Environment & Weather
$868,000 Grant to Clinton, Iowa, for Sewer Improvements PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kris Lancaster   
Thursday, 10 February 2011 15:39

(Kansas City, Kan., February 8, 2011) – EPA has awarded $868,000 to the City of Clinton, Iowa, for improvements to its wastewater system. The construction project is expected to be completed by the spring of 2012.

EPA Region 7 Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said, “This is an investment in environmental protection and infrastructure that will provide long-term economic and health benefits. This grant will partially fund the construction project which is estimated to cost $3.9 million.”

The construction improvements include a lift station and 17,200 feet of new sewer pipe to convey wastewater from the nearby City of Low Moor, Iowa, to the new wastewater treatment plant. This project will improve water quality which will protect community health.

EPA is working with community leaders and the public to meet the growing needs and demands of limited water resources. EPA remains committed to developing innovative and sustainable solutions for managing and financing infrastructure with public and private partners.

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Governor Quinn Ensures State Preparedness for Winter Storm PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Andrew Mason   
Monday, 31 January 2011 16:45

Governor Issues State Disaster Declaration Ahead of Storm

SPRINGFIELD – January 31, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that state agencies are working together to prepare for a large winter storm expected to hit the Midwest region starting today. Governor Quinn also issued a disaster declaration for the entire state in advance of the heavy snow, ice and blizzard conditions that are expected over the next few days.

“The entire Midwest region of the country is expected to be hit with a serious winter storm over the next few days, and it is important that we are prepared so that Illinois residents are safe and warm in the days ahead,” said Governor Quinn. “We will be increasing efforts to make sure that our roads are clear and that our most vulnerable residents are staying indoors and staying warm.”

Governor Quinn activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield this afternoon to coordinate the state’s response to the storm. Representatives from more than a dozen state agencies will man the SEOC 24 hours a day throughout the storm.

“We’re working closely with local emergency management officials throughout the state to monitor conditions and be ready to provide whatever assistance they may need,” said Joe Klinger, interim director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “But it’s also important that people prepare themselves for this storm by stocking their homes with food, water, flashlights, radios and other necessities.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois State Police are encouraging drivers to use extra caution on roads and will be increasing efforts to keep motorists safe as driving conditions across the state become hazardous. Motorists can check the condition of Interstates by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368); or by visiting www.gettingaroundillinois.com and clicking on “Winter Road Conditions.”

The Illinois Department of Aging (IDoA) is taking steps to ensure the safety of senior citizens throughout Illinois. The department has notified providers that they should check on older adults to make sure they have food, water and medication in the event that the storm causes power outages. The IDoA also alerted provider agencies that have generators to make sure that they have fuel on-hand to run them.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will provide alternate sites for clients if their regular local office is inaccessible. The department also encourages Illinoisans to take advantage of more than 120 state facilities that serve as warming centers. For a list of participating centers, please visit www.keepwarm.illinois.gov. For information on facility closures, people should call ahead to their local offices for a pre- recorded instructional message. Patient facilities will continue operations throughout the storm.

For additional information about winter storm preparedness measures and important updates throughout the storm, visit the Ready Illinois Web site at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

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Winter Storm Tips PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Missy Lundberg   
Monday, 31 January 2011 15:21

As the winter storm heads our way I thought these tips might help you beef up any storm preparation stories you are working on.  Email me back if you have any questions.

 

Be Safe!

Missy Lundberg

State Farm Insurance

 http://learningcenter.

What to have in your vehicle

In addition to the just-in-case items you should always have in your vehicle, such as jumper cables, tire-changing tools, flashlight and a first-aid kit, be sure to carry these winter essentials:

·       Cell phone and charger

·       Blankets

·       High-calorie, non-perishable food

·       Extra clothing (wool socks, gloves, hats)

·       Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water

·       Road salt or cat litter to help with traction

·       Camping shovel Ice scraper and brush

·       Tow rope

·       Brightly colored flag or cloth to tie to your antenna

If you are stranded

If a winter storm strands you with your vehicle, stay calm and follow these tips:

·       Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and hang a distress flag from an antenna or window.

·       If you have a phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.

·       Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.

·       Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

·       Exercise a little to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion and sweating.

·       Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

·       Don’t waste your vehicle’s battery power. Balance electrical energy needs— lights, heat and radio—with supply.

·       At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

 
New EPA Dust Rules Still in Play PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 31 January 2011 15:04

Friday, January 28, 2011

Grassley: Proposed Dust Rules Would Cause Significant Harm to Rural America

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to make a good faith effort to review industry comments, studies, and economic analysis on the impact of proposed rules on dust.  Grassley this week sent a letter to administrator Lisa Jackson expressing his concern that excessive dust control measures would slow economic development and impose significant costs on family agriculturalists.

