Friday, May 22, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 5/22/15

 

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National / International News

<> What They're Saying: Military Leaders Respond to the President's Call to Battle Climate Change - President Obama's strong stance on climate change prompted many leaders in the military, Congress, and climate change research to respond in kind.

<> Remarks at the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council Reception - Secretary of State, John Kerry, the new Chairman of the Arctic Council said, ". . .I begin by being very clear that every nation that cares about the future of the Arctic has to be a leader in taking and urging others to move forward with bold initiatives and immediate, ambitious steps to curb the impact of greenhouse gases. . ."

<> DOE Resources Help Measure Building Energy Benchmarking Policy & Program Effectiveness - The Department of Energy has released two resources to help stakeholders analyze the energy, non-energy, and market transformation impacts of building energy benchmarking policies and programs.

<> Stabenow, Peters Call for Permanent Administrator to Lead Pipeline Safety Agency - U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters (MI) joined eight of their Senate colleagues to send a letter urging the White House to nominate a permanent administrator to lead the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which plays a vital role in protecting communities from spills and accidents while ensuring the safe flow of energy products. 

<> Senator Stabenow Introduces Bill to Expand Advanced Vehicle Technology - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced legislation to expand an advanced vehicle manufacturing loan program that helps automobile and parts manufacturers to retool their plants to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. 

<> Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences (2015) - The National Academy of Sciences report addresses the strategic investments necessary at NSF to ensure a robust ocean scientific enterprise over the next decade. 

<> Pennsylvania study finds contaminants in drilling wastewater - Two chemicals never before considered oil and gas industry contaminants, ammonium and iodide, were found in alarming levels in drilling wastewater discharged into Pennsylvania's waterways, according to a recent study.

<> USDA Reminds Farmers to Certify Conservation Compliance by June 1 Deadline - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) with their local USDA Service Center by June 1, 2015.

<> Cuomo Administration Blocks Massive Tar Sands Oil Facility Expansion in Albany - In the face of a court challenge from a broad coalition of environmental and community groups and massive community opposition, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) halted Global Companies' proposed expansion of its massive Albany oil train facility to handle tar sands oil.

<> CA Governor Brown Declares State of Emergency in Santa Barbara County to Assist Oil Spill Response - Governor Brown Jr. issued an emergency proclamation for Santa Barbara County due to the effects of an oil spill near Refugio State Beach.

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> USA v. State of Ohio - 5/21/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Case No. 13-4362. The United States appeals from the district court's denial of its motion for summary judgment and grant of the State of Ohio's and Buckingham Coal Company's motions for summary judgment in this action challenging Ohio's right to lease Buckingham the right to mine coal lying beneath land acquired for a flood control project. 
     The Appeals Court reverses the district court motion saying, "we conclude that Ohio lacked the authority to enter into the instant leases. We reverse the district court's grant of summary judgment to Ohio and Buckingham and its denial of the United States' motion for summary judgment, and remand for entry of judgment consistent with this opinion.

Federal Register Highlights 

The following is an alert of Environmental Federal Register announcements that may be of interest.  (Click here to access today's complete Federal Register index with links to complete announcements).

<> Nothing We're Tracking Today (click for the complete Energy & EPA announcements)

Great Lakes News

<> Changing water levels on the Great Lakes - Their levels change all the time, and have been down significantly for the past 16 years, but the last few years, they've changed a lot, faster than anyone would've expected.

Michigan News

<> Lakefront residents on Lake St. Clair continue to deal with stinky muck - Testing conducted in 2011 revealed that the accumulation along shorelines contained human waste, via sewage overflows and bird droppings; communities often dump partially treated sewage into lake tributaries due to overflows during major storms.

<> Dan Fette v. Peters Construction Co. - 5/21/15. In the Michigan Court of Appeals, Appealed from the Berrien County Circuit Court, Case No. 320803. In this contract dispute, plaintiffs, Daniel Fette and the Berrien County Board of Public Works, appeal as of right from the trial court's order confirming an arbitrator's award of approximately $45,300 in favor of defendant.     Defendant, Peters Construction Co., cross-appeals from that same order. The Appeals Court affirmed.

     Defendant and plaintiffs entered into a contract for a construction project, which included installing a water main underneath railroad tracks. During the project, defendant encountered some "unforeseen subsurface conditions" that, according to it, were not anticipated in the agreement and required extra expense in completing the job. Defendant tried to get plaintiffs to agree to pay this extra amount, but plaintiffs declined. Citing the arbitration clause in the contract, defendant filed a claim for arbitration.

<> 2015 Greenup Call for Abstracts - The seventh Michigan "GreenUp" Conference will be held November 3-4, 2015 University of Michigan, North Campus Research Complex, Ann Arbor. Submit an oral presentation abstract - Deadline July 1. Sponsorships also available.

