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President Obama Announces National Disaster Resilience Competition
Monday, 23 June 2014 13:15

The White House – June 14, 2014

Responding to demand from state, local and tribal leaders who are working to increase the safety and security of their communities, President Obama has announced a nearly $1 billion competition that will invite communities that have experienced natural disasters to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. The competition will support innovative resilience projects at the local level while encouraging communities to adopt policy changes and activities that plan for the impacts of extreme weather and climate change and rebuild affected areas better prepare for the future. Of the nearly $1 billion available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, about $820 million will be available to all states and local governments that experienced a Presidentially-declared major disaster in 2011, 2012, and 2013. States in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region will be eligible to compete for approximately $180 million, to help address critical housing needs, building on the successful model set forth by HUD's Rebuild by Design competition. All successful applicants will need to show how their proposed action relates to the disaster from which they are recovering. HUD will ensure that geographic diversity is a consideration in the selection of participating communities. For more information, see the White House press release here.

Thune Amendments Address Wetlands Determinations Backlog
Monday, 23 June 2014 13:14

Insurance News Net – June 19, 2014

Today Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) offered two amendments to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill, including one that would reprogram $2 million in the FY2015 Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) budget to address the backlog of undetermined wetlands in all states. "Conservation compliance is an eligibility requirement for crop insurance premium assistance and most other federal farm program benefits," said Thune. "With a backlog of more than 3,000 undetermined wetlands in South Dakota these farmers cannot apply any water management practices on their land because they do not know where NRCS will determine wetlands are located. Some farmers have been waiting two or more years for these determinations." For full story, click here.

Draft Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan Avl. for Public Input
Monday, 16 June 2014 14:10

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative 

In February 2010, the Interagency Task Force released a GLRI Action Plan covering fiscal years 2010-2014. The Action Plan identified the goals, objectives, measurable ecological targets, and specific actions to help rehabilitate the Great Lakes. The federal agencies use the Action Plan to target investments to reduce toxic contamination, recover fish and wildlife habitat, increase nearshore health through the reduction of nutrient and other land-based pollution, prevent invasive species, and promote accountability, education and collaboration. The IATF is seeking input on the draft FY15-19 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan. Extensive input from the public in 2013, the Great Lakes Advisory Board, Government Accountability Office, U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board and others informed the development of this draft. The Great Lakes Interagency Task Force now invites your thoughts on the draft. It is most helpful to the agencies to receive input within 30 days of the Action Plan being posted to this website, but input will be considered until the Action Plan is finalized. For more information and to download draft Acton Plan, click here.

EPA, Army Corps Extend Comment Period For Rule CWA Jurisdiction
Monday, 16 June 2014 13:57

By Amena H. Saiyidi – House Committee on Small Business – June 10, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the public has until Oct. 20 to comment on a proposed rule that would clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction over the nation's waters and wetlands. The agencies said June 10 that they are granting the 90–day extension from the initial July 21 date in response to numerous requests, including letters from state environmental officials, industry groups and Republican lawmakers. After a private meeting with several Western governors, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters June 10 that some of the governors raised concerns about the proposed rule. “There's a lot of concern among agricultural interests in their states and what the industry has read into it,” she said. “We need some time to get out there and, if need be, write the rule in a way so the intent is understood.” The proposed “Waters of the United States” rule, which the EPA published April 21, would bring under federal jurisdiction all tributaries of streams, lakes, ponds and impoundments, as well as wetlands that affect the chemical, physical and biological integrity of larger, navigable downstream waters (79 Fed. Reg. 2,218); (77 DER A-13, 4/22/14). For full article, click here.

New bay restoration pact signed
Monday, 16 June 2014 00:00

By Timothy B. Wheeler – The Baltimore Sun – June 16, 2014

Government officials involved in the multistate Chesapeake Bay cleanup pledged Monday to broaden and accelerate the long-running effort, including a vow to address the impacts of climate change on the ailing estuary. Governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware signed a new bay restoration agreement in Annapolis, which for the first time formally encompasses "upstream" states with smaller slices of the 64,000-square-mile watershed, including New York and West Virginia. Other signatories were Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, and Ronald E. Miller, a Pennsylvania state representative and chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, which represents state lawmakers. For full blog post, click here.

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