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In This Issue
National / International News
Final ROD & IAP/EIS For National Petroleum Reserve In Alaska - Feb 21: Outgoing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). The final action allows for the development of 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the nearly 23-million-acre Reserve, while protecting the vital subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and the habitat of world-class wildlife populations. Salazar said, “The balanced approach under this plan is the result of extensive local input and will help guide the responsible production and transport of the substantial oil and gas resources in and around the Reserve. This comprehensive plan will allow us to continue to expand our leasing in the NPR-A, as has happened over the last three years, while protecting the outstanding and unique resources that are critically important to the culture and subsistence lifestyle of Alaska Natives and our nation’s conservation heritage.”
The Record of Decision addresses two key issues that Secretary Salazar identified for special attention when he released the final Environmental Impact Statement for the NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan. First, the ROD provides explicit confirmation that potential pipelines carrying oil or gas from operations in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas can be constructed through the NPR-A. Second, following additional consultations with North Slope communities, the Record of Decision requires that BLM establish an “NPR-A Working Group” that will include representatives of North Slope tribal entities, Native corporations and local governments.
The NPR-A Working Group will provide input on the full range of management issues and possible future development in the NPR-A, including pipelines and related oil and gas infrastructure development. The Working Group also will be a forum to gather additional scientific information and traditional knowledge about wildlife populations and needs, and it can inform potential adjustments to the boundaries of special areas including, for example, potential future adjustments to the southernmost boundary of the Teshekpuk Lake special area. The Plan itself is consistent with the Congressional intent that oil and gas leases be offered in the NPR-A while providing significant protections for the subsistence resources of Alaska Native residents of the area and the Reserve’s extensive wildlife and recreational values.
After receiving more than 400,000 public comments and following two days of meetings and visits with North Slope leaders in August 2012, Salazar announced the Preferred Alternative, which was adopted by the ROD that he signed today. The ROD includes the creation of the Peard Bay Special Area and enlarges the Teshekpuk Lake and Utukok River Uplands Special Areas, expanding Special Areas in the NPR-A from 8.3 million acres to 13.35 million acres.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has estimated that the NPR-A lands made available for development under this plan contain nearly three-fourths of NPR-A’s estimated economically recoverable oil and over half of the estimated economically recoverable gas. The plan will allow for access to oil and gas resources on 11.8 million acres, which are estimated to hold 549 million barrels of economically recoverable oil and 8.7 trillion cubic feet of economically recoverable natural gas.
Following President Obama’s directive in May 2011 that annual oil and gas lease sales be conducted in the NPR-A, BLM offered three million acres in December 2011. That sale generated 17 winning bids covering more than 120,000 acres. Another lease sale on November 7, 2012, offered 4.5 million acres and received 14 winning bids on 160,088 total acres. There are now 191 authorized oil and gas leases in the NPR-A, encompassing 1.5 million acres. To date, only exploratory drilling has occurred, but in 2011, with the assistance of the President’s Interagency Working Group on Coordination of Domestic Energy Development and Permitting in Alaska, the Corps of Engineers issued permits to ConocoPhillips that will allow for the first commercial oil and gas production in the Reserve.
The ROD makes all lands along the Chukchi Sea coast, most of the lands along the Beaufort Sea coast, and other lands available for application for a wide range of route options for pipelines and other infrastructure that would support offshore development. The decision concurrently protects a wide range of resources, including critical areas for sensitive bird populations from all seven continents and for the roughly 400,000 caribou found in the Teshekpuk Lake and Western Arctic Caribou Herds. Subsistence users in more than 40 villages in northwest Alaska rely on these caribou herds.
