Quality

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. 

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Millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. But for a short time in early August, about 500,000 of those people — in the Ohio town of Toledo —were told not to use it due to an algae-related contamination. The problem of algal blooms is nothing new in western Lake Erie (the shallowest of the Great Lakes), but as Joel Brammeier of the Alliance for the Great Lakes notes, the incident in Toledo still served as a wake-up call....
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With the passage of SB 2727, Illinois has become the first U.S. state to ban the manufacture and sale of personal care products and over-the-counter drugs that contain plastic microbeads. The bill is in large part a response to arecent two-year survey of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. It found that microbeads (tiny particles often too small to be captured by wastewater systems) account for the highest count of plastic pollution in the freshwater system. 
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The millions of people going to a Great Lakes beach might not see and probably don’t want to think about the E. coli bacteria present in the freshwater system’s near-shore waters. But the bacteria are there — and sometimes at counts that exceed a standard for swimmer safety set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
 
 
 
 
 
Bacteria counts, in fact, are more likely to be higher on a beach in the Great Lakes than in any other coastal region of the country, according to “Testing the Waters,” a June report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The study was based on a survey of nearly 3,500 beaches in 30 different states.
 
 
Thirteen percent of the water samples taken at Great Lakes beaches exceed the Beach Action Value, the EPA’s most protective benchmark for swimmer safety. That compares to the national average of 10 percent.
 
 

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, as co-regulators of water resources, states should be fully consulted and engaged in any process that may affect the management of their waters;

and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments urges the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to defer adopting any redefinition of the waters of the U.S. rule until: the Science Advisory Board concludes its review and the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers incorporates the conclusions of the Science Advisory Board review; and an economic analysis is completed that addresses the full economic impact of the rule and uses properly updated data.

In response to the growing problem of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and other state waterways, Ohio legislators passed two bills addressing agricultural nutrient management.

The Act requires a phase out, and ultimately, a ban on the manufacture and sale of personal care products that contain plastic synthetic microbeads. The Act bans the manufacture of personal care products containing plastic synthetic microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of such personal care products and the manufacture of over-the-counter drugs containing the beads by the end of 2018, and the sale of over-the-counter drugs with microbeads by the end of 2019. Synthetic plastic microbeads are used in personal care products because of their exfoliating properties and excellent safety profile, but there are concerns about the potential environmental impact as microbeads may not be captured by wastewater treatment facilities. This Act was passed unanimously in the Legislature, and received the support of industry.

The CSG West Water and Environment Committee provided Western legislators a forum to discuss growing and competing demands on Western water and the environment. The committee collaborated with the Western Governors’ Association, Western States Water Council and other organizations in an effort to develop regional strategies to address Western water and environment concerns.

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A proposal to store nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron is drawing increased scrutiny and opposition, with Michigan lawmakers again weighing in with a new round of legislation and resolutions.
If its project is approved by Canadian regulators, Ontario Power Generation would build a 2,230-foot-deep geologic repository that would hold low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste.
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When they embarked on a two-year survey of the Great Lakes’ open waters, researchers expected to find a fair amount of plastics. But the sheer amount of the pollution, and the size of the plastic particles that were found, is what caught the attention of State University of New York Professor Sherri Mason and her research group. Their findings have, in turn, piqued the interest of state legislators.

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