2020 #COleg: @GovofCO Polis Signs Bill to Expand Voluntary Loans Process for Instream Flows — @CWCB_DNR

Photo credit: Jonathan Thompson

Here’s the release from the Colorado Water Conservation Board:

On March 20, Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 1157 (HB20-1157: Loaned Water For Instream Flows To Improve Environment), which provides additional tools to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) for managing voluntary loans from water rights owners for the purposes of preserving and improving the natural environment.

Specifically, the bill expands the number of years within a 10-year period that a renewable loan may be exercised from 3 years to 5 years, but for no more than 3 consecutive years, and allows a loan to be renewed for up to 2 additional 10-year periods. It also expands the CWCB’s ability to use loaned water for instream flows to improve the environment.

“This is a really helpful tool for instream flows that fall short. It is always good to have more ways to work with partners to protect flows in Colorado’s streams,” said CWCB Stream and Lake Protection Section Chief Linda Bassi.

CWCB’s Instream Flow Loan Program is critical for boosting stream flows, especially in late summer when flows are low, temperatures are high, and fish are particularly stressed. The CWCB appreciates the stakeholder coordination that resulted in this bill advancing to the Governor’s desk.

What does a state of emergency mean in the face of the coronavirus? — The Conversation

Pence and Trump attend a coronavirus task force briefing.
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Amy Lauren Fairchild, The Ohio State University and Marian Moser Jones, University of Maryland

Following Donald Trump’s declaration of a federal state of emergency nearly two weeks ago, every state except West Virginia had also declared a state of emergency over COVID-19.

States have statutes that give police powers to the government in situations like hurricanes, fires or disease outbreaks.

But as experts in public health, we know that different states empower different types of officials to declare an emergency. This is important because a lack of clear lines complicated the response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and, later, Hurricane Rita in Texas.

Who decides?

In most states, the power to declare an emergency lies with the governor. Several have used this authority in cases of weather emergencies or severe flooding, for example.

In some states, both governors and local officials like mayors have the authority to grant such a declaration. Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency on March 7, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio – though having declared a state of emergency in the city on March 11 – kept schools open until March 15. The dual lines of authority underscored the struggles that can unfold between mayors and governors.

The federal government also has power to prevent disease transmission across states and territories because of the 1974 Stafford Act. Evoking this is contingent on a governor’s request, based upon “a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state.”

In the case of COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services, using the federal Public Health Services Act, invoked federal powers to prevent “cascading public health, economic, national security and societal consequences.” In addition to this, federal authority empowers the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine and quarantine anyone entering the U.S. or traveling across state lines.

Another key rationale for invoking emergency powers is to trigger federal disaster relief to states. The amount is being debated in Congress as we write.

Before getting federal assistance, the governor must declare a state of emergency and begin to follow the state’s emergency plan, a provision which emphasizes that the state is the primary authority in the disaster. That is important because emergency powers not only allow state governments to “provide for” populations, but also “decide for” individuals in ways that might limit their rights.

The idea is that sticking to normal legislative processes and legal standards takes time – and that during a crisis delays could cost lives. In an outbreak, such limits on individual rights involve travel restrictions, social distancing measures and isolation and quarantine.

Protecting everyone at once

During an outbreak, people typically accept limits on the liberty of those who are infected as necessary to protect the uninfected.

It doesn’t matter if a person with COVID-19 wants to go to the mall, for example. As a society we are willing to order that individual’s confinement to protect others. But what distinguishes the U.S. from authoritarian nations is that those whose compelled, for instance, into confinement, can always challenge those orders in a court of law.

Emergency powers also allow state and federal governments to cancel public events and close businesses. These kinds of measures are designed to keep unexposed folks safe at home but also to protect those who would be willing to risk getting infected at a bar, restaurant or concert hall.

Emergency orders that protect us from our own poor judgment are the most controversial. After all, we often allow adults to take risks that could harm them. Smoking is legal. In some states, so is riding a motorcycle without a helmet. Neither do we prohibit adults from participating in “extreme sports,” such as rock climbing, sky diving or auto racing, knowing well that some will suffer injuries from these activities.

An outbreak is different. Even mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 cases pose a risk to others. And every case poses a risk to health care personnel, who are called on to treat the most serious cases of infection and who run a high risk of infection. Furthermore, health care systems become strained with a scarcity of human and other resources, including beds, respirators and masks.

Ultimately, emergency public health orders slow the spread of disease, protecting individuals by limiting some choice regardless of their personal perception of risk. This both prevents new infections and protects the ability of the health care system to save lives.

[Get facts about coronavirus and the latest research. Sign up for our newsletter.]The Conversation

Amy Lauren Fairchild, Dean and Professor at the College of Public Health, The Ohio State University and Marian Moser Jones, Associate Professor and Graduate Director of Family Science, University of Maryland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

E.P.A., Citing #Coronavirus, Drastically Relaxes Rules for Polluters — The New York Times @EPAAWheeler #ShameOnYou #coronavirus

From The New York Times (Lisa Friedman):

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution.

