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EELC 2005 Resolutions  
  1. Liquefied Natural Gas Platform Closed Loop Heating               
  2. Siting of Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals                     
  3. Support of Historical Easement Tax Credits and Conservation Easement Programs
  4. Haphazard Land Use and Health          


Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee

Resolution on Liquefied Natural Gas PLATFORM CLOSED-LOOP HEATING

Issue:  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) heating with an Open-Loop System harms marine life.

Adopted Policy:  Because current technical and scientific research is inconclusive regarding effects of Open-Loop Systems on marine life, NACo supports cooperative efforts between state and federal agencies to reduce thermal pollution by appropriate and effective engineering and design of Off-Shore LNG platforms.  Open-Loop Systems, if permitted, should be monitored regarding their effect on such marine life.  Implementing necessary and all mitigation should be a part of such permit for Open-Loop Systems.

Background:  Coastal counties across this nation continue to have difficulty meeting water quality standards.   LNG terminals with Open-Loop Systems potentially will negatively impact water quality, they may also cause a loss of marine life and lost revenue due to its impacts on fisheries.  This is important in light of recent discussions regarding the need for additional LNG terminals to meet this nation’s energy demand.

Presently there are no mandatory requirements on federal waters for design of LNG platforms.  An U.S. Ocean policy draft is not approved by the Administration. In the Gulf of Mexico, approved LNG stations with Open-Loops are expected to affect up to 25 percent in fish catch and kill billions of red fish eggs and other fish species.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) was enacted in 1972 to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters.  It established a national policy that called for the discharge of pollutants to be eliminated and established interim goals for protecting fish, wildlife and recreational uses.  The CWA also established a national policy for development and implementation of programs so the goals of the Act could be met through controls of point and non-point sources of pollution. Congress recognized and preserved the primary responsibilities and rights of the States to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution.  In enacting this law, Congress intended all pollution, including thermal pollution in offshore areas of the country. All designs should be based on scientific facts with minimum adverse impacts on environment.

Finding solutions to these complex water quality and marine life problems requires innovative approaches to design of LNG platforms that are consistent with core water programs and US Ocean policy [draft].

Fiscal/Urban/Rural Impacts:  Market-based programs on energy imports with LNG stations will give local controls in siting and can achieve energy sufficiency with substantial economic savings with minimum impact on environment.

Adopted by the NACo Board of Directors
March 7, 2005



ENVIRONMENT, ENERGY AND LAND USE STEERING COMMITTEE

Resolution oN Siting of Liquidfied Natural Gas Terminals

Issue:  Siting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in ports.

Adopted Policy:  NACo opposes any Administration or Congressional effort to preempt state and local authorities under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) when siting liquefied natural gas (LNG) input terminals.

Background: LNG stands for liquefied natural gas.  The conversion of natural gas into liquid is called liquefaction and is achieved through refrigeration. Liquefaction reduces the volume by approximately 600 times, making it more economical to transport between continents in specially designed ships.  Upon reaching its destination, LNG is turned back into a gas and sent out via pipelines as ordinary natural gas.  In all, there are 113 LNG production, transport and storage facilities across the country.

LNG has been around for 45 years but popped into national importance the summer of 2003 when Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, flagged LNG as a "hot topic," raising awareness of the need to expand our energy portfolio. He said LNG could play an integral part in meeting our nation's future energy demands.  Since then, more than 50 onshore and offshore sites have been listed as potential sites for LNG terminals.  Concerns have been raised over the siting of LNG terminals ranging from concerns over land costs, environmental impacts to safety concerns.  Many local communities are leery of potential terrorist attacks on these facilities.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has jurisdiction over the siting and construction of onshore LNG import terminals.  But, state agencies currently have oversight of environmental issues that fall under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).  Siting of LNG import terminals must be consistent with the coastal zone management plans of each affected state.

However, in the 108th Congress, Congress discussed an appropriations bill line item that allowed FERC to preempt a states’ oversight of LNG terminals under the CZMA.  This issue is expected to come up again in the 109th Congress.

Fiscal/Urban/Rural Impact:  Preempts state and local authority under the CZMA to direct land use in the benefit of the community.

