Donovan challenges legality of EPA’s rollback of clean water protections

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Attorney General TJ Donovan, part of a coalition of nine Attorneys General, challenged the Trump Administration’s proposal to repeal the 2015 “Clean Water Rule.” The 2015 rule defines “waters of the United States” under federal law to ensure that the nation’s lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands receive proper federal protection. In comments addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), the coalition argues that the proposed repeal is “arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with law.” The coalition also charges that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s involvement in the effort, after suing to void the Clean Water Rule as Oklahoma Attorney General, is “illegal” and would render any repeal invalid.Click here to read the comments(link is external), which were led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and filed by the Attorneys General of New York, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.Small brooks, like this unnamed one in Chittenden County, can have large impacts on larger downstream bodies of water, according to the EPA. VBM photo.The Clean Water Act only protects the “waters of the United States.” Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006 led to substantial uncertainty as to whether some waters – particularly, small, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams, wetlands, and tributaries – are considered waters of the United States. Thus, roughly 20,000,000 wetland acres and 2,000,000 miles of streams in the Continental United States lost or risked losing their protections under the Clean Water Act. These at-risk streams help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans. Failing to protect these streams and wetlands also leaves these waters – and the downstream waters with which they connect – vulnerable to increased flooding, pollution, damage to hunting and fishing habitat, and fouling of the drinking water supplies.To address these concerns, the 2015 Clean Water Rule clarified what types of waters are covered by the Clean Water Act. The Rule was based on over 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies that demonstrated how many waters are connected by networks of tributaries, intermittent streams, and wetlands. Because of this “interconnectivity,” physical, chemical, and biological pollution from wetlands and relatively small or infrequently-flowing upland streams often impact larger downstream waters, such as rivers, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. All the lower 48 states have waters that are downstream of other states and affected by pollution generated from upstream sources outside their borders over which they lack jurisdiction.On July 27, 2017, the EPA and ACOE proposed to repeal the Clean Water Rule and reinstate the prior regulations – first adopted in 1977. These 40-year-old rules, based on dated science, led to years of confusing and inconsistent interpretations by agencies and federal courts. Once the repeal rule is finalized, the reinstated, outdated 1977 regulations could remain in place indefinitely.In their comments, the coalition of Attorneys General argue, among other things, that the EPA and ACOE breached “foundational administrative law principles” by (i) failing to provide a meaningful opportunity for public comment on the substance of the proposed repeal rule; (ii) failing to consider the “well-known ambiguities and inconsistencies that result from applying the 1977 regulations”; and (iii) disregarding the extensive scientific and factual basis supporting the 2015 Clean Water Rule. Further, the coalition argues that Administrator Pruitt should have recused himself from the repeal rulemaking, given his vocal advocacy against the Clean Water Rule both during and after his tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General.Vermont AG: Sep 29, 2017last_img read more

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How to choose the right free checking account

first_imgBy comparison, credit union accounts average $1.87 in fees. continue reading » 73% of credit union checking accounts have no minimum balance requirement and no monthly fee. Online account holders can waive fees with less money in their account versus a bank branch ($2,367 vs. $3,855). Non-bank ATM fees average $1, versus average $1.75 at a branch bank. by: Gina RagusaBy now the term “free checking” has become an oxymoron in the American consumers’ vocabulary.America’s addiction to free checking has become almost as needy as our dependency on foreign oil, as regulatory changes in the financial landscape has created a price inflation.Today, finding a free checking account at a multinational bank is about as easy as getting a bunch of teenagers to abandon their cell phones for 24 hours; however free checking is not exactly an urban legend.In a recent Banking Landscape Report, the researchers from WalletHub studied approximately 2,000 checking and savings accounts, concluding that low or no fee checking can still be found online or  at a credit union. Features of the study include: Fees are higher at banks–average national bank is around $14.87 in monthly fees or requires you to have an average of $5,747, regional bank fees average $10.38 or a balance of $3,502, small banks are at $6.97 or $3,410, and community banks are at $5.88 or $2,834. The average monthly online checking account fee is $3.91 ($2 below the average $5.96 for a bank branch account). ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Petrol station market fuels Azure’s bumper retail sale …

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Sale of ‘under-used’ buildings by public bodies gathers pace

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Air Products believes Airgas shareholders ‘disenfranchised’

