Posts Tagged ‘Chesapeake Bay’

EPA criticized; moose decline continues

February 21, 2011

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

Industries criticize EPA standards for Florida
A coalition of national industry associations is warning Congress that U.S. EPA’s move to impose tougher water pollution limits in Florida could become a model for similar actions in other states and ultimately cost taxpayers and businesses billions of dollars at questionable environmental benefit.

EPA immediately fired back, rejecting the claim and noting that the numeric limits on nutrient pollution the agency imposed on Florida last year were required under a settlement agreement EPA struck with environmental groups.

The groups had filed suit alleging that federal regulators stood idly by for years as the state continuously failed to enforce the Clean Water Act, allowing phosphorus and nitrogen — components of fertilizer and byproducts of sewage and wastewater treatment — to saturate waterways, triggering soupy algae blooms that killed fish and sucked oxygen out of the water.

“While States are free to control nutrient pollution, and many are starting to, EPA has no plans to establish numeric nutrient criteria in any other states,” EPA said in a statement yesterday responding to the industry letter. “The establishment of numeric limits of nutrient pollution in Florida was due to specific legal challenges about the State of Florida’s implementation of the Clean Water Act.”
–The New York Times

Moose decline continues
Northeastern Minnesota’s moose population continues to decline, according to results of an aerial survey released by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Survey results revealed lower moose numbers and the proportion of cows accompanied by calves continued a 14-year decline, dropping to a record low of 24 calves per 100 cows. The proportion of cows accompanied by twin calves was at the lowest level since 1999, which contributed to the record-low calf-to-cow ratio.

“These indices along with results from research using radio-collared moose all indicate that the population has been declining in recent years,” said Dr. Mark Lenarz, DNR forest wildlife group leader.

Moose numbers are estimated using an aerial survey of the northeastern Minnesota moose range.

Based on the survey, wildlife researchers estimate that there were 4,900 moose in northeastern Minnesota. Last year’s estimate was 5,500.

A study of radio-collared moose in northeastern Minnesota between 2002 and 2008 determined that nonhunting mortality was substantially higher than in moose populations outside of Minnesota.

The causes of moose mortality are not well understood. Of 150 adult moose radio-collared since 2002 in Minnesota, 114 have subsequently died, most from unknown causes thought to be diseases or parasites. Ten moose died as a result of highway vehicle accidents. Two were killed by trains. Nine deaths were clearly the result of wolf predation.
–Minnesota DNR News Release

U.S. House defeats anti-carp proposal
The U.S. House rejected a proposal to force the closure of Chicago-area shipping locks that could provide an opening to the Great Lakes for voracious Asian carp, a potential threat to native fish species and the region’s economy.

By a vote of 292-137, lawmakers defeated a budget bill amendment offered by Republican Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan that would have denied funding to the Army Corps of Engineers to open the two navigational structures. Opponents argued successfully that the locks were vital to commerce and closing them wouldn’t necessarily prevent the unwanted carp from reaching Lake Michigan.

“It’s a great relief that we were able to defeat this amendment,” said Rep. Judy Biggert, an Illinois Republican. “Its passage would have been devastating to Chicago’s economy and cost thousands of jobs in our region. Worse, it would have been an empty gesture against the carp, doing more to kill jobs than slow down fish.”

Michigan and four other states — Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania — are suing in federal court to close the locks and permanently sever the man-made link between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds to prevent invasive species from migrating between them.
–The Canadian Press

MPCA urges care in manure applications
As another winter of heavy snowfall gives way to warming temperatures, rapid melting and potential for flooding pose challenges for manure management among the more than 25,000 livestock farms in Minnesota.  Many smaller operations that spread solid manure during winter must ensure that it doesn’t run off with rapid snowmelt flowing to ditches, streams and other waters.

Manure-contaminated runoff not only threatens water quality, it reduces the value of manure as a crop nutrient.  “Manure applied to snow-covered or frozen soils during conditions of snow melt or rain on frozen soils can contribute the majority of the annual nutrient losses,” says Dennis Frame, University of Wisconsin-Extension.  “There is a high potential for manure runoff this year based on current field conditions and typical weather patterns.”

