EPA

Days before President Barack Obama left office in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule aimed at preventing tragedies like the 2013 explosion and fire in the tiny Central Texas town of West that killed a dozen first responders.

Recent rains and warmer weather are expected to make the local mosquito population explode. Local health officials offered advice on how to fight them off.

The water we drink is protected by federal rules, which are at the crux of a long-running fight over how far upstream that protection extends.

“Agriculture is land and water. When you’ve got control of the water, you’ve got control of the land,” said Blake Roderick with the National Waterways Conference.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it will begin the process this year of setting limits on two man-made chemicals that are linked to cancer and other illnesses, and are found widely in drinking water and soil.

The agency's long-awaited plan — promised last year by former administrator Scott Pruitt — addresses chemicals that are part of a group known as PFAS, for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances.

Dicamba, the controversial herbicide used on soybeans and cotton, is responsible for thousands of acres of damaged crops in recent years.

Experts say that despite new federal rules that go into effect in 2019, the drift will continue but the victims will be different.

Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET

Vast amounts of wetlands and thousands of miles of U.S. waterways would no longer be federally protected by the Clean Water Act under a new proposal by the Trump administration.

The proposal, announced Tuesday at the Environmental Protection Agency, would change the EPA's definition of "waters of the United States," or WOTUS, limiting the types of waterways that fall under federal protection to major waterways, their tributaries, adjacent wetlands and a few other categories.

Texas-based oil giant Exxon Mobil got some good press this week when it announced it was donating $1 million to a campaign to enact a carbon tax in the U.S. But many worry the tax proposal would not slow emissions quickly enough and could harm the environment through its legislative giveaways to the oil and gas industry. 

President Donald Trump’s administration will “unleash the power of E15,” allowing the 15 percent gasoline-ethanol blend to be sold year-round.

The announcement, made public this week at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is being welcomed by corn growers and biofuel groups. But it may take longer for farmers like Kelly Nieuwenhuis of Primghar, Iowa, to feel the positive impact of E15 than they would like.

The Trump administration just relaxed Obama-era industry regulations for methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands. But reactions to the change in the Mountain West are mixed.  

EPA METHANE ROLLBACKS -  Oil and gas drillers across Texas could soon be allowed to emit a lot more methane into the air.    According  to  Houston Public Media, the  Environmental Protection Agency  is moving to roll-back some Obama-era rules on monitoring oilfield methane leaks.   The Trump Administration says its proposal would save energy companies about 484 million dollars in regulatory costs.

New Trump administration rules aimed at protecting the coal industry reverse Obama-era regulations on greenhouse gases by letting states set their own rules.

That means Kansas regulators could clear the way for more coal, but economic trends have already driven a shift to natural gas and wind power.

Scott Pruitt’s resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency this month has many in the renewable fuel industry hoping that federal agencies will get on the same page.

That’s because for the last few years, the EPA and the Department of Energy have been at odds, with taxpayer money creating a new biofuel industry that may not have the room to grow outside the lab.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s message to Midwestern farmers this week is a mixed bag, telling them that the agency will be changing an Obama-era rule regarding water regulations but is pausing a plan to expand summer sales of ethanol.

Midwestern U.S. senators’ lobbying campaign paid off Thursday for farmers who supply the renewable fuel industry.

Instead of making a small cut to the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be used in the U.S. in 2018, the EPA approved an increase of less than one percent, bringing the total to 19.29 billion gallons. The federal agency also rolled back most of the proposed decrease for cellulosic ethanol, which can be made from cornstalks and perennial grasses.

Story, headline updated Nov. 22 with ruling — A U.S. appeals court has agreed to the EPA's request for more time to implement the emissions-reporting requirement. The mandate will now go into effect on Jan. 22.

Republican and Democratic senators from top corn- and ethanol-producing states say their pressure helped prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from changing rules governing renewable fuel production.

