Environment

CSG Midwest
Though it likely won’t change much of the work already under way to protect western Lake Erie from excessive algal blooms, Michigan’s recent designation of its part of the watershed as “impaired” signals the importance of reaching new binational goals to control phosphorus runoff.
Every two years, as part of compliance with the Clean Water Act, all states must determine which of their water bodies are polluted and/or don’t meet water quality standards. They then submit their impairment list to the U.S. Environmental Protection. The new designation for western Lake Erie is due to the presence of extensive algal blooms and their harmful impact on aquatic life and other wildlife, Michigan environmental officials say. The blooms are the result of excessive levels of phosphorus.
CSG Midwest
When the problem of tainted drinking water created a public health crisis in the Michigan city of Flint, the state’s legislators had two clear missions to fulfill. First, fix the problem, with strategies — both immediate and longer-term — that help affected residents, bring back some normalcy to their lives, and then assist in the entire community’s recovery. Second, find ways to prevent the problem from ever occurring in another Michigan city.
And that idea of prevention has spread well beyond the borders of Michigan, with legislators in nearby states taking notice of the crisis and beginning to think more about the safety of the water supply in their own districts.

During the "Water: Trending Issues in the States" session at the 2016 CSG National Conference on Friday, a few attendees sipped the ice water poured from pitchers on the tables. In the U.S., there is not typically concern about whether or not it's safe to drink the water. However, "we do have, in this country, a problem with our drinking water infrastructure on the pipes side of it," said Brian Pallasch of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The problem will only get worse, and costly, if the nation doesn't invest in the aging infrastructure, he said.

A record number of ballot initiatives regarding recreational and medicinal marijuana were considered during this election season. Five states (Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) considered legalizing recreational marijuana and four states (Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota) voted on allowing or extending the use of medicinal marijuana.

Concerns related to the Zika virus are growing as the virus spreads to new areas of the globe and as the virus is linked to an increasing number of health problems. Could a genetically engineered mosquito help fight the virus? Some Florida voters will have a chance to weigh in on November 8th.

CSG Midwest

Could the Great Lakes be used even more to satisfy the U.S. demand for seafood? There is no question that U.S. consumers seem to have an insatiable appetite for it. In addition to the production of $9 billion worth of edible fish in 2015, we imported more than $20 billion worth. And as a result of decades of overfishing, natural fisheries cannot meet global demand — about half of all seafood is farmed fish from China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

In Michigan, state agencies have received concept proposals to establish privately owned net-pen operations (where fish are raised in an underwater net) in the Great Lakes. And various bills were introduced this year to modify state law on aquaculture.

Today, the Council of State Governments joins nearly 350 other organizations, businesses and government agencies in expressing support for Imagine a Day Without Water, an initiative of the Value of Water Coalition, a group focused on elevating the importance of water in the economic, environmental and social well-being of America.

The Obama Administration announced yesterday awards totaling $38.8 million for 29 economic and workforce development projects across seven states – Alabama, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia – to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry.

CSG Midwest
When Charles Fishman, author of the acclaimed book “The Big Thirst,” praised the Great Lakes compact this summer at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting, he also called for Kansas and Nebraska to lead an effort to create a similar interstate agreement to protect the Ogallala Aquifer....

Approximately 25 legislators and regulators attended CSG’s Fourth Annual Natural Gas Policy Academy from August 1-3 in Bismarck, North Dakota. CSG policy academies are two and one-half day seminars featuring a variety of speakers that provide participants with in-depth information on a current and important policy issue. One of several policy academies CSG will put on in 2016, the Natural Gas Policy Academy included an introductory session on natural gas, as well as sessions on infrastructure modernization, workforce development,...

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