Environment

TN Dept. of Ag to Offer Good Agricultural Practices Grants

Farmers who aim to expand their markets and advocate for increased food safety measures can now receive financial assistance to become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is offering grants to these farmers for the certification, which will allow producers to increase their income by allowing them to sell directly to businesses and institutions with stringent food safety requirements, such as grocery stores or hospitals. Funds are available on a first come, first served basis to producers only; warehouses and distributors may not apply. Learn more here or by emailing Grant Pulse at grant.pulse@tn.gov.

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EPA Civil Penalties for Polluters Fall Dramatically from Previous Years

Civil penalties for polluters dropped 85 percent this past fiscal year, falling to the lowest level since 1994, The Washington Post reports. Last year violators were fined $72 million, down from an average of $500 million annually, adjusted for inflation, over the past 25 years. In fact, former EPA official Cynthia Giles who conducted an analysis on the figures said they were the lowest since the agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance was established. Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said there had been “a lot of misleading information,” claiming that while fines were down, the number of criminal enforcement cases had risen from the previous year. EPA officials declined to disclose the exact figures for past fiscal year’s civil or criminal penalties, saying it could do so only after the government shutdown had concluded.

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Nashville Grease Plant Vote Scheduled for November 8

Metro planners will vote on the move of a grease recycling and polluted water treatment plant to Whites Creek Pike on Nov. 8, The Tennessee Tribune reports. The vote was to initially take place on Oct. 25, however, At-Large Councilwoman Sharon Hurt requested a delay due to opposing residents not having a lawyer to argue on their behalf. The potential site borders several residential communities, where denizens decry industrial development in favor of more homes, shops and grocery stores. Voting on the matter will occur on Nov. 8, 4 p.m., CDT  at the Howard Office Complex on Second Avenue in Nashville.

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TDEC Proposing Changes to Aquatic Resource Alterations

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is proposing changes to the permitting process when entities seek to divert a stream, pave over wetlands or otherwise alter the state’s waterways, The Tennessean reports. The proposed changes to Rule Chapter 0400-40-07 Aquatic Resource Alteration would stipulate where developers can mitigate the damage done to streams and would establish a baseline for pollution or alterations from which any harm would have to be offset. Comments on the amendments will be accepted through July 31 and can be submitted to Jimmy.R.Smith@tn.gov.

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TVA v. Hill 40th Anniversary Panel

Two panels, with attorneys who argued this landmark case, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of TVA v. Hill at the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference in Nashville on May 16–17 at 3 p.m. This case, originally argued in the Sixth Circuit, prompted the United States Supreme Court’s first interpretation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, drastically impacting federal environmental law. The court upheld the Sixth Circuit opinion by a 6-3 vote. More information and registration for the conference can be found here.

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Post-Forum Reception at TDEC

Don't forget, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation in cooperation with the Tennessee Bar Association's Environmental Law Section will host an open house immediately following the Environmental Law Forum on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. CDT in Nashville.
 
Don't miss this opportunity to meet leadership of the organization while networking with attorneys and professionals with a similar focus. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. More details and address information are available on the TBA.org website. We hope to see you there!
 
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