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2H Offshore Marks 10th Anniversary in Brazil

first_img2H Offshore, an Acteon company is celebrating its 10th year in Brazil this week. The 2H office was registered in Rio de Janeiro in April 2004 in order to meet the growing demands of the offshore industry in Brazil.During 2H’s 10 years in Brazil, the office has been involved with a number of high profile contracts for the Brazilian market, such as the FEED contract for P-52 Free-standing riser, detailed FEED analysis for the P-55 SCRs, and detailed design of the unique BSR concept for the Guará and Lula fields. More recently the office has been involved with the riser design and field layout for OGX’s Tubarão Azul and Tubarão Martelo fields. 2H’s other key clients in Brazil include: GE, Odebrecht, Petrobras, Queiroz Galvão, Repsol, Saipem, Shell, Statoil and Subsea 7. Although located in Brazil, the office also conducts work for other South American countries such as Argentina and French Guiana.General manager Pete Simpson said, “I am very pleased that 2H has reached this key milestone of serving the Brazilian oil industry for 10 years. The hard work and dedication of our staff and management team has allowed us to grow over the years and become the premier riser analysis firm in Brazil and we look forward to a bright future for the company.”Press Release, April 04, 2014last_img read more

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Regulation of surveillance remains unsatisfactory

first_img Roger Smith is director of the law reform and human rights organisation Justice Power does not always corrupt but it certainly complicates. Office brings a curious restraint to ministers once so principled in opposition. They must look back fondly to once glad, confident mornings. Then, David Cameron could wail that ‘the Labour Party has given up on civil liberties’. How bright still shone the lamp of liberty even just after the election. The coalition government proceeded to promise legislation to ‘restore freedoms and civil liberties’. This grand pledge brought forth the Protection of Freedoms Bill which, as far as the provisions on surveillance are concerned, is not quite the brave new world that we were promised. It’s an improvement, but not much of one. You might have guessed that the current legislation governing surveillance – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) – was likely to prove problematic just from reading the act. It provides for scrutiny by no fewer than four bodies: the Interception of Communications Commissioner; the Intelligence Services Commissioner; the Investigatory Powers Tribunal; and the Chief Surveillance Commissioner, depending on the powers used and the bodies concerned. That looks, at best, inelegant and, at worst, confusing. Furthermore, the tribunal and the commissioners only act after the event, except the Chief Surveillance Commissioner in a very small proportion (less than 0.5%) of the most serious cases. It you are subject to surveillance it is likely to be signed off by the body snooping on you or by the secretary of state. As anyone who has watched the fabulous American TV series The Wire will know, other countries do it differently. A unifying thread in its story was the necessity for the police to obtain a judicial warrant to undertake a wiretap or concealed recording. Baltimore cops become adept at pushing their luck in obtaining evidence that will be admissible in court – up to, and including, effective blackmail of the judge. However, for all its faults, the police work within a judicially structured framework. In this country, all three of the RIPA commissioners are also judges (albeit two are retired) but they are, on the whole, not required to authorise surveillance in advance. Other countries also have the advantage of somewhat less opaque legislation – our own is very badly drafted. It emerged during the News of the World phone-hacking scandal that the Metropolitan Police Service operated a rather handy (for them) definition of interception of communications which excluded any voice messages accessed after the recipient had listened to them. What is more, it took the European Commission – and not any UK authorities – to object to BT’s link-up with American advertising group Phorm. The commission referred the UK to the European Court of Justice when no domestic action was taken after BT allegedly breached the privacy of 18,000 of its unsuspecting users to help Phorm focus its targeting efforts. The CPS had declined to prosecute, saying it could be reasonably be argued that any offending was the result of an honest mistake or genuine misunderstanding of the law. The Chief Surveillance Commissioner, no less, saw no difficulty under RIPA with the bugging of conversations between the current shadow minister of justice, Sadiq Khan, and a prisoner constituent, Babar Ahmad. The commissioner noted that such activity ‘does not give rise to interception as defined by the legislation’. The home secretary changed the guidance. It took the Divisional Court to change the rules to confirm the pretty obvious point that prison managers should not authorise the bugging of privileged conversations between solicitors and prisoner clients. That would be a breach of the provisions of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to private life. A recent Justice report – Eric Metcalfe’s Freedom from Suspicion: Surveillance Reform for a Digital Age – reveals the astonishing reach of surveillance through contemporary British society. No one knows the total number of CCTV cameras in operation, but it is between two and four million. I once counted 27 between St Paul’s Cathedral and the Law Society in Chancery Lane, less than a mile away. The Automatic Number Plate Recognition programme records the time, date and location of 15 million vehicles a day, storing this information for a minimum of five years. Around 500,000 requests for communications data are made annually – with around 3,000 to Google alone. Some 2,000 interception warrants and 400 requests for intrusive surveillance are granted in an average year. These include authority to bug around 40 hotel bedrooms. Merseyside Police already use unmanned drones as an ‘eye in the sky’ and the Met want a batch of them for the Olympics. One of the problems that bedevils UK legislation in this area – as so many – is short-termism. This manifests as a longstanding reluctance of politicians of all parties, once in office, to adopt a clear and principled policy: they just want to respond to the stimulus of the moment. A Conservative government passed the Interception of Communications Act 1985 only after the UK’s lack of legislative authority for phone-tapping was slammed by the European Court of Human Rights in Malone v UK. Labour brought forward RIPA, at least in part, as a response to the decision of Halford v UK where the European Court of Human Rights said the earlier system of scrutiny was so limited that it did not apply to tapping a private police phone system. The Protection of Freedoms Bill should have been a chance to refashion the system of scrutiny from the bottom up – or even the top down. Alas, the opportunity was not taken. The bill adds two more separate commissioners to an already overflowing pot – one for the retention and use of biometric material, and another for surveillance cameras. It retains the principle of regulation after the event and, in the main, has no truck with prior judicial approval other than for local authorities. If Labour would dare to take it – which it probably does not since it was the author of RIPA – this creates the space for a continuing call for more comprehensive reform. Whatever the politics, the regulation of surveillance will remain piecemeal and unsatisfactory even after this bright new bill. How murky it all gets when you are in power.last_img read more

