Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vermont Environmental & Land Use Law, September 27, 2011

Photo by dougtone on Flickr

Disaster declaration approved for Vermont farms, Burlington Free Press

Vermont farms will be eligible for federal disaster aid to recover from damage from the remnants of Hurricane Irene and spring flooding.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced the federal disaster declaration Monday. He said he hopes farmers who lost crops and equipment in the spring and summer storms will seek emergency loan assistance from the Farm Service Agency.

Shumlin said farmers in all 14 counties have eight months to apply for the federal loans, which will be available immediately with an interest rate of below 4 percent.

His office said help will also be available to certain farmers who qualify for the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program in 2012 and to farmers who meet certain loss qualifications.

Congress dodges shutdown after disaster aid fight, boston.com

WASHINGTON—In agreeing to an emergency spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, Congress achieved the bare minimum while finessing a fight over whether emergency disaster aid ought to be paid for with cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Democrats who spent weeks demanding additional disaster aid claimed victory even though the final deal -- $2.7 billion in disaster relief assistance in a one-week bill -- provided $1 billion less than approved by tea party Republicans. The cost of that additional $1 billion in disaster assistance was too high for Democrats because it would have been offset by cuts in an energy-related program they also favor.

"We rejected the idea that we should be forced to choose between American jobs and disaster relief," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said late Monday after the Senate voted 79-12 to keep the government running until mid-November.

The brinkmanship had pushed a bitterly divided and poll-battered Congress into another fight that threatened to shut down the government, a step certain to draw the wrath of a frustrated public. At issue was how to replenish Federal Emergency Management Agency coffers and assist Americans battered by Hurricane Irene, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

Vt lawmaker calls on governor to freeze spending, WCAX

"The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board actually made a decision to spend over a million dollars on land preservation, I just think that that is shocking," Olsen said.

That decision was made by VHCB Wednesday. Twelve-million dollars was allocated for the organization in May. Olsen is requesting Gov. Peter Shumlin put a freeze on this funding, so lawmakers can reallocate budget funds.

"I have full confidence that the administration and the respective agencies are performing the necessary budgetary measures to ensure that the state will remain liquid with regard to cash and that we will make prudent financial decisions," said Rep. Shap Smith, D-Vt. House Speaker.

Speaker Smith and Governor Shumlin say calling 150 legislators in for a special session wouldn't accomplish much without more concrete numbers from Irene.

While it could be weeks before lawmakers have hard numbers tallying the aftermath, Smith and Shumlin both say if a special session is deemed necessary they will hold one.

NH companies to pay $200,000 for water violation, WCAX

NEWPORT, N.H. (AP) - The federal Environmental Protection Agency says two New Hampshire companies will pay a $200,000 civil penalty to resolve Clean Water Act violations at five facilities in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Officials say Newport Sand and Gravel Co. and Carroll Concrete Co., Inc., also will put in place storm water reduction measures to reduce the impacts of storm water discharges at the two sites in Newport, N.H. and three others in Berlin, Guildhall and Swanton, Vt.

The EPA says the companies were accused of discharging process waste waters including waters from sand and gravel and concrete production and storm water without proper permits.