The final rule of the Clean Power plan brings different viewpoints from many states and other stakeholders. The Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing to bring light upon the issues of carbon emissions regulations and the impact the final rule will have on states.

CSG Midwest
What can $1.7 billion in federal funding do to help restore an invaluable resource in the Midwest? Quite a bit, at least according to a recent federal study outlining the progress made during the first five years of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.
CSG Midwest
Hundreds of miles downstream from the farm fields of Iowa and the municipal water systems of Wisconsin, an enormous toxic “dead zone” continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the zone — unable to support aquatic life due to an overgrowth of algae that sucks up all the oxygen — was measured at 6,474 square miles, bigger than some states.
All of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that enters the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana contributes to this environmental, and economic, problem.
What is the solution?
Science-based assessments show that in order to eliminate these dead zones, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf of Mexico needs to be reduced by 45 percent.
“It’s going to take much more than a tweak here and a tweak there,” Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says about meeting that goal. But that is the objective that his state has set under its nutrient-reduction strategy, which came from Iowa’s long-standing involvement in the Hypoxia Task Force: a state-federal partnership working to shrink the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

The movement to add environmental bills of rights to state constitutions is important as one manifestation of a wider environmentalism that began to sweep the country in the 1970s, but also because it sheds interesting light on state constitutions and constitutional processes. The states proved to be more hospitable for this type of constitutional reform than the federal because state constitutional traditions diverge substantially from the national model. In particular, the argument is that the openness of state constitutional processes to their political environment facilitated the effort to place environmental rights, as well as a variety of other environmental provisions, in state constitutions.   

The Obama administration released the final version of the Clean Power Plan last week at a White House ceremony attended by a crowd of administration officials, members of Congress and environmental advocates. This highly anticipated plan is the first comprehensive federal rule to target carbon emissions from existing, new and modified power plants. It is touted as the most ambitious regulation ever aimed at combating climate change.

                In Michigan v. EPA the Supreme Court held 5-4 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted unreasonably in failing to consider cost when deciding whether regulating mercury emissions from power plants is “appropriate and necessary.” Twenty-three states challenged the regulations.

                The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate air pollution from stationary sources based on how much pollution the source emits. But EPA may only regulate emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants if it finds that regulation is “appropriate and necessary.” EPA found it “appropriate” to regulate mercury emissions because they pose a risk to human health and the environment and controls are available to reduce them. EPA found it “necessary” to regulate mercury emissions because other requirements in the Act did not eliminate these risks.

All used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry in the past 50 years—approximately 72,000 metric tons—if stacked end-to-end would cover an area the size of a football field to a depth of about seven yards. Although the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 established a national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive waste, currently there is no disposal site in the United States for spent rods from the more than 100 operating commercial nuclear reactors across the country. As the nation moves to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear energy may become an increasingly important element in the stability of the U.S. power system, intensifying the need for a permanent solution to spent fuel storage. This free webinar reviews current storage practices and explore challenges and opportunities for a permanent storage solution for the nation’s high-level radioactive spent fuel.

Challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will have to wait until a final rule is released. That’s according to a federal appeals court that rejected on procedural grounds an early challenge to the EPA’s proposed regulations to establish new greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants. The lawsuit, filed by 14 states and some of the nation’s largest coal companies, was the first in a wave of anticipated challenges to the EPA climate change rules. Legal experts say they expect some of those challenges to make it to the Supreme Court.

On May 27, 2015, the Obama administration issued new regulations that identify the waters and wetlands the federal government can regulate under the Clean Water Act, or CWA.  The regulations are intended to resolve issues raised by several Supreme Court decisions that narrowed the reach of federal jurisdiction under the act. 

CSG Midwest
Across the Great Lakes region this year, bills have been introduced to ban the manufacture and sale of certain products containing plastic microbeads. This legislative trend began last year, in response to a two-year scientific study of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Its conclusion: Microbeads (tiny particles that are often too small to be captured by wastewater systems and that are also part of the trash left on beaches) account for the highest count of plastic pollution in the freshwater system.