The plan, which is detailed in the Final Integrated Activity Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final IAP/EIS) for the NPR-A, is the first management plan that covers the entire Reserve, including 9.2 million acres in the southwest area. Previous plans covered the northeast and northwest planning areas only. The Final IAP/EIS for the NPR-A, released in December 2012, was developed through extensive consultations that considered the viewpoints of Alaskans who live in the region, tribal governments, the State of Alaska, industry, environmental organizations and other stakeholders and federal partners. The BLM hosted seven public meetings and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act subsistence hearings in North Slope villages. The BLM also held meetings in Fairbanks and Anchorage. Also, following release of the Final IAP/EIS, the BLM conducted meetings in communities on the North Slope to receive recommendations on future ongoing outreach efforts with communities located within or near the NPR-A.
Environmental and conservation groups applauded the plan and said they look forward to continuing to work with the DOI to refine needed protections for key special areas within the Reserve. Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League said,. “We thank the Department of the Interior for protecting special areas within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The Department of the Interior has crafted a plan that protects and recognizes the vital role of subsistence, scenic and recreational values, and unique wildlife values. The Reserve is home to our most iconic wildlife, like caribou, muskoxen, grizzly bears and beluga whales. Thank you for protecting this special place for future generations.”
Martin Hayden, Vice President, Policy and Legislation for Earthjustice said, “The plan is a huge step for conservation of the Western Arctic, an area increasingly stressed by climate change, and provides critical protections for key lands in the Reserve and the wildlife dependent on it, including migratory birds from around the world, caribou, bears, wolves, beluga whales, and walrus." Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society said, “We are grateful to the Obama administration for a fair and thoughtful decision that balances conservation, Alaska Natives’ needs for subsistence resources, and the nation’s demand for energy. This strategy protects incredibly valuable wildlife habitat for caribou, bears and migratory waterfowl in the Western Arctic, yet still allows industry access to the majority of economically recoverable oil in the reserve. It’s a plan that meets the needs of all Americans.”
Access a lengthy release from DOI with links to related information (click here). Access the NPR-A ROD and related documents (click here). Access a release from Earthjustice with comments from many organizations (click here). [#Energy/NPR-A, #Land, #Wildlife, #Water]
Kerry Committed To Moving Forward On Climate Change - Feb 20: The new Secretary of State, former Senator John Kerry, delivered his first major policy speech at the University of Virginia (UVA). In the long, and wide-ranging speech he addressed the upcoming budget "sequester" [See WIMS 2/11/13] and the looming issue of global climate change. Secretary Kerry said in part:
"Now, I’m particularly aware that in many ways, the greatest challenge to America’s foreign policy today is in the hands not of diplomats, but of policymakers in Congress. It is often said that we cannot be strong at home if we’re not strong in the world, but in these days of a looming budget sequester that everyone actually wants to avoid – or most – we can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home. My credibility as a diplomat working to help other countries create order is strongest when America, at last, puts its own fiscal house in order, and that has to be now. Think about it. It’s hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they have to resolve their economic issues if we don’t resolve our own. Let’s reach a responsible agreement that prevents these senseless cuts. Let’s not lose this opportunity because of politics. . .
"The stories that we need to tell, of standing up for American jobs and businesses and standing up for our American values, intersect powerfully in the opportunity that we have now in this moment of urgency to lead on the climate concerns that we share with our global neighbors. We as a nation must have the foresight and the courage to make the investments necessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep for our children and our grandchildren, and that is an environment not ravaged by rising seas, deadly superstorms, devastating droughts, and the other hallmarks of a dramatically changing climate. President Obama is committed to moving forward on that, and so am I, and so must you be ready to join us in that effort. . ."
Secretary Kerry will soon have a direct opportunity to enter the climate change debate in the upcoming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department has the primary responsibility for reviewing the project for possible issuance of a Presidential permit. On February 6, sixty leading environmental, conservation, development, faith-based, and social justice organizations sent a letter to Kerry [See WIMS 2/6/13], calling on him to push for strong action against climate change and to take three specific steps: to help secure a global agreement to deal with the climate crisis; to reject any new or expanded infrastructure for tar sands oil, starting with the Keystone XL pipeline [See WIMS 1/24/13]; and to secure funding for international climate action, particularly in developing countries and the most vulnerable communities.