But at least one senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, says President Trump was their ace in the hole against an EPA chief who has deep ties to the oil and gas industry.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

A watchdog at the Environmental Protection Agency has opened an investigation into EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s frequent travel to Oklahoma, Bloomberg reports.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

It appears that Donald Trump isn’t the only person in the Trump Administration who’s been making frequent trips home.

As The Hill reports, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, spent almost half of the time from March to May in his home state of Oklahoma. Pruitt reportedly traveled back to his home state for at least 43 of the 92 days during that span.

Environmental Protection Agency / Wikimedia Commons

For years, some Texans in agricultural areas have been complaining of chemical drift from crop dusters. Poisonous pesticides can sometimes drift as much as five miles from their intended targets, especially in the high-speed winds of the Texas Panhandle.

Gabriella Demczuk / The New York Times

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt appears to have made a good number of enemies within the agency he’ll soon helm, and he hasn’t even started the job yet.

As The New York Times reports, employees of the Environmental Protection Agency mounted an organized campaign to call their senators and plead that they vote against Pruitt to head the agency.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

A watchdog group is suing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is currently President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, The Tulsa World reports.

Wikimedia Commons

Some regulatory freezes instituted by President Donald Trump could be damaging to the country’s farm belt, according to some agricultural groups.

As Reuters reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will delay implementation of this year’s biofuels requirements along with 29 other regulations finalized in the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, according to a government notice, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will delay rules affecting livestock.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency appears to have shelved a pollution lawsuit after receiving large cash amounts from the companies doing the polluting.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

A new U.S. government study claims ethanol is better for the environment than most scientists initially expected, boosting an industry that is a boon to Midwest farmers but challenged by many environmental groups and the oil industry.

Getty/Politico

Oil and gas companies have reason to celebrate this week, as President-Elect Trump is expected to nominate a longtime oil ally to helm the Environmental Protection Agency. As Politico reports, Scott Pruitt has been a staunch opponent of climate regulations in his role as Attorney General of Oklahoma.

Natural Resources Defense Council / KCUR

In the wake of the contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan, other states began to take a look at their own water systems. And for Kansas, the news isn’t good.

As member station KCUR reports, nearly 70 water systems in Kansas have lead levels above the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable levels. And those are just the systems that have reported a problem. Many may have tried to game the system to avoid alerting the feds of lead contamination.

StateImpact Oklahoma

Faced with increasingly strict federal emissions regulations, some energy companies that use coal to produce power have struggled to find the funds to meet the new criteria. One such company is Oklahoma Gas and Electric. The energy giant has twice before requested funds for a new coal scrubber project to bring their coal plant up to compliance. Now, reports NewsOK, it appears the third time is the charm. This week state regulators approved a half billion dollars to cover the cost of the scrubbers. 

wypr.org

Oklahoma isn’t the only state where the controversial process known as “fracking” has resulted in fights between state and federal officials, and the oil and gas industry.

Water wells were recently found to be polluted in Wyoming, and watchdogs immediately pointed the finger at the state’s hydraulic fracturing operations. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has since released a report saying fracking likely played little role in the polluted water wells.

Ina Fassbender / Reuters

The Environmental Protection Agency recently attempted to pull one of the chemical company Bayer’s insecticides from the marketplace. The EPA expressed concerns that that the chemical could harm organisms in streams and ponds. Now, reports Reuters, the German company is fighting back.  Bayer is asking for an administrative hearing from the EPA's Office of General Counsel to review the case.

Clean Power Plan Adds More Doubt to Holcomb Expansion

Aug 11, 2015
Bryan Thompson / Kansas Public Radio

From Kansas Public Radio:

The Clean Power Plan recently announced by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by almost one-third over the next 15 years. And, as Heartland Health Monitor’s Bryan Thompson reports, tucked into the plan’s thousands of pages is language that makes it even less likely that a new coal-fired power plant will ever be built in southwest Kansas.

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