government

With congressional funding of the state revolving funds likely to continue to decline, water infrastructure groups are pushing an alternative funding mechanism -- meant to serve as a supplement to the SRFs, not a replacement -- called a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Fund.

Obama administration budget requests for fiscal 2013 for key pipeline regulatory and construction programs are working their way through congressional appropriation committees. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) would receive new funding for additional inspectors, allowing the agency to do more intensive inspections of pipeline safety.

Robert Carpenter, Editor

As last summer’s drought conditions wore on, I learned that there is a condition even worse than “extreme.” There is an “exceptional” drought category, which essentially means “pending devastation if you don’t get rain fast.” The impact of this drought, when finally broken, will be felt for years.

Stephen Barlas, Washington Editor

The One-Call and excavation damage provisions included in the new pipeline safety bill passed by Congress in December will trigger a number of state and federal responses in 2012. However, a rule allowing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to impose civil penalties on excavators -- ordered by the 2006 pipeline safety bill but never finalized -- would be even more significant. A proposed rule moving that requirement forward is expected this year, finally, perhaps as early as this winter.

Natural gas transmission companies are very unhappy with the EPA's decision to tighten industry air emission limits. A consent decree signed by the EPA requires the agency to revise both New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for the natural gas industry, including for pipelines, by the end of February. Those are two separate EPA regulatory programs.

The Birmingham Water Works Board is distancing itself from Jefferson County’s financial woes following a filing on Nov. 9 of the largest government bankruptcy in U.S. history, according to an article in The Birmingham News.

Want to create nearly 1.9 million American jobs and add $265 billion to the economy? Upgrade our water and wastewater infrastructure. That’s the message of a new report released by Green For All, in partnership with American Rivers, the Economic Policy Institute and the Pacific Institute. The Rockefeller Foundation generously provided funding for the project.

Two House committees are attempting to combine slightly different pipeline safety bills while Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is preventing a Senate vote on a bill passed by the Commerce Committee last May. All three bills are moderate, and make changes around the edges of current law, both with regard to natural gas and oil pipelines.

In a continuing effort to improve the Whistleblower Protection Program, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it is implementing additional measures to strengthen the program and is releasing an internal report detailing a recent review of the program.

Kane County, IL, has been awarded more than $2.27 million in federal disaster aid for five infrastructure projects aimed at alleviating chronic flooding. The federal funding is part of the Illinois “IKE” Disaster Recovery Program established in the wake of Hurricane Ike in Sept. 2008.

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