being shown by 
Governor Bush and others who have been even more silent than he has, 
that they will all have a chance to put Sierra Blanca on the map.
  It is a small place, heavily Hispanic, very poor. It is one of those 
places you can drive through and hardly know you have been through it 
when you are going down I-10 on the way to El Paso. It is going to be a 
point on the dot that they know about in Alaska and Vermont and 
Michigan and New York and all over this country, because it is going to 
be send your nuclear garbage there. Get a little bit in there now and a 
whole lot later when we amend the application.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Barton), a member of the Committee on Commerce.
  (Mr. BARTON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend his remarks.)
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule to 
govern floor debate on the conference report on H.R. 629.
  It passed the House 309 to 107 earlier this year. It is a good piece 
of legislation. It authorizes three States, Texas, Vermont and Maine, 
to enter into a compact to accept low-level nuclear waste. I think some 
of the rhetoric we have already heard in the rule debate is hotter than 
the waste that is going to be in this site when it is constructed. I 
think we ought to pass the conference report and let the three States 
go on about their business like we have already let 42 other States.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Green).
  Mr. GREEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague on the Committee on 
Rules for allowing me to speak today.
  As she mentioned, now we can hear the rest of the story. I rise in 
support of the rule and support of the conference committee report.
  Let me give the Members who are here on the floor and also in their 
offices and who are watching a little history about this compact. I 
think they have heard it over the last few years because I was in the 
State Senate in 1991, when we actually passed an interstate compact 
with Texas and Vermont and Maine, because under the interstate commerce 
clause, without a compact, if this site is built, whether it is in 
Sierra Blanca or anywhere else, it will be required to take waste from 
every State in the Union.
  I think my colleague, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) pointed 
that out. All 44 other States would like to send it here or 46, after 
we get other than what is in the compact. So if this site is going to 
be built without a compact, it would have to accept it from everywhere.
  Again, we did not pick the site, either in the legislature or here on 
the floor of this Congress. The site was selected by the folks in Texas 
which is what the intent was. It was not supposed to be by those of us 
who serve in Congress or in the legislature, because in Texas the 
legislature meets every 2 years whether they have to or not. It was 
selected by people who have the expertise to select sites, and they 
looked at sites in south Texas and west Texas, and they picked Sierra 
Blanca.
  If it was my choice, I would not pick Sierra Blanca, because we have 
another site in Texas who may not be at the same level now in the 
application process who actually wants it. But that is not our decision 
on this floor and that is not the decision on the floor of the State 
legislature. It is a decision by the experts and the people that the 
State hires in their regulatory agencies to make that decision. So that 
is why this bill is so important. If we are going to have that site, 
then the compact, just like the other compacts, is important that we 
ratify it here.
  The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments of 1985 established 
where States could develop compacts. Texas, under a former governor, 
not Governor Bush but Governor Ann Richards, worked out an agreement 
with Maine and Vermont to have this so Texas could limit our exposure. 
Again, we do not want to be the waste site for the Nation or the world, 
but we recognize the responsibility we have in our own State for our 
low-level waste that we generate. Some of it is from hospitals, some of 
it is from nuclear power plants, it is from all sources. But that 
product, that waste is now being stored on sites all over the State of 
Texas.
  That is why we need to put it in a secure location, a permanent 
location. My colleague from Austin mentioned that we are passing a bill 
for the ages.

[[Page H6521]]

 Granted, this low-level waste has a life much longer than any of us 
ever expect to be here in Congress or even our own lives, but we also 
know that Congress is in session all the time, the legislature is in 
session on a regular basis. They can change this, and they can deal 
with it. That is why it is so important today we pass this rule and 
adopt the conference committee report.
  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett).
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, the willingness and desire of our 
colleagues from New England to put this nuclear garbage as far away 
from there as possible out into west Texas is quite understandable. The 
silence in some cases and the open invitation of Governor George W. 
Bush that we accept all that nuclear garbage is a little bit more 
difficult to understand.
  It is difficult to understand, particularly because some of the 
latest reports suggest that we do not need as many radioactive waste 
dump sites as are currently planned, that economically it does not make 
sense. We should consider the fact that none of these dump sites have 
been licensed for almost 20 years, despite the fact that some compacts 
have been formed. If we get on the fast track in Texas to put all that 
nuclear garbage out in Sierra Blanca, guess where the major waste dump 
site for the country is going to be located? Right there in that poor 
Texan Hispanic neighborhood.
  I think that is one of the reasons why in June of this year some 95 
environmental groups and legislators in both Mexico and the United 
States asked Governor Bush to keep his word and to stop this ongoing 
project. Unfortunately, that has not happened.
  I find interesting the emphasis on the word ``low,'' when talking 
about nuclear waste or radioactive waste. Low. It reminds me a little 
bit of one of those late night commercials on television where someone 
is talking about ``how low can you go'' when buying a car or mobile 
home or something else that they might want to sell on there.
  Well, let me tell my colleagues how low this radioactive waste is. It 
is low enough to kill you. It is low enough to kill people for 
thousands of years to come. It is low enough to kill people who exist 
on this planet today and anyone in the future that might exist on this 
planet that would ever remember those of us that are gathered here on 
the floor of this Congress today. It is low for public relations 
purposes. It may be lower than the highest level of radioactive waste, 
but it is high enough to be lethal and deadly and not to be placed in 
Sierra Blanca.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Hall), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and 
Power.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue my 
discussion with the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) in hopes that we 
could win him over to see what his State needs and what these States 
have contracted for.
  I simply start out by saying if we do not have a compact, he would be 
exactly right. These other 44 States, these three States, Mexico 
perhaps, Canada, throw in the Virgin Islands if we want to, maybe want 
to send their waste to Texas or to any other State. That is the reason 
we have compacts. That is the reason the Congress, in its wisdom back 
several years ago, provided for these compacts. That is the reason nine 
other compacts have been signed and are working. So I think in all 
these States that, including Texas, we have to have the compact or we 
could be the target for all of those.
  Now, let me just talk a little, another minute about how a compact 
protects an area that enters into a compact. I am talking about these 
three States. I am talking about our State and the rights that we have 
and the vision that those that put this agreement and application 
together had for our State.
  I would tell the gentleman, he says, what is to keep it from 
happening, how can it not happen, how can we stop the flow of trucks 
and trains filing into this State? Well, it is very simple. Section 6 
of section 3.05 says, The commission may enter into an agreement with 
any person, State, regional body or group of States for the importation 
of low-level radioactive waste into the compact for management of 
disposal, provided that the agreement reaches a majority vote of the 
commission.
  They cannot just load up and say we are headed for Texas. They have 
to have the assurance and the authority of the commission.
  The commission, it says, may adopt such conditions and restrictions 
in the agreement as it deems advisable. That is local control in its 
finest sense. That is the commission of these three States. How much 
authority does the State of Texas have in that?
  Well let us read again. Let us go to article 3. This is the 
protection I think that the gentleman is seeking. I think this is going 
to give you some assurance that I hope turns the tide on this rule. Who 
makes that decision by the commission? Who is the commission? Is that 
somebody from the other 46 States, the other 49 States or these three 
States? This tells us who makes that decision. It is not guesswork. It 
is not who has the biggest truck or who has the longest railroad. This 
says there is hereby established the Texas Low-Level Radio Waste 
Disposal Compact Commission. That is the commission the other article 
alluded to.
  The commission shall consist of one voting member from each party 
State, except that the host State shall be entitled to 6 voting 
members. So the gentleman's State with 6 members, the other States with 
2 members, I think they could do something about a deluge of low-level 
waste or garbage, whatever.
  I have faith in the people that are going to be running this country 
in the future. I have faith in the legislature. The gentleman says do 
not mess with Texas. Do not mess with the legislature. Do not mess with 
Governor Bush. Do not mess with the governors of these other two 
States. Do not mess with all those public hearings that they have had. 
Do not mess with the Speaker of the House. Do not mess with the leader 
of the Senate. Do not mess with those who form the majority of the 
Senate and the House and voted for this, sent it on and asked for it, 
availed themselves of that that this Congress made available to them.
  I think we need to pass this rule and get on with our business.

                              {time}  1115

  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman 
from Maine (Mr. Baldacci).
  Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentlewoman for 
yielding the time. The Texas Compact Act was passed by a floor vote of 
309-107 in the House. The Texas compact has bipartisan support in its 
member States, in Congress and in the Nation. Congress has approved 
nine similar compacts for 41 States without amendments and without 
opposition.
  The compact's member States oppose any amendments to this 
legislation. I support the rule. I support the proposal. It is in the 
best interest of Texas, Maine and Vermont, and it is in the best 
interest of this country. These entities need this safe disposal site, 
they need cooperation and collaboration between these States, and the 
State legislatures, the States' governors and the people of these 
States have supported these efforts. I ask for the consideration of 
this legislation.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Bilbray).
  (Mr. BILBRAY asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. BILBRAY. Mr. Speaker, let us be very frank about this. The people 
that oppose the Texas compact traditionally oppose all of the low-level 
radiation compacts. Let us remember that 20, 30 years ago this material 
was going into landfills across this country.
  Those who oppose the compacts and oppose siting these facilities have 
to ask themselves, it is easy to attack a location, an option, but it 
is awful hard to get a better option. I would just ask those who oppose 
this compact or any other compact to remember that the Federal 
Government mandated this approach, legislated this approach, and now 
there are those in the Federal Government that would love to obstruct 
this approach. I just ask those that do not like the options that are 
being proposed by this compact, what is your alternative? To continue 
to leave this waste stream in Dallas, in Houston, in Galveston, in the 
hospitals and the research facilities in Texas and

[[Page H6522]]

in other States? What is your option of what do we do with this low-
level waste stream? This is the Federal mandated option that we placed 
on States. This is better than having the waste stream in our 
neighborhoods, next to our facilities, where our children are playing, 
where our grandparents are staying. So when you talk about this and 
say, is this the proper site, let me challenge you by saying, is the 
option better? Is it better to leave the waste stream where it is now, 
backing up and piling up in our neighborhoods? I would just ask that 
you consider the fact there may be people concerned about this site and 
about this compact, but go into your communities and ask your planning 
groups and your community groups and your families about do they want 
this waste stream left in their neighborhoods where it is now? The big 
untold story here is the fact that where this waste stream is and where 
it would be if it was not sited appropriately. This is the safest, most 
logical strategy. This is a strategy we decided on decades ago, and it 
is one that we should continue with. It is a rational strategy. Let us 
not have this waste in our neighborhoods. Let us have it in a safe 
facility.
  Ms. PRYCE of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time. Let me just say in response to some of my colleagues' concerns 
that this conference report contains the identical language of the 
other nine existing compacts. Further, it is not the intention of 
Congress to create a proscriptive regime for the States. It was 
intended to allow the States to manage for themselves the safe disposal 
of low-level waste as they see fit, without burdensome Federal 
regulation. It is important to note that all eight conferees agreed to 
this course of action.
  Let me remind my colleagues once again that this rule will allow the 
House to consider the conference report which is supported by the 
governors of the member States as well as the National Governors 
Association, the Western Governors Association, the National Conference 
of State Legislatures and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  I once again strongly urge my colleagues to support this rule and 
therefore allow the House to consider the conference report on this 
important legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the 
previous question on the resolution.
  The previous question was ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dickey). The question is on the 
resolution.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 313, 
nays 108, not voting 13, as follows:

                             [Roll No. 343]