Access the full text of Secretary Kerry's speech and link to a video (click here). Access multiple WIMS postings on the Keystone XL pipeline (click here). [#Climate, #Energy/KXL]
Potential Benefits Of Inertial Fusion Energy Justify Continued R&D- Feb 20: The National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) has release a report entitled, An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy. According to a release, the potential benefits of successful development of an inertial confinement fusion-based energy technology justify investment in fusion energy research and development as part of the long-term U.S. energy R&D portfolio. Although ignition of the fusion fuel has not yet been achieved, scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion over the past decade has been substantial. Developing inertial fusion energy would require establishment of a national, coordinated, broad-based program, but achievement of ignition is a prerequisite.
Ronald Davidson, professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University's Plasma Physics Laboratory and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report said, "The realization of inertial fusion energy would be a tremendous achievement capable of satisfying the world's ever-growing need for power without major environmental consequences. These possibilities form an extremely compelling rationale to continue R&D efforts toward this goal."
Inertial fusion energy technology (IFE) would provide an essentially carbon-free energy source with a practically unlimited supply of fuel. IFE relies on a process in which a fuel pellet the size of a pinhead is compressed by an external energy source, raising the temperature and density enough that the nuclei of the some of the fuel atoms fuse together, releasing nuclear energy. The aim is ignition, in which the fusion energy produced by the initial compression causes the remaining fuel to undergo fusion.
Gerald Kulcinski, associate dean for research and director of the Fusion Technical Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who served as co-chair of the report committee said, "The fuel used in the fusion process is lithium and deuterium; deuterium is derived from water and therefore virtually unlimited. And unlike nuclear fission plants, it would not produce large amounts of high-level nuclear waste requiring long-term disposal. The potential is for a sustainable energy source that could power the Earth for millions of years."
U.S. research on inertial confinement fusion has been supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. NNSA's objective is nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, but much of the R&D is also applicable to IFE development. There are several external energy source or "driver" technologies under development: lasers, particle beams, and pulsed magnetic fields. NNSA's National Ignition Facility, located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, recently completed a National Ignition Campaign aimed at achieving ignition. While much was learned in the process, ignition was not attained. In view of this result, the committee concluded that a range of driver technologies should continue to be pursued, rather than choosing a single technology at this time.
Off-Grid Solar Lighting Can Save Money & Reduce Emissions - Feb 20: New studies from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) indicate that replacing the millions of kerosene lamps, candles and flashlights used worldwide with modern solar lighting can provide an increasingly low-cost solution to reducing carbon emissions, indoor air pollution and health risks, and boosting green jobs. Globally, over 1.3 billion people live without access to electric light. Some 25 billion litres of kerosene are used annually to fuel the world's kerosene lamps, which costs end-users a total of up to US$23 billion each year. This has an even higher price tag if government subsidies are taken into account.
UNEP announced a new strategic partnership with the private sector to facilitate a market shift towards energy-efficient, off-grid lighting and to reduce the estimated 74 million tons of annual carbon emissions from fuel-based light sources commonly used in developing countries. The collaboration with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) will see the launch of an international effort to accelerate the deployment of enabling policies towards sustainable off-grid lighting. To underscore the new partnership, the UNEP-led "en.lighten" initiative has unveiled new national assessments for 80 countries on the economic and environmental gains that can be achieved through a shift to solar-powered alternatives.
The studies show that if Kenya, for example, replaced all fuel-based lighting with solar-powered light emitting diode (LED) systems, the costs would be repaid in only seven months, due to major fuel savings. Kenya currently spends around US$ 900 million per year on off-grid lighting, and fuel-based light sources in the country are responsible for over 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions per year.
Wolfgang Gregor, Secretary-General of the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) said, "GOGLA is the industry advocate for promoting clean, quality off-grid lighting systems that benefit society and businesses in developing and emerging markets. We want to ensure that decision-makers and government officials are aware about the importance of modern off-grid lighting solutions and recognize the potential of this multi-billion dollar market. This will lead to the implementation of policies that address product quality standards and environmental issues and create sustainable employment."
