Federal Water Tap, April 30: Spending Bills

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations has approved the fiscal year 2013 spending bill for water and energy development. The committee allocated US$32.1 billion—US$965 million less than President Obama’s request—to the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, segments of the Interior Department and several independent agencies.

A day earlier, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee passed its own water and energy spending bill, allocating US$33.4 billion—a bit more than the President’ request—to those same agencies. The full committee approved the bill on Saturday.

Clean Water Act Enforcement
The Justice Department and the state of Tennessee have signed a consent agreement with the city of Memphis to improve its sewer management. The city will put in place a sewer overflow plan and a fats, oils, and grease reduction plan submitted in previous years to state and federal regulators. The city will also be more diligent in repairing and maintaining its sewers.

Clean Water Act Overreach?
Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican, has introduced legislation in the House that would prevent the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from applying the definition of the Clean Water Act proposed by the EPA last year.

In 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court failed to clarify exactly what the Clean Water Act means by “waters of the United States.” That ambiguity is most vexing when dealing with small streams, streams that are dry much of the year, and wetlands.

Oil Shale Comment Period Ending
The federal government is conducting a broad review of tar sands and oil shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The public comment period for the draft environmental assessment ends on May 4.

Water Quality in Urban Streams
Research from the U.S. Geological Survey shows that compounds from an insecticide commonly used on lawns and gardens are present in urban stream sediments at levels toxic to aquatic organisms. Other agency research will be presented this week in Portland, Oregon at the annual conference of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council.

Federal Water Tap is a weekly digest spotting trends in U.S. government water policy. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

Author: Brett Walton  is a Seattle-based reporter for Circle of Blue. He writes our Federal Water Tap, a weekly breakdown of U.S. policy. Interests: Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Pricing, Infrastructure.

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