                               YEAS--313

     Aderholt
     Allen
     Archer
     Armey
     Bachus
     Baesler
     Baker
     Baldacci
     Ballenger
     Barcia
     Barr
     Barrett (NE)
     Barrett (WI)
     Bartlett
     Barton
     Bass
     Bateman
     Bentsen
     Bereuter
     Berry
     Bilbray
     Bilirakis
     Bishop
     Bliley
     Blumenauer
     Blunt
     Boehlert
     Boehner
     Bono
     Boswell
     Boucher
     Boyd
     Brady (TX)
     Brown (FL)
     Brown (OH)
     Bryant
     Bunning
     Burr
     Burton
     Buyer
     Callahan
     Calvert
     Camp
     Campbell
     Canady
     Cannon
     Carson
     Castle
     Chabot
     Chambliss
     Chenoweth
     Christensen
     Clement
     Coble
     Coburn
     Collins
     Combest
     Condit
     Cook
     Cooksey
     Costello
     Cox
     Cramer
     Crane
     Crapo
     Cunningham
     Danner
     Davis (FL)
     Davis (VA)
     Deal
     DeGette
     DeLay
     Diaz-Balart
     Dickey
     Dicks
     Dingell
     Dooley
     Doolittle
     Dreier
     Duncan
     Dunn
     Edwards
     Ehlers
     Ehrlich
     Emerson
     English
     Everett
     Ewing
     Fawell
     Fazio
     Foley
     Forbes
     Fossella
     Fowler
     Fox
     Frank (MA)
     Franks (NJ)
     Frelinghuysen
     Frost
     Gallegly
     Ganske
     Gekas
     Gephardt
     Gilchrest
     Gillmor
     Gilman
     Goode
     Goodlatte
     Goodling
     Gordon
     Goss
     Graham
     Granger
     Green
     Greenwood
     Gutknecht
     Hall (OH)
     Hall (TX)
     Hamilton
     Hansen
     Harman
     Hastert
     Hastings (WA)
     Hayworth
     Hefley
     Hefner
     Herger
     Hill
     Hilleary
     Hobson
     Hoekstra
     Horn
     Hostettler
     Houghton
     Hoyer
     Hulshof
     Hutchinson
     Hyde
     Inglis
     Istook
     Jackson-Lee (TX)
     Jenkins
     John
     Johnson (CT)
     Johnson (WI)
     Johnson, E. B.
     Johnson, Sam
     Jones
     Kasich
     Kelly
     Kennedy (RI)
     Kennelly
     Kildee
     Kim
     Kind (WI)
     King (NY)
     Kingston
     Kleczka
     Klink
     Klug
     Knollenberg
     Kolbe
     LaHood
     Lampson
     Largent
     Latham
     LaTourette
     Lazio
     Leach
     Levin
     Lewis (CA)
     Lewis (KY)
     Linder
     Lipinski
     Livingston
     LoBiondo
     Lucas
     Maloney (CT)
     Manton
     Manzullo
     Martinez
     Mascara
     McCarthy (MO)
     McCarthy (NY)
     McCollum
     McCrery
     McHale
     McHugh
     McInnis
     McIntosh
     McIntyre
     McKeon
     Metcalf
     Mica
     Miller (FL)
     Minge
     Mollohan
     Moran (KS)
     Moran (VA)
     Morella
     Murtha
     Myrick
     Nethercutt
     Neumann
     Ney
     Northup
     Norwood
     Nussle
     Oberstar
     Obey
     Oxley
     Packard
     Pallone
     Pappas
     Parker
     Paul
     Paxon
     Pease
     Peterson (MN)
     Peterson (PA)
     Petri
     Pickering
     Pickett
     Pitts
     Pombo
     Pomeroy
     Porter
     Portman
     Pryce (OH)
     Quinn
     Radanovich
     Rahall
     Ramstad
     Redmond
     Regula
     Riggs
     Riley
     Rivers
     Roemer
     Rogan
     Rogers
     Rohrabacher
     Ros-Lehtinen
     Roukema
     Royce
     Ryun
     Sabo
     Salmon
     Sanchez
     Sanders
     Sandlin
     Sanford
     Saxton
     Scarborough
     Schaefer, Dan
     Schaffer, Bob
     Sensenbrenner
     Sessions
     Shadegg
     Shaw
     Shays
     Shimkus
     Shuster
     Sisisky
     Skaggs
     Skelton
     Smith (MI)
     Smith (NJ)
     Smith (OR)
     Smith (TX)
     Smith, Adam
     Smith, Linda
     Snowbarger
     Snyder
     Solomon
     Souder
     Spence
     Spratt
     Stearns
     Stenholm
     Stump
     Stupak
     Sununu
     Talent
     Tanner
     Tauscher
     Tauzin
     Taylor (MS)
     Taylor (NC)
     Thomas
     Thornberry
     Thune
     Thurman
     Tiahrt
     Traficant
     Turner
     Upton
     Vento
     Visclosky
     Walsh
     Wamp
     Watkins
     Watts (OK)
     Weldon (FL)
     Weldon (PA)
     Weller
     White
     Whitfield
     Wicker
     Wilson
     Wise
     Wolf
     Young (AK)

                               NAYS--108

     Abercrombie
     Ackerman
     Andrews
     Becerra
     Berman
     Blagojevich
     Bonilla
     Bonior
     Borski
     Brady (PA)
     Brown (CA)
     Capps
     Cardin
     Clay
     Clyburn
     Conyers
     Coyne
     Cummings
     Davis (IL)
     DeFazio
     Delahunt
     DeLauro
     Deutsch
     Dixon
     Doggett
     Doyle
     Ensign
     Eshoo
     Evans
     Farr
     Fattah
     Filner
     Ford
     Furse
     Gejdenson
     Gibbons
     Gutierrez
     Hastings (FL)
     Hilliard
     Hinchey
     Holden
     Hooley
     Jackson (IL)
     Jefferson
     Kanjorski
     Kennedy (MA)
     Kilpatrick
     Kucinich
     LaFalce
     Lantos
     Lee
     Lewis (GA)
     Lofgren
     Lowey
     Luther
     Maloney (NY)
     Markey
     Matsui
     McDermott
     McGovern
     McKinney
     McNulty
     Meehan
     Meek (FL)
     Meeks (NY)
     Menendez
     Millender-McDonald
     Miller (CA)
     Mink
     Nadler
     Neal
     Olver
     Ortiz
     Owens
     Pascrell
     Pastor
     Payne
     Pelosi
     Poshard
     Rangel
     Reyes
     Rodriguez
     Rothman
     Roybal-Allard
     Rush
     Sawyer
     Schumer
     Scott
     Serrano
     Sherman
     Skeen
     Slaughter
     Stabenow
     Stark
     Stokes
     Strickland
     Thompson
     Tierney
     Torres
     Velazquez
     Waters
     Watt (NC)
     Waxman
     Wexler
     Weygand
     Woolsey
     Wynn
     Yates

                             NOT VOTING--13

     Clayton
     Cubin
     Engel
     Etheridge
     Gonzalez
     Hinojosa
     Hunter
     Kaptur
     McDade
     Moakley
     Price (NC)
     Towns
     Young (FL)

                              {time}  1140

  Ms. ESHOO and Messrs. RUSH, McNULTY, SAWYER, HOLDEN and MARKEY 
changed their vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''
  Mr. RAHALL changed his vote from ``nay'' to ``yea.''
  So the resolution was agreed to.
  The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the provisions 
of House Resolution 511, I call up the conference report on the bill 
(H.R. 629) to grant the consent of the Congress to the Texas Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dickey). Pursuant to the rule, the 
conference report is considered as having been read.
  (For conference report and statement, see proceedings of the House of 
July 16, 1998, page H5724).
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Dan 
Schaefer) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) each will control 30 
minutes.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I am opposed to the bill, and because the

[[Page H6523]]

chairman and the ranking member are both in favor of the bill, under 
rule XXVIII I assert my right to be recognized for 20 minutes in 
opposition to the conference report.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) 
opposed to the conference report?
  Mr. HALL of Texas. I support it, Mr. Speaker.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, as a member of the minority also in 
opposition to the conference report, I ask unanimous consent that the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) yield to me 10 of his minutes that I 
may be allowed to control.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Prior to entertaining that request, under 
clause 2(a) of rule XXVIII, recognition of a Member opposed does not 
depend on party affiliation but is within the sole discretion of the 
Chair, page 759 of the manual.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) is senior to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Reyes), and therefore the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Bonilla) is recognized to control 20 minutes of debate.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I want to get this 
straight.
  I will control 20 minutes, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) will 
control 20 minutes, and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) will 
control 20 minutes of which I think he is going to yield 10 minutes to 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes).
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. That is accurate. That is the understanding 
of the Chair.
  Mr. BONILLA. Then, Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to allow the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes) to also have 10 minutes of my time to 
control.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.

                              {time}  1145


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Dickey). Will the gentleman from 
California please state his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. BECERRA. If I heard the Speaker correctly, the allocation of time 
is being distributed two-thirds to those who are in support of the bill 
and one-third to those who are opposed to the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. That is correct.
  Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, my parliamentary inquiry is, is it not the 
tradition of the House to divide the time equally between those who are 
in support and those who are opposed?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The House is now operating under clause 2(a) 
of rule XXVIII, and that is what is provided.


                             General Leave

  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent 
that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and 
extend their remarks on this legislation and to insert extraneous 
material on the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Colorado?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time 
as I might consume of my 20 minutes.
  H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact 
Consent Act would grant the consent of Congress to the low-level 
radioactive waste disposal agreement reached between the States of 
Texas, Maine, and Vermont.
  When Congress passed this Act back in 1980, it was a part of a 
broader general agreement whereby the States are responsible for the 
disposal of low-level radioactive waste while the Federal Government is 
responsible for high-level radioactive waste disposal. Since 1980 when 
the act was passed, 41 States have received the consent of Congress for 
their disposal compacts.
  The vast majority of low-level radioactive waste do not even require 
the use of special containers to protect against threats to human 
health. They include a wide range of materials, medical isotopes, 
university research wastes, and low-level wastes from nuclear power 
operations. In most cases, the radioactivity in these materials would 
decay to the point where there is no significant, no significant risk 
to human health after about 100 years.
  With the decision to put low-level waste responsibilities at the 
State level, the obligations of the Federal government have always been 
fairly limited. Our primary responsibility is to ensure that the 
compacts comply with the Federal Low-Level Waste Act. The Texas Compact 
meets this test without a doubt. The State legislatures and the 
Governors of Texas and Maine and Vermont have met their obligations 
under the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act. It is now our 
responsibility as Members of Congress to support the States in this 
decision.
  The conference agreement accomplishes this. It proposes a clean bill 
which does not include the amendments adopted during the floor 
consideration in the House and the Senate. This provides the States of 
Texas, Maine, and Vermont with the same flexibility enjoyed by nine 
other compacts Congress has already approved. It maintains an even 
playing field for the entire compact system. It is the right thing for 
the House to do at this time.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) and the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Hall), the sponsors of the legislation, deserve a great deal of 
credit for their strong leadership and capable effort in moving this 
bill and this conference report forward. I strongly support the 
conference report and encourage its adoption by the House.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself for 4 minutes.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the conference report to 
accompany H.R. 629, the Texas-Maine-Vermont Low-Level Radioactive Waste 
Compact. This is an oft told story because we have had many speeches on 
this floor. We have had many favorable votes.
  This is not just an important bill to the three States involved, this 
is an important bill to the entire United States and to any of those 
who want a safe disposal of low-level radioactive waste that is 
produced within their own borders.
  As my colleagues know, this material is produced by hospitals, 
universities, industries, power plants, you name it. Universities that 
teach industries that create jobs, and jobs mean dignity. We know all 
of that. We have talked about that before here.
  This is pursuant to a plan set out by Congress followed by other 
States successfully, voted on in the various States, signed by the 
governors, debated by the legislators and passed. They have had public 
hearings galore. I think absent this consent we seek today to this 
interstate compact, it is not likely that a facility to take care of 
these three States' waste or material could be built anywhere without 
this compact.
  This fulfills the plan that was envisioned by Congress some time ago 
and requested by the States when the legislation was enacted back in 
1982. It permits States to join together to select a site to design an 
interstate agreement and one that works for them.
  Congressional approval makes it possible for the States within a 
compact to control, and that is a very important feature, to control 
how much waste is accepted at the facility and for whom. The 
application controls that. That relegates it to a set amount. That set 
amount can only be changed by the commission set up in the law. That 
commission is controlled by the State where it is deposited because 
they have six votes. The other States have two votes. But it is a joint 
effort by all three.
  This legislation like the nine compacts Congress has previously 
approved permits these three States to exclude waste from other 
nonmember States. That is very important. It is important to our State, 
but it is important to the total thrust of the compacts, because it 
alludes to other States and gives them the same right and the same 
opportunity to exclude if they enter into a compact.
  It also allows the compact, if it chooses, to accept waste if so 
doing is in keeping with the purposes of the thrust. For example, 
taking out of region waste for a limited period of time might reduce 
operating costs. But that