A release from UNEP indicates that in addition to saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, phasing out kerosene lamps and candles greatly reduces risks from burns, fires, and respiratory illnesses caused by indoor smoke. Eliminating the need for flashlights powered by disposable batteries will also greatly reduce hazardous waste disposal in landfill and related environmental damage.
The release indicates that although solar LED systems have a higher initial cost than traditional fuel-based lamps, the payback period can be very short due to the high running costs of fuel-based lighting systems. The UNEP assessments show that the payback period in most countries is less than a year, and sometimes just a matter of months, depending on the cost of the LED system and the local price of kerosene. UNEP indicated that these are the first studies of their kind to analyze the magnitude of financial savings, health benefits, development and carbon emission reductions that a coordinated global transition to modern and sustainable off-grid lighting solutions can deliver.
Access a lengthy release from UNEP with more information and links to related information (click here). Access the GOGLA website for more information (click here). Access the en.lighten initiative website for additional information (click here). [#Energy/Solar]
ACC’s Alternative Security Program Guidance Document & Template - Feb 20: The American Chemistry Council (ACC) recently introduced new tools designed to enhance the process for developing and reviewing security plans under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program. ACC said that security plans developed using ACC’s Alternative Security Program (ASP) guidance document and template will help provide the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with greater clarity about regulated facilities’ security measures and how they meet or exceed CFATS requirements.
Under CFATS, regulated facilities must submit a Site Security Plan (SSP) to DHS outlining existing and planned measures to address potential security threats. The submission of plans using ACC’s guidance and template is an alternate approach to completing the site security plan requirement that is explicitly permitted under CFATS.
ACC indicated that Dave Wulf, Director of DHS’s Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD), has praised ACC’s efforts to develop an ASP template. ISCD made staff available for consultation as ACC considered options for its template. Director Wulf has noted that “the use of Alternative Security Programs that are grounded in the principles of CFATS’ risk-based performance standards -- particularly when used by multiple facilities within the same company -- can enhance those facilities’ efforts to attain authorization and approval of their Security Plans.” In regard to ISCD's consultations with chemical and other industries on their efforts to develop potential ASP templates, Director Wulf also stated that "as ISCD moves in 2013 to significantly heighten the pace of authorizations, inspections and final approvals of Security Plans, ASPs will undoubtedly be an important part of the CFATS program’s continued forward progress.”
Access a release from ACC and link to the ASP guidance document and template and related information (click here). [#Toxics, #Haz]
Nominations For 2013 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge - Feb 21: U.S. EPA announced the nominations for the 2013 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards for companies and institutions that can design chemicals or a new product that help protect public health and the environment. Jim Jones, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention said, “The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge is an opportunity for EPA to recognize green chemistry innovations that are having real time results in making manufacturing processes and products that we use every day safer. Increasingly, environmental benefits can result in reduced costs or increased market opportunities for new products, or both. In 2012, EPA launched an effort to complement the award program by providing a forum for winners and nominees to focus on maximizing their investments in green chemistry.”
Award-winning technologies during 2012 included one which saves $2 million to $20 million each year in each of eighteen plants, which convert bauxite ore into the raw material for making aluminum. Another technology is saving over $1 million each year in a large paper mill.
Green chemistry is the design of chemical products and processes that reduce both the generation and use of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and people’s health. Nominations for innovative technologies that feature the design of greener chemicals, greener chemical synthesis, or greener chemical reactions are due to the agency by April 30, 2013. EPA is particularly interested in receiving nominations on approaches or technologies that reduce or eliminate the need for brominated flame retardant chemicals. EPA anticipates recognizing five award winning green chemistry technologies this fall.
