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SARL Members and Alumni News

U.S. Plastics Producers Aim to Recycle or Recover 100% of Plastic Packaging by 2040

Sustainable Brands | Posted on May 10, 2018

Three new goals to enhance the circular economy for plastics and reduce packaging waste have been announced by leading U.S. plastic producers including BASFDowDuPont and Braskem. Together as part of the American Chemistry Council (ACC)’s Plastics Division, 15 leading resin manufacturers and an affiliated trade association have strengthened their commitments to capturing, recycling and recovering plastics. The announcement follows recent news that 42 consumer packaged goods (CPG) giants have committed to eliminate plastic packaging waste under the new UK Plastics Pact. Around 8 percent of current fossil fuel dependency is attributed to plastic production, and much of the world’s plastic is used just once and then thrown away – resulting in 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging, worth up to $120 billion annually, being lost to the economy. Trucost has estimated that the environmental cost to society of plastic use by the consumer goods sector alone is around $75 billion, and that scaling up the use of sustainable plastic could deliver environmental savings of $3.5 billion.

Newly introduced Utah public-lands bill that would protect 1 million acres is already drawing fire from conservation groups

The Salt Lake Tribune | Posted on May 10, 2018

A new land bill introduced in Congress Wednesday seeks to set aside more than a half-million acres of wilderness in Utah’s Emery County.Backed by Utah Rep. John Curtis and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Emery County Public Land Management Act would also create a 4-square-mile national monument at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and national conservation areas totaling 383,380 acres, mostly around the iconic San Rafael Swell.Proponents lauded the bill, nearly 20 years in the making, as a locally driven solution to long-standing land-use conflicts, bringing “desired certainty to a broad range of stakeholders.”

Oil- and gas-rich counties ask for more federal revenue

High Country News | Posted on May 10, 2018

Mark Christensen, a county commissioner from northeast Wyoming, traveled to the nation’s capital last month to ask for more money from production of federal minerals in his county. Christensen testified in support of the proposed POWER Counties Act, which would amend the 1920 Mineral Leasing Act to funnel federal royalties on oil and gas extraction back to the counties in which they were produced. “Even though we have these great mineral resources, 88 percent of them are controlled by the federal government (in Campbell County),” he said. Discussion of the bill at a U.S. House subcommittee on energy and mineral resources hearing put on display unanswered questions over what benefits locals should see from resources in their backyards. Currently, 50 percent of royalties collected from federal land mineral leases goes back to the states where they were produced. The state then determines how that money is distributed, meaning only a portion might go back to the originating county. The remaining funds stay with the federal government, and 80 percent of that remainder is earmarked for the federal Bureau of Reclamation — to support water projects across the West.

Tens of thousands of Louisiana residents could face eviction from nursing and group homes

CNN | Posted on May 10, 2018

More than 30,000 Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, many in nursing or group homes, could lose their benefits due to proposed state cuts -- a situation that could force thousands to move.Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto said the agency will notify about 37,000 Medicaid recipients, whose eligibility to receive the benefit could end on July 1, they may have to move out of the nursing and group home facilities because of the lack of state funding.The letters, which will be mailed out Thursday, also will go to Medicaid patients with developmental disabilities and some who receive home-based services to give recipients time to develop appropriate plans, the agency said. The health department also will evaluate any eligibility options, according to the agency.

Vermont Governor To Study Whether To Sign Drug Importation Bill

Northeast Public Radio | Posted on May 10, 2018

Republican Governor Phil Scott plans to study a bill passed by the Vermont Legislature that would set up a first-in-the-nation system to allow the state to import prescription drugs from Canada before deciding whether he will sign it. Scott spokeswoman Rebecca Kelley said Wednesday the governor supports the goal of making prescription drugs more affordable, but he has questions about the implementation of the bill.The National Academy for State Health Policy says Vermont is the first state in the nation to approve the importation of less costly prescription drugs from Canada.