[[Page H6524]]

is not our decision. That is the decision to be made at the local 
level, at the State level, by whoever is in control of the local level 
and the State level at the time that decision is made.
  The key is letting the compact make that decision and preserving the 
flexibility to do so. That is what this legislation was passed for. I 
think that is what H.R. 629 preserves.
  I thank the committee for its attention. I thank all of these Members 
for their votes of the past. I urge them to revote as they have in the 
past. Get this behind us. I would say this to the gentleman who 
represents the area where the site is: He has fought a valiant fight. 
He got here after many of the debates had been held and decisions have 
been made.
  But I have the same situation here. I have a wonderful friend who has 
a bad amendment, and we are going to try to turn back that amendment. 
But in doing so, we do not want to turn back the support that this fine 
Member has for the rest of the State, the great battle he has put up 
for his district. I admire him, yet I ask Members to support this 
thrust we are asking for today.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is a basic fundamental 
right as Americans that we recognize for generations that has made our 
country what it is today standing above and beyond any country in the 
history of this planet; that is, the rights are of those of us in 
communities to determine our own future and to determine our own 
destiny and our own communities.
  Also the right to private property and the right to have that 
property held sacred to us and that the value and that the use of that 
property is controlled as long as you are not hurting your neighbors 
and your friends that are existing adjacent to your property to allow 
that property to prosper over the years and to use it as you see fit.
  Those rights have been threatened, Mr. Speaker, by this compact, but 
more importantly by the State legislature at the turn of the decade 
that decided, along with Governor Ann Richards, to implement this low 
level nuclear dump site in the community of Sierra Blanca. The 
community opposed this strongly. I have the names here, which I will 
read at a later time, of 20 counties surrounding Sierra Blanca where 
this site was picked by Governor Richards, former Governor Richards, 
and the State legislature.
  We have discussed before, as my friend, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Green) has pointed out, that this issue we are voting on today has no 
reference at all to the site picked by the State legislature and 
Governor Richards many years ago.
  We are simply trying to do the right thing for the people of the 
community around Sierra Blanca and surrounding counties by trying to 
stop this thing at the final checkpoint before it is allowed to be 
implemented.
  The reasons for the opposition are very simple. There is unstable 
ground. The geology of the area has been reviewed over and over and, in 
fact, two administrative law judges who have looked carefully at this 
situation have determined that the earth is unstable in this area.
  How would you like it, whether you live in Manhattan or you live in 
Cleveland or you live in San Francisco or you live in West Texas where 
earthquakes have occurred, how would you like it if suddenly someone 
said that right next door they are going to start putting in 
containers, low level nuclear waste, that might leak out if the ground 
were unstable enough that it might threaten your property and your 
water supply and the future of the environment for the children that 
are growing up in this particular area?
  So the threat to the environment is real and has, in fact, back home 
in Texas, been documented by two administrative law judges that are 
recommending that now in the capital of Austin, the agency in charge of 
regulating this issue take this into consideration in the strongest way 
or in fact recommending that this not be accepted.
  The economic impact tied to the environment is also a very big issue 
that these administrative law judges have pointed out. So you can see 
why these two threats to the people of this community would have a huge 
impact on their ability to govern their own future and their economic 
growth surrounding the Sierra Blanca area and the counties surrounding 
that area as well.
  So we have a chance to do here in the United States Congress what 
again the State legislature at the turn of the decade and former 
Governor Ann Richards choose to dump on the people of West Texas, and 
we are the last hope for the folks of Sierra Blanca and surrounding 
counties.
  I have a list here, Mr. Speaker, in case there is any doubt of anyone 
in this body as to how the folks in West Texas feel about this: El Paso 
County, Presidio County, Jeff Davis County, Culberson, Val Verde, Webb, 
Starr, Hidalgo, Cameron, Zapata, Reeves, Brewster, Ward, Sutton, 
Kimble, Kinney, Crockett, Pecos, Maverick, Ector. We are almost getting 
started on the entire list of counties in the State of Texas that have 
passed resolutions, I have the dates here on which they were passed, 
opposing building this dump that threatens the environment and their 
local economies.
  We also have resolutions passed by 13 additional cities, 
municipalities in this area as well, that are opposed to this.
  We also have a problem with our neighbors in Mexico whom we have a 
treaty with to work together on environmental issues, the Treaty of La 
Paz, that designates clearly that we have to work with folks when it 
means that their environment ought to be threatened as well.
  We would not want them dumping nuclear waste within a few miles of 
the Rio Grande on the Mexican side. They also have expressed to us that 
they have a concern about this dump being constructed.
  So I ask my colleagues in this body to oppose this conference report. 
It is a threat to their rights to control their own destiny, the folks 
back in Texas, and their communities. It is a threat to their private 
property rights, and it is something that we have an opportunity again 
to fix something that the former governor and the State legislature, at 
the turn of the decade, dumped on the people of West Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Bonilla) because this is a tough issue but it is an issue that I 
find easy to defend because it is the right issue for our community and 
the area that we represent.
  I rise in opposition to conference report on H.R. 629 because, as I 
mentioned earlier, I do not believe that we should be considering a 
conference report that ignores the will of the House and the Senate. I 
do not believe we should be considering a conference report that has 
stripped a key provision from the bill that both the House and the 
Senate had adopted.
  Unlike both the House and Senate passed measures, the conference 
report does not include a provision that would restrict waste at the 
selected site to the 3 States, the States of Texas, Maine and Vermont.

                              {time}  1200

  As far as I am concerned, that, in itself, is reason enough not to 
move this bill forward.
  But if we need additional reasons to vote against this conference 
report, I would like to enter into the Record an article that has 
already been mentioned by my colleague from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) that 
was printed in the Dallas Morning News on July 8.
  As we can see in this article, two Texas hearing examiners 
recommended against licensing a low-level nuclear waste dump in far 
West Texas, at Sierra Blanca. The hearing examiners explained that the 
State Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority did not, and I 
repeat, did not adequately determine whether a fault under the site 
posed an environmental hazard or not.
  The examiners further stated that the authority did not adequately 
address how the proposed facility might harm the quality of life in 
that area, the quality of life of a constituency that we represent. 
Their protection, their interests are why we are opposed to this 
conference report.

[[Page H6525]]

  These findings are further evidence that the proposed radioactive 
waste dump is a potential environmental hazard which has not undergone 
adequate study by various State agencies.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask this body if Texas State regulators do not support 
the Sierra Blanca site, why should we jeopardize the health and the 
well-being of people in West Texas? I do not care how many times 
supporters of this bill say that a vote for H.R. 629 is not a vote for 
the Sierra Blanca site. It simply is a vote for that site. They know 
it, I know it, and the people of Sierra Blanca and El Paso know it.
  Mr. Speaker, by now, having heard the argument, even you know it. If 
H.R. 629 becomes law, it will endanger the safety and the welfare of 
the community and the people who live there.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he 
may consume to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton), the author of the 
bill.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado 
for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to try to very quickly go through what I think 
are the substantive points in this debate. I want to try to address 
some of the comments the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) and the 
gentleman also from Texas (Mr. Reyes) have already raised and, in 
advance, some of the comments that perhaps the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Doggett) will raise when he speaks in opposition.
  With regards to the fact that the conference report is coming back as 
a clean bill, if we look at the House Record of October 7, 1997, on 
page 8531, there is a colloquy or a dialogue between myself and the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) where I agreed to accept his 
amendment, but I did so with the reservation that we would check with 
the governor of Texas and let the representatives of Vermont and Maine 
check with their governors, and if they opposed the inclusion of the 
Doggett amendment, we reserved the right to strip that out in 
conference. The gentleman understood that and accepted it at the time.
  Well, we did check with Governor Bush in terms of Texas, we checked 
with the governors of Maine and Vermont, and they decided that they did 
not want to accept any amendments, because no other compact had been 
amended on the floor of the House or the Senate previously when those 
compacts had been agreed to. So the conferees did strip out the Doggett 
amendment.
  If Governor Bush and the other State governors had accepted it, we 
would have accepted it and reported it back.
  Let us talk about some of the environmental concerns that have been 
raised. We have talked about some water table concerns. The water table 
at the site is 700 feet beneath the site. The groundwater there moves 
very slowly. There is no analysis that says there could be groundwater 
contamination at all, period.
  With respect to the earthquake, and administrative law judges did 
state in their denial of the site a specific request that the 
earthquake analysis had not been adequately addressed. But they also 
said that that, in and of itself, was not a reason to deny the site.
  I want to go through some of the earthquake site-specific issues. The 
strongest earthquake that has ever been recorded in Texas history is 
6.4 on the Richter scale. This site is designed to withstand an 
earthquake of a magnitude of 6.0 directly beneath the site. The last 
time they can calculate there was ever an earthquake in the area was 
between 750,000 and 12 million years ago, Mr. Speaker, 750,000 and 12 
million years ago. That is 730,000 years before the pyramids were built 
in Egypt.
  The earthquake seismic activity rating for the region is, one, the 
same as Washington, D.C. This Capitol could not withstand an earthquake 
of 6.0 on the Richter scale directly beneath it. So I think there are 
some issues there. But again, even according to the administrative law 
judges' recommendation, in and of itself, the seismic concerns----
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. BARTON. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the gentleman yielding.
  I just want to remind my friend about the earthquake that struck in 
West Texas, I believe, if I am not mistaken it was just 2 years ago and 
there was damage caused. It was not right at this location, but it was 
not far away, in the Alpine area that, as the gentleman probably knows, 
is just a few miles away.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, a few miles away. My understanding 
is it was over 100 miles away, and it was less than 3 on the Richter 
scale. That is my understanding, but I could obviously be corrected.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield further, the 
earthquake did cause damage, enough to cause concern out in the West 
Texas area. And, as the gentleman knows, even though it covers vast 
distances that community is considered 100 miles up the road. As my 
friend knows, in that part of Texas, that is, in fact, just up the 
road.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, it is just up 
the road, I will admit to that, my good friend. But this site could 
withstand a 6.0 magnitude effort quake directly beneath it and sustain 
no damage; and, again, there was been no earthquake of this magnitude 
in the region in over 750,000 years.
  Let us talk about local support. My good friend (Mr. Bonilla) waved 
and alluded to a great list of Texas counties that oppose this site, 
and I have no doubt that that is a true list. In this county, the local 
elected officials that ran for reelection in the last local election 
supported the site and were reelected.
  Recently, in the office of American Statesmen there was an open 
letter asking that the site be approved signed by over 100 local 
residents, many of them elected officials. So I think that there is 
support for it in the region.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, this bill passed the House 309 to 107 back in 
October. Based on the rule vote that we just had, it is hopefully going 
to pass with that order of magnitude again in the next 30 or 40 
minutes. We need to pass this bill; we need to let Texas, Vermont and 
Maine go about their business; we need to let the State of Texas go 
ahead and address the concerns that have been raised by the 
administrative law judge.
  In conclusion, I want to read the conclusion of the administrative 
law judge's report. This is on page 7 TNRCC, docket number 96-1206-RAW. 
It says, and I quote,

       If the Commission approves the application, the draft 
     license should be modified to clarify that the facility could 
     accept waste containing a total of no more than 1 million 
     curies of radioactivity over the 20-year license term. With 
     this clarification, the performance assessment, including the 
     consideration of nonradiological impacts and accident 
     scenarios, is adequate.

  So the administrative law judge did not approve the site, but they 
did not disapprove it. They said that there are some concerns that need 
to be addressed by the Licensing Commission in Texas, and if those 
concerns were addressed, it should be approved.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Bentsen).
  (Mr. BENTSEN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. BENTSEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference report 
for H.R. 629, the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact 
Consent Act.
  I believe this bill is vital to protecting Texas from increasing 
amounts of out-of-State waste by entering into the compact. By 
ratifying this agreement, Texas will receive added protection to stop 
other States from shipping their low-level radioactive waste into the 
State. Texas will maintain complete control over the disposal site. 
Only Texas will decide whether or not another State may join the 
compact.
  Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to enter into the Record an 
article from the El Paso Times where Governor George Bush, the current 
governor of the State of Texas, says that he will ask the legislature 
to adopt such legislation when they meet in 1999, assuming, of course, 
he is reelected governor.

[[Page H6526]]

                [From the El Paso Times, June 26, 1998]

                Bush Wants Nuclear Waste Limit for Dump

                           (By Gary Scharrer)

