Since August 2015, three major coal companies--Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal and, most recently, Peabody Energy--have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In addition to raising questions about potential layoffs, losses in benefits for employees, mine closures and reductions in state tax revenue, these bankruptcies have left state regulators and the public questioning how these bankruptcies will affect the companies’ mine reclamation obligations.

For Earth Day 2016, EPA is focusing on the issue of food recovery. About 40 percent of the nation’s food supply is lost or wasted, which results in decreased food security, adds unnecessary waste to landfills, and adds to methane emissions, which contribute to climate change. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food loss and waste is estimated to cost retailers and consumers about $161 billion each year.

This year marks the National Park Service’s centennial. Protecting and preserving America’s historical places, cultural heritage sites and natural treasures for 100 years, the National Park Services helps to ensure that 400 sites across the country will be around for generations to come. And according to NPS, for every $1 invested in national parks, $10 is returned to the U.S. economy through tourism and recreational visitors. With national parks located throughout the 50 states and U.S. territories, it’s easy to #FindYourPark at www.nps.gov.

Here’s a look at the top 10 states and the District of Columbia for the number of recreational visitors to national parks in 2015.

For the first time, new U.S. Geological Survey maps identify potential earthquake activity caused by both human-induced and natural events. Prior to this year’s report, USGS maps only outlined natural earthquake hazards. The rise of human-induced earthquakes creates a new hazard zone and many states are trying to prepare for a kind of natural disaster that they haven’t had to deal with in the past.

On March 18, a group of 20 states asked the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the handling of implementation for a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, regulation on power plants. A 2015 Supreme Court decision, Michigan v. EPA, held that EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act unreasonably when it “deemed cost irrelevant to the decision to regulate power plants” for its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS. Following the decision, the fate of the regulation was “remanded” to a lower court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which decided to keep the rule in effect while EPA developed a supplemental cost justification.

In Sturgeon v. Frost the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion that per Section 103(c) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), National Park Service (NPS) regulations that apply nationally apply to nonpublic land in Alaska contained in an ANILCA “conservation unit.”

ANILCA federally protects 104 million acres of land in Alaska. Contained in these conservation units are over 18 million acres of state, Native American, and privately owned land. NPS rangers informed moose hunter John Sturgeon that he could not operate his hovercraft on a river in one of Alaska’s ANILCA conservation units per a NPS regulation banning hovercrafts in national parks. Sturgeon objected pointing out that Alaska owns the river.  

In 2014, Vermont became the first state to pass a law requiring the labeling of genetically modified, or GMO, foods, which is set to take effect on July 1. But, until recently it was unknown whether Vermont, or other states considering similar measures, would be able to move forward with implementing such legislation.

In September 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that threats to the greater sage-grouse had been sufficiently reduced to avoid listing the bird as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision hinged on a major conservation effort involving cooperation between the federal government, state agencies, private landowners and other key stakeholders across the bird’s 11 state, 173-million acre range. According to Jerimiah Rieman, natural resources policy director to Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead, this effort was “the single largest species conservation effort undertaken in the world at any point in time.”

The Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, or CPP, is the first regulation that seeks to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. A top issue for states in 2016 will be determining how to comply.

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The authorizing committees in both the House and Senate are taking steps toward developing a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in 2016, which provides the authorization for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers activities undertaken to meet the demands of maintaining navigable channels, reducing flood and storm damage, and restoring aquatic ecosystems throughout the country. Once a biennial affair, only two WRDA authorizations have been enacted in the last 14 years.  The 2014 bill marked the first WRDA passage in seven years....

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