Friday, October 2, 2015

What We Learned This Week - "Southern Comfort"

A large toxic blue-green algal bloom on the Ohio River persisted, prompting event cancellations, and a health warning from the state of Illinois. There were pointed accusations and rebuttals during a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Waters of the U.S. rule. The U.S. EPA finalized a rule revision that governs toxic metal wastewater discharges from Steam Electric Power Generating plants. That rule may move some coal-fired power plant operators to close their ash disposal and storage ponds. Minnesota released updated watershed health report cards for each of the state's major watersheds. Missouri proposed its 2016 list of impaired surface waters, while Kentucky is years overdue on coming up with a plan to deal with its polluted waters. A District Court ruling on the U.S. EPA's livestock data rule marked a defeat for environmental groups' information transparency aspirations. A U.S. House subcommittee reviewed research innovations by the nation's agricultural colleges and universities - and coincidentally - the University of Kentucky began constructing a new stall-less barn designed to maximize cow comfort. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved to protect several Mississippi River Basin species, including the massasauga rattlesnake, and the Dakota skipper and Poweshiek skipperling butterflies. The agency also officially announced that the greater sage grouse will not be called "endangered" or "threatened." Speaking of endangered, Memphis,Tennessee's mayor, A C Wharton, heads into next Thursday's election as perhaps the "most endangered" incumbent big city mayor in the country. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican stopgap state budget and called on Republican leaders to get serious. Land-side U.S. oil production sites spilled 716,844 barrels of oil, produced water and other material in at least 9,728 incidents in 2014. The popular Land and Water Conservation Fund wasn't popular enough to reauthorize. Wisconsin residents found out that they don't need to remove concrete deer from their yards after all. And last but not least, it's "Zombie Preparedness Month" in Kansas.

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