       Brownsville.--Gov. George W. Bush will ask Texas lawmakers 
     to pass a law next year making it absolutely clear that only 
     Vermont and Maine may export nuclear waste to the Lone Star 
     State under a compact moving through the U.S. Congress.
       ``I think we ought to take this to the floor of the state 
     House and Senate and say, `We will limit future (compact) 
     commissioners to Maine and Vermont and Texas,' '' Bush said 
     Thursday at the start of the 16th annual Border Governor 
     Conference.
       Bush said he agrees with the spirit of an amendment by U.S. 
     Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, and U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, 
     D-Minn., that would restrict the proposed compact to low-
     level nuclear waste from those three states. But the nuclear 
     power industry opposes the amendment, which it contends will 
     delay opening of the state's low level nuclear waste dump 
     near Sierra Blanca.
       ``If it passes without that amendment, I think it makes 
     sense for the governor to propose a bill out of the Texas 
     Legislature that forever limits low level radioactive waste 
     to Texas, Maine and Vermont,'' Bush said.
       Opponents of the proposed dump site 90 miles southeast of 
     El Paso contend that for West Texas stands to become a 
     national dumping ground if the compact passes without 
     restrictions.
       A majority of appointed compact commissioners could decide 
     to accept nuclear waste from other states, according to the 
     pact already approved by the three states.
       More than 50 Mexican journalists are covering the Border 
     Governors Conference. The issue of low-level waste dominated 
     Bush's opening-day news conference.
       Bush assured Mexico's news media that Texas won't open the 
     dump ``unless it's safe.''
       The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is 
     expected to act later this year on a license application 
     necessary for opening and operating the dump.
       Some elected officials in Mexico contend the planned dump 
     will violate the La Paz Agreement negotiated by the two 
     nations in 1983 to prevent and eliminate pollution sources 
     within 52 miles of the international border. The Sierra site 
     is about 16 miles from the Rio Grande.
       Bush said he's already received a legal opinion indicating 
     the proposed dump does not violate the La Paz Agreement. 
     Those who disagree need to appeal to federal officials, he 
     said.
       ``This is a federal treaty. I would strongly urge Mexican 
     officials take it up with federal officials in Washington, 
     DC, to determine whether or not the treaty negotiated between 
     federal governments pertains,'' he said.
       Governors from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California 
     and most governors from the six Mexican border states are at 
     the two-day conference.
       Water and border crossings probably will get the most 
     attention, Bush predicted.
       Texas and bordering Mexican states face the second drought 
     in three years. A plan used two years ago to conserve and 
     share water is likely to be used again this summer, Bush 
     said.
       Both he and Republican Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull said a 
     proposed larger border-crossing card won't work because 
     Mexican citizens can't afford it.
       ``The idea of the card is fine,'' she said. ``I like the 
     high-tech idea, but it is far too expensive for the Mexican 
     family to afford. And I don't believe we will be able to 
     implement it this quickly, . . . I have suggested that they 
     delay implementation.''
       A laser card would cost $45 and would be good for 10 years, 
     but doesn't include photo, passport and visa costs.
       ``It's very important,'' Bush said, ``for the U.S. federal 
     government and the State Department to understand how 
     important daily traffic is between our sister cities along 
     the border, and we ought to make it easy for people to 
     receive a modern card.
       ``The idea of modernizing border-crossing cards is a good 
     idea. But to make it very expensive and difficult to obtain 
     is not a good idea.''
  Mr. BENTSEN. Mr. Speaker, just to make it clear, both Governor Bush, 
a Republican, and former governor Ann Richards, a Democrat, have 
supported this, as well as the Texas State legislature, which is a 
split legislature between Republican and Democrat. By entering into the 
compact, Texas can keep other out-of-State compact waste from entering 
into our State. Currently, 41 other States have entered into these 
types of compacts to prevent further importation of out-of-State waste.
  Now, with respect to the issue of the site, as was raised by my 
colleague from North Texas, the question of the administrative law 
judge as to the suitability of the site is again an issue for the State 
to decide. What we are talking about here is the issue of the compact 
with Maine and Vermont, and that is what we ought to concern ourselves 
with.
  It is very important to the State of Texas as it relates to the low-
level radioactive waste that we produce in my district at the Texas 
Medical Center all across the State of Texas. This is an issue that the 
State will decide. The bill establishes a structure for the State to 
decide, and it limits the amount of out-of-State waste that can come 
in.
  So I would urge my colleagues to do as they have done in the past and 
support the conference report.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2\1/2\ minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from San Antonio, South Texas (Mr. Rodriguez).
  Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me 
this time.
  I rise in opposition to H.R. 629, which is the Texas-Maine-Vermont 
low-level radiation waste dump bill. This bill, as originally written, 
would allow waste dump operators to dispose of waste in Texas from 
States other than Texas, Vermont and Maine. That is simply 
unacceptable.
  I served in the Texas legislature; and, in fact, of the Members that 
are here, I am one of the few that voted for the bill in 1993 when the 
low-level waste radioactive compact was approved. At that time, 
supporters of the bill insisted that the only waste generated of the 
three-member States would be disposed of at that site. It was on that 
understanding to the legislators that it was approved that only those 
three States would be able to dump in Texas.
  The House and the Senate have both passed amendments by my colleague 
from Texas and the Senator from Minnesota to require that only that 
waste generated in those three States be dumped there.
  Now, this is the first time, and I find it very unconscionable, that 
an amendment that is both put in on the House side and on the Senate 
side would now all of a sudden be stripped from both sides. Now, if my 
colleague from Texas indicated earlier that only waste from those three 
sites would be acceptable, then why not accept that amendment? Because 
we know otherwise, that basically they want to be able to dump from 
throughout the States; the other 49 States will be able to dump in 
Texas.
  Furthermore, I urge inclusion of the environmental justice amendment 
that was put on the Senate. This allows a party to bring suit in the 
case of discriminatory waste dumping. This particular locality has a 
major concentration of Mexican-Americans. I believe this is a safeguard 
for residents of the Sierra Blanca, and it is necessary in light of the 
predominantly minority population in that region where the facility is 
located.
  Supporters insist that the site is not finalized, but, in all 
honesty, they have already picked their site, and the judges have ruled 
against the site and they have ruled.
  I would disagree with my friend from Texas, there has been an 
earthquake there. I was in the Texas legislature prior to 1993 when we 
allocated some resources because of some structural damage on some 
State facilities in the region. So we need to honestly look at this 
issue and take it into consideration.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, could I ask as to the availability of time 
that we all have?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Dan 
Schaefer) has 10\1/2\ minutes remaining; the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Hall) has 14 minutes remaining; the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla) 
has 2\1/2\ minutes remaining; and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes) 
has 7\1/2\ minutes remaining.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas; excuse me, the gentleman from California (Mr. Becerra). He wants 
to be from Texas.
  Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, but if 
this bill goes through, I definitely would not want to be from Texas.
  I know my colleagues have heard quite a bit on this. I think it is 
unfortunate that, once again, we are seeing communities that are poor, 
oftentimes unrepresented well in the Congress because they may not be 
sophisticated politically; they may not have a lot of money to give to 
campaigns, or for whatever the reasons, now again being dumped upon.
  If I may, rather than speak words that I believe will be spoken by 
others of my colleagues here, let me read a letter that was just 
yesterday issued by

[[Page H6527]]

the largest Hispanic national organization in the country, the League 
of United Latin American Citizens.

                              {time}  1215

  LULAC goes on to say,

       The selection of a poor Mexican-American community (which 
     is already the site of one of the largest sewage sludge 
     projects in the country) brings to mind serious 
     considerations of environmental justice . . . The decision 
     Congress now faces on this matter cannot be made in a vacuum, 
     ignoring serious environmental justice questions that have 
     been raised about the site selection process. These unjust 
     procedures are an apparent contradiction of the 1994 
     Executive Order that firmly upheld environmental justice.
       LULAC would caution Congress not to be complicit in what 
     has become, whether intentional or not, a repulsive trend in 
     this country of setting the most hazardous and undesirable 
     facilities in poor, politically powerless communities with 
     high percentages of poor people of color. Only a vote against 
     the Texas, Maine, and Vermont Radioactive Waste Compact 
     conference committee report will ensure that this trend is 
     not extended into Hudspeth County, Texas.

  I would urge all Members to heed what one of the largest and oldest 
national organizations, representing a very large section of this 
country, is saying, not because of what it says, but because of what 
this bill will do to the people that live in those areas.
  We are looking at affecting the lives of more than 5 million people 
that live in that area of Texas, and I would hope that my colleagues 
would look a little closer before moving forward on a compact that 
would jeopardize the safety not just of people, but mostly of children.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sam Johnson).
  (Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise 
and extend his remarks.)
  Mr. SAM JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleagues 
harangue here about some of the things that are going on. They were in 
the legislature and voted on that in Texas, and so did I. I was there 
at the time.
  I hear people bad-mouth Ann Richards, our Governor at the time. She 
was of the other party, but I want to tell the Members, I thought Ann 
Richards handled the waste company issue well, and she and George Bush 
support this compact. To say that it is not the right thing to do is 
crazy. I do not know where these Members are coming from. If they voted 
for it, they ought to be for it. It is a State matter, not a Federal 
matter.
  For the gentleman to sit there and say that we have to determine our 
own destiny, and then turn around and say it is up to the Federal 
Government to put our destiny at risk, it is not, it is up to the 
States. The States made a compact. Three States made a compact, 
Vermont, Maine and Texas.
  To not approve that compact, which is in a conference report now, and 
it has been passed through both Houses, it is time for Congress to pass 
this compact so that those three States can get on down the road, and 
so that, in spite of what my colleagues are saying, Texas, Maine, and 
Vermont can store their low-level radioactive material. Because if we 
do not do it, Texas can be forced to take waste from other States in 
the Union, I am told. I think that is correct.
  Also, to sit there and talk about Mexico, when they are one of the 
worst violators of the environment I have ever seen, that they are 
going to oppose us putting clean, well-packaged waste into the ground, 
is crazy. And then for somebody to bring up the idea that we are 
attacking a low-wage earning community is also ridiculous. I cannot 
believe it. That area was picked because of the soil, because of the 
ground around it, because it is a safe storage place.
  The way we package these low-level radioactive items today, it is not 
dangerous. Members ought to go out to Nevada where they tested nuclear 
weapons. That is real hazard. I happened to be out there when they were 
testing them, and flew through some of those things as part of a test. 
I am not dead.
  I think that anything that Members try to say about this compact as 
far as earthquakes, floods, water contamination, et cetera, is just 
crazy. It is time we voted for this report, the way it should be. It is 
up to the Congress to confirm what the States have asked. I urge 
consideration and passage.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3\1/2\ minutes to the 
gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Sanders), who represents one of the States.
  Mr. SANDERS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the 
time.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the conference report. Let 
me say a few words on process, and then a few words on substance.
  In terms of process, what is important for everyone to understand is 
that this compact bill has been passed overwhelmingly by the 
legislatures of Texas, Maine, and Vermont, and the legislation is 
strongly endorsed by the Governors of Texas, Maine, and Vermont.
  In fact, in Vermont the legislature approved this legislation by 
voice vote in the State Senate and by a 3 to 1 margin in the House. In 
Texas, the Texas State Senate approved this legislation 26 to 2, while 
the Texas House approved it by voice vote. In Maine, both the House and 
Senate approved the bill by wide margins. Under a statewide referendum 
held in Maine, the legislation passed by better than a 2 to 1 margin.
  This bill, Mr. Speaker, is supported by both Senators from Texas, 
both Senators from Maine, both Senators from Vermont. It is supported 
by the entire Maine delegation in the House, all two Members; the 
entire Vermont delegation, me; and as I understand it, two-thirds of 
the Texas House. So there is opposition from some Members of the Texas 
House here, but two-thirds support this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, this compact is not a new idea. Since 1985, nine 
interstate low-level radioactive waste compacts have been approved by 
Congress, encompassing 41 States. I think all we are saying, if this 
approach is valid for 41 States in nine compacts, it certainly should 
be valid for Texas, Maine, and Vermont. That is the process.
  Let me say a few words on substance. Here, my views may be a little 
different than some of the people who are supporting this compact. I am 
an opponent of nuclear power. I think the nuclear power industry did us 
a disservice many, many years ago when they said, let us build the 
plants, except they forgot to tell us how we were going to get rid of 
the waste; a slight little problem.
  Now, all over this country, serious people, environmentalists, are 
worried, how do you get rid of low-level radioactive waste, which we 
are dealing with here? How do you get rid of high-level waste? That is 
a very serious problem.
  If I had my druthers, I would close down every nuclear power plant in 
America as quickly as we safely can. But the issue today is something 
different. The reality is, we have nuclear power plants. We have 
universities and hospitals that are using nuclear power. The 
environmental question today, therefore, is how do we get rid of that 
low-level waste in the safest possible way? In my view, that is what 
this legislation is about. I think the evidence is pretty clear that 
Texas is in fact the best location to get rid of this waste.
  The last point that I would make is there is nowhere in this 
legislation that talks about a specific site. Nowhere will we find 
that. We are not voting on a site. That decision is left to the 
authorities and the people of the State of Texas.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Maine (Mr. Allen), another of the Member compacts.
  Mr. ALLEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the 
time.
  I rise in strong support of the conference report to H.R. 629, and 
urge all Members to support this agreement. I have spoken on this issue 
now many times in the past. The issue is still the same. This is simply 
the opportunity for Texas, Maine, and Vermont to do what 41 other 
States have already done, enter into a compact for the disposal of 
their low-level radioactive waste.
  Last November the House overwhelmingly approved this compact by a 
vote of 309 to 107. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Act places the 
responsibility for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste on the 
States. In order to dispose of waste safely and properly, States are 
allowed to enter into compacts.

[[Page H6528]]

  Under the Act, the States of Maine, Vermont, and Texas have crafted a 
compact to meet their needs. Maine's voters approved the compact by a 3 
to 1 margin at referendum, so it has not only been approved by the 
Governor and by the State legislature, but also by the people voting at 
referendum. Over the past years, several years, Congress has approved 
nine such compacts covering 41 States, and the time has come to add to 
that list.
  We have heard Members stand up and argue that amendments were 
stripped in conference, and therefore the bill should be voted down. 
But not one of the other nine compacts, not one of them, had amendments 
to their agreements. Not one of them, in not one of those cases did the 
Congress try to impose on the parties that were agreeing additional 
requirements.
  In particular, the amendment that has been proposed, we will not find 
that as part of any of the other compacts. This compact is like the 
others. It does not need a different amendment, and it should not have 
it.
  I would say this, as well. We are opposed to this amendment because 
we have checked with the Governors of all three States. They are 
opposed to the amendments. There is no question that if this agreement, 
if this compact is amended here, it has to go back to the States and we 
start this process all over again. That spells delay.
  Frankly, we have had enough delay in this process. We need to move 
ahead today. We need to vote to approve this compact. We do not need 
delay and added cost due to likely litigation. The compact was the 
result of years of negotiation and good faith by the three member 
States. They do not deserve additional costs and delays due to unwanted 
amendments.
  Mr. Speaker, we must move this issue forward and allow Texas, Maine, 
and Vermont the opportunity to dispose of their low-level radioactive 
waste. I urge all Members to support this legislation.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman 
from Dallas, Texas, (Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson).
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, we are at a 
crossroads. All of us support cancer treatment and X-rays. For the most 
part, much of that is done in our large university hospitals and 
medical centers and urban areas. We need to put the waste somewhere. It 
cannot be outside every doctor's office door or every hospital door. We 
must pick places that are sparsely populated.
  There is no good answer, except we are not willing to sacrifice many 
of the scientific findings that we are using now to save people's 
lives. It is much more hazardous to have it scattered out all over very 
heavily populated areas.
  If I thought for a moment that this would endanger the lives of the 
people that live somewhere in the area, in a very sparsely populated 
area, I would not be standing here. It is never comfortable to stand 
and speak against people that you stand with most of the time. But they 
are not going to be happy. If I represented the area, I would be 
standing in the same place they are standing, but I am representing a 
whole lot more people who are not willing to sacrifice what creates 
this waste.
  None of us are willing to sacrifice cancer treatment, none of us are 
willing to sacrifice x-rays for diagnostic treatment. We are simply not 
going to do that. We must make hard choices, but we must find the best 
places that we can to deposit this waste. This is one of the best 
places we can come up with. It is sparsely populated, out in the middle 
of nowhere. Texas has more space than most States. But we are going to 
limit it to these two States.
  The best environmental Governor that Texas has ever elected is Ann 
Richards. She stands for this legislation. As a matter of fact, she was 
very progressive in looking out for the environment in Texas.