Grassley said that President Barack Obama’s recent directive for each agency to review its rules and regulations with an eye toward economic harm should help bring to light the detrimental impact these rules could have on the rural economy.  Instead, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Environmental Protection Agency stated “that it was ‘confident’ it wouldn’t need to alter a single current or pending rule.”

“The EPA’s attitude toward the President’s directive is unfortunate.  Once again, the agency seems completely oblivious to the huge impact the rules and regulations it releases have on the general public and agriculture in particular,” Grassley said.  “It defies common sense that the EPA would regulate that a farmer must keep the dust from his combine between his fence rows.”

The EPA currently is considering approval of the Second Draft Policy Assessment for Particulate Matter (released on July 8, 2010).   If approved, the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in the nation’s history would be placed on rural America.  The current levels of 150ug/m3 would be revised down to 65-85 ug/m3.

Here’s a copy of the text of the letter Grassley sent to Jackson.

January 25, 2011

The Honorable Lisa Jackson

Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20460

 

Dear Administrator Jackson,

On January 18, 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order which required federal agencies to review all regulations, taking into account the costs and excessive burdens they might impede on businesses.  A Wall Street Journal editorial reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), less than a week after the President signed this Order, stated “that it was ‘confident’ it wouldn’t need to alter a single current or pending rule.”

Last July, I and twenty of my colleagues wrote to you with our continued concerns regarding EPA’s actions in its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as required every five years under the Clean Air Act.  I would like to stress again that if approved, the Second Draft Policy Assessment (PA) for Particulate Matter (PM) released on July 8, 2010 would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history revising current levels of 150ug/m3 down to 65-85 ug/m3.  Our letter encouraged EPA to consider maintaining the primary and secondary standards, or in the alternative, consider different PM indicators.  We also asked that the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee focus attention on EPA’s choice to not adopt a PM10-2.5 standard.

As I have continually advocated over the years, lowering these PM standards could have devastating and burdensome effects on farmers and ranchers across the United States. Excessive dust control measures could be imposed on agricultural operations which would only slow economic development and impose significant costs on our nation’s family agriculturalists.

I recognize the release of the final Policy Assessment has been delayed, but may be released at any time, but I am not aware if EPA also intends to delay release of the proposed rule, release of which was originally planned for February 2011.

I am concerned that EPA has pre-judged its review of existing and pending rules.  The President has now required that cost considerations on businesses, including farmers and ranchers, be taken into account.  I strongly encourage EPA in good faith to review industry comments, studies, and economic analysis as they become available on this critical issue.

Thank you for consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Chuck Grassley

 -30-

 
Secretary Vilsack Announces a General Signup Period for the Conservation Reserve Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Communications Office   
Monday, 31 January 2011 14:07
Announcement at Pheasant Fest Marks 25th Anniversary of CRP, Opens New Conservation Opportunities to Landowners 

OMAHA, Jan. 28, 2011 — Speaking today at National Pheasant Fest 2011, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the next general signup for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will begin on March 14, 2011, and continue through April 15, 2011. This is the second consecutive year that USDA has offered a general CRP signup.

"Over the past 25 years, support for CRP has grown thanks to strong backing from farmers, ranchers, conservationists, hunters, fishermen and other outdoor sports enthusiasts," said Vilsack. "Not only has CRP contributed to the national effort to improve water and air quality, it has preserved habitat for wildlife, and prevented soil erosion by protecting the most sensitive areas including those prone to flash flooding and runoff. Today's announcement continues the Obama Administration's effort to conserve sensitive areas and improve wildlife habitat."

Through CRP, eligible landowners receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource conserving covers on eligible farmland. Land can be enrolled for a period of up to 15 years. During the general signup period, farmers and ranchers may offer eligible land at their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. Land currently not enrolled in CRP may be offered in this signup provided all eligibility requirements are met. Additionally, current CRP participants with contracts expiring this fall may make new contract offers. Contracts awarded under this signup are scheduled to become effective Oct. 1, 2011. The general sign-up for CRP will not affect cropped acres for this growing season. Acres will be enrolled in the program in the fall.

To help ensure that interested farmers and ranchers are aware of the signup period, USDA has signed partnership agreements with several conservation and wildlife organizations that will play an active role in USDA's 2011 CRP outreach efforts. They include; Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, National Association of State Foresters, Playa Lakes Joint Venture (Lesser Prairie Chicken/Sage Grouse), and the Longleaf Incorporated Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

The FSA implements CRP on behalf of Commodity Credit Corporation. FSA will evaluate and rank eligible CRP offers using an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI) that shows the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and cost. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.

In addition to the general sign-up, CRP's continuous sign-up program will be ongoing. Continuous acres represent the most environmentally desirable and sensitive land. For more information, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

CRP protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard the Nation's natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country. Through the 2008 Farm Bill, CRP is authorized for a maximum enrollment of 32 million acres. USDA estimates that contracts on 3.3 million to 6.5 million acres are scheduled to expire annually between now and 2014.

 
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