Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* Last December the Army Corp of Engineers published a draft rule that would update and formalize how water supplies are controlled and managed at Army Corps reservoir systems, formalizing a somewhat uneven regulatory process for the last 60 years or so. On the front lines: cities, potable water, commerce, energy production, wildlife, navigation and recreation from the Dakotas to Georgia, Tennessee and Texas. Oh, and fracking just might be involved. Last week the Corp announced the comment period would be extended to May. This will likely impact related state and municipal water issues, e.g., in the Klamath River basin in Oregon and California.

* The Department of Agriculture proposed updates to regulations regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered organisms, making it easier for “regulated entities whose organisms pose no plant pest or noxious weed risks.” Comments were due in May, but that has been extended for 30 days. The use of GMOs in energy crops was a big topic for DOE for many years, in association with Agriculture. It will be interesting to see how that research might shift in the next six to eight months.

* In its 2017 biennial report to the legislature Oregon’s Global Warming Commission has an important “key takeaway:” the majority of the increase (60%) in greenhouse gas emissions “came from the transportation sector, specifically the use of gasoline and diesel.” The GWC references “likely transportation legislation including a gas tax increase,” increased transit service levels, and “wider deployment of Electric Vehicles (EV’s) reliant on a clean electrical grid.” A related, possible 2017 legislative topic is establishing a carbon market, like California’s. So far, no moves on that front.

Tom Ewing