Federal Water Tap, June 2: Obama Announces Carbon Limits for Existing Power Plants

Seeking to make good on a promise to address the causes of global warming, the Obama administration took a first-ever step to limiting carbon emissions from power plants that are already operating. But it is a step, not a leap.

The proposed rule seeks to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030 against a 2005 baseline. Because of the natural gas boom, power plants are spitting out 15 percent less carbon today than a decade ago, so the cut is only 17 percent from current levels.

Send comments on the rule to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov with docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line.

Klamath River
A water-sharing agreement between tribes, ranchers, and farmers in the contested Klamath River Basin will be the subject of a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday. The panel will discuss legislation that will wrap a legal bow around a deal reached in April. As much as $US 495 million in federal funding is proposed for the basin that straddles southern Oregon and northern California.

Los Angeles River
Bending to local pressure, the Army Corps of Engineers is raising its stake in a river revival project, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The corps is recommending a $US 1 billion plan to put nature back into an 18-kilometer (11-mile) stretch of the Los Angeles River, more than double the investment the federal engineering outfit was contemplating. Half the money to rip out concrete channels and install marsh grasses and wetlands will come from the federal government.

How Green Is My Valley?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new set of climate data that will help predict drought and farm production. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index uses satellite sensors to measure the “greenness” of a patch of land. The index has global data back to 1981 and is updated daily.

Pesticide Use
The amount of bug-killing and weed-killing chemicals sprayed on 21 major food crops decreased by 18 percent between 1981 and 2008, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. The share of pesticides dropped dramatically, while the use of weed killers, driven by new seed varieties that can survive a chemical shower, climbed. The money spent on pesticides peaked in real terms in 1998 at $US 15.4 billion. Misuse of pesticides can cause them to wash into rivers or soak into aquifers.

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.

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