Environment

The West is running out of water … well, almost. Northwestern and Northcentral Western states are seeing an increase in precipitation and the Southwestern and Southcentral areas are, as expected, experiencing decreased rain. Add to this a temperature increase of five to seven degrees Fahrenheit in key river basins, a lower-than-predicted snowpack—a key feeder of Western water—and you end up with the perfect mixture of short-term events and long-term impacts that are likely to decrease Western stream flow up to 20 percent across several river basins. This session focused on the critical issue of Western water, how states can work and are working together, and what the federal government is doing to assist.

  

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments calls on Congress and the Administration to enable and encourage federal agencies to enter into partnerships, including memorandum of understandings, with state governments to provide for the better management of land in and around military and other federal facilities.

The West faces special challenges with water, and not just in the U.S. The pending threat of climate change makes those challenges even more threatening.

That was the message during the session, “Managing Western Water in Evolving Climate Conditions.”

And that’s one reason British Columbia, for one, is considering climate change in any new water agreements it considers, said Glen Davidson, comptroller of Water Rights for province of British Columbia.

“We’re trying to adapt our tools, trying to build...

The West is running out of water … well, almost. Northwestern and Northcentral Western states are seeing an increase in precipitation and the Southwestern and Southcentral areas are, as expected, experiencing decreased rain. Add to this a temperature increase of five to seven degrees Fahrenheit in key river basins, a lower-than-predicted snowpack—a key feeder of Western water—and you end up with the perfect mixture of short-term events and long-term impacts that are likely to decrease Western stream flow up to 20 percent across several river basins. This session focused on the critical issue of Western water, how states can work and are working together, and what the federal government is doing to assist.

This SSL draft is based on Texas law. According to a Texas legislative bill analysis, hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” is a natural gas drilling method in which a well is drilled vertically more than a mile deep and then extended horizontally into a targeted rock formation Fracturing fluids, consisting of water, sand, and chemical additives, are pumped at extremely high pressure down the wellbore. The fracturing fluids flow through perforated sections of the wellbore and into the surrounding formation, fracturing the rock and injecting sand into the cracks to hold them open. This process is repeated multiple times to reach maximum areas of the wellbore. The water pressure then is reduced and fluids are returned up the wellbore for disposal or for treatment and reuse, leaving the sand in place to prop open the cracks and allow the gas to flow and be collected at the surface. 

This Act requires operators of wells undergoing hydraulic fracturing treatment to complete  and post a form on a Hydraulic Fracturing Chemical Registry website of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission disclosing the total volume of water used in the hydraulic fracturing treatment and each chemical ingredient used in it. The Act addresses how some of that information can be protected from disclosure as trade secrets, and how people can challenge designating such information as trade secrets. 

Proposed rules by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would place more emphasis on the role of states in ensuring the security of shipments of spent nuclear fuel. These rules, as well as other security issues involving spent-fuel shipments through the region, were prominent on the spring meeting agenda of the CSG Midwestern Radioactive Materials Transportation Committee. This group of state officials and legislators met in May in conjunction with the annual meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Transportation Stakeholders Forum (NTSF).

Western legislators will have the opportunity to review and discuss recent draft guidelines aimed at determining which waters are within the jurisdiction of the federal Clean Water Act. The CSG-WEST Western Water & Environment Committee will consider the guidelines, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during the 64th CSG-WEST Annual Meeting in Hawaii. 

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a rule requiring power plants in 28 states to curtail emissions.  The Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) replaces the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit struck down in 2008.  The EPA estimates the new CSPAR rule will yield $120 to $140 billion in environmental benefits by 2014.  Projected benefits include aversion of 420,000 cases of upper and lower respiratory symptoms, 400,000 asthma cases, 1.8 million sick days, and up to 34,000 premature deaths otherwise attributable to air pollution. 

The rule will generate about $800 million dollars per year in incremental compliance costs for power providers.  These costs augment $1.6 billion in annual investments already made to comply with CAIR.  To control costs, some power companies have proposed mergers.  The mergers aim to enhance efficiency, decrease production costs and yield savings for consumers.  Consumer benefits, along with implications for jobs and renewable and efficient energy policies, are three major factors considered during recent merger reviews.    

Several Great Lakes-related measures have been introduced in state capitols across the region during the first half of 2011, from bills on how to handle future offshore wind energy projects to new legislative proposals on how states should manage their water resources.

States Perform, CSG’s interactive performance measurement website, has been updated with new information in key service areas: fiscal and economic, education, transportation, energy and environment, public safety and justice, and health and human services.

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