Iowa Ag Secretary highlights ongoing water quality funding

KMA Land | Posted on May 10, 2018

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today highlighted key agriculture provisions passed by the Iowa Legislature during the 2018 legislative session. This includes long-term funding for water quality efforts, additional funding for foreign animal disease response preparations, continued funding for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program and updates to the Iowa noxious weed law. “The state of Iowa is a nationally recognized leader in agriculture production, and the Iowa Legislature has reinforced their commitment to Iowa agriculture through their passage of landmark water quality and agriculture-related legislation,” Naig said. In January, the Legislature passed and Governor Reynolds signed into law SF 512 which provides $282 million for water quality efforts in Iowa over the next 12 years. The legislation provides a growing source of funding, starting with $3.9 million next fiscal year and increasing to over $28 million annually. In addition to SF 512, the Legislature provided $10.2 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Bring urban livestock, agriculture into Fairbanks neighborhoods

Daily News-Miner | Posted on May 10, 2018

When Fairbanks was founded in the early 1900s, it wasn’t possible to run down to the supermarket to purchase a dozen eggs or fresh produce. If you wanted eggs or produce, it was likely that you or someone you knew grew or raised the food. Obviously, the Fairbanks community has changed quite a bit in the last century with the establishment of multiple large supermarkets, but the local food movement is strong and growing in Fairbanks, as well as nationally, as people strive to produce more food themselves and to purchase from local vendors. This is evident in the growing success of local farmers markets and the increase in the desire for backyard chickens and other small livestock. Did you know that local zoning laws in the borough prohibit any type of livestock or commercial agriculture in most zoning districts? Over the years, the FNSB Community Planning Department has received many inquiries from residents wishing to keep small livestock, mostly chickens, or sell some of the produce that they grow in their home garden. Likewise, complaints have been received from residents who don’t particularly enjoy their neighbor’s new backyard flock when not maintained properly. Community sentiment has generally been in favor of increased agricultural and animal husbandry opportunities in more areas of the borough. 

Governor Dayton Thanks Republican Legislators for Supporting Water Quality Buffer Tax Credits

Minnesota Governor | Posted on May 8, 2018

Proposal would provide eligible landowners $50 per acre, each year, for farmland converted to water quality buffers.  Governor Mark Dayton today thanked Republican legislators for supporting a tax credit to help alleviate the cost of compliance with state water quality requirements. The tax credit would provide eligible landowners $50 per acre, each year, for farmland converted to water quality buffers. Governor Dayton first proposed a version of this tax credit as part of his 2017 Tax Bill.“I thank Representative Paul Anderson and Senator Bill Weber for authoring this sensible, bipartisan proposal to support Minnesota farmers, who are working to protect clean water throughout our state,”said Governor Dayton. “I strongly support this legislation, and encourage Republican Legislative Leaders to send it to me, as a clean bill, as soon as possible.” The proposed tax credit would allow Minnesota landowners who have installed water quality buffers on tillable land to receive the tax credit, even if they installed the buffers before the new water quality law went into effect.

Illinois counties declare 'sanctuary' status for gun owners

Chicago Tribune | Posted on May 8, 2018

Several rural Illinois counties have taken a stand for gun rights by co-opting a word that conservatives associate with a liberal policy to skirt the law: sanctuary. At least five counties recently passed resolutions declaring themselves sanctuary counties for gun owners — a reference to so-called sanctuary cities such as Chicago that don't cooperate with aspects of federal immigration enforcement. The resolutions are meant to put the Democratic-controlled Legislature on notice that if it passes a host of gun bills, including new age restrictions for certain weapons, a bump stock ban and size limit for gun magazines, the counties might bar their employees from enforcing the new laws."It's a buzzword, a word that really gets attention. With all these sanctuary cities, we just decided to turn it around to protect our Second Amendment rights," said David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board. He said at least 20 Illinois counties and local officials in Oregon and Washington have asked for copies of Effingham County's resolution. Co-opting the sanctuary title is also a way of drawing attention to the rural-urban political divide that was so stark in the last general election, when "downstate" areas of Illinois backed Donald Trump, who remains popular with those voters, while the Chicago backed Hillary Clinton, who grew up in the suburbs.

Solar farms set to sprout across Illinois

Chicago Tribune | Posted on May 4, 2018

A new crop is ready to sprout on Illinois farms, with gleaming solar panels supplanting rows of corn and soybeans. Drawn by new state requirements and incentives, renewable energy developers are staking out turf on the rural fringes of the Chicago area and beyond, looking to build dozens of solar farms to feed the electric grids of Commonwealth Edison and other utilities. It’s a potential sea change in the Illinois energy landscape that proponents say is long overdue and will provide customers with a green power alternative. But the rise of solar power also has generated opposition from some residents over everything from changing landscapes to toxicity concerns.The fledgling solar energy boom is driven by the Future Energy Jobs Act, which took effect last year and requires Illinois utilities to get 25 percent of their retail power from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2025.