<> Michigan Wildlife Council selects Güd Marketing for multiyear campaign - After a lengthy request-for-proposals review and evaluation process, the Council has selected Güd (pronounced "good") Marketing (formerly Pace & Partners) of Lansing, to lead a multi-year promotional campaign focused on increasing public awareness about the importance of Michigan's hunting, fishing and trapping traditions to wildlife and habitat management statewide.

<> Anglers encouraged to monitor bait to spot juvenile Asian carp - MDNR is taking many steps to prevent adult Asian carp (bighead and silver) from entering the Great Lakes, but many people don't realize that juvenile Asian carp pose a threat to the state's waters, too.

<> MDOT releases second part of report on community and economic benefits of bicycling - MDOT released the second phase of a new report, "Community and Economic Benefits of Bicycling in Michigan" funded by federal and state planning and research funds, it is the second phase of a larger report describing the economic benefits that bicycling events bring to the economy.

<> Group faults effort to spare birdlife from wind turbines - Federal guidelines from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urge wind energy developers to locate turbines with special care in places such as the "Thumb" region of Michigan's mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula — or avoid them altogether, to prevent fatal collisions between birds and the towers' whirring blades.

<> Report shows Michigan commercial fishing harvest down, gross dockside value up - This increase in the value of the fishery is thanks to the increase in wholesale price of one of the Great Lakes' most prolific inhabitants: whitefish.

<> MEC joins clean air crusaders at Mama Summit - MEC rallied at the Capitol this week with dozens of concerned parents to educate legislators about the negative health impacts coal plants have on children.

Michigan Legislative Tracking 

Newly introduced bills and bills that are moving, if any, are listed below. Click on the bill number for complete status, full text, & analyses. Uppercase is Senate action; lowercase is House action. Otherwise, for a complete list of environmental legislation this session (click here).

 

Daily Activity (5/21/15)

IN THE SENATE

SB 0348 of 2015 Environmental protection; landfills; mining, including reclamation activities, in landfills; prohibit. [COMMITTEE]

HB 4449 of 2015 Environmental protection; air pollution; air emission fees; modify. [Passed, Transmitted]

IN THE HOUSE

HB 4093 of 2015 Appropriations; zero budget; department of environmental quality; provide for fiscal year 2015-2016. Creates appropriation act. [House & SENATE conferees named]

 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 5/21/15

National / International News

<> Obama tells Coast Guard grads climate change menaces U.S. - Rising seas and thawing permafrost caused by warmer global temperatures threaten U.S. military bases and will change the way the U.S. armed services defend the country, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday

<> America's Trade Ambassador: Tackling Environmental Challenges Through Trade - Two decades ago, environmental provisions under NAFTA were relegated to a side agreement, with only a single enforceable obligation to "effectively enforce your own environmental laws" -- in contrast, the most recent trade agreements contain extensive, enforceable environmental commitments. 

<> Despite Veto Threat House Approves COMPETES Bill - The House of Representatives approved the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806), which GOP members called "a comprehensive, pro-science, fiscally responsible bill to keep America competitive and reestablish the federal government's primary scientific role to fund basic research."

<> USDA to Give Priority Funding for Regional Economic Development Projects - The new Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy will make it easier for rural communities to access resources to invest in long-term community development efforts by giving priority to applications for Rural Development programs that include regional partnerships and strategies.

<> House Passes Several Science Committee Bills - The House of Representatives passed H.R. 874, H.R. 1162, H.R. 1119, H.R. 1156, H.R. 1561, and H.R. 1158 by voice vote under suspension of the rules. The bills had strong bipartisan support -- most of these bills passed the House last Congress and were not taken up by the Senate.

<> The IMF says we spend $5.3 trillion a year on fossil fuel subsidies. How is that possible? - The IMF report is using "subsidy" to refer to the fact that users of oil, gas, and coal don't pay the full price for all the environmental damage these fossil fuels cause.

<> Stabenow, Peters, Alexander Introduce Vehicle Innovation Act - U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), along with Lamar Alexander (R-TN), today introduced the bipartisan Vehicle Innovation Act (VIA) to promote investments in research and development of clean vehicle technologies that will create more fuel efficient vehicles, reduce dependence on foreign oil and support American auto manufacturers.

<> EPA: Launching a New Era of State, Tribal, Local and International Partnerships - EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy highlights some best practices, innovative solutions and successes in building partnerships.

<> House Hearing On Issues Facing Civilian and Postal Service Vehicle Fleet Procurement - Witness Testimony and webcast

<> FEMP Seeking Public Comment on Draft M&V Guidelines - The measurement and verification (M&V) document provides guidelines for measuring and verifying energy, water, and cost savings associated with federal energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs).

<> New Initiatives to Accelerate the Commercialization of Nanotechnology - May 20, the National Economic Council and the Office of Science and Technology Policy held a forum at the White House to discuss opportunities to accelerate the commercialization of nanotechnology.