                              {time}  1230

  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from Maine (Mr. Baldacci).
  Mr. BALDACCI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. 
Dan Schaefer) for yielding me this time.
  Mr. Speaker, this legislation has been before this body numerous 
times in the past. This legislation represents years of negotiation 
between the States of Maine, Vermont, and Texas. It is in each of those 
States' interest. The people in those States have voted for it. The 
Governors of those States support this. This Congress has approved 
compacts for 41 other States. This is no different.
  I appreciate the concerns that have been raised, but those concerns 
will be addressed in the process. Each one of our Members knows that 
there will be an environmental impact statement. Just by voting for 
this approval for the process to move forward does not mean that the 
environment and the people and the public hearings that are to ensue 
will not occur. They will occur. So the public will be involved. The 
process will have the environmental safeguards, and the right siting 
will take place in regards to the public and the environment. To 
suggest otherwise is not to be accurate to the facts that take place.
  Mr. Speaker, it is in our State's interest, it is in Vermont's State 
interest and it is in Texas' State interest. By law, Texas has to have 
a facility for the waste that it is producing. The States of Maine and 
Vermont are providing the resources with a low impact amount of waste 
in order to establish the compact, so that each one of our States will 
not be open to a site or trash or other things coming in from all over 
the country. That is why we were told and given legislation on a 
national level to form these compacts.
  We are following through on the legislation that was initially passed 
in 1985. We are complying with the Federal legislation in the best 
interest of the people of our States. We ask for Congress to reaffirm 
its support that it had overwhelmingly supported in the past and to 
maintain that support and also to assure the citizens of the public 
hearings, the environmental impacts, and the process that will be 
taking place after this vote has been completed.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of 
my time.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Green), the chairman of the Texas Democratic 
delegation, who would inform the Chair that the Texas group is meeting; 
and I suggest that he take the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes), the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Rodriguez), and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Doggett) with him.
  (Mr. GREEN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. GREEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) 
for yielding me this time, and I will be glad to take my three 
colleagues to lunch today for our weekly luncheon.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would yield, does 
that include Republicans?
  Mr. GREEN. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman may come as our guest.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  Mr. GREEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the conference committee 
regard.
  Mr. Speaker, I have a prepared statement, and talking about the 
history of it, we have heard that already. Again, if we do not have a 
compact, then a State site in Texas will be subject to waste from all 
over the country.
  The policy was developed in the State of Texas. I would not have 
picked Sierra Blanca if I had a vote, but I did not have a vote when I 
was in the legislature or a vote now as a Member of the House. That is 
going to be decided by the people in the legislature who confirm the 
people who make that decision and the governor appoints them.
  Let me talk about some of the debate that we have had. One, the 
interstate commerce clause requires that Texas would take low-level 
waste from everyone if we do not have a compact. My colleague from 
California is opposed to it because of the Sierra Blanca location and 
the poor community. I represent a very poor community in Houston, 
Texas, and we have some of the same problems.
  A statement, the letter from LULAC opposing the site, I am a member 
of LULAC and work with my local councils in Houston on a lot of issues 
and I share their concern. But, this is not the venue for their 
opposition. Granted, if they defeat it here, they could still create a 
compact and we could have it for

[[Page H6529]]

Texas, but it would be for all the country.
  Mr. Speaker, I notice that the State of California does have a 
compact and I do not know where their site is. But I was wondering if 
it was in a site that was also a rural area that was sparsely 
populated, compared to an urban area. That is why this is something 
that has been done by this Congress many times before, allowing States 
to join together to dispose of these low-level nuclear wastes.
  I have a district in an urban area and we have this material all over 
our district right now and we would like to have a permanent place for 
it.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Conference Report on H.R. 629, 
the Texas Compact Consent Act. This bill grants Congressional approval 
to the proposed Texas, Maine, and Vermont compact for low-level 
radioactive waste disposal and deserves the quick support of the House.
  As my colleagues know, the national policy for managing low-level 
radioactive waste is spelled out in the Low-Level Radioactive Waste 
Policy Amendments Act of 1985. This policy was developed by the states 
and passed by Congress, with overwhelming bipartisan support.
  The objective of the policy is to provide for the safe, permanent 
disposal of the nation's low-level waste.
  Under the terms of the Texas-Maine-Vermont compact, low-level 
radioactive waste produced in each state will be carefully disposed at 
a single facility in the State of Texas. The waste will be transported 
from the hospitals, university research centers, utilities or other 
waste producers in each state to a safe, permanent disposal and storage 
facility which will be built in Texas.
  It is very important to understand that H.R. 629 does not designate a 
site for the Texas disposal facility. In the Low-Level Radioactive 
Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, Congress clearly reserved for the 
states the authority to decide where low-level radioactive waste 
facilities would be built within their borders. Even though H.R. 629 
does not designate a specific site for the Texas facility, federal and 
state law requires that any low-level radioactive waste facility built 
by a state must be engineered to withstand any potential natural 
disasters that might occur at the chosen site.
  Much has been said about the proposed site for the waste disposal 
facility. In fact, a permit to build a waste disposal facility in West 
Texas has been requested from the Texas Natural Resources Conservation 
Commission. If the Commission finds that the permit meets all the 
necessary requirements, it will grant the permit. If the Congress does 
not approve this bill, under the Interstate Commerce Clause, Texas must 
accept low-level radioactive waste from other states. H.R. 629 will 
allow Texas to limit who sends waste to the facility and be in 
compliance with the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act.
  With this compact in place, Texas will be able to limit access to its 
facility to only those states that are signatories to the compact--
Maine and Vermont. The compact makes it possible to manage Texas' 
facility in an orderly, effective manner. Without the compact, the 
State of Texas would have no effective control over access.
  The Texas, Maine, and Vermont compact is an excellent arrangement for 
the three states. It received overwhelming bipartisan support in the 
state legislatures of the three states. At a time when state budgets 
are constrained, the ratification of this compact will result in shared 
cost for the construction and subsequent operation of the low-level 
waste disposal facility.
  Since 1985, the Congress has approved nine compacts which now include 
41 states. It is vitally important that we move forward with the 
approval of the Texas-Vermont-Maine compact. I urge my colleagues to 
support this very important bill.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Turner).
  (Mr. TURNER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks.)
  Mr. TURNER. Mr. Speaker, it is not every day that we see the Texas 
delegation on the floor of this House divided. Normally, we are a group 
who hangs together. It is true, however, that six of our members, out 
of 31, have opposed this compact, I think primarily because it is a 
local issue with them, and I understand that. I fought a low-level 
nuclear waste disposal facility in my legislative district when I was a 
member of that body in 1981, and I understand where they are coming 
from.
  But I think it is important for the other Members of this body to 
understand that, though six Texans out of 31 oppose this compact, that 
this compact really is not about the selection of the site. In fact, 
under this compact, the State of Texas and the Low-Level Nuclear Waste 
Disposal Authority could select any site. It just so happens that the 
Sierra Blanca site is the site now under consideration. But that is a 
matter that will remain under the control of the Low-Level Nuclear 
Waste Disposal Authority in Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to share a little bit of history. The State of 
Texas created a Low-Level Nuclear Waste Disposal Authority in our State 
in 1981 when I was a freshman member of the Texas House. We did it 
because we were having an increasing problem at our medical facilities 
and with our utilities and finding out where we could permanently 
dispose of low-level waste. What we decided to do was create a State 
commission to select a permanent site. It was the right thing to do. It 
was approved unanimously by the legislature.
  Later, the Congress came along and created a statute that said that 
States could form compacts, compacts for the purpose of uniting States 
together that would store their waste in one site facility, a means 
whereby a State like Texas can prevent out-of-State waste from coming 
into Texas.
  This Congress passed that bill, and 41 States have already taken 
advantage of it, and nine compacts have been ratified by this Congress. 
Texas, Vermont, and Maine come today asking that they be the tenth 
compact to be approved. The Texas legislature overwhelmingly approved 
this compact.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge the Members of this body to join with the 
majority of the members of the Texas delegation and allow Texas, 
Vermont, and Maine to be the tenth compact to be approved by this 
Congress. This is an issue that will not go away. The low-level nuclear 
waste that is building up in temporary stockpiles in Texas will not go 
away. We need this compact, and we urge our colleagues to support us in 
this effort.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1\1/2\ minutes.
  Mr. Speaker, with all deference to the gentleman from east Texas, he 
made the statement that this is an issue that will not go away. He is 
absolutely right. The issue will not go away. But with the decision 
that we are making here today, we expect that a whole community can 
potentially go away.
  We have been called crazy because we are in opposition to this. I 
think it would be irresponsible not to oppose a proposal that could 
affect a whole area, a whole region. It could affect up to 5 million 
people that utilize the Rio Grande River as a primary water source. It 
could affect the underground water tables. It could conceivably affect 
a whole region of our border area.
  We have been told that to send it back would be to delay it. Well, I 
would ask my colleagues, with all due respect, what do they expect us 
to do when we have got the consequences facing us that could 
potentially affect future generations of west Texans in a way that we 
at this point cannot even imagine?
  I ask my colleagues who are talking about what a good deal it is, how 
it can be very safe, how it has been well thought out, how it will be 
well packaged, if it is so good, why do they not take it? Why do they 
not put it in their district? Why do they not put it in a place where 
the people want it?
  Mr. Speaker, the people of Sierra Blanca, the people of El Paso, the 
people along the border in our region simply do not want it. We have 
been told that Governor Richards and Governor Bush want it. Let them 
hear loud and clear that in this area, we do not want it. We do not 
need it. And we should not have it.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the conference report on H.R. 
629. As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe we should be considering 
a conference report that ignores the will of the House and Senate. I do 
not believe we should be considering a conference report that has 
stripped a key provision from the bill that both the House and Senate 
had adopted. Unlike both the House and Senate passed measures, the 
conference report does not include a provision that would restrict 
waste at the selected site of the states of Texas, Maine and Vermont.
  As far as I am concerned, that's reason enough not to move this bill 
forward.
  But, if you need another reason to vote against this conference 
report, I'd like to enter into the record an article printed in The 
Dallas Morning News on July 8.
  As you can see, two Texas hearing examiners recommended against 
licensing a low-level

[[Page H6530]]

nuclear waste dump in the far West Texas community of Sierra Blanca. 
The hearing examiners explained that the ``State Low-Level Radioactive 
Waste Disposal Authority did not adequately determine whether a fault 
under the site posed an environmental hazard.''
  The examiners further stated that the Authority did not adequately 
address how the proposed facility might harm the quality of life in the 
area.
  These findings are further evidence that the proposed radioactive 
waste dump is a potential environmental hazard which has not undergone 
adequate study by various state agencies. If Texas state regulators 
don't support the Sierra Blanca site, why should you?
  I don't care how many times supporters of this bill say that a vote 
for H.R. 629 is not a vote for the Sierra Blanca site--it is. They know 
it, I know it, the people of Sierra Blanca know it and you know it. If 
H.R. 629 becomes law, it will endanger the safety and welfare of the 
community and the people who live there.
  If you need still another reason to oppose this conference report, I 
want to enter into the record a copy of the resolution that unanimously 
passed the Mexican Congress. This resolution was passed on April 30 of 
this year.
  Let me read some of it to you. ``The Mexican Congress declares that 
the proposed project of Sierra Blanca, Texas, like other proposed 
disposal facilities on the Mexican border, puts at risk the health of 
the population in the border zone and constitutes an aggression to our 
national dignity.''
  ``The position that the Mexican government assumes with relation to 
the proposed disposal facility of Sierra Blanca will constitute a clear 
precedent that can be invoked relating to disposal facilities that are 
planned in the future within 100 kilometers along the common border.''
  ``This represents high potential risk of contamination for the Rio 
Bravo and the underground aquifers, which could cause a negative impact 
for the health of the population, the environment, and the natural 
resources on both sides of the border.''
  ``The construction of the disposal facility in dispute would violate 
the spirit of . . . international law and would implicate the 
noncompliance of the commitments assumed by the United States after the 
signature of the 1983 Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection and 
Improvement of the Environment in the Border Area--better known as the 
La Paz Agreement--particularly Article 2 of the Agreement, which 
states: `The Parties undertake to the fullest extent practical to adopt 
the appropriate measures to prevent, reduce, and eliminate sources of 
pollution in their respective territory which affect the border area of 
the other.'''
  The Agreement also ``commits the Parties to cooperate in reciprocity, 
and mutual benefit. In complying with these dispositions, the United 
States Government must take measures in this case with the appropriate 
authorities, in order that the Sierra Blanca project not be 
authorized.''
  The Resolution further states, ``due to the adverse effects that this 
project could have on the health of [the Mexican] population and the 
natural resources, we present the following Pronouncement:
  ``We reiterate our complete rejection of the project which is the 
construction and operation of the nuclear waste disposal facility that 
the Government of Texas plans to build in Sierra Blanca, Texas, and 
express our disagreement, concern, and unconformity with the policy 
adopted and followed up to now by the Government of the United States, 
that favors the construction of disposal facilities on the southern 
border with Mexico, without taking into account the potential negative 
impacts that this policy can have regarding human health and the 
environment in the communities located on both sides of the border.''
  The Mexican Congress asks the ``House of Representatives of the 
United States to vote against the Compact Law that authorizes the 
disposal of wastes between the states of Texas, Maine, and Vermont in 
virtue that its approval signifies a relevant approval for the 
construction and management of the disposal facility of radioactive 
wastes in Sierra Blanca, Texas and represents a violation of the spirit 
of the La Paz Agreement.''
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to listen to the Mexican 
Congress and to the people of far West Texas. Vote against this 
conference report because it's the right thing to do.
  Mr. Speaker, I include the following material for the Record:

