Friday, April 24, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 4/24/15


National / International News

<> EPA Responds To House Science Committee Subpoena For McCarthy Records The subpoena seeks "billing records for any and all ... mobile electronic devices issued by the government to Administrator McCarthy;" "records revealing any telephone numbers to which texts were sent, or from which texts were received;" "communications regarding the official use of text messaging;" and "text messages that have been retained by the EPA as Agency records. "

<> House Committee Examines Science of Hydraulic Fracturing, Allegations of Water Contamination - The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to examine the science behind claims that hydraulic fracturing causes groundwater contamination and other environmental concerns.

<> Energy Efficiency Improvement Act Goes To President - U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced that their Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 has passed the House and is now headed to the President for signature -- This bill, which passed the Senate in March, contains key energy efficiency provisions that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution.

<> Visitor Spending at National Parks Boosts Economy by $30 Billion Annually - Record numbers of visitors to national parks in 2014 translated into $29.7 billion in economic activity that supported nearly 277,000 jobs across the country

<> EIA report highlights top 100 U.S. oil and natural gas fields - (Fri, 24 Apr 2015) The top 100 oil fields in the United States accounted for 20.6 billion barrels of crude oil and lease condensate proved reserves, or 56% of the U.S. total in  2013. 

<> Forest Mismanagement Causing Increasingly Catastrophic Wildfires, Devastating Impacts on Environment - The Subcommittee on Federal Lands held an oversight hearing on the devastating impacts of wildfire and the need to significantly increase forest management efforts on the National Forest System. 

<> One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City - Mayor de Blasio Released OneNYC Plan which establishes bold goals and specific targets for a strong, sustainable, resilient, and equitable city – 800,000 people out of poverty by 2025, Zero Waste, eliminating long-term displacement after future shock events, and much more. . .

<> Deepwater Horizon Trustees Announce Agreement in Principle for Next 10 Early Restoration Projects - The Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (Trustees) today announced another milestone in Gulf of Mexico early restoration.

<> Applications for START Clean Energy Project Development Technical Assistance Due May 1 - Eligible applicants include Indian Tribes, Alaska Native regional corporations, and formally organized tribal energy resource development organizations -- Up to five projects will be selected to accelerate clean energy project development

<> Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Senior White House Advisor Brian Deese Announce Partnerships with Farmers and Ranchers to Address Climate Change - EAST LANSING, Mich. April 23, 2015 — In a speech today at Michigan State University, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack laid out a comprehensive approach to partner with agricultural producers to address the threat of climate change. 

<> Ocean Assets Valued at $24 Trillion, but Dwindling Fast - A new report from World Wildlife Fund highlights the economic value of Earth's marine environments

<> Energy Dept. Withholds MOX Report; Summary Reveals Major Cost Estimate Increases - A one-page summary of the report findings estimates the life-cycle cost of the MOX (Mixed Oxide Nuclear Fuel) program in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars at a minimum of $47.5 billion.

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.S. Reps Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms in Great Lakes - Representatives Tim Ryan (D-OH), David Joyce (R-OH)  and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation, H.R.1923, to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to appoint a coordinator to address the issue of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes,  which affected over a half million Ohioans last year.

<> Lake Michigan reaches highest level since 1998 - Lake Michigan's water level has officially rebounded from its historic low of 576 feet, recorded in January 2013 -- the average water level across the Michigan and Huron basin reached just over 579 feet in March 2015 -- the highest recorded water level for lakes Michigan and Huron was 582.3 feet in 1986.

Michigan News

<> Democratic lawmakers announce bold energy legislation - Democratic legislators announced the Powering Michigan's Future legislative package to build upon the success of Michigan's thriving clean energy sector which is creating jobs, reining in costs and protecting the health of Michigan kids, families and seniors -- the bills will increase Michigan's use of renewable energy while reducing energy waste.

<> Dem Reps Introduce Pipeline Safety Legislation Representatives Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores), Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor),Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) and Tom Cochran (D-Mason) introduced a package of bills today to call for more state oversight for oil and gas pipelines throughout Michigan.

<> MPSC Approves Settlement Agreement Authorizing Wisconsin Public Service Corporation to Raise Electric Rates

<> MPSC Directs Wisconsin Electric Power Company to Cease Billing Verso Paper Corp. for Standby Energy in 2012 - MPSC said that WEPCo's tariff "unequivocally provides that standby energy is zero during a company approved, prescheduled maintenance period."

