Council on Environmental Quality January 30, 2015

The Executive Order signed on January 30, 2015, directs federal agencies to adopt new flood elevation standards for the siting, design, and construction of federal projects. These standards will protect federal assets and improve the Nation's resilience to current and future flood risk. They are expected to lead to financial saving over the long term by reducing federal disaster assistance spending following extreme weather events. The Executive Order gives agencies options for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area used in siting, design, and construction, allowing flexibility, while adhering to best practices. It advocates using a climate-informed science approach and the implementation of natural systems, ecosystem processes, and nature-based approaches to aid decision making. For more information, click here.

By Chris Adams – The Olympian – February 4, 2015

In a year the Republican-controlled Congress is expected to take a significant whack at President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda, GOP lawmakers on Wednesday told top environmental officials they should scrap what was once a fairly obscure proposal to define what is and isn’t considered a body of water by federal law. In an unusual joint hearing involving the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Republican majority that now controls both houses of Congress showed it is intent on trying to derail the president’s environmental agenda in his last two years in office. For full story, click here.

Star Tribune – February 3, 2015

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for 2016 seeks what it calls a $50 million "modest reduction" in a multi-year program to clean up the Great Lakes. The president's spending plan released Monday requests $250 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, down from $300 million appropriated for this year. The program focuses on the lakes' most serious long-term ecological challenges such as invasive species, toxic pollution, degraded fish and wildlife habitat and runoff from farms and cities that causes toxic algae blooms. Obama created the program after taking office in 2009. About $1.9 billion has been spent on about 2,000 projects region-wide. For full story, click here.

By Juliet Eilperin – The Washington Post – January 30, 2015

President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more frequent and intense due to climate change. The order represents a major shift for the federal government: while the Federal Emergency Management Administration published a memo three years ago saying it would take global warming into account when preparing for more severe storms, most agencies continue to rely on historic data rather than future projections for building projects. For full story, click here.


By Barbara Mahler and Jon Campbell – USGS Science Features – January 21, 2015

About 115 million people—more than one-third of the Nation’s population—rely on groundwater for drinking water. As the Nation’s population grows, the need for high-quality drinking-water supplies becomes even more urgent. “Through the WaterSMART initiative and the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, the Department of Interior is working to secure sustainable water supplies of sufficient quantity and quality and to identify measures needed to address climate change and future demands,” said Jennifer Gimbel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The integrated work that USGS is doing to map groundwater availability, groundwater quality, and the potential for contamination will give us the information we need to understand natural and human effects on groundwater and to take the actions needed to protect this vital natural resource.”  For full blog post, click here.