If possible, farmers should refrain from spreading manure during periods of rapid snow melt.  Frame offers manure-handling suggestions in article.  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also has a fact sheet available titled, “Managing manure and land application during adverse weather conditions.”
–Minnesota Pollution Control Agency news release

Indiana bill aims at manure transport
Indiana could be in deep trouble.

The Indiana House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee had a hearing Feb. 8 concerning House Bill 1134. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, and aims “to amend the Indiana Code concerning agriculture and animals.”

More specifically, the bill targets interstate manure transport into Indiana.

Richmond, Ind., Environmental Activist Barbara Sha Cox said it is crucial for eastern Indiana counties to take a stand.

“This should be of special interest to those in Richmond who drink water from the reservoir and everyone in the counties who have private wells,” Cox said in an Indiana Living Green press release. “As it stands now, they can dump piles of manure near waterways with no runoff protection.”

According to the press release, Ohio has been shipping and dumping excess manure into Indiana border counties

Congressman seeks to halt Chesapeake Bay plan
Money for a far-reaching pollution control plan for Chesapeake Bay would be stripped from this year’s federal budget under a proposed amendment to an important House spending bill.

The amendment, filed by Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, takes aim at an Environmental Protection Agency program to reduce the flow of several major pollutants into the bay by roughly a quarter by 2025. Called a “pollution diet” by federal regulators, the plan was deemed necessary after the E.P.A. determined that states were moving too slowly to curb polluted runoff from farms and cities into the bay.

In an interview, Mr. Goodlatte called the E.P.A. plan a “power grab” that exceeded its authority under the Clean Water Act and said that the agency had failed to calculate the program’s impact on jobs and the region’s economy. He argued that under the new regulations, towns and cities would be required to spend millions of dollars to upgrade their stormwater runoff systems.
–The New York Times

Macalester College tries bottled water ban
MacCares, the Macalester Conservation and Renewable Energy Society, in conjunction with the Sustainability Office and the Social Responsibility Committee, is launching what organizers call the “full-scale test run” of a policy they eventually hope the college will implement permanently: ending the sale of bottled water on campus.

The test run was to  start on Feb. 21, and last until Mar. 13. The ban will mean that no bottled water will be sold at the Grille, the Highlander and the vending machines in the Leonard Center.

“The idea is to have a big educational campaign to make sure that people on campus understand some of the issues with bottled water and tapped water,” said Brianna Besch ’13, a member of MacCares who is helping to lead the initiative and Bottled Water Awareness Month.

The trial discontinuation is the result of concerns raised regarding the environmental and social effects of bottled water, including the waste it generates, the lack of oversight over its quality, and the commodification of what the United Nations has declared a human right. “You’re paying a lot more for something that you can almost get for free,” said Besch. “A lot of people think bottled water is healthier, but it actually has much more lax standards for quality. . . then you’ve got the waste component. It takes seventeen million barrels of oil per year to produce and transport bottled water [in the United States].”
–Mac Weekly
 

11% budget cut proposed for MPCA
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says even with an 11 percent reduction in funding, it will be able to make progress on key issues under Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget proposal.

MPCA Commissioner Paul Aasen said the MPCA is also moving to streamline its permitting process. If federal cuts add significantly to state cuts, it will be harder to fulfill the agency’s mission, he said.

He says the agency will be able to absorb the reduction through normal turnover and early retirements, even as the PCA works to streamline its permitting processes.

The agency will give priority to new projects and expansions that create jobs, he said, and that means existing businesses may operate longer under expired permits — but they have to maintain the same conditions as required in their old permit.
–Minnesota Public Radio

DNR submits 25-year plan for parks and trails
Minnesota finally has a strategic blueprint for how best to spend more than $1 billion in state sales tax money during the next quarter-century to build what advocates hope will be a world-class system of parks and trails.

The state Department of Natural Resources gave its 25-year plan to the Legislature, a key step in helping future lawmakers direct those Legacy Amendment dollars to specific parks and trails projects.

The plan, sought by legislators and developed over 18 months with help from the Citizens League and the University of Minnesota’s Center for Changing Landscapes, doesn’t offer specific project recommendations.