Adopted by the NACo Board of Directors
March 7, 2005



Environment, Energy AND LAND USE steering committee
Finance and intergovernmental Affairs steering committee

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT of Historical easement
Tax Credits and conservation easement programs

Issue:  Support for the historical building tax credit and conservation easement programs.

Adopted Policy:  NACo supports continued use (at the local government’s option and/or corresponding with local land use plans), of Historical Building tax credits and conservation easement programs for historical preservation and to foster economic development. 

Background:  On January 27, 2005, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), a nonpartisan arm of Congress,  a drastic cut on tax benefits for donations of land, conservation easements, and bargain sales.  The recommendations are aimed at ending tax breaks originally designed to preserve historic building.  In the case of easements, tax deductions would be eliminated for all buildings and tracts of land that could be used as personal residences.  The Joint Committee's rationale: cases of abuse of deductions for historic facade and conservation easements, and how difficult it is for the Internal Revenue Service to police easement appraisals.

Landowners who donate conservation easements can get a tax write-off based on the difference in fair market value of their property before and after placing the restriction on the property.  Conservation easements provide tax incentives for ranchers and farmers to limit development of their property.

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program is one of the nation's most successful and cost-effective community revitalization programs. The program fosters private sector rehabilitation of historic buildings and promotes economic revitalization.

These proposals that would take away incentives for landowners and land protection groups to conserve land and water resources through donations of conservation easements; they are especially important for counties that place a high value on open space and resource conservation.  They also can effectively complement government acquisition programs and the regulation of uses to protect environmentally sensitive land.  The proposals would reduce the deductions of conservation easements to no more than 33 percent, rather than 100 percent, of the easement's appraised value, disallow any deductions for donating an easement on the property on which a landowner lives (thereby eliminating most conservation easements) and limit deductions for donations and bargain sales of real estate to the value of the land at the time the landowner acquired it, not at the current market value (a disincentive for those who have had land in their family for generations). 

Fiscal/Urban/Rural Impact:  Passage of legislation aimed at decreasing conservation easement program would negatively impact localities attempting to preserve valuable natural resources.

Adopted by the NACo Board of Directors
March 7, 2005



Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee

RESOLUTION ON HAPHAZARD LAND USE AND HEALTH

Issue: Health and fiscal impacts of haphazard land use in counties.

Adopted Policy: NACo calls upon Congress to significantly fund research and demonstration projects to encourage counties and localities to develop efficient land use planning and infrastructure design practices that are fiscally sensible and produce better physical activity and health outcomes.

Background: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America is facing a growing obesity epidemic, especially among the poor, minorities and children.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that health care costs will skyrocket to $3.6 trillion, or 19 percent of GDP by 2014, with government footing half of the bill. According to researchers at Emory University, roughly a third of recent increases can be attributed to rising obesity levels. With rising medical costs, county officials and other civic leaders are promoting improvements to diet and exercise. Many are also exploring how changes to the built environment—e.g., building bicycle and walking paths and revitalizing older walkable neighborhoods—can give people more mobility choices and provide more convenient and safer opportunities to be physically active.

In January 2005, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that more research and demonstration projects are needed to determine how better land use planning and infrastructure design can lead to improved health. They urged Congress to support substantial interdisciplinary and long-term research and pilot projects (“natural experiments”). The Academy also asked the Department of Transportation, HHS and other agencies to collaborate and recommend a specific research agenda and pilot programs for Congress to fund.

Thousands of communities are already pursuing smarter land use strategies, including more compact development, coordinated transportation and land use planning, revitalization of Main Streets and town centers, inclusionary affordable housing policies, and other policies. These efforts are good for the local economies, social equity and environmental quality of counties. Decades of fiscal impact research show that haphazard land use costs counties more in infrastructure and services per household than compact, mixed-use and walkable communities. According to experts at the Federal Reserve Bank and the Brookings Institution, smart growth infrastructure policies could save the U.S. $125 billion to $250 billion over 25 years. Also, real estate analysts predict growing market demand for the well-designed communities that result from smart growth policies.

Fiscal/Urban/Rural Impacts:  Modest changes in community design and infrastructure can provide more opportunities for routine physical activity in rural, suburban and urban areas, and could result in improved health and lower medical care and infrastructure costs.

Adopted by the NACo Board of Directors
March 7, 2005

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