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More buyers sniffing around for bargain buys in the housing market, says RICS

first_imgSubscribe now for unlimited access To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

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Innovation doesn’t need to be risky or a ‘big bang’

first_imgIn healthcare, innovation in building projects has started to be taken seriously in some quarters. But there is still an overriding opinion that innovation equals risk. Those involved in healthcare construction should reassess the very concept of innovation and the way it is managed.As many in the industry know, public healthcare estates teams are caught up in a turbulent period. Backlog maintenance is now sitting at £5bn, while its estimated that at least £10bn of additional capital funding is required for the delivery of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs).With such a funding crisis, is there any room for innovation within healthcare construction?The answer, of course, has to be “yes”. But, and this is important, it doesn’t have to be the revolutionary “big bang” change that people often associate with the word. Nor does it need to involve huge additional cost.By changing the way that innovation is perceived and the way innovative methods are managed, we can help drive efficiency for organisations, programmes and projects.How can this be achieved?On standard projects, many of the processes or activities underpinning a project (scheduling, establishing the project organisation, forming teams, change control and programme management), could be improved, standardised and repeated. Yet, rather than improving upon existing methods, project teams typically start afresh.Discovering innovators or innovations needs to be encouraged and closely managed. The wider industry has embraced innovation in current megaprojects; devising and implementing innovation strategies to seek out new technologies and processes which align to the organisation.Within the NHS, some capital projects have been delivering schemes with innovative solutions to common problems; however, this has not been exploited effectively. There is a challenge to recognise these new methods and communicate them to other projects, programmes and organisations. Many projects do benchmark and look for exemplars, but more should be done to share the collective knowledge from projects, which is often retained within teams or individuals.More should be done to share the collective knowledge from projects, which is often retained within teams or individualsWe should perhaps learn from initiatives such as i3P, a platform for infrastructure projects, which aims to convert “ideas into opportunities and practical solutions”. These collaborative arrangements are seeking to share knowledge among the projects and address opportunities or challenges jointly.At a programme level, organisations could consider implementing an innovation strategy that focuses on the purpose, implementation and timing of innovations during the projects. It could share the knowledge from the project teams co-ordinating the efforts. It could also identify areas that might benefit the whole programme; if not for investment from the programme budget, from the organisation or a wider collective. These don’t need to be “big” innovations – sharing the unnewsworthy, granular ideas can bring just as many benefits.It should also be said that the ability for a project to innovate relies on controlling the risks associated with ideas through planning and risk management at the front end, for instance by using off-site trials to mitigate the risk of novel ways of constructing.In summary, innovation is not just about the latest, greatest breakthrough. It is also about setting governance and management arrangements to promote and control innovation even at an incremental level. Rather than additional costs, these innovations could be a way of bridging the NHS funding gap and driving further benefits for programmes and projects. Matt Harrison is a consultant at Essentia Tradinglast_img read more

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Misnak moves tank quartet

first_imgThe four tanks were transported from their existing site in Port Reitz to a new foundation area approximately 1 km away, to the southeast of Moi International Airport, where the construction of a new plant is scheduled.Misnak explained that the tanks – each of which measured 68 m long with diameters of 8.8 m – had to be moved due to several large infrastructure projects underway in Kenya, which involve various land acquisitions.These projects include the Chinese-funded standard gauge railway being built to link Mombasa to Nairobi, as well as the Mombasa port area road development project – which is being built parallel to the railway.Misnak noted that the transport was very “challenging and time-sensitive” due to these developments and required close cooperation between the logistics provider, the Chinese contractors and Kenya Railways Corporation.www.cabamisnak.comlast_img read more

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