Rather, it lays out a broad set of guidelines, developed in response to insights from more than 1,000 parks and trails enthusiasts and also stemming from the most detailed inventory of local, regional and state parks facilities ever put together in the state.
–The St. Paul Pioneer Press

Great Lakes funding keeps shrinking
The Obama administration’s much-trumpeted Great Lakes restoration plan continues to shrink in the face of federal budget woes.

It was conceived as a 10-year, $5 billion program to do things like clean up toxic messes, restore wetlands, stem the influx of invasive species and promote native fisheries. But the funding has shrunk from $475 million in 2010 to $225 million this year if the House Appropriations Committee has its way.

That figure, included in the committee’s continuing resolution to wrap up the current year’s budget, was $75 million lower than the $300 million President Barack Obama had requested for this year. The Senate has yet to weigh in.

Obama released his 2012 budget, which includes $350 million for the restoration program next year.

Conservation groups said all the uncertainty is making it difficult to execute a comprehensive plan to restore the world’s largest freshwater system. “There are long-term projects that require some certainty of funding levels from year to year,” said Jeff Skelding, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “It’s put people in limbo, projects in limbo and research in limbo, just awaiting congressional action.”
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Research: Human actions yield more rain, snow
An increase in heavy precipitation that has afflicted many countries is at least partly a consequence of human influence on the atmosphere, climate scientists reported in a new study.

In the first major paper of its kind, the researchers used elaborate computer programs that simulate the climate to analyze whether the rise in severe rainstorms, heavy snowfalls and similar events could be explained by natural variability in the atmosphere. They found that it could not, and that the increase made sense only when the computers factored in the effects of greenhouse gases released by human activities like the burning of fossil fuels.

As reflected in previous studies, the likelihood of extreme precipitation on any given day rose by about 7 percent over the last half of the 20th century, at least for the land areas of the Northern Hemisphere for which sufficient figures are available to do an analysis.

The principal finding of the new study is “that this 7 percent is well outside the bounds of natural variability,” said Francis W. Zwiers, a Canadian climate scientist who took part in the research. The paper is being published in the journal Nature.
–The New York Times

Rising sea levels could hurt 180 U.S. cities
Rising seas spurred by climate change could threaten 180 U.S. coastal cities by 2100, a new study says, with Miami, New Orleans and Virginia Beach among those most severely affected.

Previous studies have looked at where rising waters might go by the end of this century, assuming various levels of sea level rise, but this latest research focused on municipalities in the contiguous 48 states with population of 50,000 or more.

Cities along the southern Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico will likely be hardest hit if global sea levels rise, as projected, by about 3 feet (1 meter) by 2100, researchers reported in the journal Climate Change Letters.

Sea level rise is expected to be one result of global warming as ice on land melts and flows toward the world’s oceans.
–Reuters

Water prosecutions dip; EPA readies Florida rules

November 1, 2010

EPA water prosecutions decline again
Criminal enforcement of federal water-pollution laws has continued a more than decadelong slide under the Obama administration, despite pledged improvements, according to U.S. EPA data.

The government reported 32 new Clean Water Act convictions during the fiscal year that ended in September, down from 42 in 2009. The number of criminal water pollution cases initiated by the agency fell from 28 last year to 21 this year.

Both figures have dropped nearly 60 percent since the late 1990s, their highest points in the past 20 years.

The numbers indicate that the Obama administration so far has been unable to reverse a trend that started under President George W. Bush, when EPA criminal enforcement activity dropped in conjunction with a 27 percent cut to U.S. EPA’s overall budget, said William Andreen, an environmental law professor at the University of Alabama.
–The New York Times

 EPA readies Florida water standards
Florida is bracing for the federal government to impose tough new pollution limits on its rivers and lakes. Depending on the point of view, the new rules will clobber an already weak economy — or bring a welcome end to fish kills, algae blooms and contaminated water supplies.

The rules, which could be released any day, have triggered rancorous debate, pitting, for example, a U.S. senator against a confrontational environmentalist who specializes in lawsuits.

The first-of-their kind regulations, drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  will set “numeric” pollution limits for streams and lakes based on their type and location — not necessarily on each body of water’s individual characteristics.

