Environment & Weather
Loebsack: Comprehensive Plan Needed to Respond to Future Propane Shortages PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 08:42

Calls for coordination among federal and state agencies, governors

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today called on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to coordinate with relevant federal and state agencies and governors to establish an emergency response plan to address any future propane shortages like those faced in the Midwest this winter. At a hearing today entitled “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure,” Loebsack submitted testimony that calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and governors to join together to be able to quickly respond to home heating fuel shortage disasters.

“It is clear from the hodgepodge of steps taken to address the problem that no comprehensive plan exists for all parties to coordinate and to ensure that a fuel supply disaster that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Iowans never occurs again,” wrote Loebsack. “I am asking the House Energy and Commerce Committee to coordinate the development of an emergency response plan across all relevant federal agencies and state actors and governors to be able to quickly respond to home heating fuel shortage disasters similar to what the Midwest is experiencing this winter.”

The full text of Loebsack’s statement is below.

Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02)

Statement for the record

Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure

March 6, 2014

“Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman, thank you for the opportunity to submit a statement for today’s hearing on the “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure.”

“This winter, states across the Midwest have seen record high propane prices that have wreaked havoc on Iowan’s pocketbooks and quality of life. While propane prices typically average $1 to $2 per gallon, Iowans have seen this skyrocket to over $4 per gallon, and even top $5 per gallon in some instances. This is unsustainable and unacceptable for Iowa families.  The doubling and tripling of propane prices is causing thousands of Iowans to struggle to make ends meet and to keep their heat on during the extreme cold temperatures experienced this winter. In Iowa, propane is a critical fuel that heats 13 percent of Iowa homes in addition to barns that keep thousands of livestock alive during the winter months.

“Throughout the propane crises in the Midwest, Governors, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken important steps to expedite the shipments of propane to the Midwest. These steps were critical to providing relief. However, it is clear from the hodgepodge of steps taken to address the problem that no comprehensive plan exists for all parties to coordinate and to ensure that a fuel supply disaster that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of Iowans never occurs again.

“From the National Propane Gas Association’s testimony, there is extreme cause for concern over pipeline infrastructure flows, rail capacity, and exports causing supply restrictions that must be addressed. Consumers who rely on fuels like propane to provide a basic need like heating their homes should not be held victim to the profits of the oil and gas industry. This winter has additionally brought together a storm of crop drying demand and extremely cold temperatures that has contributed to diminished propane supplies. However, with the supply constraints and exports facing the industry, there is no reason a similar fuel supply disaster could not happen again. I am asking the House Energy and Commerce Committee to coordinate the development of an emergency response plan across all relevant federal agencies and state actors including U.S. DOT, FERC, DOE, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, and governors to be able to quickly respond to home heating fuel shortage disasters similar to what the Midwest is experiencing this winter.

“Thank you again for allowing me to submit my statement today, and I look forward to working with the Committee to address this critically important issue.”

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National Weather Service PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sandra Stevens   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 10:04

The Winter 2013/2014 issue of the National Weather Service Quad Cities' newsletter is now available on our website at http://www.weather.gov/quadcities/?n=additional-links#newsletter . This link also contains all past issues of our newsletter.

 

 
Gov. Quinn Announces $45 Million State Relief Package for Communities Devastated by November Tornadoes PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 09:51

Governor Secures State Resources After Denial of FEMA Funding Appeal; Aid Will Help Local Governments Recover

SPRINGFIELD – Following federal denial of urgently-needed disaster assistance, Governor Pat Quinn today announced a $45 million state relief package to help Illinois local governments recover from the deadly November tornadoes. This assistance was assembled at the Governor's direction following the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denial of the state's appeal for federal disaster assistance for local governments.

The relief package will provide much-needed aid for impacted municipalities, including Washington, Brookport, Gifford, New Minden, Diamond, Coal City and East Peoria. All local governments in the nine counties impacted by the historic tornadoes will be eligible for assistance. The counties are: Champaign, Douglas, Grundy, Massac, Tazewell, Vermilion, Washington, Wayne and Woodford.

“Our tornado-ravaged communities need help and they need it now,” Governor Quinn said. “While it's disappointing that our request for federal disaster relief was denied due to outdated rules, the state of Illinois is committed to providing assistance to communities that need it. Recovery won't happen overnight but this aid will help people rebuild their lives."

The state's multi-agency relief package for local governments includes assistance from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA).

DCEO will provide up to $19.1 million in state and federal funds to be used toward disaster recovery. These commitments include:

·            Up to $10 million in state funds to local governments to rebuild tornado-damaged infrastructure.

