SLC Issue Alert

CSG South

Throughout the history of the United States, water has been the key to determining settlement patterns and development opportunities. It is migratory in nature and often crosses many boundaries, a characteristic that has generated ownership disputes and countless conflicts. Every state in the contiguous United States shares ground or surface water resources with another state, and almost every major city is located near a river or body of water.

Water resource scarcity can affect many sectors of a state's economy as well as the region's natural ecosystems. The Southern United States, characterized by a network of major rivers and tributaries, and generally abundant precipitation, has enjoyed a generous water supply. Consequently, the region has not experienced the water disputes that have plagued the Western United States. However, development pressure, changes in precipitation patterns, and transitioning priorities and consumption levels have caused a shift in these circumstances. When water shortages do arise, they often can cause interstate conflicts. Perhaps one of the most widely reported and longest running of these interstate disputes in the Southern region involves Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, known as the "tri-state water wars." The tri-state water wars have spanned 25 years and center on water resource allocation in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Ba sins. Recognizing the importance of this dispute and the impact the resolution will have on the states involved, the issue has remained relevant to the ongoing policy work of the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC). This third review of the issue advances the developments and actions that have occurred since the SLC last reported on the conflict in 2010. Additionally, it should be noted that The Council of State Government's Center for Interstate Compacts has more than 75 years of experience in promoting multi-state problem solving and advocating for the role of states in determining their respective futures.

This SLC Issue Alert serves as an update to the 2010 SLC Regional Resource, Water Allocation and Management: Southern States Outlook and the earlier, 2000 SLC Regional Resource, The War Over Water and examines developments up to December 14, 2015.

CSG South

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule under the authority of Section 111(d) of the federal Clean Air Act. This Proposed Rule would establish state-specific goals to limit greenhouse gas emissions by setting firm carbon reduction standards that each state would have to meet beginning in 2020 and accelerating through 2030. While it is unclear whether the EPA will revise its Final Rule, which is expected by July 2015, many states in the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) of The Council of State Governments already have enacted legislation addressing the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule and its regulations.

This SLC Issue Alert provides an overview of some measures taken by state legislatures in the SLC region to address the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule through the 2014 legislative session. This Issue Alert is not a legal analysis of Section 111(d), nor does it take a position on compliance pathways or the EPA’s proposed state-specific carbon dioxide (CO2) goals.

CSG South

The World Health Organization reports that the current outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD), which is believed to have begun in March 2014 in West Africa, is the largest and most complex outbreak of the virus since its discovery in 1976. It was not until August 2014, when two American missionaries were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after contracting the disease in Africa, that most Americans became aware of the outbreak. Nearly two months later, the first diagnosis of Ebola was reported in the United States.

This SLC Issue Alert provides a brief account of some of the efforts SLC states have taken in reaction to the Ebola virus disease, as of October 20, 2014. As governors across the nation continue to meet with health officials in their states, the policies and efforts to combat this disease, for which there is no proven treatment, undoubtedly will continue to evolve.

SLC's latest Issue Alert examines how, even though the relative importance of agriculture and agriculture-related industries in the overall U.S. economy has diminished in recent years, the sector continues to be a critical component of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). In 2012, the latest year available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that the sector contributed $775.8 billion toward GDP, a 4.8 percent share; the output of the nation's farms alone totaled $166.9 billion in 2012.

During the Great Recession, states faced enormous challenges related to funding a number of vital programs. One of those programs was adequately financing their unemployment insurance trust funds, a program that originated in the 1930s. As a result of the doggedly high unemployment rates in so many states during the Great Recession and previous actions taken by states (such as expanding unemployment benefits and cutting unemployment insurance taxes), the unemployment insurance funds in a majority of the states were thrust into perilous shape. By 2013, the funding position of these funds improved as a result of an advancing economy and a series of actions initiated by states.

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