By Josephine Marcotty – StarTribune – June 6, 2015

Starting as soon as this fall, America’s heartland could begin to look strikingly different to a monarch butterfly fluttering south for the winter. Oceans of corn would be dotted with islands of native plants. Homeowners would have fewer lawns — and a lot less mowing. Roadsides would grow thick with grasses and flowers. And more than a billion unruly milkweed plants would pop up along a 200-mile-wide corridor along I-35 from Duluth to Texas. That’s the ambitious vision buried in a national pollinator plan released recently by the White House — an epic attempt to save the gaudy symbol of the prairie from its steady slide toward the Endangered Species list. The key is milkweed, the one and only food source for monarch caterpillars, which has all but disappeared from Midwestern landscapes, thanks largely to GMO crops and the widespread use of Roundup. For full story, click here.

By Ken Ward  – WV Gazette – June 4, 2015

A five-year investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the boom in natural gas drilling and production has identified potentially serious threats to drinking water supplies, but provides no new detailed data that would help to quantify the scope of any contamination that has occurred across the country. EPA media officials promoted the study as finding that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systematic impacts” to drinking water. But the actual conclusion of the agency’s 998-page report contained a subtle, but important, difference: It said EPA “did not find evidence” of widespread or systematic impacts. And authors of the EPA study made clear that they lacked enough data to draw strong conclusions about the extent of any damage. For full story, click here.

NOAA – May 19, 2015

Two new NOAA grant programs will help coastal communities and their managers create on-the-ground projects to make them more resilient to the effects of extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions. This builds on NOAA’s commitment to provide information, tools, and services to help coastal communities reduce risk and plan for future severe events. NOAA’s National Ocean Service is supporting the effort with $5 million in competitive grant awards through the 2015 Regional Coastal Resilience Grant Program and NOAA Fisheries is administering the companion $4 million Coastal Ecosystem Resiliency Grants Program. For full story, click here. Proposals due by July 24, 2015.

By Jessica Wehrman – The Columbus Dispatch – June 1, 2015

The same technology that allows you to consult your phone to figure out when a big storm is moving in could soon help you decide the best places to fish and swim. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is using satellite technology for an app it’s developing that’s aimed at helping both water-quality managers and, eventually, the public, determine the level of toxic algae in their water sources. For full story, click here.

By Annie Snider – E&E Publishing, LLC – May 28, 2015

California’s drought has produced a plot twist too singular even for Chinatown: farmers volunteering to give up a quarter of their water. Scores of farmers in the delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers made the unprecedented offer on Friday in a deal to stave off even steeper mandatory cuts. For the first time since passage of the Clean Water Act, U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are conceding that some wetlands and ponds are too remote from the tributary system to warrant federal protection. The geographic limits set in the Obama administration's final "Waters of the U.S." rule unveiled yesterday represent a compromise aimed at offering more clarity to developers, energy companies and other entities regulated under the 1972 law, while still protecting streams and wetlands that have an important effect on larger downstream waters. "If you're outside of those boundaries, there is no way to bring a water into the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act," Ken Kopocis, the top official in EPA's water office, said in an interview. "We do think it's a pretty big deal; we think that it was highly responsive to the comments that we received." Lawyers and policy experts who have worked on Clean Water Act issues for years say this is a major milestone. For full story, click here.