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SARL Members and Alumni News

Oregon Legislature approves environmental 'rollback' bill

Capital Press | Posted on May 16, 2019

Critics and proponents agree that recently passed legislation intended to shield Oregon from federal “rollbacks” of environmental regulations is meant to send a message. While supporters claim House Bill 2250 signifies the state government’s stand against weakening protections for air, soil and water at the federal level, opponents argue it amounts to an expensive but empty political stunt.The bill was approved by the Senate 16-12 on May 14 after passing the House two months earlier. It’s all but assured of being signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, who requested the legislation's introduction.Under House Bill 2250, the Oregon Health Authority and Department of Environmental Quality can take or recommend actions to ensure “significantly less protective” federal environmental standards don’t undermine protections at the state level.

Thousands of dollars earmarked for land conservation in Saskatchewan

620 CKRM | Posted on May 16, 2019

More than $660,000 has been earmarked for land conservation agreements with Saskatchewan beef producers.The Saskatchewan Stock Growers and the South of the Divide Conservation Action Program have received funding support from Ottawa and the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.Stock Growers manager Chad MacPherson says the funds will go to producers who participate in land conservation and species-at-risk protection.He says two grazing corporations, the Val Marie Grazing corporation and the Beaver Valley Grazing Corporation are involved with the Stock Growers for land conservation and protection of species-at-risk.

Brewer’s eminent-domain bill sent to governor

The North Platte Telegraph | Posted on May 16, 2019

Property owners would win the right to challenge land seizures for renewable energy projects in court with the Legislature’s unanimous passage Monday of state Sen. Tom Brewer’s 2019 priority bill. Lawmakers also would assert their authority to protect the Sandhills and other environmentally sensitive areas under Legislative Bill 155, which won 44-0 final approval.The measure, which now goes to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature, had been one of two Brewer-introduced bills pitting renewable-energy advocates against Sandhills residents fearful of lasting damage from planting heavy wind turbines in their fragile topsoil.

Florida, DeSantis’ first veto allows local governments to keep banning plastic straws

Miami Herald | Posted on May 16, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis flexed his veto power for the first time Friday night, declining to sign an environmental bill that would have prohibited local governments from banning plastic straws for the next five years. In his veto letter to Secretary of State Laurel Lee, he said municipalities that prohibit plastic straws have not “frustrated any state policy” or “harmed the state’s interest.”Under the bill, a study of “each ordinance or regulation adopted” by local governments related to single-use plastic straws would have to be conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection and then submitted to Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and House Speaker José Oliva, R-Miami Lakes.

States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules

The Hill | Posted on May 16, 2019

States are preparing to fight back as the Trump administration moves to erase Obama-era standards for lightbulbs. The Department of Energy has proposed new regulations for lightbulbs that would eliminate efficiency standards for half the bulbs on the market.The move has prompted a backlash from a bipartisan mix of state attorneys general and governors who say it is harmful to the planet and may be illegal.Washington and Colorado passed bills this month designed to backstop the Obama-era standards if the Energy Department proceeds to roll them back, and half a dozen other states are considering similar legislation. Vermont passed such a law as soon as President Trump was elected.

Michigan Gretchen Whitmer signs bills to limit asset forfeiture in drug cases

Detroit Free Press | Posted on May 16, 2019

Law enforcement will be unable to permanently take ownership of cash and other property seized in drug cases unless certain conditions are met under legislation signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. She enacted the bipartisan bills Thursday at a ceremony in the Capitol building with lawmakers, the state attorney general and others.The laws target civil asset forfeiture, a practice that critics say has been abused to fund police activities.Starting in 90 days, the laws will prohibit assets taken in suspected drug crimes from being forfeited unless the defendant is convicted or the value of the money and property is more than $50,000, excluding the value of contraband.

Wisconsin state officials wipe out deer on Portage County farm

WEAU | Posted on May 16, 2019

Wisconsin agriculture officials say they've killed all the deer on a Portage County deer farm after a buck from the facility tested positive for chronic wasting disease. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced Friday that all 30 deer on the Grand View Whitetails LLC breeding farm were killed May 1. Six of them tested positive for CWD.Authorities announced in November that a 3-year-old buck from the breeding farm that was killed on the Deep Woods Hunt Ranch in Portage County had CWD. The discovery led to quarantines on both the farm and the ranch.

Inslee nixes river gravel removal; farmer 'livid'

Capital Press | Posted on May 16, 2019

 A proposal to protect eroding farmland in southwest Washington by taking gravel from the Lower Satsop River in Grays Harbor County was vetoed May 8 by Gov. Jay Inslee. In a veto message, Inslee said the sediment-removal project did not belong in a bill intended to supply orcas with more salmon. Inslee deleted the pilot project, along with ones in Snohomish and Whatcom counties, before signing the rest of the bill.Terry Willis, who has been losing land as gravel builds up and diverts the Satsop River, was on a tractor planting corn when she learned about the veto.“I’m livid about this,” she said. “Dumping our soil on top of fish is not the answer to saving salmon.”The pilot projects were intended to test whether removing gravel to save farms could also help fish by creating cooler pools of water and keeping shade trees from being ripped downriver. Numerous resource agencies would have been involved in planning and approving the work.


Pennsylvania Senate passes a series of bills aimed at bolstering farm economy

Penn Live | Posted on May 16, 2019

In a year where state officials are paying increased attention to a depressed farm economy, the Pennsylvania Senate gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a set of bills they hope can help. Different planks of the package will:Make clear that farmers who have sold off development rights for their properties are permitted to use a portion of their preserved farms for “agri-tainment” activities like mazes, hayrides, petting zoos and the like.Establishes a blue-ribbon panel to take a year-long look at factors hurting and future opportunities for the Pennsylvania dairy industry, with recommendations for further state policy initiatives to follow.Create a new personal income tax credit to farmers who sell or lease their land to new farmers, offering an additional incentive for retiring farmers to keep their farms in agricultural production instead of selling for real estate development.Permit farm families who rent out barns for wedding receptions or other events to not have to comply with safety code requirements that typically apply to public accommodations.Permits milk haulers to get exemptions from weather-related commercial vehicle travel bans. This bill is a recognition of the limited time farmers have to get their raw milk to dairy plants for processing. (A similar bill to this one also passed in the state House.)


In Trump vs. California, the state is winning nearly all its environmental cases

Los Angeles Times | Posted on May 9, 2019

More than two years into the Trump presidency, California has embraced its role as chief antagonist — already suing the administration more times than Texas took President Obama to court during eight years in office.It’s having an effect.California’s lawsuits have targeted the administration’s policies on immigration, healthcare and education. But nowhere has the legal battle had a greater impact than on Trump’s agenda of dismantling Obama-era environmental and public health regulations.In its rush to delay, repeal and rewrite rules it considers unduly burdensome to industry, the administration has experienced significant setbacks in court. Federal judges have sided with California and environmental groups in cases concerning air pollution, pesticides and the royalties that the government receives from companies that extract oil, gas and coal from public land.