Rebekah Fitzgerald, Program Manager for Energy and Environmental Policy, outlines the top five issues in energy and environmental policy for 2015, including new proposed federal air and water regulations, grid reliability, the Endangered Species Act, and the use of science-based decision making. 

The act authorizes the utilization of “graywater”, which is wastewater from a building’s showers or hand washing sinks or washing machines, by cities and counties for nondrinking water purposes like irrigation or to flush toilets. The Colorado Water Control Commission is directed to create statewide standards for gray water systems that protect public health and water quality. The Commission will not allow the use of graywater systems unless a local city, county, or municipality has approved an ordinance or resolution.

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In September, more than 60 people from across the Great Lakes basin came to western Lake Erie for three days of fishing. But it was far from a pleasure trip. Instead, these employees from 10 different government agencies (state, federal and provincial) were testing the region’s capabilities to respond to future crises involving invasive species.

Ever since Asian carp were found to be dangerously close to entering the lakes, the region’s states and provinces have been on high alert. And part of their response has been to work more closely together — for example, sharing personnel, expertise and supplies such as Rotenone, the chemical used to stop the carp’s advance.

Earlier this year, at a meeting of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the region’s governors and premiers signed a mutual-aid agreement that formalizes the process for how jurisdictions assist each other when an invasive-species threat arises.
 
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Nebraska will be making a $32 million investment over the next two years in a new fund designed to improve water management and sustainability. At least initially, dollars for the Water Sustainability Fund will come from the state’s cash reserves.

Last Tuesday, Alaska voters approved a ballot measure requiring the Alaska legislature to approve future large-scale metallic sulfide mines within the watershed of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve.  Ballot Measure 4 passed with 65% of the vote.

Prior to the election supporters of the measure had spent just over $1.2 million according to campaign finance disclosure...

In CSG South’s Southern Legislative Conference member states, the coal and chemical industries are essential to state economies. Given the importance of these industries to the region for both economic development and employment opportunities, legislators often are faced with balancing business interests with the need for environmental protection and conservation. Hazardous spills in two SLC states—West Virginia and North Carolina—have focused attention on this careful balance. This webinar examines the spills in those states and subsequent legislative action to offer lessons learned for other states.

Ballot Measure 4 touches on a familiar topic to many Alaskans – the Bristol Bay.  The bay is a 36,000 square mile fisheries reserve established by the Alaska state legislature in 1972.  As part of the legislation it required that a surface entry permit for oil and gas on state owned or controlled lands be subject to approval of the legislature to protect the fishery.  Proposed...

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Millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. But for a short time in early August, about 500,000 of those people — in the Ohio town of Toledo —were told not to use it due to an algae-related contamination. The problem of algal blooms is nothing new in western Lake Erie (the shallowest of the Great Lakes), but as Joel Brammeier of the Alliance for the Great Lakes notes, the incident in Toledo still served as a wake-up call....

Only 3 percent of the world’s water is fresh, with 2 percent locked up in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining 1 percent that is available for human and animal uses has seemed, in the past, to be an inexhaustible, yet vital, resource. Abundant water for drinking, sanitation, industry, irrigation, transportation and recreation has been a hallmark of much of the South. Development pressures, changes in precipitation patterns and transitioning priorities and consumption levels, however, have caused a shift in this situation.

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With the passage of SB 2727, Illinois has become the first U.S. state to ban the manufacture and sale of personal care products and over-the-counter drugs that contain plastic microbeads. The bill is in large part a response to arecent two-year survey of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. It found that microbeads (tiny particles often too small to be captured by wastewater systems) account for the highest count of plastic pollution in the freshwater system. 

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