Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

 The Department of Interior issued a sobering notice last week addressed to the Governors of the seven Colorado River Basin States.  DOI calls the Colorado River “the most important water resource in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.”  DOI wants recommendations from the Governors on what actions are appropriate to reduce risks from drought.  These corrective actions have to be adopted prior to an August 2019 deadline for decisions about operations in Lake Powell and Lake Mead in 2020.  Time literally has run out.  Unbelievably, this process started in 2007!  The Governors agreed to have their proposals ready at the end of 2018.  Guess what?  Didn’t happen.  Now DOI may have to act unilaterally “to reduce the risk of continued declines in the critical water supplies of the Colorado River Basin.”  [Picture the not-so-informed headlines in a few months: “Trump Officials Forcing States on Water Issues.”]
*  The Army Corp of Engineers is taking comments, until March 1, regarding the development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to implement the Chesapeake Bay Native Oyster Recovery Program in Virginia.  A recovery program will be implemented to achieve the goals set by the Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order, signed almost 10 years ago (May 12, 2009) by President Obama, a directive involving work by five federal agencies.  The oyster recovery program will utilize “existing information, current technologies, research and population dynamics” to identify “restoration strategies in each tributary.”
*   Heads up if you’re feeling drowsy while driving through South Dakota because SD DOT wants to “update and revise” its routes for LCVs – “Longer combination vehicles,” a tractor pulling “2 or more cargo-carrying units.”  In other words, a pretty darn big truck.  SD currently allows LCVs on 10 designated routes, Interstates and “qualifying Federal-aid Primary System highways.”  Those 10 routes total 989.2 miles.  The proposed change would add 18 more routes, covering another 731.1 miles.  LCVs are combinations longer than 81.5 feet.  Highway speed limits in the Mount Rushmore State are between 65 and 80 mph.  So don’t blink.  If one of those bad boys hits your Leaf on I-90 near Sioux Falls you’ll likely come down about 400 miles away in Spearfish.  Here’s something scary: That highway officials in Delaware or Rhode Island might give their counterparts in Pierre a call.
Tom Ewing

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