A month after Scott Pruitt began leading the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the former Oklahoma attorney general rejected an Obama-era recommendation from agency scientists to ban a widely used pesticide from use on food crops. That means farmers can continue to spray chlorpyrifos on crops ranging from corn to cranberries. The change was welcomed by farm groups and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which said farmers need access to the chemical to stop infestations. But environmentalists, who had been working for years to get the Obama administration to crack down on the pesticide, were outraged. And officials in several states — all led by Democrats — now say that if the federal government won’t force the pesticide off their lands, they will. Seven states have sued the EPA over Pruitt’s decision. In at least four states, legislators have filed bills to ban the product.
An emerging trend is focused on the origin of animals offered to the public by pet stores. Lawmakers in four states (Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island) have introduced legislation that would prohibit pet stores from offering animals that do not come from an animal shelter, humane society, or other type of rescue organization. Going a step further, the Oregon bill would require a pet store to maintain records on where each animal was obtained for no less than one year, and to publicly post this information on the animal’s enclosure. Regarding crimes of animal abuse and cruelty, three states (Illinois, Maryland, and Mississippi) have seen bills introduced on animal-abuse registries aiming to strengthen criminal penalties for these kinds of offenses. And lawmakers in four states (Hawaii, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia) have introduced bills that would prohibit animals from being tethered or chained outside in different types of inclement weather.
Minnesota lawmakers are considering bipartisan legislation that would criminalize taking an untrained service animal out in public. Separate measures in the state House and Senate would make it a petty misdemeanor, punishable with a $100 fine, to pass off a pet as a trained assistance animal. Subsequent infractions would be considered misdemeanors under the bills. A growing number of states are cracking down on passing off pets as trained service animals. And high-profile incidents have brought public attention to the issue.
The Maryland General Assemblywill evaluate two very different proposals for the future of energy and climate policy in our state. One, The 100% Clean Renewable Energy and Equity Act, will fundamentally change the trajectory for wind and solar development, strengthen our economy and build a solid pathway to using only clean renewable electricity by 2035. The other, The Clean Energy and Jobs Act (CEJA), will accelerate the current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mechanisms to reach a target of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
The former co-president of The League of Women Voters of Kansas says a state law requiring prospective voters to prove they are U.S. citizens devastated the organization’s registration efforts. Margaret Ahrens of Topeka testified in the second day of a lawsuit over whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has the authority to implement the law’s requirements. She said the League stopped taking voter registrations immediately after the law took effect in 2013 because it didn’t want liability for handling voters’ personal information, such as birth certificates and passports. Registrations resumed before the 2014 elections but Ahrens says workers have encountered thousands of people who couldn’t vote because of the law’s requirements.
Canada's National Energy Board has approved Hydro-Quebec's application to construct an international transmission line to New Hampshire as part of the disputed Northern Pass transmission project. In January, Massachusetts selected Northern Pass to help the state meet its clean energy goals, but the project was rejected unanimously by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee the following month. Massachusetts has since indicated that it will select Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line to replace Northern Pass if it doesn't secure a permit from New Hampshire in the next three weeks. Both projects involve partnerships with Hydro-Quebec to deliver clean energy from Canada to the U.S.
Perdue Foods and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) have reached an agreement in which Perdue will pay an administrative penalty of $77,300 and an associated $7,601 assessment for expenses associated with the DNREC’s investigation into the company’s violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
A tax credit that’s helped motivate many fiscally conscious Iowa farmers to install solar panels would see an early demise under a sweeping tax reform bill that cleared a major legislative hurdle. Iowa is the only state in the Midwest and one of just a dozen nationally that still offers a state solar tax credit. The Iowa Legislature created the 15 percent tax credit in 2012. Since then it’s provided a total of $21.6 million in incentives for nearly 4,000 projects.
Washington became the first state to pass a law making it illegal for internet service providers to manipulate their networks for money. Dozens of other states are considering similar measures through legislation and lawsuits. Governors in Montana, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and Vermont have all signed executive orders on the issue. There's just one problem: The new rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission in December, in a 3-2 vote along party lines, pre-empt states from making their own net neutrality laws. The FCC's new rules will officially go into effect on April 23, according to a notice published last month in the Federal Register. Washington's law, which had bipartisan support, doesn't take effect until June 6. Experts expect it could face legal challenges. "This is symbolic politics, because the states know it is illegal to do," Roslyn Layton, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told NBC News. "But they can put rules on the book and make it look like they're doing something."
Sid Miller maintained about 56 percent of the vote in a three-way race to lead a department whose wide-ranging responsibilities include inspecting lottery balls and running the federal school lunch program.