<> MPSC Approves Settlement Agreement Transferring Control of Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Michigan Gas Utilities Corporation from Integrys Energy Group, Inc. to Wisconsin Electric Corporation

<> MPSC Approves Special Contracts between Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Tilden Mining Company, L.C. and Empire Iron Mining Partnership

<> Annual Testing in Bovine TB Area Finds Infected Herd - Testing recently confirmed a medium size dairy herd as bovine TB positive in Alpena County.

<> West Michigan trout stream compromised - MDEQ is investigating tree clearing done along the Coldwater River in Barry County

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 (4/23/15)


SB 0295 of 2015 Energy; alternative sources; renewable portfolio standard; increase, and provide for phase-in. [COMMITTEE]

SB 0296 of 2015 Energy; alternative sources; energy optimization standards; increase. [COMMITTEE]

SB 0297 of 2015 Energy; alternative sources; renewable portfolio standard; eliminate surcharge. [COMMITTEE]


HB 4509 of 2015 Natural resources; wildlife; ivory, ivory product, rhinoceros horn, or rhinoceros horn product; prohibit importation, sale, purchase, barter, or possession with intent to sell. Creates new act. [Committee] 

HB 4511 of 2015 Natural resources; gas and oil; pipelines; provide the department of environmental quality with regulatory oversight. [Committee]

HB 4512 of 2015 Natural resources; gas and oil; requirement for siting, construction, and operation of pipelines; regulate. [Committee]

HB 4513 of 2015 Natural resources; gas and oil; operation of natural gas pipelines; require compliance with natural resources and environmental protection act. [Committee]

HB 4514 of 2015 Environmental protection; other; good-faith effort to employ or contract with Michigan residents for oil and gas pipeline cleanups; require. [Committee]

HB 4518 of 2015 Energy; alternative sources; renewable portfolio standard; increase, and provide for phase-in. [Committee]

HB 4519 of 2015 Energy; alternative sources; renewable portfolio standard; eliminate surcharge. [Committee]


Thursday, April 23, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 4/23/15


National / International News

<> Remarks by the President on the Impacts of Climate Change – ". . .2014 was the planet's warmest year on record; fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century --  Yes, this winter was cold in parts of our country, including Washington; some people in Washington helpfully used a snowball to illustrate that fact -- But around the world, in the aggregate, it was the warmest winter ever recorded. . ."

<> New Report Recommends Ways to Improve Consumer Adoption of Plug-in Electric Vehicles - Vehicle cost, current battery technology, and inadequate consumer knowledge are some of the barriers preventing widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council.

<> In Milestone, Energy Department Projects Safely and Permanently Store 10 Million Metric Tons of Carbon Dioxide - In a landmark accomplishment, the U.S. Department of Energy is announcing that a group of carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects supported by the Department have safely captured 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the equivalent of removing more than 2 million passenger vehicles from the nation's roads for one year.

<> New Insight on Ground Shaking from Man-Made Earthquakes - The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report today that outlines a preliminary set of models to forecast how hazardous ground shaking could be in the areas where sharp increases in seismicity have been recorded -- the increase has been linked to industrial operations that dispose of wastewater by injecting it into deep wells.

<> USDA Announces Water Quality and Energy Efficiency Projects Across Rural America -, April 22, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Earth Day by announcing support for projects to improve rural water and wastewater services, promote renewable energy, and promote the efficient use of energy resources through the Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program (WEP).

<> 10 Animals the President's Trade Deal Will Help Protect from Illegal Wildlife Trafficking – Elephants, Tigers, Rhinos, Hammerhead Sharks, Sea Turtles, Pangolins and more. .

<> Another New Arrangement from EPA Designed to Settle Some Older Scores - Barnes & Thornburg LLP has issued an Environmental Alert on EPA's new compendium of guidance on the use of financial assurance mechanisms in CERCLA settlement agreements and unilateral administrative orders

<> DOE Collects Civil Penalties for Failure to Certify Consumer Refrigeration Products - DOE's Office of Enforcement recently resolved enforcement actions against seven companies that failed to submit required reports to certify that their refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and/or freezers comply with federal energy conservation standards -- assessed civil penalties of $8,000 per manufacturer for first-time violators and civil penalties ranging from $16,000 to $20,000 per manufacturer for companies with a history of noncompliance.

<> Research Suggests Pesticide Is Alluring and Harmful to Bees - Research by European scientists raised fresh questions on Wednesday about the impact on bees of neonicotinoids, a ubiquitous and controversial class of pesticides whose future use was restricted this month by EPA. . .

