Friday, March 20, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 3/20/15

National / International News

<> Arctic sea ice maximum reaches lowest extent on record - The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) indicates that Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its maximum extent for the year on February 25 at 14.54 million square kilometers (5.61 million square miles) -- this year's maximum ice extent is the lowest in the satellite record.

<> Senator McConnell Urges Nation's Governors to "Carefully Review the Consequences" Before Submitting a Plan to Implement EPA's New Regulation - McConnell's letter to Governors says EPA's proposal raises "serious legal and policy concerns" -- he called on the Nation's Governors to reject U.S. EPA's proposed regulation that requires states to dramatically restructure their electricity systems based on how the agency thinks electricity should be produced and used in each state.

<> Agriculture Committee advances bill to protect producers from duplicative regulations and permit requirements - The House Committee on Agriculture approved H.R. 897, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2015. This legislation (H.R. 872 in the 112th Congress and H.R. 935 in the 113th) would clarify Congressional intent regarding pesticide regulation in or near waters of the United States.

<> Florida Environmental Staffer Says He Was Reprimanded For Talking About Climate Change - A Florida state employee is in hot water for speaking about climate change at an official meeting and keeping notes of that discussion in official minutes, according to a complaint filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) -- in response, his superiors at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued him a letter of reprimand, ordered him to take two days leave and then told him not to return until he had medical clearance of his fitness for duty.

<> Studying the air above oil and gas production areas in the western United States - NOAA and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) researchers and their colleagues are studying what escapes to the air—and how it is transformed in the atmosphere and affects air quality and climate.

<> EPA Awards Clean Diesel Grants in 21 States, Puerto Rico - EPA has awarded $8 million to communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico to reduce emissions from the nation's existing fleet of diesel engines through the agency's Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program. In Michigan, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision is replacing five short-haul trucks and one crane

<> Energy Department Announces $20 Million to Develop Advanced Components for Next Generation Electric Machines - DOE announced up to $20 million in available funding to spur the development of high speed industrial motors and drives, using high power-density designs and integrated power electronics to increase efficiency.

<> GAO Report: On DOE  transfer of 83 facilities at six of its eight sites for disposition - GAO indicates that Better Prioritization and Life Cycle Cost Analysis Would Improve Disposition Planning, GAO-15-272, March 19

<> These 15 animal species have the lowest chance for survival - Climbing rats, seabirds and tropical gophers are among the 15 animal species that are at the absolute greatest risk of becoming extinct very soon.

<> Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index Corporate Adaptation Survey - The survey is expected to clarify best practices, barriers, enablers, and effective strategies to prepare for climate change in the corporate world and will inform a State of Corporate Adaptation Report to be released in May.

<> 11 States' Governors Write EPA Opposing Ozone Proposal - 11 state Governors -- AR, GA, ID, IN, LA, ME, MS, OK, SC, TX, WI -- signed on to a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy saying the "proposed change to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone jettisons these free market policies in favor of an onerous, job-crushing standard.

<> Cameroon: An example of the work needed to combat illegal logging - In May 2014, Greenpeace Africa published the report "Licence to Launder" that revealed how US palm oil company Herakles Farms was, via the front company Uniprovince and with the knowledge of some Cameroonian authorities, commercialising timber even though much of it had been felled illegally using a permit obtained without following due process of the law.

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> Sierra Club v. EPA - 3/18/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Case Nos. 12-3169, 12-3182 & 3420.
     Sierra Club challenged EPA's particulate matter attainment status and redesignation of the Cincinnati-Hamilton metropolitan area to "attainment" status and said the agency had acted illegally with respect to both actions, and it filed a petition for direct appellate review. The parties dispute both Sierra Club's standing to challenge the agency action and the correct interpretation of the relevant statute, the Clean Air Act.
     In a significant decision, the Appeals Court rules, "We find that the Club has standing, and we agree with its claim that "reasonably available control measures" are a prerequisite to redesignation. Therefore, we vacate EPA's redesignation of the Ohio and Indiana portions of the Cincinnati area."

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

<> Great Lakes Economic Forum - The Council of the Great Lakes Region will host the premier Great Lakes Economic Forum on April 26-28, 2015. The Forum will provide a venue for Great Lakes leaders to share ideas and insights that will help shape economic policy, boost the region's competitive edge and secure its long-term success.

<> OH lawmakers near compromise on Lake Erie algal bloom bill - Lawmakers on the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee plan to restore language that prohibits dumping of dredge material in all of Lake Erie by 2020, which was changed in the House version of the plan.

Michigan News

<> MDNR director approves Graymont's eastern U.P. land transaction proposal - Following a recommendation from MDNR officials, Director Keith Creagh announced  his approval of the direct sale of approximately 1,781 acres of state-owned land and 7,026 acres of mineral rights to Graymont which is planning a limestone mining operation in the Upper Peninsula's Mackinac County, near the town of Rexton.

<> CRC Releases Analysis of Proposal 15-1: Sales and Motor Fuel Tax Increases Related to Transportation Funding - The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has released its analysis of Proposal 15-1, which will appear on the statewide ballot at a special election on May 5, 2015

<> Businesses recognized for Environmental Leadership - MDEQ honored 20 facilities as Michigan Environmental Leaders for their outstanding, voluntary environmental stewardship -- the newly awarded facilities represent the first group of facilities to receive this honor.

<> Charlevoix and Port Huron Selected as newest Michigan Main Street Communities - Gov. Snyder announced that Charlevoix and Port Huron have been selected as Michigan Main Street communities by MSHDA.

<> Army Corps pressed for Soo Locks study - Practically all of Michigan's members of Congress signed a letter Tuesday urging the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize consideration of a long-awaited replacement of a key shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, saying a failure at the Poe Lock would devastate Great Lakes shipping traffic.

  • Rep. Benishek: Soo Locks Must be a Priority Dr. Dan Benishek led a bipartisan, bicameral effort to encourage officials at the United States Army Corps of Engineers to publically release new information related to the Soo Locks

<> MDEQ Wastewater Treatment Technology Webinar - Apr 23, 10:00 - 11:30 AM. This webinar explores general wastewater treatment technologies and teaches the physical, chemical and biological process of wastewater treatment.

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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