The state of Florida, in contrast, has long relied on customized limits derived from lake-by-lake and river-by-river analyses — an approach criticized by environmentalists as far too slow and cumbersome.

The pollution targeted by these limits consists of various nitrogen and phosphorus compounds that act as liquid fertilizer in nature. Such compounds are found in treated sewage, stormwater runoff, farm discharges and many manufacturers’ wastewater.
–The Orlando Sentinel 

 U of M rates high for sustainability
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is one of only three schools in the nation that has received all “A’s” in the College Sustainability Report Card scores. This is the fifth consecutive year the U of M has improved its marks and the first time the university has received A’s in all nine categories.

 The College Sustainability Report Card surveyed 322 schools this year.

 In 2004, the Board of Regents established the Policy on Sustainability and Energy Efficiency, which has fostered the integration of sustainability into research, education, outreach and campus operations.

 This is the fifth annual Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, a Cambridge, Mass.-based non-profit organization engaged in research and education to advance sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices.

The university’s sustainability profile can be found on the GreenReportCard.org web site.
–University of Minnesota news release

 Draft USDA report calls for farmers to do more
Seeming to contradict assertions by farmers that they’re doing their share to protect the Chesapeake Bay, a new federal report finds major shortcomings in what crop growers are doing across the six-state region to keep from polluting the troubled estuary.

 While farmers have made “good progress” in reducing the amount of soil and fertilizer washing off their fields into the bay and its rivers, more pollution controls are needed on about 81 percent of all the croplands, says the draft report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And nearly half of the region’s 4.3 million acres of croplands are “critically undertreated” to keep pollutants from running or seeping into nearby ditches and streams.

The 161-page federal report — the most comprehensive analysis of farm conservation practices in the bay region to date — relies on computer modeling and hundreds of soil and other samples taken across the region, plus a survey of farmers. It has not been officially released, but an Internet link to a “review draft” was distributed to news media and to environmental groups.

 The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released a statement saying that the draft report, though still under review, “suggests that conservation practices in the Chesapeake Bay are working but “more work remains to be done.”
–The Baltimore Sun

Texas farmers, ranchers worry about water rights
The rule of capture has been just as much a part of Texas lore as cowboys and cattle.

Under that concept, landowners have had the right to pump an unlimited amount of water from beneath their land.

 But rancher J.K. “Rooter” Brite Jr. is worried — worried that the courts, legislators or groundwater districts might take that water right away.

Brite, 58, isn’t opposed to all regulation — he doesn’t approve of water marketers like billionaire Boone Pickens sucking aquifers dry, and he believes that groundwater districts can provide some protection from the oil and gas industry — but he said strict groundwater-use regulations could cripple his ranching operation during a drought. 

“If that right doesn’t belong to me, and I do benefit because I know it’s in reserve, then what incentive do I have to care for this land?” Brite said as he drove his pickup through tall stands of native grasses on his 3,400-acre ranch outside Bowie.
–The Fort  Worth Star Telegram

Grocery chains push sustainable farming
Veteran west-side farmer John Diener has always felt confident in his ability to grow quality tomatoes, almonds and wheat — but to some, that may not be good enough. 

Responding to consumer sentiments, grocery-chain buyers are pushing Diener and other farmers to show they practice “sustainable” agriculture — a popular if still fuzzy concept. 

While similar to organic farming, its focus is broader: In contrast to conventional farming, sustainable agriculture puts greater emphasis on practices that have long-term benefits. For example, instead of using harsh chemicals, some farmers rely on parasitic insects to battle bad bugs. Or they use renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. Others work on improving the standard of living for farmworkers, ensuring a more productive and stable labor force.

The goal of sustainability is to reduce farming’s impact on the environment while ensuring a future for agriculture.

 Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced on Oct. 14 a global plan to train 1 million farmers and workers on crop selection and sustainable-farming practices, including using water, pesticides and fertilizers more efficiently.–The Fresno Bee 

U.S. Navy tests algae-powered gunboat
It looked like a pretty ordinary day on the water at the US naval base in Norfolk, Virginia: a few short bursts of speed, a nice tail wind, some test manoeuvres against an enemy boat. 

But the 49ft gunboat had algae-based fuel in the tank in a test hailed by the navy as a milestone in its creation of a new, energy-saving strike force. 