·            Approximately $4.5 million of the agency’s Community Development Assistance Program allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be directed toward housing repair and reconstruction for low-income residents.

·            An additional $3.6 million is expected from HUD this summer to address unmet housing needs from communities impacted by last spring’s flooding or November’s tornadoes.

·            The DCEO Office of Employment and Training will supply up to $1 million in Rapid Response funding which will provide paid work experience to individuals to assist with disaster cleanup and recovery efforts – $138,875 of these funds are already being used for this purpose in Brookport.

·            Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization funds are available to eligible recipients for a variety of storm-related issues including temporary shelter, transportation, utility reconnection, heating and air conditioning replacement, coats and blankets, insulation repair, generators, re-weatherization of damaged homes and technical assistance. The amount of funding available will depend on the number of eligible LIHEAP and weatherization households seeking assistance.

IDOT will provide up to $10 million for communities to repair storm-damaged infrastructure. IDOT continues to work with communities to identify eligible transportation infrastructure needs.

IFA, the state’s infrastructure bank, will immediately make available up to $4.5 million in below-market rate loans to finance repairs constituting capital expenditures to publicly owned and operated facilities that sustained damage in the tornadoes, not otherwise covered by insurance. Due to the legal and credit requirements of each individual project, the IFA will work through the Governor’s Response Team with individual local governments in the tornado-ravaged communities.

IEMA will provide $3.55 million to help municipalities pay for costs already incurred for items such as debris removal, emergency protective measures and overtime payments. This assistance comes from state General Revenue Funds.

IEPA will set aside up to $5.35 million in low-interest loans through the Illinois Clean Water Initiative to repair damaged water systems in impacted communities.

IHDA will provide $2.5 million in emergency rehabilitation assistance to approximately 50 low-income households affected by the severe storms. Eligible homeowners will receive up to $40,000 in assistance to pay insurance deductibles or provide home repairs. The assistance comes from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

For information on how local government can benefit from the relief package, please visit Ready.Illinois.gov.

The Governor recently addressed the National Journal’s Disaster Forum in Washington, D.C. to push for needed changes to the FEMA disaster aid criteria. The Governor is working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Illinois’ congressional delegation to pass legislation that would give FEMA a clearer, more substantive formula when evaluating natural disasters. It will modify a flawed system that places small and rural communities in highly populated states at a disadvantage in the federal disaster declaration process. The bill assigns a specific weight to each of the factors already used by FEMA and adds other economic factors for the agency to consider when determining whether or not an area should receive federal assistance.

“FEMA has gotten it wrong in Illinois not once but twice,” Senator Durbin said. “The federal government can’t be expected to help after every weather event, but the damage I saw in Central Illinois convinced me that we need to be doing more. Senator Kirk and I have a bill—introduced in the House by members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation—that would fix FEMA’s funding formulas so communities in downstate Illinois are no longer at a disadvantage when disaster strikes. I am encouraged by Governor Quinn’s commitment today to help make these communities whole again and will be working with my colleagues to advance the Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act and identify any additional federal funding opportunities.”

Shortly after the deadly storms on Nov. 17, 2013, Governor Quinn surveyed the damaged areas and activated the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the deployment of state resources and personnel in support of local response and recovery efforts. While federal assistance for local governments has been denied, just nine days after the storms the Governor successfully secured federal aid for families and businesses in 15 counties which has topped $23.5 million, including FEMA grants of more than $2.6 million and $21 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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The Papercrete Potter PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 15:11
In any given year about 55 percent of the paper created in the United States is discarded. That amounts to 48 million tons, or the equivalent of 720 million trees that are used once and then buried in a landfill. The ISU Scott County Extension & Outreach Master Gardeners have invited Lee Coates, The Papercrete Potter to teach the “Art of Papercrete.” With the simple technique you will learn in this class you will be able to turn a portion of this waste into a long lasting treasure.

Coates will teach each class how to mix the recipe and the steps to create weatherproof containers for planting, or a variety of sculptures, which could become a beautiful focal point in your garden. This is a simple, easily mastered process.

Each student will receive a mold and enough ready mixed material to build a papercrete bowl suitable for a dish garden. The bowl, mold, and a set of written directions are included in the cost of your class and will be yours to take home.

Beautiful containers, plants and items suitable for use in miniature landscapes and Fairy Gardens will be available to purchase, and there should be ample time to shop.

