Day: February 23, 2018

2018 Midwest Food Recovery Summit Call for Presentations

The Midwest Food Recovery Summit Call for Presentations is open from February 1 – 28, 2018.  Presentations that are focused on case studies, planning processes and/or research, in particular, abstracts that showcase details regarding why and how the food waste reduction, recycling, and/or diversion project was started, obstacles encountered, and/or innovative solutions, will be given priority.  Abstracts focused solely on a particular product and/or service will not be considered.

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration: Competitive Grant Programs Managed Consistently with Relevant Regulations, but Monitoring Could Be Improved

Download the document.

What GAO Found

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program, within the Department of the Interior, awards and monitors five competitive grant programs. These grant programs fund different types of projects ranging from building docks to acquiring wetlands. GAO found that the number of grants and funding awarded varied by grant program from fiscal years 2012 through 2016.

The award process WSFR uses for the five competitive grant programs generally involves publicly announcing the grant opportunity through a Notice of Funding Opportunity, which contains information applicants need to consider when applying, such as available funding and criteria that will be used to score applications. A panel comprised of WSFR staff, and in some cases other FWS staff or a third party organization, reviews and scores the applications based on the criteria in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and develops a list of recommended projects and funding amounts. The list is forwarded to the Director of FWS for review and approval. GAO found that WSFR’s grant award process is consistent with federal regulations for awarding federal grants.

WSFR monitors its competitive grants by reviewing financial and performance reports submitted by grant recipients. In general, this process is consistent with relevant regulations, but some of the performance reports were missing required information. Specifically, for fiscal year 2015 grants GAO reviewed, financial and performance reports were generally submitted on time by grant recipients, but several performance reports (9 of 51) did not include a comparison of actual accomplishments to the goals of the grant, as required by regulations. WSFR does not have a template for grant recipients to follow in preparing these reports for most of the grant programs, and the template used by one region does not clearly ask for all required information. WSFR officials have said the agency plans to develop a more standardized reporting process but no timeline has been established. According to Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government , management should design control activities to achieve objectives and respond to risks, including designing mechanisms to help monitor performance. Without a template or standardized method that facilitates the collection of performance information, WSFR grant recipients may continue to submit performance reports that are missing information needed by FWS to monitor its competitive grant programs.

Why GAO Did This Study

FWS awarded $1.5 billion in grants in fiscal year 2016, which represented about half of the agency’s budget. In general, FWS awards two types of grants: (1) formula grants, which are distributed to recipients based on a required formula, and (2) competitive grants, where potential recipients submit an application for funding that is reviewed and scored against criteria. Within FWS, WSFR manages several grant programs.

GAO was asked to review WSFR’s management of its competitive grant programs. This report (1) identifies and describes competitive grant programs that WSFR awards and monitors; (2) examines how WSFR awards grants under these programs and the extent to which this is consistent with relevant regulations; and (3) examines how WSFR monitors grants under these programs and the extent to which this is consistent with relevant regulations. GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and FWS guidance; analyzed agency data for fiscal years 2012-2016; reviewed award documents for fiscal year 2016 and a sample of monitoring documents for grants awarded in fiscal year 2015 (selected to ensure sufficient time for required reports to be submitted) and compared these with requirements from relevant regulations; interviewed WSFR headquarters and regional officials and grant recipients.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that FWS develop a template or other standardized method to facilitate collection of all required information for grant performance reports. The Department of the Interior concurred with this recommendation.

 

Here Are the Places That Struggle to Meet the Rules on Safe Drinking Water

Read the full story in the New York Times.

To ensure that tap water in the United States is safe to drink, the federal government has been steadily tightening the health standards for the nation’s water supplies for decades. But over and over again, local water systems around the country have failed to meet these requirements.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that, since 1982, between 3 and 10 percent of the country’s water systems have been in violation of federal Safe Drinking Water Act health standards each year. In 2015 alone, as many as 21 million Americans may have been exposed to unsafe drinking water.

Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental Journalism

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism awards five Ted Scripps Fellowships each year. This flexible, non-degree program provides a wide range of intellectual resources and allows fellows to tailor these resources to meet their needs and interests. Over the course of an academic year, fellows deepen their knowledge of the environment through courses, weekly seminars, and field trips. They also engage in independent study expected to lead to a significant piece of journalistic work. The program covers tuition and fees, including a recreation center pass, and provides a $56,000 stipend. Employment begins at the start of the Fall 2018 semester and runs through the end of the Spring 2019 semester. All University breaks and holidays will be observed.

The program is open to all full-time journalists interested in deepening and broadening their knowledge of environmental issues. It is aimed at outstanding journalists committed to a career in professional journalism. Professionals in fields such as teaching, public relations and advertising are not eligible. To be eligible, an applicant must have a minimum of five years full-time professional journalism experience and an undergraduate degree. Applicants may include general assignment reporters, editors, producers, environmental reporters, full-time freelancers and photojournalists. Prior experience in covering the environment is not required.

To apply, an applicant will need to upload the following items to the CU Careers website (posting number 11770) by the March 1st deadline:

  • Application Form
  • Cover letter
  • Résumé that includes a list of positions held and awards
  • Intellectual autobiography
  • Projected study and project plan for the academic year
  • Three work samples*
  • List of three references with contact information. Note: Each  reference will be contacted with instructions for uploading their letter to the CU Careers website.

*If work samples are broadcast pieces, and they are not available for viewing online, please send one copy directly to the Center for Environmental Journalism:

Center for Environmental Journalism
1511 University Avenue
478 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Questions may be submitted to cej@colorado.edu or by calling 303-492-4114.

Job announcements: Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

ISTC currently has four open positions:

Tennessee Tech withdraws industry-funded study used to back controversial EPA truck rule

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

The president of Tennessee Tech University has disavowed a study used to help justify the repeal of tighter federal emissions standards for a type of freight trucks, saying that experts now question “the methodology and accuracy” of the industry-funded test.

MI: Consumers Energy to stop burning coal by 2040

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

Consumers Energy will phase out electricity production from coal by 2040 to slash emissions of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, the Michigan utility’s president and CEO told The Associated Press.

The utility plans to generate 40 percent of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy by then, Patti Poppe said in an interview ahead of the public announcement Monday. She said the utility will also will rely on natural gas, hydropower and improved efficiency to meet customer needs.

Europe Takes First Steps in Electrifying World’s Shipping Fleets

Read the full story at e360.

Container ships, tankers, freighters, and cruise liners are a significant source of CO2 emissions and other pollutants. Led by Norway, Europe is beginning to electrify its coastal vessels – but the task of greening the high seas fleet is far more daunting.

Greenwashed Timber: How Sustainable Forest Certification Has Failed

Read the full story at e360.

The Forest Stewardship Council was established to create an international system for certifying sustainable wood. But critics say it has had minimal impact on tropical deforestation and at times has served only to provide a cover for trafficking in illegal timber.

Court rules Energy Dept. must implement Obama efficiency rules

Read the full story at The Hill.

The Trump administration must carry out the implementation of four energy efficiency regulations that it has delayed for more than a year, a federal court ruled Thursday.

%d bloggers like this: