Wednesday, March 25, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 3/25/15


National / International News

<>  Supreme Court takes up challenge to EPA limits on mercury emissions from power plants - The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up a challenge by industry groups and Republican-led states that want to roll back Obama administration environmental rules aimed at reducing power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

<> Moving Forward to Address Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal - President Obama authorized the Energy Department to move forward with planning for a separate repository for high-level radioactive waste resulting from atomic energy defense activities.

<> Energy Subcommittee Discusses the Value of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Investments at DOE - Today, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Energy Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the Department of Energy's (DOE) work in energy efficiency and renewable energy

<> Agriculture Committee Examines the Cost and Impacts of States Implementing Mandatory Biotechnology Labeling Laws - The House Committee on Agriculture held a public hearing to examine the costs and impacts of states implementing mandatory biotechnology labeling laws. 

<> The Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015 - Overview of Discussion Draft Authored By Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) -- the draft legislation utilizes the framework from bills in past Congresses by setting up enforceable state permit programs

<> A National Strategy for Reducing the Federal Government's Real Estate Footprint – Building on the 2013, Freeze the Footprint (FTF) policy, the Administration has issued the National Strategy for Real Property (National Strategy) and the Reduce the Footprint policy.

<> California's new normal: In the fourth year of drought, dusty cars and no iced water are a way of life - Shasta Lake, California's largest reservoir, is drying up. Four years into a history-making drought with no end in sight, the U.S.'s most populous state is being forced to completely retool its water management.

<> Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and Army Corps of Engineers Renew Five-Year Partnership to Advance Hydropower - The renewal agreement signed commits the agencies to a specific, ambitious agenda for hydropower, building upon their Memorandum of Understanding for Hydropower (MOU) signed on March 24, 2010.

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> St. Marys Cement Inc. v. EPA - 3/24/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Case Nos. 13-3105 & 14-3479. MDEQ deemed the plant's pollution controls sufficient and excused St. Marys from the CAA retrofitting requirement. U.S. EPA disagreed and required the plant to add more stringent pollution controls. St. Marys petitions the court to vacate the decision, disclaiming the value of the required technology and claiming that the plant at any rate is exempt from the retrofitting requirement. The Appeals Court disagreed on both fronts and denied St. Marys' petition.

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

<> Canada Gets failing grade on protecting freshwater - A report, Blue Betrayal, launched by the Council of Canadians, chronicles the Harper government's assault on Canada's freshwater

Michigan News

<> Snyder: Buck stops with him on road warranties - Pitching the roads plan going before voters on May 5, Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday he's holding himself and his transportation officials responsible for better monitoring on warrantied road projects.

<> Forest Legacy Program nomination applications available - MDNR announced that the application to nominate forest land -- to protect private forest lands from conversion to non-forest uses for enrollment in Michigan's Forest Legacy Program is available online. Deadline Friday, June 12, 2015.

<> Sierra Club Opposes "No Stricter Than Federal" Legislation - The Michigan Sierra Club has written to members of the House Regulatory Reform Committee indicating their opposition to HB4246, which would prohibit the Governor and his/her agencies from issuing any regulation that is more stringent than federal law unless specifically authorized by the legislature -- in effect it says there is nothing special about Michigan compared with any other state in the union. 

<> Endangered Piping Plover returning soon to Michigan - One of the state's endangered species is returning home after vacationing abroad -- in 1990, scientists estimated there were only a dozen pairs left.

<> Gov. Rick Snyder makes appointments to Michigan Strategic Fund board of directors - The Michigan Strategic Fund works to support economic development and job creation. Executive Order 2014-12 reconstituted the Michigan Strategic Fund within the Department of Talent and Economic Development

<> Why Do Pipelines Keep Leaking? – Following a visit to Washington, DC and a visit to PHMSA, the Line6B Citizens blog has an op-ed in the Vice News pondering why pipelines just keep failing

<> Midland lithium battery maker gets $1 billion China contract - A Midland-based company, XALT Energy LLC, says it has signed a $1 billion multiyear deal to supply lithium batteries to a Chinese electric bus manufacturer and will hire 300 people.

<> The politics of water - This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry talk about the politics of water.

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 (3/24/15)


HB 4372 of 2015 Sales tax; collections; core charge for recycling, deposit, or disposal of automobile part or battery; exclude from sales price. [Committee]