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Capital Report

2018:  MARCH

January 2017 Issue

Climate Assessment,
Resilience Planning Online

The U.S. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the beta launch of a public-private collaboration called the Resilience Dialogues (www.resiliencedialogues.org), an online service to provide customized consultation to communities seeking support in climate assessment and resilience planning. It is led by a team of climate resilience practitioners from federal agencies and civil society. It will be co-managed by the American Geophysical Union and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. In spring 2016, the team ran a series of online pilots with five communities in the U.S., helping them define their resilience challenges; explore the economic, social and environmental risks of increasing climate variability and change; and identify resources to address challenges.

US OCS Plan Released
For 2017 to 2022

The final plan has been released to guide future energy development for the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for 2017 to 2022. The Proposed Final Program offers 11 potential lease sales in four planning areas: 10 sales in the portions of three Gulf of Mexico Program Areas that are not under moratorium and one sale off the coast of Alaska in the Cook Inlet Program Area. The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas planning areas in the Arctic are not included in the Proposed Final Program, which makes available areas containing approximately 70 percent of the economically recoverable resources in the OCS.

$6.23 Billion in US Energy
Revenue Disbursed in FY 2016

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) announced that disbursements from energy production on federal and American Indian lands and offshore areas totaled $6.23 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016. The revenues were distributed to state, local, federal and tribal accounts to support critical reclamation, conservation and recreation projects. Local governments apply the revenues to meet a variety of needs, ranging from infrastructure to education. Among the top states receiving FY 2016 revenues are: Wyoming ($664 million), New Mexico ($369 million) and Colorado ($84 million). In FY 2015, $9.88 billion was disbursed by the department. The decline in 2016 was due to substantially lower oil and gas prices.

Congress Agrees on Water
Infrastructure Legislation

U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) announced an agreement on comprehensive water resources infrastructure legislation. The Water Infrastructure Improvements Act for the Nation (WIIN) Act includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes port, waterway and flood protection improvements for the country. The WIIN Act also includes the Water and Waste Act of 2016 to help communities meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and authorize state regulation of coal ash. The House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed WRDA bills earlier in 2016, and the WIIN Act is the product of the resulting bicameral negotiations.

National Ocean Council
Certifies Northeast Ocean Plan

The National Ocean Council (NOC) has certified the Northeast Ocean Plan, submitted to the NOC in October, as consistent with the National Ocean Policy. This demonstrates high-level support for this first-in-the-nation plan and its implementation going forward. There will be opportunities for public discussion of particular elements of implementation.

Senate Passes ICOOS
Reauthorization Act

The Senate passed S. 1886, The Coordinate Ocean Monitoring and Research Act, that reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009 and addresses the need for research and monitoring for ocean chemistry and acidification. The ICOOS Act established a coordinated program to integrate and share existing data, fill critical gaps and produce information accessible to a range of users. Two bills have been introduced in the House that would reauthorize the ICOOS Act of 2009. H.R. 2744, The Integrated Coastal Ocean Observing Act Amendment 2015, includes two administrative changes to the original act but limits appropriations to 2015 levels. H.R. 6321 effectively introduces S. 1886 into the House.

EPA Awards Four States
For Wetlands Protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted awards to Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware to protect wetlands. Two Wetland Program Development Grants totaling approximately $1.1 million went to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). The Virginia DEQ will receive $750,000 to improve the understanding and protection of aquatic resources of high ecological value. This grant will also help Virginia enhance its online Virginia Wetlands Condition Assessment Tool to identify high-value wetland areas and assess conditions for permits and mitigation regulations. VIMS will also receive $356,000 to construct and test a climate change vulnerability assessment framework. The EPA awarded $900,000 to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which is partnering with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to develop an online predictive planning tool to guide wetland management, restoration and mitigation activities. They will also establish a headwater aquatic resource reference system to investigate and characterize the physical, chemical and biological attributes of wetlands. The Maryland Department of the Environment was awarded $537,000 to create a Web-based system for submitting wetland permit applications, photographs and plans for restoration projects. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control was awarded $345,000 to enhance wetland conservation through science, mapping and education.

2018:  MARCH

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