The experimental boat, intended for use in rivers and marshes and eventually destined for oil installations in the Middle East, operated on a 50/50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel. “It ran just fine,” said Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, who directs the navy’s sustainability division. 

The tests are part of a broader drive within the navy to run 50% of its fleet on a mix of renewable fuels and nuclear power by 2020. The navy currently meets about 16% of its energy and fuel needs from nuclear power, with the rest from conventional sources.
–The Guardian

 China’s dams change live on the Mekong
The Mekong River sparkles in the early morning sun as Somwang Prommin, a stocky fisherman wearing a worn-out black T-shirt and shorts, starts the motor of his boat. As the tiny craft glides on the river’s calm surface in the northeastern Thai district of Chiang Khong, Somwang points to a nearby riverbank. Three days ago, he says, the water levels there were 3 meters (10 feet) higher.

 The Mekong, which translates roughly as “mother of the waters” in the Thai language, has become unpredictable since China started building hydropower dams and blasting the rapids upstream, says Somwang, 36, who’s been fishing for a living since he was 8.

 In August 2008, there were devastating floods that reduced his catches and income, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its December 2010 issue. Early this year, he witnessed the most severe drought in his life.

 Tens of millions of residents are experiencing similar currents of change along the 4,800-kilometer-long (2,980-mile- long) Mekong, which flows through six countries — Southeast Asia’s longest river.
–Bloomberg Markets Magazine

The Gulf spill, Chesapeake Bay and nitrates

May 17, 2010

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

BP manages to capture part of oil spill
After more than three weeks of efforts to stop a gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers achieved some success when they used a milelong pipe to capture some of the oil and divert it to a drill ship on the surface some 5,000 feet above the wellhead, company officials said.

 After two false starts, engineers successfully inserted a narrow tube into the damaged pipe from which most of the oil is leaking.

 “It’s working as planned,” Kent Wells, a senior executive vice president of BP, said at a briefing in Houston on Sunday afternoon. “So we do have oil and gas coming to the ship now, we do have a flare burning off the gas, and we have the oil that’s coming to the ship going to our surge tank.”

Mr. Wells said he could not yet say how much oil had been captured or what percentage of the oil leaking from a 21-inch riser pipe was now flowing into the 4-inch-wide insertion tube.
–The New York Times

Gulf spill could be 5 times official estimate
The amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico is far greater than official estimates suggest, according to an exclusive NPR analysis.

At NPR’s request, experts analyzed video that BP released. Their findings suggest the BP spill is already far larger than the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

BP has said repeatedly that there is no reliable way to measure the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by looking at the oil gushing out of the pipe. But scientists say there are actually many proven techniques for doing just that. 

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the seafloor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry. 

A computer program simply tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.
–National Public Radio

 Litany of problems listed for BP shut-off device
A House energy panel investigation has found that the blowout preventer that failed to stop a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system, a “useless” test version of a key component and a cutting tool that wasn’t strong enough to shear through steel joints in the well pipe and stop the flow of oil.

 In a devastating review of the blowout preventer, which BP said was supposed to be “fail-safe,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight, said that documents and interviews show that the device was anything but. 

The comments came in a hearing in which lawmakers grilled senior executives from BP and oilfield service firms Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, maker of the blowout preventer. In one exchange, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) pressed BP on why it seemed to be “flailing” to deal with a spill only 2 percent as large as what it had said it could handle in its license application.
–The Washington Post 

Some permitting bypassed for Gulf drilling
The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.

 Those approvals, federal records show, include one for the well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and resulting in thousands of barrels of oil spilling into the gulf each day.

The Minerals Management Service, or M.M.S., also routinely overruled its staff biologists and engineers who raised concerns about the safety and the environmental impact of certain drilling proposals in the gulf and in Alaska, according to a half-dozen current and former agency scientists.
–The New York Times

West Coast drilling ban proposed
The political ripples from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster spread in the capital as six West Coast senators proposed a permanent ban on drilling in the Pacific and another group tried to raise oil company liability in a spill to $10 billion from the current $75 million.