Access a release from EPA and link to more information on past award winners and how to submit entries (click here). [#P2, #Sustain, #Toxics]
U.S. Releases 5-Year Arctic Research Plan - Feb 20: According to an announcement, there is broad scientific consensus that rapid changes in global climate are altering ice and snow cover and affecting Arctic ecosystems, indigenous societies, and natural resources. Research is needed to increase fundamental understanding of these challenges and inform development of sound, science-based solutions. The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) is charged with developing five-year plans for Federally sponsored research in the Arctic region. For 2013 to 2017, the IARPC, which consists of representatives from 14 Federal agencies, departments, and offices, has identified seven research areas that will inform national policy and benefit significantly from close interagency coordination.
They research areas are: Sea ice and marine ecosystems; Terrestrial ice and ecosystems; Atmospheric studies of surface heat, energy, and mass balances; Observing systems; Regional climate models; Adaptation tools for sustaining communities; and Human health. These research areas do not encompass all Federal Arctic research activities that will occur over the next five years. Many important investigations outside the scope of this plan will continue to be conducted within individual agencies or through other interagency collaborations.
Access the complete 104-page Plan (click here). [#Climate]
The topics and dates for March and April webinars are: March 5, 2013 2–3:15 PM ET: Education for Workforce Development; April 2, 2013 2–3 PM ET: Engineering Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems; and April 16, 2013 2–3 PM ET: Computational Challenges and Analysis Under Increasingly Dynamic and Uncertain Electric Power System Conditions.
Great Lakes News
Interim Report Asian Carp Environmental DNA Calibration Study - Feb 20: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), released an interim report for the Asian Carp Environmental DNA Calibration Study (ECALS), which is a three-year study funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, as scoped by the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC) Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework. The agencies will host a stakeholder conference call February 26 at 10 AM (Central) to answer questions regarding the report.
USACE Environmental DNA (eDNA) Program Manager Kelly Baerwaldt said, “The purpose of ECALS is to improve the understanding and interpretation of Asian carp environmental DNA results, so we can refine and make this relatively young monitoring tool the most effective to detect live Asian carp presence." Initial ECALS efforts within the report focus on identifying alternative sources of eDNA beyond a live Asian carp, whereas marker development to aid in detecting the specific species and calibration experiments that look at factors that may influence the detection, degradation or persistence of DNA will receive greater attention in 2013.
Among preliminary findings: Storm sewers, fisheries sampling gear, fish-eating birds, dead fish carcasses, barges, and sediments may contribute to a positive eDNA detection without a live fish being present; DNA can stay on these sources for a numbers of days; Tagged-bird studies show large variations in bird movement and consumption of Asian carp in the wild, which may lead to positive detection of Asian carp eDNA in bird feces; Shedding rates of DNA from Asian carp were not affected by different temperatures or flow rates of water; and DNA from Asian carp sperm can be detected for over two weeks after release from an Asian carp.
Access a release from USACE with more details on the conference call and related information (click here). Access a separate release from the ACRCC with links to an Executive Summary; eDNA Fact Sheet; ECALS Fact Sheet; and the ECALS Report (click here). [#GLakes/AsianCarp]
Federal Register Highlights
The following is a summary from our Daily REGTrak Bulletin* for:
Thursday, February 21, 2013.
