The Hill- The House Oversight Committee is looking into allegations that two Obama administration agencies had sharp disagreements over the development of a major water pollution rule.The panel released internal Army Corps of Engineers memos Thursday from earlier this year in which officials said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts on the rule lacked sound scientific basis and the agency did not consult with the Army Corps.The GOP is using the memos to open a new chapter in its fight against the “waters of the United States” rule, released in June to assert federal power over wetlands, streams and other minor waterways that did not have clearly defined pollution protections.
The Hill- Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) blocked a push Thursday by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to get a vote on a clean water bill, leading to a testy exchange on the Senate floor. Portman tried to get unanimous consent for a voice vote on his legislation, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hand over plans on how it will manage risks tied to algal toxins in drinking water.But Udall objected and instead asked for a vote on Portman's bill, as well as a separate bill that would reauthorize the National Estuary Program, which gives grants to programs that help protect coastal ecosystems. "It's with great respect with my colleague from Oregon that I object," the New Mexico Democrat said.
Washington Post- We know that temperatures are heating up around the globe — but climate change is also responsible for all kinds of other changes on the planet, including increases in storms, fires, floods and, not surprisingly, drought. It seems obvious that forests, which are full of water-guzzling trees, are among the ecosystems likely to be most affected by droughts. But while scientists know that drought is stressful on trees, “what we didn’t really know is what happened after the drought was alleviated,” said William Anderegg, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute.
Politico- President Barack Obama’s top aide vowed on Wednesday that the White House won’t yield to Republican attacks on its landmark climate change rule, even as the administration prepared to soften a deadline for states to cut the greenhouse gases from their power plants.“We will not back down. We will finalize a stronger rule,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told an event hosted by The New Republic and the liberal Center for American Progress. “We’ll veto ideological riders to stop this plan or undercut our bedrock environmental laws. And we’ll move forward on behalf of the American people with the vision set forward by the president.”
Los Angeles Times- Concern over California’s drought is “extremely high and intensifying,” as a majority of state residents now believe global warming has contributed to the crisis, according to polling data released this week.As residents struggle to meet mandated cuts in urban water use and state agriculture braces for up to $2.2 billion in losses this year, voter concern over the drought has now eclipsed worry over jobs, the economy and eduction, according to researchers.As a result, poll sponsors say Californians are now more open than ever to long-term changes in the way the state manages its water resources and say they would willingly pay “a few more dollars a month” to improve state water infrastructure.
San Francisco Chronicle- After four years of extreme drought conditions across California, there are hopes that an El Niño weather pattern forming in the Pacific Ocean will bring rain this winter. Even the prospect of a wet winter should remind us that we need to update California’s water infrastructure to be able to capture, move and store water in wet years so that during future dry years we have a stable water supply.
E&E Daily- Internal memos detailing the Army Corps of Engineers' fierce criticisms of the Obama administration's controversial water rule were publicly released yesterday afternoon by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) included the Army Corps memo in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy after she testified during a Wednesday hearing that she had not seen the documents herself but understood "all concerns" to have been satisfied in the final Waters of the U.S. rule.
E&E Daily- The Clean Power Plan's best friends in the Senate said yesterday they are not worried that U.S. EPA's apparent decision to push back the final rule's deadlines for planning and implementation would weaken it. The existing power plant rule for carbon emissions is expected to be released Monday and to allow states two additional years both to submit an implementation plan and show reductions.
E&E Daily- It took the famously balky Senate barely a week to pass a three-year, $173 billion road, rail and transit funding package yesterday.For advocates of an end to the cycle of stopgap transportation patches, the resulting 65-34 vote offered proof -- and hope -- that a longer-term approach is politically possible. They urged the House to quickly come up with a bipartisan plan, as well."The time for any further short-term extensions is over," the leaders of two trade groups -- the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and Associated General Contractors of America -- declared in a joint statement.
Governing- Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has declared drought emergencies in 23 of the state's 36 counties and ordered state agencies to conserve water as another parched year threatens fish and forests, limits agriculture and recreation, and worsens the risk of wildfire. By California terms, however, Oregon's goal appears modest: to reduce nonessential water use by an average of 15% across all state-owned facilities by the end of 2020. (California's governor has ordered a 25% reduction in urban water use from 2013 levels through February 2016.)
24/7 Wall St- Asking an entire state to use 25% less water may sound easy in the asking portion of an equation, but implementing such efforts and actually living up to such efforts is less than easy. It appears as though California is, at least at the start, living up to the mandate for 25% water usage cuts. The California Water Boards issued a release on Thursday showing water use in the state was 27.7% lower in June. This may only be one month of data, but it was also the first such month where the emergency conservation regulation was actually in effect.
MWH- Amid a varied set of water-related concerns across the country, a new study released today by MWH Global found that consumers are concerned about water supply and water infrastructure issues in their communities. Among the key findings, 70 percent of Americans think their communities will experience water shortages more often in the next 10 years. Two-thirds say that their community should be spending more money to ensure water infrastructure is well-maintained and properly functioning. The need for improved water supply and water infrastructure has recently been the focus of news as water scarcity issues have gripped portions of the western U.S. and flooding has significantly impacted Texas and parts of the Southeast. Effective water management is a growing concern of cities and municipalities across the country to better control economic, environmental and safety impacts.