In Marvin M. Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States the Court will decide who owns an abandoned federally granted railroad right-of-way:  the United States or the land owner whose property the right-of-way runs through.  The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed an amicus brief in this case supporting the United States.  State and local governments typically convert abandoned railroad rights-of-way into “Rails-to-Trails.”     

Yesterday's Greenwire featured a story profiling the use of a municipal solid waste (MSW) facility in Alexandria, Virginia that turns roughly 5,000 tons of trash generated by staff, members, and visitors at legislative buildings of the House of Representatives into enough electric power for 250 homes. The decision to switch from an on-site composting facility and use of corn-based utensils, to a MSW facility has some observers guessing that it could rekindle an interest in expanding the growth of the "energy recovery" industry - perhaps even in state renewable programs and rules.

On July 1st, provisions banning the disposal of electronic waste like TVs, computers, DVD players, and other devices will go into effect under Colorado's "Electronic Recycling Jobs Act." For consumers in the state looking for solutions to get rid of their unwanted gadgets, the Colorado Department of Public Health has created a website with information on the nearest recycling centers or retail stores like Best Buy or Staples that may also offer free recycling programs.

On a party line vote of 58-39, the Wisconsin General Assembly sent a high-profile bill to Governor Scott Walker's desk for consideration yesterday which would make substantial changes to existing permitting and environmental regulation to open a large iron mine near Lake Superior. Despite the objections of environmental groups and Native American tribes, the Governor is expected to sign the bill and in a statement he praised lawmakers for streamlining the regulatory review process in order to help create needed new high-skilled jobs.

A story appeared in today's FuelFix, which is run by the Houston Chronicle, highlighting the large amounts of hazardous waste generated by the solar industry in California. According to a study conducted by the AP that used data from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, 17 of the state's largest 41 solar manufacturers generated over 46 million pounds of sludge and contaminated water from 2007 to 2011.

On Thursday, September 13, the House overwhelmingly approved a six month continuing resolution by a vote of 320-91 to keep the federal government running through March 2013. Tucked away in the stop-gap measure is a small provision to restore cuts inadvertently made by Congress in the transporation reauthorization bill to the abandoned mine lands (AML) program for all states with the exception of Wyoming.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is nearing agreement with the local Native American tribes in the Flathead Valley of western Montana to manage the National Bison Range - an 18,500 acre wildlife refuge that is home to over 400 bison. Should the preliminary agreement become finalized, it will be the first wildlife refuge to be managed by Native Americans. The decision, however, is opposed by a group of employees from state and federal conservation agencies called the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) because they fear the agreement gives the tribes too much control over wildlife management policies in the range.

Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder recently signed into law a bill which caps the amount of land the state can own at 4.65 million acres until the legislature approves a strategic plan for buying and selling land in the future. 

Federal regulation of fish stocks outside of state waters has been a source of contention between the commercial fishing industry, recreational anglers, and environmental groups for a long time. A group of scientists, state regulators, and fishing interests are developing a new proposal to tailor the federal regulatory model under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to meet the different conditions in each individual state in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Friday, the Vermont House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a ban, by a vote of 103-36, to become the first state to enact an outright prohibition on the use of hydraulic fracturing. Last year, New Jersey's legislature passed a similar fracking ban that was initially vetoed by Governor Chris Christie and a temporary, one-year prohibition was passed in its place. Vermont's Governor, Peter Shumlin, is widely expected to sign the legislation, which was heralded by environmentalists and opposed by industry groups that viewed it as reactionary and unnecessary since there are no active permits to use the fracking process in the state.

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