Thursday, April 02, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 4/2/15


National / International News

<> Governor Brown Directs First Ever Statewide Mandatory Water Reductions - Following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced actions that will save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state's drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient.

<> EPA Proposes Pretreatment Standards for Unconventional Oil and Gas Wastewater - EPA has proposed pretreatment standards that would require zero discharge of pollutants from unconventional oil and natural gas extraction facilities into municipal wastewater treatment plants.

<> Legal Debate on EPA's Power Plan Takes Center Stage - Energy Collective - For the past two weeks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Clean Power Plan" for power sector carbon emissions has been the center of an ongoing debate between some of the nation's foremost constitutional and environmental law scholars.

<> Coalition Applauds Senator McConnell's Efforts to Combat President's War on Coal - Several groups wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to applaud his "work with state governors and legislators to push back against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) usurpation of state electricity policy through its proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP)." [letter & signers]

<> Committee Chairmen: EPA Must Consider Impacts of Water Proposal on Farmers, Ranchers - House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and House Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy asking for documents to confirm whether or not the agency weighed the impact of the proposed "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule on farmers and ranchers.

<> National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation – April 1 to April 30, the challenge asks residents to take a series of informative, easy to use pledges online to conserve water, energy and other natural resources on behalf of their city.

<> U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Protects Northern Long-eared Bat as Threatened Under Endangered Species Act - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it is protecting the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations.

<> Green Infrastructure and the Sustainable Communities Initiative report - Reports on the green infrastructure best practices and outputs of the EPA's Sustainable Communities Initiative grantees.

<> States undermine EPA's argument for exempting fracking waste - April 2. A new report shows that states ignore the risks of sometimes hazardous oil and gas waste despite EPA's exemption of such waste from federal oversight based on "adequate" state management -- Wasting Away: Four states' failure to manage oil and gas waste in the Marcellus and Utica Shale examines how Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York neither regulate oil and gas development wastes as hazardous, nor can assure the public that they are protected from exposure to hazardous waste.

<> Polar Bears Unlikely to Thrive on Land-based Foods - A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

<> FRACKING'S MOST WANTED: Report Identifies Top 10 Oil & Gas Companies for Spills & Legal Violations - (April 2, 2015) – Only three out the 36 states with active oil and gas operations make information about companies' spills and legal violations easily available to the public, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and FracTracker Alliance.

<> TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East pipeline will bypass Quebec: report - Six weeks ago, TransCanada denied a similar report about the scotching of the Cacouna terminal, which would function as an export point for the oil transported through the 1.1-million-barrel-per-day pipeline.

  • TransCanada Energy East Pipeline - A 4,600 km pipeline that will transport, about 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the refineries and port terminals of Eastern Canada

<> USDA Announces 'FoodKeeper' Application in Advance of World Health Day - April 2, 2015 – The U.S. Food Waste Challenge calls on organizations and businesses across the food supply chain to join the fight against food waste.

<> The Sierra Club launches major new platform for environmental activism - Sierra Club, the nation's largest grassroots environmental group, announced the launch of AddUp, a one-stop shop for effective environmental activism -- AddUp offers a diverse suite of local, state and national environmental issues for people to take action with personalized campaign recommendations, making it quick and easy to discover and affect change on the issues that matter most to that individual.

<> Union of Concerned Scientists Scorecard of Iconic Brands Contributing to Deforestation - The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) scored the palm oil sourcing commitments of 40 consumer brand companies and found many – especially in the fast food and store brand sectors – have a long way to go to ensure their products do not contribute to deforestation.

<> Methane in drinking water unrelated to fracking, study suggests - Fracking doesn't appear to be allowing methane to seriously contaminate drinking water in Pennsylvania, a new study finds—contrary to some earlier, much publicized research that suggested a stronger link; but, the lead authors of the two bodies of research are sparring over the validity of the new results.

<> A geoscientist's take on new U.S. fracking rules - Stanford University's Mark Zoback discusses federal regulations

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> Maple Drive Farms v. Tom Vilsack (USDA) - 4/1/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Case No. 13-1091. Appealed from the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids.
     Former U.S. Rep. Nick Smith challenges the United States Department of Agriculture's determination that Smith had converted 2.24 acres of wetland on his property and that he is, consequently, totally ineligible for program benefits. The district court denied relief. 

     The Appeals Court ruled, "Because USDA acted without abiding by applicable regulations, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand with instructions to remand to USDA for further proceedings 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).

<> REMEDIATION - Final Rule. U.S. EPA - National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP); Amending the NCP for Public Notices for Specific Superfund 

<> WILDLIFE - Final Rule. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Northern Long-Eared Bat With 4(d) Rule

(click for the complete Energy & EPA announcements)

Great Lakes News

<> Great Lakes states receive more than $10 million from U.S. Fish and Wildlife - Great Lakes states received more than $10 million in federal funding to protect species and habitats, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [Michigan received $1.2 million the same as last year]

<> Lake Michigan water level up 14 inches over last year - A captain with more than two decades of experience on the Great Lakes says he can't remember a time when the water level has rebounded so fast.

<> Institute for Great Lakes Research to host Stabenow Thursday for Great Lakes symposium - Central Michigan University's symposium will feature special guest Debbie Stabenow, U.S. senator and co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, who will deliver a keynote address.

Michigan News

<> Gov. Rick Snyder: Michigan eliminates energy waste in state facilities, pursues ENERGY STAR certifications - The Governor on Wednesday spoke about the importance of eliminating energy waste as part of a plan for Michigan's energy future. Snyder last month set a goal of meeting 30 to 40 percent of Michigan's energy needs through our cleanest sources -- renewable energy plus waste reduction -- by 2025.

<> MDNR applauds U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's northern long-eared bat decision - The MDNR and other Midwestern state natural resource agencies support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's interim 4(d) rule because it allows states to conserve and protect the northern long-eared bat while continuing normal forest management activities and routine right-of-way maintenance.

<> DEQ Issues Deeply Flawed Eagle Mine Groundwater Discharge Permit - According to grassroots environmental group Save the Wild U.P. (SWUP), the approved permit fails to address elevated levels of uranium and vanadium, and exceedances of copper, molybdenum, silver, lead, arsenic.

<> Sierra Club Calls for Michigan Fracking Ban - The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter said a complete ban on high-volume, hydraulic fracturing in Michigan is needed to meet the challenge of climate change and avoid public health and environmental risks that led New York State to ban the risky practice

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).



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