 The move by senators from California, Oregon and Washington, all Democrats, was largely symbolic because there are no plans at present to open the West Coast to drilling. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, withdrew a modest plan for new offshore drilling shortly after the gulf accident.
–The New York Times  

Nitrates taint California drinking water
The wells that supply more than 2 million Californians with drinking water have been found to contain harmful levels of nitrates over the past 15 years — a time marked by lax regulatory efforts to control the colorless and odorless contaminant. 

Nitrates, a byproduct of farm fertilizer and some wastewater treatment systems, are now the most common groundwater contaminant in California and across the country. 

They show up primarily in private wells, especially in rural California, but also in some municipal water systems. State law requires public systems to remove nitrates. Many rural communities, however, don’t have access to the type of treatment systems available in metropolitan areas.
–The San Jose Mercury News

 DNR makes choice to drain Bovey mine pits
Governmental wrangling over how to take water from a chain of abandoned mining pits threatening to flood Bovey appears to be over.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Holsten recently chose to lower the water level by diverting it west to the Prairie River. The Western Mesabi Mine Planning Board prefers an option that would pump water east to Holman Lake.

 “A project needs to be built as soon as possible,” Holsten wrote the board on May 5. “Even though the Holman-Trout option is the Board’s preferred project, I have determined that this option is not ready to proceed due to budget and time issues.”
The Duluth News-Tribune 

Urban Birding Festival set
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ fifth annual Urban Birding Festival will be held May 13-16 at various locations throughout Minneapolis-St. Paul. It’s a free celebration of springtime birds, especially those which inhabit urban areas. 

“There are excellent birding opportunities in the heart of a metropolitan area,” said Liz Harper, DNR nongame wildlife specialist. “Experts can help birders of all levels learn where the best birding spots are in the Twin Cities.” 

The festival is billed as “Where Birds and People Meet” and is being organized in part by the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program. It features a day-long series of events at Fridley’s Springbrook Nature Center and daytime and evening bird walks at various locations.
--DNR news release

 Gulf oil spill impacts Senate climate and energy bill
The long delayed and much amended Senate plan to deal with global warming and energy was unveiled to considerable fanfare but uncertain prospects.

 After nearly eight months of negotiations with lawmakers and interest groups, Senators John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, produced a 987-page bill that tries to limit climate-altering emissions, reduce oil imports and create millions of new energy-related jobs.

 The sponsors rewrote the section on offshore oil drilling in recent days to reflect mounting concern over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, raising new hurdles for any future drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts while allowing it to proceed off Louisiana, Texas and Alaska.
–The New York Times

EPA announces Chesapeake clean-up plan
Local farmers, communities with stormwater runoff problems and sewage plant owners got a clearer picture of their marching orders from a federal government that has vowed to do what it takes to clean up the Chesapeake Bay

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed a 176-page strategy outlining an “unprecedented” and “historic” effort on how it would accomplish the feat in six bay watershed states, including Pennsylvania.

The agency promised “rigorous new regulation and enforcement” to get the job done.

Exactly a year to the day earlier, President Barrack Obama had issued an executive order to clean up what he called a “national treasure” after decades of sputtering attempts.

EPA signed a legally binding agreement with time deadlines to require pollution to be reduced across the bay watershed. That agreement with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation citizens group followed a lawsuit which accused EPA of failing to restore the bay as required by the Clean Water Act.
–Lancaster Newspapers

Opinion:  Cautious optimism Chesapeake Bay
A turning point. A fresh start. A new hope. How often have Marylanders heard these words spoken about the future of the Chesapeake Bay over the last quarter-century or more? Usually they are articulated by politicians touting some new multi-state agreement or strategy that they insist will lead to a cleaner, healthier body of water.

In recent days, these all-too-familiar promises have been heard again, this time on the strength of two seemingly linked events — a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation against federal regulators for not sufficiently enforcing Clean Water Act standards and the release of the Obama administration’s plan to revive the Chesapeake Bay by essentially doing what the environmentalists have long been seeking.

Both boil down to promises of future actions. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and others say this time will be different, with specific goals and timetables for reducing the stream of pollutants, chiefly nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments, that have done so much harm to the bay and its tributaries.
–The Baltimore Sun


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