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.

In June, legislators in New York gave final approval to allow bills to be published electronically rather than printed and placed on each member's desk for consideration. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the legislature uses up to 19 million pages a year printing full texts of all published bills. The move, hailed by supporters as a way to reduce solid waste and improve conservation, still has procedural hurdles to meet because the state constitution must be altered to accommodate the change.

States are currently grappling with the cleanup of Cold War era, defense waste sites across the country. Leaking underground storage tanks of nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in February 2013 underscore the  urgency of resolving these long-term challenges in a timely manner before additional risk placed on the public However, Washington’s current fiscal problems and the heightened sensitivity of transporting and storing waste do not lend easy or immediate solutions. 

The New Jersey Senate Environment Committee recently approved legislation by a vote of 4-0 that would provide consumers a 5 cent rebate for each reusable shopping bag in a purchase as well as 5 cent penalty for each plastic bag needed at check out. The bill was modeled on a plastic bag tax and reusable bag incentive structure used in Washington D.C., which proponents have argued has reduced the amount of plastic bags found in the Anacostia River by 60 percent.

The electric ratepayers in dozens of states have been charged billions to build a site to store nuclear waste. As waste continues to be generated and stored on-site at power plants,   the President's Blue Ribbon Panel on America's Nuclear Future has suggested new strategies to manage spent fuel and create sites for interim storage for waste.
 

Homes across America have one large problem with prescription drugs, what to do with them. Unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs can pose problems if disposed incorrectly. Flushing medications used to be a popular option until antibiotics, birth control and other prescription drugs began showing up in high levels in water supplies. Currently Take-Back programs and trash disposal may be the way of disposal. But which of these three options are best for the environment?

Hawaii recently became the first state in the country to ban the use of disposable plastic bags. Beginning in July 2015, retailers across the entire state will be prohibited from issuing non-biodegrade checkout bags and paper bags that are not at least 40 percent recycled. 

Proposed rules by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would place more emphasis on the role of states in ensuring the security of shipments of spent nuclear fuel. These rules, as well as other security issues involving spent-fuel shipments through the region, were prominent on the spring meeting agenda of the CSG Midwestern Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee. This group of state officials and legislators met in May in conjunction with the annual meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Transportation Stakeholders Forum (NTSF).

A plan to ship radioactive waste through the Great Lakes has received a flurry of criticism over the past year, but in February, it secured the approval of a key federal regulatory commission in Canada.

Two years ago, Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Mulligan was concerned the trial courts in his state weren’t addressing environmental sustainability.

So he put together the Trial Court Energy Task Force, better known as the Green Team.

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