                     [From the Dallas Morning News]

 Examiners Recommend no License for Proposed Nuclear-Waste Dump--State 
  Agency Hasn't Fully Explored Possible Hazards of W. Texas Facility, 
                                They Say

                          (By George Kuempel)

       Austin.--In a victory for environmental groups, two state 
     hearing examiners Tuesday recommended against licensing a 
     low-level nuclear-waste dump in far West Texas.
       The recommendation was a setback for Gov. George W. Bush, 
     who has tentatively backed the proposed dump, near Sierra 
     Blanca just 18 miles from the Rio Grande.
       The hearing examiners found that the State Low-Level 
     Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority, which wants to build 
     the facility, did not adequately determine whether a fault 
     under the proposed site posed an environmental hazard.
       Kerry Sullivan and Mike Rogan of the State Office of 
     Administrative Hearings also said the agency failed to 
     adequately address how the proposed facility might harm the 
     quality of life in the area.
       The examiners' report was forwarded to the three-member 
     Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
       The commission staff already has recommended that a license 
     be issued, but the final decision rests with the 
     commissioners, all of whom were appointed by Mr. Bush.
       Their decision is not expected soon.
       Congress is considering a proposed pact favored by Mr. Bush 
     that would allow for low-level nuclear waste from Texas, 
     Vermont and Maine to be buried at the site.
       Mr. Bush said in a written statement that he was 
     ``troubled'' by the examiners' findings.
       ``I have said all along that if the site is not proven 
     safe, I will not support it,'' he said. ``I urge the Texas 
     Natural Resource Conservation Commission to thoroughly review 
     this recommendation and the facts and to make their decision 
     based on sound science and the health and safety of Texans.''
       Democrat Garry Mauro, who is running against Mr. Bush in 
     this year's governor's race, praised the examiners' ruling.
       ``I hope Governor Bush calls on his three [TNRCC] 
     appointees to immediately reject this permit,'' he said.
       Mr. Mauro said that he is pleased the administrative judges 
     also raised the ``specter of environmental racism'' but that 
     he is sorry they didn't address Mexico's concerns about a 
     possible treaty violation.
       Critics have said Sierra Blanca was chosen because of its 
     largely poor Hispanic population, an allegation that 
     supporters have disputed.
       Mexican lawmakers visited Austin last month to protest the 
     dump, saying it would violate an agreement between the 
     nations to curb pollution along the border.
       Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Rogan spent three months hearing from 
     both sides on the issue.
       Dump opponents said they were pleased with the findings.
       ``Politically and legally, it's a victory,'' said Bill 
     Addington, a merchant in Sierra Blanca, a town of 700 in 
     Hudspeth County, about 90 miles southeast of El Paso. ``The 
     authority has not done its job, even with all the money and 
     resources they have at their disposal.''
       But Mr. Addington also was cautious because the final 
     decision on the dump license rests with the TNRCC, which is 
     not bound by the hearings officers' recommendation.
       The dump, which would be built on a sprawling ranch just 
     outside the rural town, is intended to hold radoactive waste 
     primarily from the state's utilities hospitals and 
     universities.
       It spawned opposition from critics in West Texas and 
     Mexico, who fear that it would contaminate precious 
     groundwater reserves.
                                  ____

       Unofficial Translation of Pronouncements passed by the 
     Mexican National Chamber of Deputies (Camara de Diputados) 
     and Senate in opposition to the proposed nuclear waste 
     disposal facility in Sierra Blanca, Texas. Translation by 
     Richard Boren
       The Pronouncement was approved unanimously by the Chamber 
     of Deputies on April 27, 1998 and by the Senate on April 30, 
     1998. The Senate and Chamber of Deputies Pronouncements are 
     nearly identical. Following is the translation of the Senate 
     Pronouncement.

  Pronouncement of the United Commissions of Environment and Natural 
 Resources, Border Affairs, and Foreign Relations of the Senate of the 
Republic Regarding the Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility That is Planned 
                        in Sierra Blanca, Texas

       Honorable Assembly: The United Commissions of Environment 
     and Natural Resources, Border Affairs, and Foreign Relations 
     of the Senate was given for their study and analysis the 
     point of agreement passed by the Plenary of the Permanent 
     Commission of the Honorable Congress of the Union on February 
     11, 1998, that is transcribed as follows:
       First--That the Mexican Congress, through the Permanent 
     Commission, declares that the proposed project of Sierra 
     Blanca, Texas, like other proposed disposal facilities on the 
     Mexican border, puts at risk the health of the population in 
     the border zone and constitutes an aggression to the national 
     dignity;
       Second--That the United Commissions of Ecology and 
     Environment, Border Affairs, and Foreign Relations of the 
     House of Deputies and the Senate, meet with the 
     Intersectarial Group made up of the Department of Foreign 
     Relations, Department of Energy, Environment, Natural 
     Resources and Fishing, and the National Commission of Nuclear 
     Safety and Safeguarding, in order to analyze in depth the 
     consequences for Mexico of the installation of the 
     radioactive waste disposal facility in Sierra Blanca and of 
     the disposal facilities of toxic and radioactive wastes in 
     the border zone of the country with the United States of 
     America, with the purpose of carrying out the pronouncements 
     and necessary measures to impede their installation.

[[Page H6531]]

       In order to proceed and comply with the mandate granted by 
     the Plenary of the Permanent Commission of the Honorable 
     Congress of the Union, the members of the United Commissions 
     of Environment and Natural Resources, Border Affairs, and 
     Foreign Relations of the Chamber of Senators, have analyzed 
     existing documentation and studies about the radioactive 
     waste disposal facility that is planned in Sierra Blanca, 
     Texas, meeting on various occasions to design a political 
     action strategy. Likewise a work session was held with the 
     intersectarial group, with the purpose of integrating the 
     present Pronouncement.
       Considering That: (a) the communities on both sides of the 
     border, diverse non-governmental organizations, political 
     organizations, and public officials from Mexico and the 
     United States of America have manifested their total 
     opposition to the construction of the nuclear waste 
     disposal facility that the government of the State of 
     Texas plans to install in the community of Sierra Blanca, 
     Texas, at a distance of approximately 30 kilometers from 
     the Mexican border;
       (b) the administrative authorities of the State of Texas 
     convened public hearings with the purpose of hearing the 
     opinions of interested sectors regarding the possible 
     construction of the disposal facility in Sierra Blanca;
       (c) the position that the Mexican government assumes with 
     relation to the proposed disposal facility of Sierra Blanca 
     will constitute a clear precedent that can be invoked 
     relating to disposal facilities that are planned in the 
     future within 100 kilometers along the common border;
       (d) the intersectarial group--created in 1995 by the 
     Federal Executive Power with the purpose of defining the 
     policy of the Mexican government regarding disposal 
     facilities in the border zone and to continue to review the 
     projects that are planned in the states of the southern 
     United States--wrote a preliminary study regarding the 
     disposal facility being questioned;
       (e) the United Commissions have received diverse studies 
     that demonstrate the existence of risks in the zone, not only 
     the seismic activity of the terrain, but also due to the 
     meteorological and hydro-geological registers observed in the 
     chosen site. This represents a high potential risk of 
     contamination for the Rio Bravo and the underground aquifers, 
     which could cause a negative impact for the health of the 
     population, the environment, and the natural resources on 
     both sides of the border;
       (f) other adequate sites exist in the United States for the 
     installation of radioactive waste disposal facilities, 
     located outside of the border zone of 100 kilometers which 
     shows that the chosen site in Sierra Blanca doesn't represent 
     the only option for the proposed project;
       (g) the radioactive wastes that are planned for disposal in 
     Sierra Blanca, next to the Mexican border, don't only include 
     wastes generated in the State of Texas, but also it is 
     foreseen to deposit wastes from the states of Vermont and 
     Maine, located on the border between United States and 
     Canada;
       (h) the construction of the disposal facility in dispute 
     would violate the spirit of diverse precepts of international 
     law and would implicate the noncompliance of the commitments 
     assumed by the United States after the signature of the 
     Agreement on Cooperation for the Protection and Improvement 
     of the Environment in the Border Area (La Paz Agreement), 
     particularly Article 2 of the Agreement approved in 1983, 
     which states: ``The Parties undertake to the fullest extent 
     practical to adopt the appropriate measures to prevent, 
     reduce, and eliminate sources of pollution in their 
     respective territory which affect the border area of the 
     other.'' In like manner, the Agreement commits the Parties to 
     cooperate in the field of environmental protection in the 
     border zone, on the basis of equality, reciprocity, and 
     mutual benefit. In complying with these dispositions, the 
     United States Government must take measures in this case with 
     the appropriate authorities, in order that the project not be 
     authorized.
       On the basis of what has already been stated and being 
     founded in articles 58 and 59 of the Rules for the Interior 
     Government of the General Congress of the United Mexican 
     States, just as for dealing with a matter that merits an 
     urgent resolution of the Honorable Senate of the Republic, 
     due to the adverse effects that this project could have on 
     the health of our population and the natural resources, we 
     present the following Pronouncement.

                             Pronouncement

       First--the Senate of the Republic reiterates its complete 
     rejection of the project which is the construction and 
     operation of the nuclear waste disposal facility that the 
     Government of Texas plans to build in Sierra Blanca, Texas, 
     and expresses its disagreement, concern, and inconformity 
     with the policy adopted and followed up to now by the 
     government of the United States, that favors the construction 
     of disposal facilities on the southern border with Mexico, 
     without taking into account the potential negative impacts 
     that this policy can have regarding human health and the 
     environment in the communities located on both sides of the 
     border.
       Second--The Senate of the Republic has carried out an 
     evaluation of the available information about this disposal 
     project, whose result demonstrates that its operation will 
     bring with it potential adverse impacts. Based on this, being 
     aware that the administrative authorities in the State of 
     Texas have convened public hearings with the intention of 
     analyzing the implications derived from the construction of 
     said project, it is appropriate that the Mexican Government 
     reiterate their concern and inconformity in light of the 
     possibility that the project will be authorized.
       Third--The Senate of the Republic sets forth to the 
     Department of Foreign Relations to consider the formulation 
     of the following proposals to the United States Government:
       (a) Manifest the disagreement of the Senate of the Republic 
     regarding the policy of the United States that favors the 
     installation of nuclear and toxic waste disposal facilities 
     in the border area.
       (b) Insist in the possibility of relocating the Sierra 
     Blanca project to a site located outside of the 100 kilometer 
     common border zone.
       (c) Manifest the wishes of the Senate of the Republic to 
     the members of the House of Representatives of the United 
     States so that they vote against the Compact Law that 
     authorizes the disposal of wastes between the states of 
     Texas, Maine, and Vermont in virtue that its approval 
     signifies a relevant approval for the construction and the 
     management of the disposal facility of radioactive wastes in 
     Sierra Blanca, Texas and represents a violation of the spirit 
     of the La Paz Agreement.
       (d) Include the subject of the disposal facilities for 
     radioactive and toxic wastes in the next meeting of the 
     Mexico-United States Bi-national Commission in order to:
       I. design criteria for the installation and operation of 
     disposal facilities in the border zone of 100 kilometers 
     within the framework of the La Paz Agreement and the Border 
     21 Program, in order to include the possibility of 
     establishing a reciprocal moratorium on the installation of 
     disposal facilities for radioactive waste inside the 100 
     kilometer border zone,
       II. establish that a group of experts from both countries 
     analyze the impacts of the proposed disposal facilities in 
     the 100 kilometer border zone.
       Fourth--The Senate of the Republic proposes:
       (a) To inform the Governors and municipal mayors of the 
     states of the Republic of Mexico in the border zone with the 
     United States about the current status of the Sierra Blanca 
     project and other disposal projects that are being planned in 
     the 100 kilometer border zone with the objective of adopting 
     any measures that are considered opportune.
       (b) To transmit existing information about the Sierra 
     Blanca project to the local legislatures of the border states 
     of the Mexican Republic with the objective of making this 
     information available to them so they can adopt any measures 
     which they consider appropriate.
       (c) That a multi-party commission of senators be formed 
     with the purpose of meeting with the governor of Texas, 
     George Bush, with the purpose of telling him that the Mexican 
     Senate believes that the Sierra Blanca project violates the 
     spirit of the commitments made with the signing of the La Paz 
     Agreement and that are linked to the state which he governs 
     and which don't contribute to the strengthening of the good 
     relations of friendship and neighborliness that must prevail 
     between both countries.
       Fifth--That the Senate of the Republic proposes including 
     this matter in the agenda of the next interparliamentary 
     meeting between Mexico and the United States.
       Sixth--The Senate of the Republic expresses that this case 
     constitutes a valuable opportunity for both countries to 
     demonstrate their good will, responsibility, and capacity for 
     cooperating in dealing with similar matters of common 
     interest.
       Seventh--So that the public opinion has greater knowledge 
     on this subject, it is suggested to prepare as soon as 
     possible a document that can be disseminated through the 
     national and international media, in order to express the 
     nature of this problem and the current status of the project 
     in dispute.
       Approved in the Honorable Chambers of the Senators April 
     30, 1998.

