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Federal Water Tap, November 9: Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

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The Rundown

The biggest symbol of the climate change fight in North America is denied a permit. The EPA publishes its first national report on wetland health. The Senate votes against Clean Water rule. Mexico and the United States sign a water deal. The EPA’s internal watchdog is expanding an investigation of the Gold King mine spill. Permitting decisions for two Colorado dam projects are delayed. Salton Sea wetlands restoration begins. Power plant water pollution rules go into effect in January.

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face — not acting.” — President Barack Obama speaking about why he rejected a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

By the Numbers

$US 314 million: Grants and loans to rural communities for water and wastewater infrastructure. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

$US 30 million: Funding in fiscal year 2016 to reduce agricultural water pollution in the Mississippi River Basin (Natural Resources Conservation Service)

$US 4 million: Funding for four research institutes or universities to study how drought affects water quality. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Reports and Studies

National Wetlands Report
Forty-eight percent of the wetlands in the United States are in “good” condition, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first national report on the health of the country’s wetlands.

Wetlands in the West — one of four regions that were assessed — are in the worst condition, with only 21 percent rated as “good.” Researchers evaluated biological, chemical, and physical stresses for wetlands in 1,179 sites. They found that biggest stressors nationally were the removal of vegetation and the hardening of nearby surfaces, such as paving or compacting the land.

Wildfire and Watersheds
Soil erosion may double by 2050 in one-quarter of the watersheds in the American West because of an increase in forest fires, according to U.S. Geological Survey research. Too much sediment in rivers harms fish, clogs reservoirs, and can muck up drinking water supplies. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, in Baltimore.

News Briefs

Obama Rejects Keystone XL
Arguing that, for various reasons, another pipeline from Canada’s tar sands was not in the national interest, President Obama denied a permit for the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Gas prices are already low, Obama said, and other investments would provide more jobs. Above all, he argued, the United States must take the lead in a global response to climate change and approving another conduit for one of the dirtiest sources of fossil fuel would not set a good example.

“America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change,” Obama said. “And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face — not acting.”

Senate Votes Against Clean Water Rule
After failing to pass a bill that would roll back the Obama administration’s new rule that defines the scope of the Clean Water Act, the Senate approved a resolution with the same goal. The White House said it would veto the measure.

U.S. and Mexico Sign Water Deal
The commission that administers water treaties between Mexico and the United States signed an agreement to address sediment and trash in the Tijuana River Basin, which spans the border. Called Minute 320, the agreement establishes a binational advisory group that will recommend measures to improve water quality in the basin.

President Obama Submits Ecosystem Restoration Policy
Certain federal agencies must strengthen policies to avoid and minimize environmental damage from development projects or compensate for the loss of natural habitat, according to a policy memorandum from President Obama.

The policy applies to the Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

EPA Fracking Report
Members of the EPA’s science advisory committee are questioning how the agency worded its June 2015 report on fracking and drinking water, according to EnergyWire.

The report stated that fracking had no “widespread, systemic” consequences for drinking water supplies.

“There’s agreement the sentence needs to be modified,” David Dzombak, a Carnegie Mellon University professor chairing the EPA scientific advisory panel that is peer reviewing the report, told EnergyWire. “The sentence is ambiguous and requires clarification.”

Salton Sea Restoration
Local, state, and federal agencies broke ground on a wetlands restoration project for the Salton Sea, a looming environmental and health disaster near Palm Springs, California. The inland sea, really a lake fed by salty farm drainage, is shrinking and exposing toxic dust to the wind.

Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) lauded the project in a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Imagine a Salton Sea that hosts the largest renewable energy industrial park in the Nation, creating jobs in southern California, while preserving wildlife habitat and preventing the noxious dust our children may breathe. Imagine a Salton Sea that, once again, attracts
tourists from throughout the globe,” Ruiz said.

On the Radar

Power Plant Water Pollution Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published in the Federal Register its new standards for reducing the discharge into waterbodies of arsenic, selenium, mercury, and other pollutants from power plants. Publication in the Federal Register begins the 60-day countdown until the rule goes into effect, on January 4, 2016.

Colorado Dams
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is delaying a final decision on whether to issue Clean Water Act permits for two reservoir projects in Colorado. Both the Moffat Collection System and the Windy Gap Firming Project will divert water from the Colorado River Basin across the Continental Divide to cities on the Front Range. The permit decisions will be made in 2016.

Gold King Mine Investigation
The EPA’s Office of the Inspector General will broaden its investigation of the wastewater spill that happened August 5 at Gold King mine in southwestern Colorado. The letter addressed to officials in EPA Region 8 lists 14 areas of inquiry, including the expertise of the contractors working at the mine, legal requirements for notifying downstream parties of a toxic spill, and whether delays in notification resulted in any health problems.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

The post Federal Water Tap, November 9: Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News

The Stream, November 9: Poverty Will Increase If Climate Change Not Addressed, World Bank Says

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The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Climate change will push millions more people into poverty by 2030 if action is not taken to curb it, a report by the World Bank found. In a largely symbolic move, the United States denied approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Rising sea levels are pushing port cities in Europe to rethink how they coexist with water. A new drought atlas tracks Europe’s climate over the past 2,000 years. Brazil is still trying to determine what caused a dam at an iron ore mine to burst, flooding nearby towns.

“Fighting water is a war you never win.”–Henk Ovink, Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Netherlands, on efforts by two of the largest port cities in Europe — Rotterdam and Hamburg — to protect against rising sea levels and floods. (Yale Environment 360)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

100 million people Additional number, globally, at risk of entering poverty by 2030 if extreme weather and climate change are not addressed, according to the World Bank. Reuters

100 kilometers Distance floodwater and mud traveled from the site of a burst dam at a mine in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state. As a result of the incident, the world’s second largest producer of iron ore pellets is suspending production. Reuters; Bloomberg


Science, Studies, And Reports

A new drought atlas uses tree ring data to provide information about wet and dry periods across Europe over the past 2,000 years. Researchers hope the atlas will provide clues to long-term climate patterns in the region and help predict future climate scenarios. The Earth Institute

On the Radar

On The Radar

U.S. President Barack Obama Friday denied approval for the Keystone XL pipeline that would have carried crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The refusal to approve the pipeline, long opposed by environmentalists on concerns about both water contamination and climate emissions, was largely symbolic of the new position the United States wants to stake out before global climate change negotiations this December, according to analysts. Guardian

The post The Stream, November 9: Poverty Will Increase If Climate Change Not Addressed, World Bank Says appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News

What can trees tell us about climate change?

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Christian Science Monitor: Trees don’t just provide the paper for history books. They actually write the historical records themselves.
Tree-rings, new layers of wood added to a growing tree each year, record climatic data annually throughout a tree’s life. Ancient trees provide a record of drought, rainfall, and other climatic variations. And that record could help scientists better understand current and future climate trends.
Dendrochronologist Edward R. Cook and his team at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of…
Source: Waterconserve News

Source: Water Industry News

Canada: Pipedream nightmares and oilfield battles

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Business Vancouver: This was not a good week for oil companies, and it was particularly bad for Canadian pipeline companies and Alberta’s oil sector.
On Thursday, it was reported that New York’s attorney general had begun investigating Exxon Mobil over concerns it misled investors about the risk climate change posed to its business, and on Friday, President Barack Obama officially announced he would kill the TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.
The pipeline “would not serve the interests of the United States,”…
Source: Waterconserve News

Source: Water Industry News