The comment period closed for the EPA's proposed update to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone on March 17th. Based on recommendations from EPA’s science advisers and staff, the EPA is expected to announce a more stringent standard, likely in the range of 70 to 60 parts per billion, down from the 2008 standard of 75 parts per billion...

CSG Midwest
Over the last six years, nearly $2 billion has flowed from Washington, D.C., in support of more than 2,000 Great Lakes-related projects. Much progress has been made under the historic Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, says Todd Ambs of the Healing Our Waters Coalition, but it’s far from a job done.

“It’s really just a down payment,” Ambs says about federal spending to date. “When you’re talking about what needs to be done to restore the Great Lakes, this initiative needs to go on for years.”

President Obama created the program early in his presidency, building on work that had been done by his predecessor, George W. Bush, through the Great Lakes Regional Collaborative. In each of his proposed annual budgets since fiscal year 2010, Obama has included a line item to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. But will the initiative continue once he leaves office?

The main purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve plant and animal species. However, as the list of protected species grows and development grows, the balancing act of conservation and development is increasingly complex. But states are beginning to shift perspectives and forge unique partnerships to recognize and support existing conservation and develop smarter with species in mind.

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 in response to a growing threat of extinction to numerous species. The act formed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which operates under the Department of Interior. The federal agency is tasked with identifying and protecting endangered and threatened species based on scientific evidence. This infographic provides a brief overview of the Act.  

...

In Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado the Supreme Court agreed with a Special Master in a dispute about water rights involving an interstate compact, that Kansas would receive partial disgorgement (a fine) but not an injunction against Nebraska and accounting procedures would be changed so that Nebraska’s use of imported water would not be count against its compact allocation. Through an interstate compact ratified in 1943, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas share the virgin water supply originating in the Republican River Basin. The Court adopted the Master’s recommendation of $1.8 million in disgorgement because Nebraska knowingly failed to comply with the compact by knowingly exposing Kansas to a substantial risk that it would breach the contract and because water is more valuable to farmland in Nebraska than Kansas.

CSG Midwest
In Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines, the local water utility operates the largest nitrate-removal facility in the world. It runs any time nitrates reach levels above the federally mandated limit of 10 milligrams per liter. The cost of operating the facility, Des Moines Water Works says, can be upwards of $7,000 a day. Now, the utility wants some local drainage districts in surrounding rural counties held accountable for the costs associated with treating what it calls “extremely high concentrations of nitrate” in local rivers. (The costs were approximately $900,000 in 2013 due to severe rain events, but less than half that figure in 2014.)

Last week the President unveiled his $4 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2016.  The budget highlights the President’s continued support on several energy and environmental topics with emphasis on clean energy.  He reiterated his support for the Climate Action Plan he released in 2013 and called for an increase in funding support for the plan. 

Several agencies made the request for larger...

Federal regulations will continue to be a primary driver for energy and environment policy in the states for 2015.   Multiple rule proposals from the EPA related to air and water quality will remain at the forefront of conversation as the rules stay on schedule to be finalized in 2015.  Increasingly, the theme of conversation for states in 2015 is true flexibility when it comes to federal, state interaction.  It is a theme that will be tested with not only EPA rules but other federal, state interactions like endangered species and tackling the issue of grid reliability.  The following is a review of the top five issues for states related to energy and environment in 2015.  

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.

Pages