<> Oil Giants Band Together to Add Voice to Climate Debate - Europe's largest oil companies are banding together to forge a joint strategy on climate-change policy, alarmed they'll be ignored as the world works toward a historic deal limiting greenhouse gases -- a public announcement expected as early as next month

<> TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline Network Under Investigation by U.S. Fed Regulators - A month after revealing that TransCanada is under acompliance review for the Keystone 1 Pipeline, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)disclosed it is also investigating the operations of KeystoneXL's southern route, renamed the Gulf Coast Pipeline when the project was split in half -- the results of these investigations could play a part in President Obama's final decision on the Keystone XL permit that TransCanada needs to complete its Keystone pipeline network.

<> From Small Cars to Pickup Trucks, Automakers Aren't Just Meeting Efficiency Standards, They're Exceeding Them - The emissions and efficiency standards for vehicles have been a big success, according to a new analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

<> Groups File Lawsuit Calling for Federal Government Action on Soot Pollution - Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles and Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit today in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to act on the South Coast Air Quality Management District's (SCAQMD) plan to reduce particulate matter, or soot.

<> NOAA Study Confirms BP Oil Spill Led to Dolphin Deaths in Northern Gulf of Mexico - Environmental groups said since the BP oil disaster five years ago, ongoing findings deliver truths omitted by BP's ads: the oil disaster's negative effects are increasingly clear, present and far from resolved.

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> Committee for a Better Arvin v. U.S. EPA - 5/20/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-73924 & 12-71332. Petitioners, a contingent of environmental and community groups, bring serious challenges to the State of California's plans to improve air quality in the San Joaquin Valley, an area with some of the worst air quality in the United States -- i.e. whether U.S. EPA erred in approving California's State Implementation Plans.
     The Appeals Court ruled, "We hold that by approving California's plans even though the plans did not include the state-adopted mobile emissions standards on which those plans rely to achieve their emissions reductions goals, EPA violated the CAA. We also hold that EPA did not violate the CAA by not requiring inclusion of other state mechanisms in its plans, and that other control measures approved by EPA are enforceable commitments as the CAA requires."

Federal Register Highlights 

The following is an alert of Environmental Federal Register announcements that may be of interest.  (Click here to access today's complete Federal Register index with links to complete announcements).

<> Nothing We're Tracking Today (click for the complete Energy & EPA announcements)

Great Lakes News

<> U-M Researchers win Award for Paper on Phosphorus in Lake Erie - Lead author Donald Scavia, and a team of researchers will receive the Chandler-Misener Award for the most notable paper, Assessing and addressing the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie: Central basin hypoxia, in the 2014 edition of the Journal of Great Lakes Research. [Link to the paper]

<> Spring water levels of Lake Huron highest since 1998 - An unseasonably cool and wet summer last year started the rise, which didn't stop; Lake Huron skipped its usual seasonal decline, which, on average, begins in July.

<> Early forecast says toxic algae could be lighter at Lake Erie - In an early projection released on Tuesday, scientists said that so far, the Maumee River is carrying less phosphorus to the western part of the lake.

Michigan News

<> Target budget agreement includes additional money for Michigan roads, schools - Gov. Rick Snyder and legislative leaders agreed today on spending targets for the fiscal year 2016 budget that includes an additional $400 million in General Fund money to help repair Michigan roads and bridges while work continues on a long-term solution to the state's infrastructure needs.

<> House panel approves Rep. Lauwers resolution for GMO food labeling - The MI House Committee on Agriculture  approved House Resolution 89, introduced by state Rep. Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway Twp), urging Congress to adopt a national label program for genetically modified food.

<> MDNR Accessibility Advisory Council to meet June 2 in Okemos - The council's purpose is to make recommendations to the department director and staff regarding accessibility, as well as provide input, advice and guidance on the development, management and planning associated with providing accessible recreation opportunities to all users statewide.

<> Business expansion, community improvement project win state approval - The Michigan Economic Development Corporation today announced Michigan Strategic Fund approval of a business expansion and a community improvement project that are expected to generate $5.5 million in investments and create 88 new jobs.

<> Detroit Training Institute of Technology students renovate historic Belle Isle shelter in preparation for return of public transportation - Through partnership efforts with the Department of Natural Resources and the State Historic Preservation Office, the Detroit Training Institute of Technology and its students are renovating the historic structure, which will serve as an island transportation stop this summer for Pedicab and horse-and-carriage ride services.

<> MDOT's Steudle makes list of top public sector innovators - Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), was recently listed as one of the "Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" by Government Technology magazine.

Michigan Legislative Tracking 

Newly introduced bills and bills that are moving, if any, are listed below. Click on the bill number for complete status, full text, & analyses. Uppercase is Senate action; lowercase is House action. Otherwise, for a complete list of environmental legislation this session (click here).

 

Daily Activity (5/20/15)

IN THE HOUSE

HB 4093 of 2015 Appropriations; zero budget; department of environmental quality; provide for fiscal year 2015-2016. Creates appropriation act. [House conferees named]

HB 4449 of 2015 Environmental protection; air pollution; air emission fees; modify. [3rd Read]