The Stream, December 19, 2019: U.S. Army Corps Liable for Reservoir Flooding During Hurricane Harvey

The Global Rundown

A U.S. federal court rules that the government is liable for reservoir flooding in Houston, Texas, that occurred during Hurricane Harvey. Australia experiences its hottest day on record. A coalition representing millions of Americans sues the U.S. EPA over outdated slaughterhouse pollution standards, which are jeopardizing waterways. Two men facing criminal charges in the Flint water crisis have their cases dismissed, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says new announcements about the criminal investigation into the crisis will be made in early 2020. 

“I think she has shown she’s taken it very seriously. These timelines we are bumping up against means that she’ll probably be making some announcements at the beginning of the year.” –Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in reference to a criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis that is being spearheaded by state Attorney General Dana Nessel and Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud. In June, Hammoud waived all pending criminal cases related to the 2014-2015 crisis and began a more thorough review of the evidence. There has been little communication about the investigation since then, but Whitmer says new information will likely be available in early 2020. MLive

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By The Numbers

105.6°F (40.9°C) Average temperature across Australia on Tuesday, making it the hottest day on record in the country. Meteorologists say the record could be surpassed later this week, when more sweltering temperatures are predicted. The previous record of 104.5°F (40.3°C) was set in January 2013. NPR

4,700 Slaughterhouses in the U.S. that discharge pollution into waterways. A large coalition of conservation and community groups has filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the dumping, which the groups say is causing widespread water pollution due to outdated regulations on proper disposal of slaughterhouse waste. The Guardian

Science, Studies, and Reports

During 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was forced to flood thousands of homes and businesses built inside federally-owned flood control reservoirs in Houston, Texas. In the wake of the disaster, hundreds of residents sued the Army Corps. This week, U.S. Judge Charles F. Lettow of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled in favor of homeowners, arguing that the government is liable for the flooding because it had knowledge that the homes and businesses were at risk in a Harvey-like flooding event. The Texas Tribune

On the Radar

Judge David Goggins of Genesee County, Michigan, dismissed criminal charges against two of the three remaining Flint water crisis cases. Steven Busch and Michael Prysby, who were responsible for overseeing the city’s water system in 2014-2015, took plea deals last year under the state’s former government. Now that the cases have been dismissed, the men will have no lasting legal consequences in the future. MLive

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