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Today we’re looking at the Supreme Court siding with Georgia in its water dispute with Florida, changes to the National Flood Insurance Program and an Energy Department move toward making it easier to set energy efficiency standards


WATER FIGHT: Supreme Court sides with Georgia over Florida in long-fought water war

The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the state of Georgia in its decades-long water dispute with Florida, a devastating blow to the Sunshine State’s attempt to buoy its struggling oyster industry.

Florida has long contended that the growing Atlanta area has soaked up needed water from the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers before it can reach the Apalachicola Bay, a once-thriving oyster region in an economically-depressed area of the panhandle.

In a unanimous opinion, the justices said Florida had failed to show that additional flows from Georgia would have saved its oyster industry.

Florida’s side of the story:

Florida has argued Georgia’s water use increased the salinity of the bay — a feature that disrupts the brackish water preferred by oysters and can encourage disease as well as oyster predators.

Unconvinced: Justice Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMeet the senators at the center of the filibuster fight Supreme Court permits state court lawsuits against Ford Senate panel deadlocks over Vanita Gupta amid GOP opposition MORE said Florida failed to prove Georgia’s water use injured the state, writing that Florida’s own actions contributed to the demise of the industry.

Ultimately…The decision leaves little hope for Florida to quickly reestablish an industry that dates back to the mid-1800s. 

Read more about the decision here.



The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Thursday unveiled changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that it says will be aimed at being more equitable. 

A fact sheet from the agency said that it will be able to do this by calculating premiums based on home value and flood risk, with more expensive homes potentially costing more to insure.

The agency said that currently people with lower-valued homes are “paying more than their share of the risk” while those with higher value homes are paying “less than their share.”

“We are putting equity at the forefront of our work at DHS and making reforms to help our nation confront the pressing challenges caused by climate change,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHillicon Valley: DHS chief lays out actions to boost cybersecurity after major hacks | Facebook removes video of Trump citing suspension from platform | Battle rages over vaccine passports DHS chief lays out actions to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of major hacks GOP lawmakers ask Mayorkas for documents on warnings from DHS to Biden on immigration MORE in a statement. 

Changes to the federal flood insurance program have been resisted by some Democratic lawmakers over fears it would raise premiums for their constituents. 

Read more about the decision here.


JUMPING OVER THE HURDLES: Energy Dept. pushes to reverse Trump-era rule on efficiency standards

The Biden administration is set to push for a reversal of Trump-era changes that made it harder to impose energy efficiency standards for commercial products and industrial equipment.

The Energy Department sent out a notification late Wednesday of a proposed update to a regulation, known as a “process rule,” that deals with energy-saving standards.

The Trump administration had implemented an energy savings threshold in order to set energy efficiency standards. The proposal posted to the Energy Department’s website would remove that threshold.

It also aims to restore the department’s ability to diverge from the process rule, which the Trump administration made binding.

Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said the change gives the department more flexibility, saying as an example that it would allow procedures to be modified if new data comes out. 

“It gives them a little more flexibility because rulemakings are complicated and if you have to put it in a straightjacket, that makes it difficult,” Nadel said. 

Read more about the proposal here.


YOU’VE GOT MAIL: 33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline

A group of 33 Democratic lawmakers is asking President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – GOP pounces on Biden’s infrastructure plan Biden administration unveils network of community leaders to urge COVID-19 vaccinations Pompeo ‘regrets’ not making more progress with North Korea MORE to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline after a court left the decision about whether to do so up to the administration. 

In a letter addressed to Biden Monday, legislators wrote that he should shut down the pipeline while it faces a court-ordered environmental review. 

“By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries,” they wrote. 

“This is a critical step towards righting the wrongs of the past and setting our nation on a path of environmental, climate, and social justice,” they added, arguing that the way in which law enforcement removed protesters from the site in 2016 was “egregious environmental racism.”

Some context: A court in January ruled against a decision by the federal government that allowed for the Dakota Access’s construction, determining that the Army Corps of Engineers should have conducted an environmental impact statement before the pipeline was allowed to move forward. 

But for the time being, it left the decision on whether to shut down the now-operation pipeline on that ground, up to the agency. 

Coming up: It is expected to make its decision next week. 

Read more about the letter here. 


Putin, Saudi crown prince discuss climate change, green energy, Reuters reports

The ‘slow-motion genocide’ of the Chinook Indian Nation, High Country News reports

Interior Department chief of staff being removed from post after indoor party fiasco, Politico reports


ICYMI: Stories from Wednesday:

Steyer says he has ‘no plans’ to run for public office again

Two New Mexico tribal communities suing EPA over clean water rule

Energy Dept. pushes to reverse Trump-era rule on efficiency standards

Progressives push Fed to drive funding away from fossil fuel companies

OPEC, other oil producers boosting production amid COVID-19 vaccine rollout: report

California installing 1.7 gigawatts of battery storage to avoid blackouts

33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline

House Democrats introduce carbon pricing measure

Supreme Court sides with Georgia over Florida in long-fought water war

Court upholds dismissal of New York City lawsuit against oil companies

World Bank commits to implementing global warming policies: Reuters

FEMA unveils new flood insurance calculation it says will be more equitable


JUST FOR FUN: Was it a ghost or just a prank?

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