Vol. 78, Issue 35
1. ENERGY/RFS - PR/NM. EPA. Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: 2013 Renewable Fuel Standards; Public Hearing PDF | Text |
2. ENERGY/RFS - PR. EPA. RFS Renewable Identification Number (RIN) Quality Assurance Program PDF | Text |
3. AIR - ND. EPA. Access by EPA Contractors to Information Claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI) Submitted Under Title II of the Clean Air Act and Related to the Nonroad Diesel Engine Program PDF | Text |
4. HAZ - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Part B Permit Application, Permit Modifications, and Special Permits (Renewal) PDF | Text |
5. AIR - ICR. EPA. Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection;
Comment Request; Ambient Air Quality Surveillance PDF | Text |
6. ENERGY/Efficiency - ICR. EPA. Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; EPA's ENERGY STAR Program in the Residential Sector (Renewal) PDF | Text |
7. ALL - NM. EPA. National Environmental Education Advisory Council PDF | Text |
8. ALL - ND. EPA. National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Request for Nominations to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) PDF | Text |
9. ENERGY/Efficiency - PR. DOE. Energy Efficiency Program for Commercial and Industrial Equipment: Commercial and Industrial Pumps PDF | Text |
10. ENERGY/Grid - ND. DOE. Electric Grid Integration Technical Workshops; two documents are publicly available and the Department of Energy is requesting public comments PDF | Text |
11. ENERGY - NM. DOE. Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee; Discussion of the final edits to the BERAC report PDF | Text |
12. MI/LAND; MI/TRANSPORT - FR. DOI/NPS. Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Bicycling PDF | Text |
13. ENERGY/OCS - ND. DOI/BOEM. Environmental Documents Prepared for Oil, Gas, and Mineral Operations by the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Region PDF | Text |
ANPR - Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; FR - Final Rule; FRD - Direct final rule; FRI - Interim final rule; ICR - Information Collection Request; ND - Notice of data, information, reports, etc. availability; NF - Notice of Funding Opportunity; NM - Notice of Meeting; NS - Notice of administrative/court settlement; PR - Proposed Rule; ROD - Record of decision
*If you need further information on the above announcements you may want to subscribe to our REGTrak service. Subscribers receive a complete Federal Register summary of nationally applicable environmental announcements, contact information and direct links to the full-text of each announcement (pdf & html) before 8 AM each day for $139 per year (click here). You can also access our Federal Regulatory website and follow the links from there (click here).
Article Coding: [Air] = Air; [All] = Cross-Media, ecosystems; [Climate] Climate Change; [Drink] = Drinking Water; [Energy] = Energy; [GLakes] = Great Lakes; [Haz] = Hazardous Waste; [Land] = Land Use, Forests; [P2] Pollution Prevention, Sustainability; [Remed] = Remediation, Brownfields; [Tanks] = AST, UST; [Toxics] =Toxics, Pesticides; [Transport] = Transportation; [Solid Waste]; [Water] = Water; [Wildlife] = Wildlife, Endangered Species.
Detroit Financial Emergency & No Satisfactory Plan To Fix It - Feb 19: The six-member Financial Review Team appointed in December to examine the City of Detroit's finances under Public Act 72 of 1990 (Local Government Fiscal Responsibility Act) has unanimously determined that a local government financial emergency currently exists in the City of Detroit and no satisfactory plan is in place to resolve it. Under PA 72, the Governor now has 30 days to review the report and make a determination on whether or not a financial emergency exists in the City.
State Treasurer Andy Dillon, a member of the 6-person panel said, "This review team spent two months pouring over the city's finances, taking careful consideration of both long and short-term issues, including recent actions by the administration and City Council. While we appreciate the steps the city has taken over the past number of weeks, key reform measures have not occurred quickly enough, if at all. The team collectively believes the city needs assistance in making the difficult decisions necessary to achieve the significant reforms that are so crucial to the city's long-term viability." Treasurer Dillon thanked Mayor Dave Bing, his administration, City Council members, and others in and around city government for their thoughtful assistance throughout the review process. In its report, the Review Team cited several conditions, including the following, in making its determination:
Ronald Goldsberry, an independent consultant and one of Governor Snyder's appointees to the Review Team said, "Each member of the Review Team came into this process with an open mind, and no preconceptions. However, it became clear as we moved forward, that the city continues to struggle mightily beneath the weight of chronic deficits and its long-term liabilities. Add to the mix a city governance structure that resists meaningful, structural change, and you have what we have deemed to be a financial emergency."