The move comes amid an influx of requests from businesses for a relaxation of regulations as they face layoffs, personnel restrictions and other problems related to the coronavirus outbreak.

Issued by the E.P.A.’s top compliance official, Susan P. Bodine, the policy sets new guidelines for companies to monitor themselves for an undetermined period of time during the outbreak and says that the agency will not issue fines for violations of certain air, water and hazardous-waste-reporting requirements.

Companies are normally required to report when their factories discharge certain levels of pollution into the air or water.

“In general, the E.P.A. does not expect to seek penalties for violations of routine compliance monitoring, integrity testing, sampling, laboratory analysis, training, and reporting or certification obligations in situations where the E.P.A. agrees that Covid-19 was the cause of the noncompliance and the entity provides supporting documentation to the E.P.A. upon request,” the order states.

It said the agency’s focus during the outbreak would be “on situations that may create an acute risk or imminent threat to public health or the environment” and said it would exercise “discretion” in enforcing other environmental rules.

The order asks companies to “act responsibly” if they cannot currently comply with rules that require them to monitor or report the release of hazardous air pollution. Businesses, it said, should “minimize the effects and duration of any noncompliance” and keep records to report to the agency how Covid-19 restrictions prevented them from meeting pollution rules…

Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration and now serves as president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called it “an open license to pollute.” She said that while individual companies might need flexibility, “this brazen directive is nothing short of an abject abdication of the E.P.A. mission to protect our well being.’’

Cynthia Giles, who headed the E.P.A. enforcement division during the Obama administration, said: “This is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. It is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.”

‘Arrogant’ and ‘ashamed’: The coronavirus mea culpas from people who once thought it was no big deal — The Washington Post

Click on the image to go to the John Hopkins website for the latest data.

From The Washington Post (Meagan Flynn):

Speaking to a roomful of senior citizens on March 13, the same day President Trump declared a national emergency, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) said they should “go forth” with their daily activities and forget about staying inside. He called coronavirus “the beer virus” — “how do you like that?” — and said the pandemic was “blown out of proportion,” the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reported at the time.

Now, much like the celebrities and viral spring breakers who suggested the pandemic was no big deal, the 86-year-old congressman has changed his tune. The impact of covid-19 is “very real, growing” and reshaping our daily lives, he said in a video message Thursday.

“Weeks ago, I did not truly grasp the severity of this crisis,” Young said, while urging everyone to stay home. “But clearly we are in the midst of an urgent public health emergency.”

…Now, as the United States surpasses every nation including China and Italy in coronavirus infections, with more than 85,000 cases, apologies for unpopular hot takes and bad social-distancing behavior are pouring in.
Another came Thursday from Evangeline Lilly, the actress known for her roles as Kate in the TV series “Lost” and as the Wasp in Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” In an Instagram post March 16, Lilly said she was going about her everyday life like it was “#businessasusual,” resisting calls to stay home and arguing that “some people value their freedom over their lives.”

Fury quickly followed, especially after Lilly revealed that she lived with her father who was battling Stage 4 leukemia. So in another Instagram post Thursday, after days of silence, Lilly offered “my sincere and heartfelt apology for the insensitivity I showed in my previous post to the very real suffering and fear that has gripped the world through COVID19.” She said she realized that her silence about the true seriousness of the situation “sent a dismissive, arrogant and cryptic message.”

“When I wrote that post 10 days ago, I thought I was infusing calm into the hysteria,” she wrote. “I can see now that I was projecting my own fears into an already fearful and traumatic situation.”

Coronavirus apologies began in earnest most notably with NBA player Rudy Gobert, who purposely touched a bunch of press microphones in a pregame interview while mocking the coronavirus. Three days later, on March 12, he tested positive…

In a not-quite-so raucous trip, Jamie Otis, a reality TV star from “The Bachelor” and “Married at First Sight,” went on vacation to Sarasota, Fla., on March 12 while hunting for a winter home. But on Saturday, as she prepared to get on an airplane back to New Jersey, she said she realized she had made a big mistake.

“I assumed this whole covid 19 thing would kinda just blow over like the seasonal flu, but it’s A LOT more serious than I ever could have imagined,” she wrote on Instagram, describing trips to the beach she now regrets. “I want to send out a sincere apology to YOU [because] by me going out to ‘live as normal as possible’ I was risking YOU and YOUR FAMILY. I’m a registered nurse and I should know better. I’m ashamed of myself for this and I’m genuinely sorry.”

In other coronavirus mea culpas, local public officials have had to apologize for spreading misinformation, such as that covid-19 stands for “Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease” or that blasting heat from a hair dryer into your nostrils could kill coronavirus. A Pennsylvania pastor has apologized for holding a massive church service. And landlords have even apologized for issuing eviction notices…

“This pandemic is dangerous and is especially threatening our senior citizens, of which I am one, and those with underlying conditions,” [Young] said. “I very strongly urge you to follow the CDC’s recommendations. Avoid large groups and continue to practice social distancing and proper hygiene protocols.”