National News

EPA to Assist Water Utilities in Bolstering Climate Resilience & Readiness

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – November 19, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing up to $600,000 in training and technical assistance to help water utilities in more than 20 communities bolster their climate change resilience and readiness. Drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities will participate in a multi-year program to prepare for potential impacts from climate change. Challenges include droughts, more intense and frequent storms, flooding, sea-level rise and changes to water quality. Communities will receive technical assistance in using EPA's Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool, software that helps users identify assets, threats and adaptation options to help reduce risk from climate change. Learn more here.

Concerns Renewed as Mining Pollutants Increase in Montana Watershed

By Tristan Scott  – Flathead Beacon  – November 17, 2014

With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border. The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species. For full story, click here.

Protecting our dwindling water

By Marty Schladen – Alamogordo News – November 15, 2014

People who live in the Rio Grande Basin will have to take dramatic steps if they hope to have a future that involves more than just dust. Experts say population in the region has swelled during unusually wet years, leading to growth and creating habits that tree rings and other scientific data indicate we shouldn't expect in the future. Stream flows measured at the Otowi Gauge on the Upper Rio Grande were well above historical norms between 1980 and 2000, when El Paso's and Albuquerque's populations grew 42 percent and 38 percent, respectively. Add climate change — which an overwhelming majority of those who study it say is happening — and you have a future that might not be very promising for cities such as El Paso, Juárez, Las Cruces and Albuquerque. For full story, click here.

As controversial EPA water rule looms, GOP prepares an assault

By Chris Adams – The Fresno Bee – November 14, 2014

While the politics of climate change were at the top of the president’s agenda this week, a different environmental proposal is heading to a showdown between Republicans and the White House, in part due to strong pressure from Kentucky farm interests and lawmakers. The issue is the proposed “ Waters of the United States” rule, which was announced earlier this year in an attempt to simplify and clarify which waterways are covered by the Clean Water Act and which ones aren’t. But the Obama administration’s attempt at clarity has instead brought anger and confusion from many of the nation’s farm interests, as well as Republicans in Congress – who until last week were powerless to do anything about it. For full story, click here.

Senate Defeats Bill on Keystone XL Pipeline in Narrow Vote

By Ashley Parker – The New York – Times November 18, 2014

Senate Democrats, by a single vote, stopped legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, one of the most fractious and expensive battles of the Obama presidency. The vote represented a victory for the environmental movement, but the fight had taken on larger dimensions as a proxy war between Republicans, who argued that the project was vital for job creation, and President Obama, who had delayed a decision on building it. For full story, click here.