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Senate introduces bipartisan bill to designate PFAS as hazardous substances

Atlean Lake in British Columbia

On March 1, the Environment and Public Works Committee introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to classify per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances within a year after the bill is passed. This declaration would expedite contaminated superfund remediation efforts by providing funds for cleanup efforts and charging polluters for remediation.

Public lands package passes the House

Geological Surveys Database

Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan package of more than one hundred public lands, natural resources, and water bills in February. The package, originally titled the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), includes measures to improve the nation’s volcano monitoring network, reauthorize the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

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About Our Speaker

Joseph Kerski, PhD, GISP is the Education Manager at ESRI. He is a geographer with a focus on the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in education. Joseph was the President of the National Council for Geographic Education and gave an invited TED Talk in 2018 on “The Whys of Where”. He has served as geographer in four major sectors of society, including government (with NOAA, the US Census Bureau, and the US Geological Survey), academia (with Sinte Gleska University, the University of Denver, and as MOOC instructor for Penn State University, Elmhurst College, and eNet Learning), private industry (as Education Manager for Esri), and nonprofit organizations (with roles in the National Council for Geographic Education, the American Association of Geographers, and others). He has worked with AGI for many years on the Global GIS project and Earth Science Week. Joseph has authored over 75 chapters and articles on Geographic Information Systems (GIS), education, earth science, physical and cultural geography, mathematics, fieldwork, teaching and learning, and related topics, and makes frequent presentations at conferences and university campuses. He is active in conducting professional development training for primary, secondary, and university educators. He has authored or co-authored seven books, including Interpreting Our World: 100 Discoveries that Revolutionized Geography, Essentials of the Environment, Spatial Mathematics, Tribal GIS, International Perspectives on Teaching and Learning in Secondary Education, and the GIS Guide to Public Domain Data.

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Telling your Geoscience Story with Story Maps

House lawmakers introduce natural resource sustainability bills

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic

Throughout January, several bills were introduced in the House relating to natural resource sustainability. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) and Frank Lucas (R-OK-3) cosponsored the Energy and Water Research Integration Act of 2019 (H.R. 34), which directs the Department of Energy to consider the critical link between energy and water use in its programs. Representative Scott Tipton (R-CO-3) later introduced two energy-related bills, the Planning for American Energy Act (H.R. 785) and the Education and Energy Act (H.R. 786), to support responsible energy development and additional funding for education.

President Trump approves National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act

Atlean Lake in British Columbia

On January 7, President Trump signed a bill (S. 2200) into law that reauthorizes the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) through fiscal year 2023. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s NIDIS program provides drought information to farmers, ranchers, and other industries affected by extreme weather.

EPA and Department of the Army announce intent to redefine WOTUS rule

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California

On December 11, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army proposed a revised definition of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to clarify the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. The proposed revision would limit where federal regulations apply, clearly outlining what would be considered “waters of the United States” in addition to specific exclusions from the definition.

Senate subcommittee field hearing addresses effects of PFAS chemicals in Michigan

Atlean Lake in British Columbia

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), ranking member of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee, convened a field hearing titled “Local, State and Federal Response to PFAS Contamination in Michigan” in his home state on November 13. The hearing focused on the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

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