Thursday, April 09, 2015

[WIMS] Environmental HotSheet 4/9/15


National / International News

<> EPA sends controversial water pollution rule to White House - U.S. EPA on Monday sent to the White House its controversial regulation to redefine the extent of its authority over water pollution control.

<> Nation's first federal combined solar power purchase - U.S. EPA, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy and General Services Administration announced the first ever federal partnership to purchase solar power -- the President's order last month requires federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and increase their renewable energy use to at least 30 percent over the next 10 years.

<> Neonicotinoids Adversely Affect Biodiversity, According to New Report - A new report released April 8, by the European Academies Science Advisory Council on neonicotinoid insecticides finds that "[T]here is more and more evidence that widespread use of neonicotinoids has severe effects on a range of organisms that provide ecosystem services like pollination and natural pest control, as well as on biodiversity."

<> E-Manifest: Partnering to Build a 21st Century Solution for Hazardous Waste Tracking - E-Manifest will save industry an estimated $75 million per year, improve inspection and enforcement by EPA and the states, and improve public safety by providing timely and better quality information on hazardous waste transport to emergency responders.

<> EPA seeks to ban fracking wastewater from going to public treatment plants - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to ban publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities from taking untreated waste fluids from the unconventional oil and gas industry in a move that would guarantee the end of a disposal practice that the industry and states have already abandoned.

<> Increased levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes correspond to onset of fracking - Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers say that levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes - where 42 percent of readings surpass what the U.S. government considers safe - have been on the rise since 2004, around the time that the fracking industry began drilling natural gas wells in the state.

<> Why fracking is splitting environmental groups apart - Green-minded supporters of fracking will usually agree that there are problems with the practice — like water pollution — but they'd prefer to focus on patching those problems rather than banning it altogether.

  • Bloomberg criticizes New York fracking ban - Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg criticized the state's ban on hydraulic fracturing, describing the move as "misguided" and instead touting the benefits of natural gas.

<> March 2015 U.S. Climate Report - During March, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 45.4°F, 3.9°F above the 20th century average —the 12th warmest March on record and warmest since 2012.

<> What Scientists Are Currently Telling Us About Dolphins and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - Several studies on bottlenose dolphins conducted since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill present a picture of chronic poor health, failed pregnancies, and increased mortality in the aftermath and footprint of the spill.

<> USDA Awards Funds to Expand and Accelerate Wood Energy and Wood Product Markets in 23 States - The award of over $9 million to expand and accelerate wood energy and other wood product markets is combined with $22 million in investments from partners, resulting in a total investment of $31 million in 23 states -- AK, AZ, CA, CO, ID, IL, LA, MA, MI, MN, MT, NC, NE, NV, OR, PA, SC, SD, UT, VA, VT, WA, & WI

<> Los Angeles Releases Sustainability Plan, Sets Example for Cities across the US - Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) applauds the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Garcetti on the release of one of the most ambitious sustainability plans of any major city.

U.S. Appeals Court Environmental Decisions

<> Gulf Restoration Network, et al v. Gina McCarthy (USEPA) - 4/7/15. In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Case No.13-31214. In the case a group of environmental organizations petitioned the EPA to "use its powers [pursuant to section 1313(c)(4)(B)] to control nitrogen and phosphorous pollution" within the Mississippi River Basin and the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
     The Appeals Court ruled that it had jurisdiction and that U.S. EPA was not required to make a "necessity determination."

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).

<> AGRICULTURE, WATER - Final Rule. USDA - Changes to Existing Conservation Program Regulations

(click for the complete Energy & EPA announcements)

Great Lakes News

<> Opinion: Protect Our Sacred Water - Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians Tribal Councilor Derek Bailey discusses perspectives of Indigenous People who are now becoming more vocal and active in the preservation of our waters.

<> U-M researchers track the toxicity of Lake Erie cyanobacterial blooms - University of Michigan marine microbiologist and oceanographer Gregory Dick is leader of a multidisciplinary project that applies state-of-the-art genomics and environmental chemistry techniques to the Lake Erie problem.

Michigan News

<> Enviros Pressure Schuette On Straits Pipeline Decision - The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force (MPPTF) will decide this spring what to do about Line 5 -- Sierra Club is partnering with allies at Food & Water Watch, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and Michigan Land Use Institute to make it clear to Attorney General Schuette that the "ONLY option is shutting Line 5 down."

  • Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force – Complete background and presentations to the Task Force

<> 2015 Michigan Eat Safe Fish Guides help residents plan meals, learn more about local fish - The Toxicology and Response Section at MDCH tests only the portions of fish that people eat – typically the fillets – and uses results from the laboratory to determine what is safe for people to consume over the long-term.

<> Have a question about a DEQ program? Call the Environmental Assistance Center - Based on EAC phone statistics, most callers speak to an operator within 16 seconds, if not immediately -- an average 1,250 calls per month

<> MSU to stop burning coal at campus power plant - In a move that will reduce emissions at its T.B. Simon Power Plant as well as significantly advance its Energy Transition Plan, Michigan State University (MSU) is taking steps to stop burning coal by the end of 2016, with a majority of coal purchasing and burning ending in 2015.

<> DNR says fish kills may be common during spring thaw - MDNR says, "Winterkill is the most common type of fish kill. Given the conditions this winter with thick ice and deep snow cover, it will be particularly common in shallow lakes and streams and ponds -- kills are localized and typically do not affect the overall health of the fish populations or fishing quality."

<> Energy optimization and efficiency are vital to more secure, reliable energy future for Michigan – A discussion with Stanley "Skip" Pruss, co-founder of the clean energy technology consultancy, 5 Lakes Energy, and previously the director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and Michigan's chief energy officer.

<> Plan B or no Plan B, here's what happens if road proposal fails - The governor is telling voters there's no alternative to Proposal 1 -- lawmakers counter that there's always a Plan B, but fear it might be worse.

<> Volunteers needed to help guard Michigan's sturgeon - The Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow in Cheboygan County is seeking volunteers to join in its effort, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, to help protect lake sturgeon from illegal harvest during the annual spawning run.

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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