            Testimony of Rep. Silvestre Reyes, July 29, 1998

       Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that every member of this 
     House is aware of the substantial opposition to this compact. 
     I want to read you a list of those cities and counties that 
     have passed resolutions opposing it:
       El Paso County, Presidio County, Jeff Davis County, 
     Culberson County, Val Verde County, Webb County, Starr 
     County, Hidalgo County, Cameron County, Zapata County, Reeves 
     County, Brewster County, Ward County, Sutton County, Kimble 
     County, Kinney County, Crockett County, Pecos County, 
     Maverick County, Ector County, City of Austin, City of Del 
     Rio, City of Bracketville, City of Marfa, City of Van Horn, 
     City of El Paso, City of Alpine, Horizon City, City of Ft. 
     Stockton, City of Laredo, City of Eagle Pass, City of 
     Presidio, City of McAllen, City Council of Juarez.
       Mexican State Congress of Coahuila, Mexican State Congress 
     of Chihuahua, Mexican State Congress of Nuervo Leon, Mexican 
     National Chamber of Deputies, Mexican National Senate, 
     Mexican State Congress of Sonora, Mexican State Congress 
     of Tamaulipas.
       Mr. Speaker, I also want to enter into the record a letter 
     dated yesterday from the League of United Latin American 
     Citizens.

[[Page H6532]]

     LULAC is asking all members of this House to vote NO on the 
     conference report for H.R. 629.
       As most of you know, LULAC is the oldest and largest 
     Hispanic civil rights organization in the nation. Let me read 
     part of their letter to you:
       ``The selection of a poor Mexican-American community (which 
     is already the site of one of the largest sewage sludge 
     projects in the country) brings to mind serious 
     considerations of environmental justice . . . The decision 
     Congress now faces on this matter cannot be made in a vacuum, 
     ignoring serious environmental justice questions that have 
     been raised about the site selection process. These unjust 
     procedures are in apparent contradiction of the 1994 
     Executive Order that firmly upheld environmental justice.''
       ``LULAC would caution Congress not to be complicit in what 
     has become, whether intentional or not, a repulsive trend in 
     this country of setting the most hazardous and undesirable 
     facilities in poor, politically powerless communities with 
     high percentages of people of color. Only a vote against the 
     Texas Maine Vermont Radioactive Waste Compact conference 
     committee report will ensure that this trend is not extended 
     into Hudspeth County Texas.''
       I urge all of my colleagues to follow the advice of LULAC 
     and vote against this conference report.
                                            League of United Latin


                                            American Citizens,

                                    Washington, DC, July 28, 1998.
       Dear Representative: On behalf of the League of United 
     Latin American Citizens (LULAC), I urge you to vote No on the 
     Conference Committee Report for The Texas Maine Vermont 
     Radioactive Waste Compact. LULAC is the oldest and largest 
     Hispanic civil rights organization in the nation. Since 1929, 
     we have been providing a voice to our community throughout 
     the U.S. and Puerto Rico. A major concern of ours is the 
     proposed site of a nuclear waste dump near Sierra Blanca in 
     Texas.
       As you know, The Compact proposes the construction of 
     shallow, unlined soil trenches for the burial of ``low-
     level'' radioactive waste. LULAC strongly opposes this 
     Compact. Serious issues of environmental justice and blatant 
     discrimination arise when one considers this bill. One should 
     not only vote against this proposal because of serious 
     environmental and health matters, but also because of the 
     racial discrimination practiced against the predominantly 
     Mexican-American population of the area.
       Just this month, two Texas administrative law judges 
     recommended the Sierra Blanca compact dump license be denied 
     because of severe geological problems and unanswered 
     questions about environmental racism. If Congress ignores 
     these problems and approves the compact, thus funding the 
     dump, tremendous pressure will be placed on the political 
     appointees at the Texas Natural Resource Conservation 
     Commission to approve the license despite the judges' 
     recommendation to deny it.
       The selection of a poor Mexican-American community (which 
     is already the site of one of the largest sewage sludge 
     projects in the country) brings to mind serious 
     considerations of environmental justice. Although the bill 
     does not expressly designate Hudspeth County as the location 
     for the site, the Faskin Ranch near Sierra Blanca has clearly 
     been earmarked and a draft license has been approved. The 
     decision Congress now faces on this matter cannot be made in 
     a vacuum, ignoring serious environmental justice questions 
     that have been raised about the site selection process. These 
     unjust procedures are in apparent contradiction of the 1994 
     Executive Order that firmly upheld environmental justice.
       There are also matters of international relevance that must 
     be considered. The dumping of nuclear waste near Sierra 
     Blanca, approximately 16 miles from the Rio Grande, would 
     violate that 1983 La Paz Agreement between the U.S. and 
     Mexico. With this agreement, both nations committed their 
     efforts to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution in the 
     U.S./Mexico border area. The proposed site is well within the 
     ``border area'' of 63 miles on each side of the border. The 
     government of Mexico has already expressed its strong 
     opposition to the project in communications to the U.S. 
     Department of State. LULAC would caution Congress not to be 
     complicit in what has become, whether intentional or not, a 
     repulsive trend in this country of setting the most hazardous 
     and undesirable facilities in poor, politically powerless 
     communities with high percentages of people of color. Only a 
     vote against The Texas Maine Vermont Radioactive Waste 
     Compact Conference Committee Report will ensure that this 
     trend is not extended into Hudspeth County.
       Thank you for your consideration of this issue. If you need 
     more information please call Cuauhtemoc Figueroa, Director of 
     Policy and Communications at (202) 408-0060.

           Sincerely,
                                                    Rick Dovalina,
                                         LULAC National President.

  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BONILLA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I first of all would like to thank the gentleman from 
Colorado (Chairman Schaefer) and the gentleman from Texas (Chairman 
Barton) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall), my friend, who were 
speaking in support of this bill today. They have been most gracious in 
allowing those who have strong feelings about this conference report to 
work with them very closely, and I just wanted to express my 
appreciation for that.
  The whole idea of having compacts is one that I have no problem with, 
and I do not think Members generally have a problem with the process of 
States getting together to decide where waste is going to go. Of 
course, then, as I stated strongly over and over again for many years 
now, the problem that I have and other Members who have nearby 
congressional areas in Texas have, is the threat to the environment in 
this area, the unstable geology, and also the threat to the economic 
future of these communities.
  Quite simply speaking, they do not want it there. Again, I have 20 
counties and 13 cities and municipalities on record as opposing this 
conference report and this whole idea. There is a county in Texas that 
is very strongly in favor of having this kind of dump in their 
community and I would gladly work with that community to try to have 
this dump moved to that area in the future, if that is even a 
possibility.
  Though the whole idea of having places to put nuclear waste, low-
level radioactive waste is an issue that I understand is very 
necessary, I know that my colleagues understand how strongly at this 
point my people feel about this issue, as do I.
  There is another issue I want to bring up as well. All of us in Texas 
are going through an incredible drought at this point. The agriculture 
community is suffering. Local governments are implementing water 
rationing in some areas. I want to emphasize above all that now should 
be the time that we understand, as Texans, that any potential threat to 
water supplies in any community in Texas is something that we should 
all be concerned about.
  I do not think any of us have anticipated being at this point in 
Texas right now with the shortage of water and the unbearable heat that 
is upon us every day at this time in Texas with no end in sight. So I 
would appeal to my colleagues in other areas of the State and other 
parts of the Nation suffering from droughts and heat waves that they 
could identify with the needs that could occur if the water supplies 
were threatened by a dump like this in the future.
  So, I thank my colleagues for working with me on this issue and I ask 
them, I plead for every citizen in my congressional area who has ever 
pleaded with me to make their case before this body. I hope that I have 
made it and I hope that we have had an impact on those who are 
considering opposing this conference report. The people of West Texas 
need all the help they can get.

                              {time}  1245

  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall).
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my 
time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Quinn). The gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Hall) is recognized for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
  Mr. HALL of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me 
the time.
  I could not close without sending accolades toward the gentleman from 
Texas (Mr. Bonilla), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes), the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Rodriquez), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. 
Doggett). They have done a good job. They have been an honorable 
opposition, and they have been an effective opposition. Because no 
matter how the vote goes, I think the vote is going to go favorable on 
this, as it has before, but regardless of the outcome of this vote, 
they have made it a better compact.
  Their opposition has spawned article 3 where it provides a way to 
amend the contract or to protect the depository State if the 
commission, in its wisdom, decides not to allow any other waste to come 
into the State. Then that is set up as to how that is done. There are 6 
voting members. The host State has 6 voting Members. Each of the other 
two States have one. So the State of Texas, where it will be deposited, 
has the right to determine whether or not any other waste comes into 
the State.
  We have to have faith in those who are going to represent the State 
and

[[Page H6533]]

the local bodies in the future. I have that faith. I think it is going 
to work. On local support, on how good it has been, everybody out in 
Sierra Blanca and Hudspeth County and all of west Texas does not oppose 
this compact. Actually, there has been some signatures by a lot of 
adult citizens from Sierra Blanca asking for it. It has not been 
without meetings and keeping them advised. They have had monthly 
meetings out there, since 1992, in Hudspeth County to address the 
concerns, the concerns that are there. Perhaps this came about because 
of the insistence of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Reyes) that they be 
kept advised of it.
  Benefits to Sierra Blanca, the host county has received over $2 
million in benefits payable through housing, additional housing, 
medical services and others. They are going to receive $5 million from 
the other two States. They are going to receive a half a million 
dollars per year after start-up. This brings prosperity, it brings 
jobs. It brings opportunity. That brings dignity to this part of the 
State.
  I think, as has been said before, the relations to earthquakes and 
all these others things, there is protection against that.
  I urge the passage of this amendment.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of my time to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett).
  Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I would close by simply emphasizing to my 
colleagues 5 points.
  First, when we talk about this radioactive waste as being low level, 
that is good for public relations purposes but not for health purposes. 
The radioactive waste that will be buried at Sierra Blanca will be 
deadly to human beings for longer than all recorded human history. It 
is extraordinarily lethal and makes this debate all the more important.
  Number two, the Sierra Blanca site was not chosen because of its 
suitability but solely because of its vulnerability, its political 
vulnerability, which is playing out here today. It was not the best 
site for a storage facility. It was the easiest site, because it is a 
largely poor, Hispanic area.
  That is one of the reasons that the Texas State conference of the 
NAACP this year called this ``environmental racism.'' It is one of the 
reasons that the League of Conservation Voters has spotlighted this as 
one of the key anti-environmental votes of this Congress.
  Number three, we do not need this dump. It is great public relations 
to talk about slowing scientific research or the health isotopes that 
are vital to the future of our health, but that has absolutely nothing 
to do with what is really at stake in this debate. We have heard much 
about all the other compacts that have already been approved. What our 
colleagues have not pointed out is that of those 9 compacts that 
Congress has approved, not one of them has secured a license agreement, 
not one. And two of them have actually stopped looking for a site. This 
leads to the conclusion that if they sought those compacts, but they 
are not doing anything with them, why should we approve another one in 
Texas?
  Indeed, as the most recent report on radioactive waste storage by Dr. 
F. Gregory Hayden has pointed out, ``There is currently an excess 
capacity for this type of disposal in the United States without any 
change to current law or practice.''
  That leads to the fourth and very important point, that the 
safeguards that are in this compact, without the amendments that have 
been stripped out, are meaningless.
  My colleague, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) from Rockwall, is 
always eloquent, and he has been very candid in this debate. He has 
said it is not the fellow with the biggest truck that is going to be 
decisive here. I agree.
  My concern is it will be determined by the place with the biggest 
dump. We all know Texas is bigger than most any other place, and we are 
about to have one heck of a big dump out there in west Texas. It will 
become the dumping site for all the people from those other places 
around the country because, as Mr. Hall has quite appropriately noted, 
and I quote him from this debate today, ``It might reduce the operating 
cost.''
  The economic factors for those special interests, who want a cheaper 
place to put their radioactive garbage and found a convenient place 
among the poor people of Sierra Blanca, who now will have no adequate 
safeguards.
  To suggest that the compact limits it to 20 percent from out of State 
is misleading. If we read the fine print, it is 20 percent that could 
come from Maine and Vermont, but there is no limitation that I see with 
regard to the rest of the States.
  Finally, my colleague, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton) has been 
fair and direct with me. He told me on this floor that he would check 
with the governor. That is exactly what he did.
  My final point is that without the blessing of Governor George Bush, 
we would be limited to three States. Governor Bush said one thing in 
Texas; he did another in Washington. That is most unfortunate for 
Texas.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton), the author of the bill.
  Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I will try to go through this very 
quickly. I believe my good friend from Austin was the president of the 
student body at the University of Texas. He obviously has a golden 
throat and is able to weave words very carefully. I was just a poor 
engineering student at Texas A&M trying to see how to use a slide rule 
so I do not claim that I am as elequent as he is.
  I did try to list his 5 points down as he enumerated them. He talked 
about waste being there for all mankind. Eighty-five percent of the 
waste is going to decay to harmless levels within 30 years. Ninety-
eight percent within harmless levels within 100 years. The canisters 
are designed to last 500 years. I do not think there is any question 
but there will not be any danger if we accept this waste on this site.
  He talked about site location. That has been determined by the State 
of Texas, not by the U.S. Congress.
  He talked about the administrative law judge saying that we do not 
really need a site. Actually the administrative law judge said that 
there is no other acceptable site. The waste that is being generated 
now at 97 locations in Texas and several in Vermont and Maine is being 
stored on site. The administrative law judge says that is simply not 
acceptable. He talked about the safeguards being meaningless. Again, 
the administrative law judge, in their application review, has said 
that we should limit the amount of waste stored to no more than 1 
million curies.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hall) has pointed out there are going 
to be 6 commissioners from Texas and one from Vermont and Maine. They 
will have the safeguards of the populations of their States high in 
their mind.
  I guess to close I would simply state that we have debated this issue 
several times. It passed the House in October, 309 to 107. Hopefully it 
will pass again with a margin that large in the very next few minutes.
  Let us do the right thing. Let us let Texas, Vermont and Maine adopt 
this compact, and let them go about the business of safeguarding the 
low-level waste that these three States generate.
  Mr. DAN SCHAEFER of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance 
of my time.
  Mr. Speaker, I think we have heard eloquent debate here. I do have to 
say, I feel like a little bit of an orphan here between Maine and 
Vermont and Texas, being from the State of Colorado, but I think what 
our committee has done is the right thing, to move this legislation, 
give it a chance to rise or fall on its merits here on the floor by a 
democratic process.
  I think it is an important thing also to notice, I mentioned before, 
if we do nothing, then Texas may well have to be taking waste from a 
number of States, not just in addition to Maine and Vermont.
  I thank the gentleman from Texas and the other gentlemen from Texas. 
And I would also like to say to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Bonilla), 
his efforts on this have been admirable. We have worked real hard on 
this one over a period of time. I think that he has done a terrific job 
on this.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Texas 
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact going to conference. This 
agreement will allow the State of Texas, Maine and Vermont to enter

