Group Project and Paper Requirements for
Congress: Politics, (Water) Policy and the Constitution
The individual paper assignment will relate to your group project, and students will be assigned to one of the group topics no later than September 25. If you have a topic preference, please notify the instructor prior to that date. You may shape the paper to focus on whatever aspect of the topic interests you most. On October 24, you must turn in a preliminary memo to jumpstart your research for the group project and your individual paper. This short writing assignment (250 words) should contain the following elements:
Five to seven dates that are significant to the narrative of your project;
Identification of resources in the Carl Albert Congressional Archives that you believe will be relevant to the project;
A brief description of the specific topic for your individual paper;
A brief description of the constitutional issues relevant to your topic and the elements of the congressional policy process which may come into play in this project.
Requirements for the Group Project:
1) With each topic, the groups will produce content similar to what has been created for the class as a whole. Essentially each group project will be uploaded as page(s) on Canvas that the rest of the class can explore. Utilizing your group research, interesting documents identified from the archives, and other tasks which may be appropriate to your topic, you should “tell” the story of your project. At a minimum, you will create a timeline with illustrations utilizing software which we will provide. In addition, data visualizations from archival materials might be appropriate. The group must demonstrate the use of two of the three archival research skills learned in this class (i.e. document analysis, data mapping, and data coding.)
2) The group will present its materials to the rest of the class during the last week of class. Each group is expected to present and answer questions about the topic during a full class period. The presentations may use the Canvas “page” space as the basis of its presentation or create a separate powerpoint.
Requirements for the Individual Paper:
1) With each of the topics, supplemental readings have been posted to Canvas and these supplemental readings must be utilized in your final paper.
2) Along with the use of these readings, you are required to use primary source archival materials or original government documents in your paper. Your paper should demonstrate the use of at least one of the archival research skills learned in this class.
3) Your paper should be a minimum of 10 pages in length double-spaced using standard margins and fonts and must include all of the following sections: a) a discussion of relevant constitutional issues illustrated by your topic; b) a discussion of the role of the Congress or its members in resolving the issues; c) a discussion of the implications of this topic to water policy in the past and the future, d) insights drawn from this topic about legislative politics, and e) a full bibliography using either APSA citation style or another standard citation format.
To recap the project topics:
Arkansas v. Oklahoma: Water policy and particularly water quality standards remain a complex intergovernmental arrangement. States set water quality standards but the EPA can determine effluent limits for new discharge permits. In 1985, the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas, applied to the EPA, seeking a permit for the city's new sewage treatment plant under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). After the appropriate procedures, the EPA issued a permit authorizing the plant to discharge up to 6.1 million gallons per day into a creek which later flowed into the Illinois River at a point 22 miles upstream from the Arkansas-Oklahoma border. Oklahoma sued to overturn the permit on the basis that the effluent caused pollution in violation of Oklahoma’s water quality standards. The case, Arkansas v. Oklahoma (503 US 91), litigated interstate water quality issues and established EPA authority to regulate water quality standards between states. Five states filed amicus briefs on behalf of Arkansas, while 12 states, the Cherokee Nation, U.S. Senator Don Nickles (OK) and Representative Mike Synar (OK) all filed briefs on behalf of Oklahoma.
Constitutional Issues: What are the constitutional bases for the federal government to regulate interstate waters? Is the Commerce Clause an adequate protection of water resources? What are the constitutional bases for deferring to the states in this policy arena? Are interstate compacts an effective mechanism to negotiate water policy? EPA has intervened in water quality debates under authority granted to it by the Congress, but sometimes members of Congress are critical of executive overreach. What are the constitutional limits of delegated rulemaking power?
Choctaw Nation v. Oklahoma. Portions of the Arkansas River run through land allocated by treaties to the Cherokee Nation (1835), the Choctaw Nation (1830) and the Chickasaw Nation ( 1837), but when Oklahoma became a state the land under the river was not allotted and the State of Oklahoma claimed ownership. As the federal government began work on the McClellan-Kerr Navigation Project on the Arkansas River in the 1960s, the Cherokees, Choctaws and Chickasaws sued the State of Oklahoma to reclaim their ownership rights. Though they lost twice in lower court decisions, the tribes appealed their case to the U. S. Supreme Court which confirmed the tribes’ ownership in Choctaw Nation v. Oklahoma, 397 U.S. 620 (1970). The later case, Choctaw Nation vs. Oklahoma (396 U.S. 620) upheld tribal claims (Choctaw, Cherokee and Chickasaw) to ownership of the riverbed of the Arkansas River. After complex negotiations, the economic claims were finally settled in 2002 by an act of Congress, the Arkansas Riverbed Settlement Act.
Constitutional Issues: What is the status and authority of tribes under the U.S. Constitution? What is the relationship between states and tribes? What are the constitutional mechanisms for resolving disputes between states and tribes? What is the status of tribes under environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act?
Reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act (1991, 1994) – The statutory and regulatory scheme for overseeing local drinking water treatment falls under the Safe Drinking Water Act which was first adopted in 1974. Unlike the CWA which provides for some local flexibility on water quality standard setting, the SDWA imposes maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for different chemicals which all public drinking water facilities must then meet. When the law faced reauthorization in 1991 and 1994, one of the most controversial issues related to unfunded mandates imposed through EPA regulations on localities. Using collection of Congressman Mike Synar (D-OK), students have a unique window on the congressional decision-making process at the committee and subcommittee level for the act's reauthorization, especially looking at logrolling, sources of expert information, and public input.
Constitutional Issues: What are the limits of federal authority over the states? How has Congress responded to the federalism concerns of states and localities? Can Congress limit the actions of regulatory agencies in the rulemaking process? To what extent, did arguments about the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers not otherwise delegated to the federal government for the states and the people, come into play with the SDWA reauthorization?
The Evolution of Irrigation and Water Projects in the West – U.S. Senator Robert S. Kerr was renowned as the undisputed master of infrastructure investment from the late 1940s until his death in 1963. What we would today call “earmarks” -- congressional appropriations for specific local projects – were the vehicles which Kerr used to fund a variety of irrigation and water projects many to the benefit of the state of Oklahoma. Using Kerr's congressional papers, this project would trace the politics, justification, and rhetorical framing of these water projects over time (i.e. from reclamation to conservation).
Constitutional Issues: The U.S. Constitution grants to Congress the power to spend. Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 reads, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but by consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” However, some critics of earmarks argue that Congress can only appropriate funds pursuant to those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution. The 10th Amendment leaves all other responsibilities to the states. Another constitutional conflict arising when earmarking by Congress intrudes into the Executive branch’s authority to execute the law.