Environment

In National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense the Supreme Court held unanimously that a legal challenge to the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) must begin in a federal district court not a federal court of appeals. What this ruling means for the 2015 WOTUS definitional rule is unclear.  

As Justice Sotomayor stated at the beginning of the Court’s opinion, defining “[WOTUS]—a central component of the Clean Water Act—is a contentious and difficult task.” In 2015 the Obama administration issued a new WOTUS definitional rule which it intended to provide  “simpler, clearer, and more consistent approaches for identifying” the scope of the Act.

Issue: In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of D+ in their every-four-years Infrastructure Report Card. Key infrastructure categories, including aviation, dams, drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads and transit, all received individual grades of D or lower. ASCE said the nation’s infrastructure can be improved and restored but only with “strategic, sustained investment, bold leadership, thoughtful planning, and careful preparation for the needs of the future.” The devastating hurricanes of 2017 brought into stark relief the importance of planning and preparation to ensuring a more resilient infrastructure for the future.

WHEREAS, states have a recognized need to employ processes and tools that use evidence to inform policy and budget decisions across the areas examined; and

WHEREAS, relying on a combination of stakeholder education, a strong data infrastructure, and scientific-based analytical peer-reviewed resources can help leaders achieve better outcomes for their communities; and

CSG Midwest
Concerns about twin, 64-year-old pipelines located under the Straits of Mackinac (which connect lakes Michigan and Huron) led to a new agreement in late November between the state of Michigan and Enbridge. In announcing the deal, Gov. Rick Snyder said “business as usual by Enbridge is not acceptable.” According to the Detroit Free Press, the state has been frustrated about a “lack of forthrightness” regarding the safety of these pipelines, which are known as “Line 5” and carry up to 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and natural gas liquids every day.

More than half of states have now legalized marijuana use—recreational or medicinal. That’s a massive shift in policy from just a decade ago. With this shift comes a slew of legislative, regulatory and fiscal questions for state policymakers to tackle. This day-long policy forum will provide an overview of the current legal landscape and best practices for taxation, regulation and licensing. The forum will discuss emerging trends and provide attendees direct exposure to Nevada’s marijuana legalization experience.

The Council of State Governments will host its 2017 National Conference from December 14th-16th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The meeting will offer engaging policy sessions geared toward state officials in all three branches of government. To access copies of speaker presentations, please visit the individual session pages below.

Water issues are some of the most important policy questions facing state officials across the nation. Hurricane Harvey unleashed more than 9 trillion gallons of water and dumped more than an average year’s worth of rainfall in some places—leaving underwater as much as 30 percent of Harris County, home to Houston, our nation’s fourth largest city. Science tells us that flooding is becoming more common and severe, meaning that hurricanes like Harvey and Irma are likely harbingers of disasters to come. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, resulted in an estimated $385 billion in social costs, stemming from toxic levels of lead in the city’s drinking water. Other water issues, including water quality improvements, droughts, water resource management, integrated water planning and the impacts of new federal regulations, raise a host of policy concerns for state leaders now and in the future. This one-day policy academy will explore a variety of these topics and highlight innovative policies being adopted across the country.

Water consumption, quality, and water supply have become hot button issues in the past few years with hundreds of cities and towns at risk of significant shortages either because available water is not safe to drink or because there simply isn’t enough of it. Recent events, such as drought in California and the Flint water crisis, have focused attention on competing demands for this limited resource.

According to a report from the U.S. Government...

On November 30, 2017, Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) introduced H.R. 4492, the “Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Reauthorization Act of 2017.” The bill reauthorizes and doubles the funding levels for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, a credit assistance program designed to accelerate investment in our nation’s water infrastructure....

The House of Representatives is set to vote today on H.R. 3017, the “Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017.” The legislation, sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), reauthorizes the EPA’s brownfields program which expired in 2006.

A brownfield is “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant,...

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