government

Congress set up a new federal financing authority for water infrastructure construction.

A federal court decision allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move forward with a rule limiting mercury emissions from power plants has heightened concerns in some quarters about interstate pipeline infrastructure inadequacy.

A flurry of new water infrastructure funding bills has made an appearance of Capitol Hill.

Starting Jan. 1, residents of Colorado are allowed to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and visitor are limited to a quarter of an ounce.

Two separate challenges have been made to the FERC's Order 787 issued last November. It allowed interstate pipelines and electric utilities to share non-public, operational information with each other for the purpose of promoting reliable service or operational planning on either the public utility or pipeline system.

According to a news item in The Associated Press, the Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take a middle-ground approach on a water dispute between Texas and New Mexico over management of the Rio Grande.

Last November, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with Representatives Richard Hanna (R-PA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), John Duncan (R-TN), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Jim Moran (D-VA), and Thomas Petri (R-WI) introduced bipartisan legislation, The Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund Act of 2013 (H.R. 3582), to establish a voluntary federal trust fund for investments in clean water infrastructure. Under the proposal, the makers of water-based beverages and flushable products could opt to put a clean water logo on their products in exchange for a 3-cent fee.

The federal pipeline safety agency is opening up a new front in its efforts to improve gas and oil pipeline safety. The Integrity Verification Process (IVP) previewed this summer by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) would be an "add-on," and a very costly one at that, to the existing Integrity Management (IM) program which obligates pipelines to test segments in "high consequence areas (HCAs)." There are 18,000 miles of pipeline in HCAs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched Public Sector Safety and Health Fundamentals, a new certificate program that provides public sector employees training on occupational safety and health to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities among workers in state and local governments.

The withdrawal of the White House nominee for the FERC chairmanship reflects the intensity of the political wars between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, the heavy-handed Obama administration and miscues by Binz, a former Colorado Public Utility Commission Chairman.

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