<> Droning On Over Nuclear Power Plants - Last fall, unidentified drones breached restricted airspace over 13 of France's 19 nuclear power plants in a seemingly coordinated fashion -- security experts haven't yet identified who was responsible for the French flyovers, but with the prices of drones falling and their popularity rising, the potential threat will likely continue to grow.

<> OMB Analyzes House Republican Funding Bills Compared to Administration Key Priorities - The bills released so far, along with the targets for the remaining bills, show that the Republican budget funding levels will force cuts compared to the President's Budget in areas important to the economy and the middle-class, ranging from research to education to environmental protection, as well as in national security priorities, ranging from peacekeeping and foreign assistance to the base defense budget.

<> EPA's Energy Star Launches "Flip Your Fridge" Initiative - U.S. EPA's Energy Star program is announcing its new "Flip Your Fridge" initiative today, which demonstrates the benefits Americans would see by recycling older refrigerators and replacing them with Energy Star certified models.

<> FHWA Names Environmental Excellence Award Recipients for 2015 - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revealed this year's Environmental Excellence Award recipients -- selected by an independent panel, the awards are the agency's biennial recognition of innovative efforts to preserve the environment while enhancing America's highways.

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

<> NY Rep. Higgins seeks federal aid to upgrade Great Lakes wastewater treatment plants - The bill would provide the EPA with money that would be passed on to publicly owned wastewater treatment plants in the Great Lakes region which would be equipped with "nutrient-removal technology."

Michigan News

<> Snyder, dodging direct question about presidential bid: If you have a choice, choose a governor over a senator - Tom Henderson - Gov. Rick Snyder changed the subject Wednesday morning when asked if there is any chance he will run for the Republic presidential nomination, saying: "My interest right now is on the roads."

<> Senator Stabenow Applauds Announcement of More Than $8 Million for Michigan Water Projects - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, applauded the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) announcement that three Michigan projects -- 2 in Standish Township in Arenac County and in the Village of Mesick in Wexford County -- will receive $8,397,000 to support necessary improvements to local water and wastewater systems.

<> Midwest Energy News: Critics say Michigan utility aims to 'monopolize' community solar - Michigan's first proposed large-scale community solar program is coming under fire from clean-energy advocates who say it would prevent independent third parties from developing their own programs.

<> Community tree-planting grants available through DNR, DTE Energy Foundation partnership - The DTE Energy Foundation and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are partnering once again to fund tree-planting projects across Michigan -- a total of $175,000 is available in matching grants of up to $4,000 each, to be awarded on a competitive basis.

<> Spring weather has bears, other wildlife on the move - The MDNR reminds residents that black bears are among those animals that are now awake and have left their dens -- at this time of the year, wildlife officials receive many calls about bear sightings and bears damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills.

<> National Park Service director to announce new park funding and initiative for Detroit April 24 - Earlier this week, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Director Jarvis announced a $325,000 grant to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and private partners to renovate and revitalize the 50+-acre athletic complex at Belle Isle Park -- a MDNR matching grant makes a total investment in the athletic complex of $650,000.

<> Detroit Zoo looks to turn animal waste into energy with biodigester crowdfunding campaign - Detroit Zoo launches crowdfunding campaign through MEDC's Public Spaces Community Places initiative to turn animal waste into energy

<> Only 2 weeks til Recycling Summit & Conference! – May 5-7, Kalamazoo. The Governor's Recycling Summit & MRC Conference marks the end of the first year of Governor Snyder's two year push to double Michigan's recycling rate and there's no time to waste.

<> Michigan Sierra Club Chapter Update: April 19, 2015 – Latest news and activities from the Michigan Chapter

<> Recycling Cart Donation Program - Earth Day Launch Happy Earth Day!  Zero Waste Detroit and Michigan Environmental Council are launching a recycling cart donation program.  Individuals and business can donate a recycling cart(s) for those in need of help in paying the one-time $25 fee for Detroit's curbside recycling program

<> Former EPA official gives clean, green car talk for Earth Day – Speaking at the University of Michigan, Margo Oge U.S. EPA's former director of the the Office of Transportation Air Quality said, the landmark 2012 Clean Air Act was the nation's first action focusing on greenhouse gases, with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025. . .

<> New perspectives on how ecological communities are assembled - What do you get when you combine two Michigan State University professors -- a professor who literally wrote the book on community ecology and another who has more than 40 years experience as a leader in the field of evolutionary biology?

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).