California recently became the first state to restrict the distribution of plastic drinking straws in order to reduce plastic pollution and ocean waste.

The law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September, will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Full-service restaurants will be prohibited from providing single-use plastic straws to consumers unless the consumer requests a straw. In bars and restaurants across the country, plastic straws have become a popular target among those aiming to reduce waste.

CSG Midwest
A trio of recently enacted bills in Michigan aims to help legislators take a longer, systematic view of how to meet the state’s infrastructure needs. According to Gov. Rick Snyder, his state is the first in the nation to implement this type of coordinated effort to manage drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, transportation and private utilities.

The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) filed a Supreme Court amicus brief in Virginia Uranium v. Warren arguing that Virginia’s ban on uranium mining isn’t preempted by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA).

Virginia has the largest known uranium deposit in the United States. Since its discovery in the 1980s the Virginia legislature has banned uranium mining. Unsurprisingly the land owner, Virginia Uranium, wants to mine. It sued the state arguing the ban is preempted by federal law.

California’s cap-and-trade program, launched in 2013, has been described as one of the most ambitious and aggressive in the world. It is one of a suite of major policies the state is using to lower its greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. California’s program is the fourth largest in the world, after the cap-and-trade programs of the European Union, the Republic of Korea and the Chinese province of Guangdong.

CSG Midwest
Last fall, nine Lake Erie experts identified specific strategies that they viewed as most important to reducing phosphorus runoff and preventing harmful algal blooms in the lake’s western basin. As of early June, Ohio legislators were moving toward passage of a bill backing those scientists’ findings with state dollars.
“That was the blueprint — use those evidence-based strategies and then target the funds to critical areas in the sub-watersheds [of the western basin],” says Rep. Steven Arndt. Ohio admittedly has a long way to go to reach its target — a 40 percent reduction in phosphorus loads by 2025. That is the amount specified in binational agreements between the United States and Canada and among the governments of Michigan, Ohio and Ontario.
CSG Midwest
As part of what state officials say is the strictest set of lead and copper standards in the nation, Michigan will require all of the state’s public water systems to replace their lead service lines. Starting in 2021, the Detroit Free Press reports, each public water system must replace, on average, 5 percent of its lead service pipes per year over a 20-year period, with water customers paying for most of the estimated $2.5 billion price tag.
CSG Midwest

For policymakers interested in getting innovative energy bills signed into law, the nation’s capital is the last place to be, a former U.S. governor told the Midwest’s legislators in July. Instead, he said, go to Springfield, Lansing or the many other state capitals where policy breakthroughs have occurred.

“We haven’t had comprehensive federal legislation since 2007, so what do we do? We turn to the states,” said Bill Ritter, currently the director of Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy.

At any given time, Ritter noted during a session of the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting, his center is tracking up to 4,500 state-level energy bills. Legislatures not only are brimming with new ideas, he added, but they remain a place where compromises can be forged — across party lines and among competing stakeholder groups.

“There may be partisanship at the state level, but it is oftentimes not intractable,” Ritter said. “It’s not the kind of partisanship where conversations break down.”

Michigan and Illinois provide two cases in point. Lawmakers there successfully built support for measures (SB 437 and 438 in Michigan, and SB 2814 in Illinois) that are now viewed as cornerstones of the two states’ energy futures.

In Knick v. Township of Scott the Supreme Court will decide whether to overturn Williamson County Regional Planning Commission v. Hamilton Bank of Johnson City (1985). In that case the Court held that before a takings claim may be brought in federal court, landowners must comply with state law procedures and remedies enacted to provide just compensation. The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC) amicus brief urges the Court to keep Williamson County.

The Township of Scott adopted an ordinance requiring cemeteries, whether public or private, to be free and open and accessible to the public during the day. Code enforcement could enter any property to determine the “existence and location” of a cemetery.

Climate Adaptation

The Trump administration is preparing to issue a proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks at 2020 levels through at least 2025 and challenge the right of California and other states to set their own tailpipe standards. Not only will this amount to one of the biggest regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration but it could have far-reaching consequences on a wide variety...

Climate Adaptation

There’s a significant shift underway in how Americans consume energy. That is largely due to increasing energy efficiency leading to American households using less electricity than they did five years ago and the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources.

Still, there is big disparity in how much American households spend on electricity based on the region they live in and their income level. In 2015, nearly one-third of U.S. households...

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