[[Page H6534]]

into an agreement to dispose of Low-Level Radioactive Waste produced in 
their states.
  The Congressional consideration of this bill was thorough and 
thoughtful and we must at this time allow a contractual agreement to be 
developed by Texas, Maine, and Vermont for the cooperative resolution 
of the problem of disposing of low-level radioactive waste.
  The Commerce Clause found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the 
United States Constitution provides that Congress--not the States--has 
the power to regulate commerce among states. * * * This clause has been 
interpreted by the courts to restrict a state's ability to regulate in 
a manner that would be an impermissible burden or discriminate against 
interstate commerce.
  Under this law, without the Compact's protection, the site if opened 
in Texas would be forced to take Low-Level Radioactive Waste from all 
fifty states.
  Through legislative action in 1980 and 1985, the Congress encouraged 
states to form compacts to provide for new low-level radioactive waste 
disposal. Since 1985, 9 interstate low-level radioactive waste compacts 
have been approved by Congress, encompassing 41 states.
  All radioactive materials lose radioactivity at predictable rates. 
Therefore, agreements are necessary for the proper disposal and storage 
of low-level radioactive waste until it reaches harmless levels at the 
end of 100 years.
  This compact would not designate a particular site, but only the 
agreement among the participating states for the development of a low-
level radioactive facility.
  My position on any site location, which I have expressed in the past, 
is that public hearings must and should be part of the process in order 
to give concerned citizens an opportunity to express their views on the 
site and that no site be selected that presents an undue burden on 
people with low incomes. I will continue to work with my Texas 
congressional colleagues who seek to resolve this questionable process 
that has allowed a low-income minority area to be selected, for the 
site in Texas.
  Before any final decision of location is made these hearings should 
allow for proper comment and evaluation of those comments to take 
place. It is my understanding that the Texas state planners are 
committed to as public a process as possible.
  The Texas Compact specifies that commercial low-level radioactive 
waste generated in the party states of Texas, Maine, and Vermont will 
be accepted at the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility. 
``Low-Level radioactive waste is defined the same way as the Low-Level 
Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1985, Public Law 99-240.
  With the needs for storage facilities constantly increasing with the 
number of nuclear research projects and medical applications which use 
radioactive materials in their treatment of patients with serious 
illnesses this Compact is needed.
  Commerce low-level radioactive waste typically consists of wastes 
from operations and decommissioning of nuclear power plants, hospitals, 
research laboratories, industries, and universities. Typical low-level 
radioactive waste is trash-like materials consisting of metals, paper, 
plastics, and construction materials that are contaminated with low-
levels of radioactive materials.
  A compact is a serious matter, and a compact regarding the disposal 
or storage of Low-Level Radioactive Waste is extremely important. This 
compact will be managed by the participating states and especially by 
the State of Texas with the greatest care and professionalism possible.
  I urge my colleagues to support this compact.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Without objection, the previous question is 
ordered on the conference report.
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the conference report.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. REYES. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a 
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not 
present.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
  The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
  The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 305, 
nays 117, not voting 12, as follows:

                             [Roll No. 344]

                               YEAS--305

     Aderholt
     Allen
     Archer
     Armey
     Baker
     Baldacci
     Ballenger
     Barcia
     Barr
     Barrett (NE)
     Barrett (WI)
     Bartlett
     Barton
     Bass
     Bateman
     Bentsen
     Bereuter
     Berry
     Bilbray
     Bilirakis
     Bishop
     Bliley
     Blumenauer
     Blunt
     Boehlert
     Boehner
     Bono
     Borski
     Boswell
     Boucher
     Boyd
     Brady (TX)
     Brown (CA)
     Brown (FL)
     Brown (OH)
     Bryant
     Bunning
     Burr
     Burton
     Buyer
     Callahan
     Calvert
     Camp
     Campbell
     Canady
     Cannon
     Cardin
     Carson
     Chabot
     Chambliss
     Chenoweth
     Christensen
     Clay
     Clement
     Clyburn
     Coble
     Coburn
     Collins
     Combest
     Condit
     Cook
     Cooksey
     Costello
     Cox
     Coyne
     Cramer
     Crane
     Crapo
     Cubin
     Cunningham
     Danner
     Davis (FL)
     Davis (VA)
     DeGette
     DeLay
     Deutsch
     Dickey
     Dicks
     Dingell
     Dooley
     Doolittle
     Dreier
     Duncan
     Dunn
     Edwards
     Ehlers
     Ehrlich
     Emerson
     Everett
     Ewing
     Fawell
     Fazio
     Foley
     Fossella
     Fowler
     Fox
     Frank (MA)
     Frelinghuysen
     Frost
     Gallegly
     Ganske
     Gejdenson
     Gekas
     Gephardt
     Gilchrest
     Gillmor
     Gilman
     Goode
     Goodlatte
     Goodling
     Gordon
     Goss
     Graham
     Green
     Greenwood
     Gutknecht
     Hall (OH)
     Hall (TX)
     Hamilton
     Hansen
     Harman
     Hastert
     Hastings (WA)
     Hayworth
     Hefley
     Hefner
     Herger
     Hill
     Hilleary
     Hilliard
     Hobson
     Hoekstra
     Horn
     Hostettler
     Houghton
     Hoyer
     Hulshof
     Hunter
     Hutchinson
     Hyde
     Inglis
     Istook
     Jackson-Lee (TX)
     John
     Johnson (CT)
     Johnson (WI)
     Johnson, E. B.
     Johnson, Sam
     Jones
     Kaptur
     Kim
     Kind (WI)
     King (NY)
     Kingston
     Kleczka
     Klink
     Klug
     Knollenberg
     Kolbe
     LaFalce
     Lampson
     Largent
     Latham
     LaTourette
     Lazio
     Leach
     Levin
     Lewis (CA)
     Lewis (KY)
     Linder
     Lipinski
     Livingston
     Lowey
     Lucas
     Luther
     Maloney (CT)
     Manton
     Manzullo
     Martinez
     Mascara
     Matsui
     McCarthy (MO)
     McCarthy (NY)
     McCollum
     McCrery
     McDade
     McHugh
     McInnis
     McIntosh
     McIntyre
     McKeon
     Metcalf
     Mica
     Miller (FL)
     Minge
     Mollohan
     Moran (KS)
     Moran (VA)
     Murtha
     Myrick
     Neal
     Neumann
     Ney
     Northup
     Norwood
     Nussle
     Oberstar
     Obey
     Olver
     Oxley
     Packard
     Parker
     Paxon
     Pease
     Peterson (MN)
     Peterson (PA)
     Pickering
     Pickett
     Pitts
     Pomeroy
     Porter
     Portman
     Poshard
     Pryce (OH)
     Quinn
     Radanovich
     Ramstad
     Redmond
     Regula
     Riggs
     Riley
     Rivers
     Roemer
     Rogan
     Rogers
     Rohrabacher
     Roukema
     Royce
     Ryun
     Sabo
     Salmon
     Sanders
     Sandlin
     Sanford
     Sawyer
     Saxton
     Scarborough
     Schaefer, Dan
     Schaffer, Bob
     Scott
     Serrano
     Sessions
     Shadegg
     Shaw
     Shimkus
     Shuster
     Sisisky
     Skaggs
     Skelton
     Smith (MI)
     Smith (OR)
     Smith (TX)
     Smith, Adam
     Smith, Linda
     Snowbarger
     Snyder
     Solomon
     Souder
     Spence
     Spratt
     Stearns
     Stenholm
     Stokes
     Stump
     Stupak
     Sununu
     Tanner
     Tauscher
     Tauzin
     Taylor (MS)
     Taylor (NC)
     Thomas
     Thornberry
     Thune
     Thurman
     Tiahrt
     Traficant
     Turner
     Upton
     Vento
     Walsh
     Wamp
     Watkins
     Watts (OK)
     Weldon (FL)
     Weldon (PA)
     White
     Whitfield
     Wicker
     Wilson
     Wise
     Wolf
     Wynn
     Yates
     Young (AK)

                               NAYS--117

     Abercrombie
     Ackerman
     Andrews
     Bachus
     Baesler
     Becerra
     Berman
     Blagojevich
     Bonilla
     Bonior
     Brady (PA)
     Capps
     Castle
     Conyers
     Cummings
     Davis (IL)
     Deal
     DeFazio
     Delahunt
     DeLauro
     Diaz-Balart
     Dixon
     Doggett
     Doyle
     Engel
     English
     Ensign
     Eshoo
     Evans
     Farr
     Fattah
     Filner
     Forbes
     Ford
     Franks (NJ)
     Furse
     Gibbons
     Gutierrez
     Hastings (FL)
     Hinchey
     Holden
     Hooley
     Jackson (IL)
     Jefferson
     Kanjorski
     Kasich
     Kelly
     Kennedy (MA)
     Kennedy (RI)
     Kennelly
     Kildee
     Kilpatrick
     Kucinich
     LaHood
     Lantos
     Lee
     Lewis (GA)
     LoBiondo
     Lofgren
     Maloney (NY)
     Markey
     McDermott
     McGovern
     McKinney
     McNulty
     Meehan
     Meek (FL)
     Meeks (NY)
     Menendez
     Miller (CA)
     Mink
     Morella
     Nadler
     Nethercutt
     Ortiz
     Owens
     Pallone
     Pappas
     Pascrell
     Pastor
     Paul
     Payne
     Pelosi
     Petri
     Pombo
     Rahall
     Rangel
     Reyes
     Rodriguez
     Ros-Lehtinen
     Rothman
     Roybal-Allard
     Rush
     Sanchez
     Schumer
     Sensenbrenner
     Shays
     Sherman
     Skeen
     Slaughter
     Smith (NJ)
     Stabenow
     Stark
     Strickland
     Thompson
     Tierney
     Torres
     Towns
     Velazquez
     Visclosky
     Waters
     Watt (NC)
     Waxman
     Weller
     Wexler
     Weygand
     Woolsey

                             NOT VOTING--12

     Clayton
     Etheridge
     Gonzalez
     Granger
     Hinojosa
     Jenkins
     McHale
     Millender-McDonald
     Moakley
     Price (NC)
     Talent
     Young (FL)

                              {time}  1317

  Ms. KILPATRICK and Messrs. LaHOOD, CONYERS, PAYNE, WATT of North 
Carolina and FORD changed their vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''

[[Page H6535]]

  So the conference report was agreed to.
  The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________