The City of Detroit Financial Review Team consists of Andy Dillon, State Treasurer; Thomas McTavish, Auditor General for the State of Michigan; Ken Whipple, chairman of the board of Korn/Ferry International (nominee of the Senate Majority Leader); Darrell Burks, senior partner, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (nominee of the Speaker of the House of Representatives); Ronald Goldsberry, independent consultant (representing other persons with relevant professional experience); and Frederick Headen, legal advisor for the Michigan Department of Treasury (representing State officials with relevant professional experience).
$2.7 Million To Upgrade Rural Commercial Routes - Feb 19: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced that nine Michigan counties will use $2.7 million in State Category F funds to upgrade roads in urban areas to "all-season" status to support local economic growth and keep Michigan open for business year-round. Category F funding is intended to expand or preserve all-season roads on commercial routes in the urban areas of rural counties. In order to leverage the impact of the state's investment, MDOT's decision to award funding considers the amount of commercial traffic on the local road, connections to other all-season roads, Category D routes, or state trunklines, and the project's ability to improve safety and intermodal connectivity on Michigan roads.
Projects have been approved for Transportation Economic Development Fund (TEDF) Category F funds in Berrien, Branch, Dickinson, Jackson, Muskegon, Roscommon, St. Clair, Van Buren and Washtenaw counties. The projects will be completed with nearly $1.9 million in local matching funds. The improvements will include road reconstruction, resurfacing, and drainage improvements. The TEDF provides funding for transportation improvements that enhance the State's ability to compete in a global economy, promote economic growth and improve the quality of life in Michigan. Eligible applicants for Category F grants are county, city and village road agencies within counties having a population of 400,000 or less. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis with a minimum local match of 20 percent.
Access a release from MDOT with a summary of each project and additional information (click here). [#MITransport]
DOI Designates "Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail" - Feb 21: The Department of Interior (DOI), National Park Service (NPS) published a Federal Register notice [78 FR 11981-11984] announcing Special Regulations for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The rule designates the "Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail" currently under construction within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as a route for bicycle use. The approximately 27-mile-long trail will generally parallel major State highways (M-22 and M-109)and offer visitors safe, non-motorized access to the park. National Park Service general regulations require promulgation of a special regulation to designate new routes for bicycle use outside developed areas or off park roads. The rule becomes effective March 25, 2013.
Access the complete FR announcement with extensive background information (click here). [#MILand, #MITransport]
Committee Approves Substitute Biodiversity Bill - Feb 21: The Senate Natural Resources, Environment and Great Lakes, chaired by Senate Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), held another hearing on SB 78 [See WIMS 2/14/13], the controversial bill that would require MDNR to remove many biodiversity concepts from State forest management. Following extensive testimony from environmental, public sportsmen and forest product interests, most of which were opposed, the Committee approved a Substitute bill (S-1) 5-1, with one excused. The bill now goes to the Senate Floor for consideration. As previously reported, a similar bill was approved by the Senate in the last session by a vote of 26-11, but was never considered in the House [See WIMS 2/6/13].
Access the draft minutes of the meeting including a list of those testifying (click here). Access links to the latest written testimony submitted and link to previous testimony (click here). Access legislative details which should include more details on the S-1 substitute soon (click here). Access a lengthy legislative analysis with more details (click here). Access NREPA, Part 355, Biological Diversity Conservation (click here). Access extensive information on MDNR's Living Legacies initiative and biodiversity (click here). [#MIAll]
Michigan Legislative Tracking
Newly introduced bills, if any, are listed below. Click on the bill number for complete status, full text, & analyses. Uppercase is Senate action; lowercase is House action. Otherwise, for a complete list of environmental legislation this session (click here).
WIMS Daily is produced each business day (46 weeks/year, some exceptions) and is available at a reduced rate of $189/year to Michigan Waste Report subscribers. WIMS Daily is also available separately in a National ($239/year, eNewsUSA) and Michigan edition ($339/year; $289/year Local Government rate). Copyright © 2012. Permission is granted for Internal, Same-Office, Distribution Only. All messages are archived and searchable on Yahoo Groups (click here).
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