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In Minnesota and Wisconsin, after decades of work trying to clean up the contaminated St. Louis River, a delisting of this Great Lakes “Area of Concern” is finally in sight.
A new action plan targets 2025 as the delisting date, with a price tag of up to $400 million to restore the river system — the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior and the largest Area of Concern in the Great Lakes.
But to execute the plan, state officials will be relying on federal dollars and, in particular, continued funding of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
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Under a package of bills introduced in February, Michigan lawmakers are seeking to better close a sometimes-overlooked pathway for invasive species to enter the region’s waterways — the transport and trade of live organisms.
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In a case involving management of a watershed hundreds of miles east of his state’s border, and that will be decided by a U.S. appeals court in Philadelphia, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has taken much more than a passing interest.
He is leading a coalition of states that have filed an amicus brief asking the federal court to reject the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to require states in the Chesapeake Bay region to develop processes to reduce nutrient runoff (nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment).

The January 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, W. Va., that left 300,000 people without water for days could prompt significant new oversight of above ground storage tanks and more in-depth threat assessments for water infrastructure at both a state and federal level. Proponents of tighter safety standards will likely see the accident as an impetus to kick-start a larger regulatory conversation concerning chemicals and their storage facilities across the country.

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In a January study exploring ways to prevent the movement of invasive species such as Asian carp between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers plenty of options, but no definitive answers on what to do next. Reaction to the much-anticipated report, too, has highlighted continuing divisions in the region over how to attack the Asian carp problem.

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Brydon Ross outlines the top five issues for 2014, including upcoming Clean Air state implementation plans, EPA cooling water intake regulations, increased scrutiny on crude oil transportation safety, potential rate and policy disputes involving net metering, and lingering impacts that drought may pose for states and water infrastructure.  

A push in Iowa by environmental groups to establish new state water quality standards ended in defeat this fall. In a unanimous vote, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission rejected a proposal to create numeric standards for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The Sioux City Journal reports that state officials want more time to study the efficacy of current nutrient-reduction strategies before implementing any new rules.

With the goals of protecting water quality and providing regulatory certainty to farmers, voluntary state programs that certify land-management practices at agricultural operations are cropping up across the country. Minnesota is one of the latest states to adopt such a program, and is backing it up with state dollars to help farmers adopt new conservation practices.

Stateline Midwest ~ 2013 Annual Meeting Edition

If you are a boater on any of the Midwest’s abundant water resources, you may have seen the signs or been told the rules: Inspect your boat, trailer and equipment; drain the water; and remove plants, animals or mud before getting out of a body of water.
The goal is to remove any invasive species that might be hitchhiking on boats or trailers.
Aquatic invasive species have long been recognized as a serious threat, costing the U.S. economy at least $148 billion a year, according to a Cornell University study. They include plants such as salt cedar and Eurasian watermilfoil, invertebrates such as the zebra mussel, and fish such as Asian carp species.
State laws to control invasive species in the Midwest date back decades.
An innovative approach to managing nutrient runoff and water quality is being implemented in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio by using the basic structure of the successful Acid Rain Program first implemented in the mid-1990s by the EPA. In essence, the program creates a water quality cap-and-trade program that allows an industrial facility or utility to substantially reduce its compliance costs under the Clean Water Act by providing financial incentives to agriculture operations to implement best practices to reduce nutrient discharges into water. This flexible approach to environmental stewardship is thought to be the largest project of its kind in the world.
 

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