CSG Midwest
With enactment of the Great Lakes Protection Act in October, Ontario is not only deepening the province’s commitment to the freshwater system, it also is hoping to spur more locally driven projects and initiatives. Glen Murray, the province’s minister of the environment and climate change, says the new law (Bill 66) is needed to help the lakes “withstand the impacts of the changing climate and keep them drinkable, swimmable and fishable for generations to come.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plant was released Aug. 3 and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030. The plan promotes emissions trading among states by giving states the opportunity to design plans that allow their power plants to use out-of-state emissions reductions to achieve compliance.

Released Aug. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, designed under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. One of the key changes in the final Clean Power Plan was to promote cross-state emissions trading between states, including through the establishment of mass-based targets and “trading-ready” mechanisms. This free CSG eCademy webcast features experts who discuss state emissions trading options as well as federal plans for states that fail to submit a satisfactory state plan that embraces trading.

CSG South

Despite more than 20 years of efforts to address the issue of waste tires nationwide, large illegal stockpiles persist. In a number of reported incidents where stockpiles have caught on fire, mitigation of the site has taken up to nine years and $22 million to complete. Remediation of large illegal stockpiles has been reported to take more than five years to complete. While the tracking and disposal of waste tires continue to present challenges, legislatures in the states comprising the Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments have been focusing on this problem, creating legislation and devising mechanisms to address this problem, since 1989.

Tire dumps can attract rodents and mosquitoes, act as vectors for disease, and are a serious fire hazard. When tires catch fire, contaminants in the burning material can run off into creeks and pollute groundwater. These fires also can cause significant air pollution.

This SLC Regional Resource outlines some of the key criteria contained in the SLC states' waste tire disposal laws and rules, provides an overview of state waste tire laws and concludes with an assessment of best practices undertaken by states in the region.

CSG Midwest
In the decades of battling invasive species and trying to mitigate their economic and ecological impacts, one point has become abundantly clear to Mike Weimer and other fish biologists. “Prevention is by far the most effective strategy,” he told legislators at this fall’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus meeting in Buffalo, N.Y. So ever since Asian carp appeared to be dangerously close to entering the lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System, states and the federal government have been pouring millions of dollars into a wide range of prevention plans.
New electric fish barriers have been built. The movement and presence of Asian carp continues to be intensely monitored, in part through cutting-edge eDNA technologies. Commercial fishing operations (hired by the state of Illinois) have removed more than 3 million pounds of Asian carp.
As co-chair of the state-federal Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Weimer is helping oversee these and many other prevention strategies. In 2015 alone, he told lawmakers, the committee will fund a total of 43 projects at a cost of $74 million. Its goal: Protect a Great Lakes fishery that has an estimated value of $7 billion.

The final rule of the Clean Power plan brings different viewpoints from many states and other stakeholders. The Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing to bring light upon the issues of carbon emissions regulations and the impact the final rule will have on states.

CSG Midwest
What can $1.7 billion in federal funding do to help restore an invaluable resource in the Midwest? Quite a bit, at least according to a recent federal study outlining the progress made during the first five years of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.
CSG Midwest
Hundreds of miles downstream from the farm fields of Iowa and the municipal water systems of Wisconsin, an enormous toxic “dead zone” continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the zone — unable to support aquatic life due to an overgrowth of algae that sucks up all the oxygen — was measured at 6,474 square miles, bigger than some states.
All of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that enters the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana contributes to this environmental, and economic, problem.
What is the solution?
Science-based assessments show that in order to eliminate these dead zones, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf of Mexico needs to be reduced by 45 percent.
“It’s going to take much more than a tweak here and a tweak there,” Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says about meeting that goal. But that is the objective that his state has set under its nutrient-reduction strategy, which came from Iowa’s long-standing involvement in the Hypoxia Task Force: a state-federal partnership working to shrink the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

The movement to add environmental bills of rights to state constitutions is important as one manifestation of a wider environmentalism that began to sweep the country in the 1970s, but also because it sheds interesting light on state constitutions and constitutional processes. The states proved to be more hospitable for this type of constitutional reform than the federal because state constitutional traditions diverge substantially from the national model. In particular, the argument is that the openness of state constitutional processes to their political environment facilitated the effort to place environmental rights, as well as a variety of other environmental provisions, in state constitutions.   

The Obama administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan last week at a White House ceremony attended by a crowd of administration officials, members of Congress and environmental advocates. This highly anticipated plan is the first comprehensive federal rule to target carbon emissions from existing, new and modified power plants. It is touted as the most ambitious regulation ever aimed at combating climate change.