The event will be held on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the ISU Scott County Extension and Outreach Office, 875 Tanglefoot Lane, Bettendorf, Iowa 52722, phone number 563-359-7577. Registration ends March 20, 2014.

Four one hour classes will be offered at: 8:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:45 p.m. Please indicate your first and a second choice of class times. The cost of each class is $20.00, payable in advance at the Extension Office, or by mail sent to the Extension Office at the above address.

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Governor Quinn Calls for Overhaul of Disaster Funding Rules at National Forum PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:38

Discusses Illinois’ Disaster Response After Year of Extreme Weather

WASHINGTON – Governor Pat Quinn today delivered the keynote address at the National Journal's Natural Disaster Forum in Washington, D.C., where he discussed Illinois’ preparedness and response to several major natural disasters and called for needed changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster aid criteria. Under Governor Quinn’s leadership the state of Illinois has managed response to disasters ranging from deadly tornadoes to recent extreme winter storms. The Governor is working with U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and the congressional delegation pass legislation to improve the federal formula in the disaster assistance process and help more people rebuild their lives.

“Illinois has faced a record number of historic natural disasters in recent years,” Governor Quinn said. “Disaster assistance shouldn’t be based on an outdated formula that excludes some of our hardest-hit communities. FEMA has been a great partner in helping individuals and businesses recover, and this legislation will allow them to assist even more communities with disaster recovery.”

In the last five years, Illinois has been through 11 natural disasters, including a record drought in 2012; deadly tornadoes in 2012 and 2013; historic winter storms earlier this year; and floods, including the spring 2013 flooding in 49 counties that broke all-time records on four major river systems.

The severe winter weather in Jan. 2014 again saw the mobilization of state resources at Governor Quinn’s direction – stranded motorists were rescued, roads kept open, warming centers provided and assistance offered to keep homes and businesses heated.

Governor Quinn also directed state agencies to assist citizens, businesses and local governments when catastrophic flash floods struck Illinois in April 2013. The Governor mobilized all available state resources to aid in cleanup and recovery, including debris removal, repairs, sandbagging, evacuations, supply deliveries and a grace period to file tax returns.

State assistance was also assembled for severe storms and flooding in June and July 2011, August 2010, and July 2009; tornadoes in June 2010; and severe winter storms in March 2009 and March 2011.

A tornado outbreak on Nov. 17, 2013 killed eight people, damaged or destroyed 2,500 homes and severely impacted the towns of Brookport, Gifford, New Minden, Diamond and Washington, Ill. The state was struck by 25 confirmed tornadoes in three hours, including two EF-4 twisters, the first ever of that strength during November. Governor Quinn successfully secured federal aid to assist people and businesses in 15 counties just nine days after the tornadoes caused widespread destruction across the state. However, FEMA denied the state’s request for federal assistance to help local governments in nine impacted counties, based on the existing federal criteria.

These recent disasters highlight the need to update FEMA’s criteria for awarding federal disaster aid. Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate would bring more fairness to the federal disaster declaration process.

The Fairness in Federal Disaster Declarations Act of 2014 will give FEMA a clearer, more substantive formula when evaluating disaster areas. It will modify a flawed system that places small and rural communities in highly populated states at a disadvantage in the federal disaster declaration process. The bill assigns a specific weight to each of the factors already used by FEMA, and adds other economic factors for the agency to consider when determining whether or not an area should receive federal assistance.

Governor Quinn directed state agencies to assemble an $8.8 million aid package for the Harrisburg, Ill. area when FEMA was unable to provide aid to local governments for a Feb. 29, 2012 tornado that killed seven people. Several state of Illinois agencies provided funding and manpower to clean up, rebuild and improve storm-ravaged areas of southern Illinois as a part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to make all possible assistance available to the area. The Governor also supported and signed a new state law preventing an increase in property taxes when a person rebuilds a home that was destroyed in a disaster.

Governor Quinn has also led the charge for improved state infrastructure so Illinois’ vital transportation routes and water supplies are better equipped for what Mother Nature throws at the state. Shortly after taking office, Governor Quinn proposed, and the Illinois General Assembly passed, a $31 billion infrastructure construction program. In addition, the Illinois Tollway established a $12 billion construction program and the Governor created a $2 billion Clean Water Initiative to improve drinking and wastewater systems. Most recently the Governor announced legislation to expand the program to address flood and stormwater management issues in communities throughout Illinois.

Last year, Governor Quinn was appointed to the President’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The task force will recommend ways to strengthen the way states and the nation respond to natural disasters.

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