Millions of United States citizens continue to battle the effects of massive hurricanes this month. Many have lost electric and water service. As water and wastewater utilities struggle to get their systems up and running again, some are in a better position than others. What makes a utility more resilient in the face of this type of natural disaster?
83 percent of Puerto Ricans remain without power three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit the island. The goal is for 25 percent of customers to regain power by the end of October, but it could be months before the territory’s grid is fully operational again. Meanwhile, 36 percent of the island still does not have water service. Since energy is required to treat and deliver water, presumably the lack of power is standing in the way of getting some of those water systems back online. (Water, of course, is also needed to generate energy, but that’s a topic for another time.)
On the second day of this year’s annual AFN gathering in Anchorage, another significant announcement regarding the relationship between the state and tribes was put forward.
Delegates were told of a major new decision by the state Attorney General’s office, which seeks to resolve decades of legal battles by concluding that Alaska’s 229 tribes are fully sovereign entities. The move is a win for tribal and indigenous advocates who have long-contended they have equal jurisdiction and standing with the State of Alaska. The news came just one day after the governor signed an unprecedented compact with tribal entities that gives them potential control over child welfare policies.
Fall storms now regularly batter Alaska’s Arctic coastal villages — but don’t always qualify for disaster funds
A fall storm that sent waves crashing ashore in the northernmost U.S. community and caused at least $10 million in damage to roads, buildings and other facilities is part of a troublesome pattern in a new type of fall season along the coasts of northern and western Alaska. But current federal rules often mean such damage can't be covered by disaster funds.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s top lawyer has released a legal opinion on the status of tribal sovereignty in the state.
State Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth addresses the opinion to Gov. Bill Walker, stating that tribes do exist in Alaska and their governments have inherent sovereignty.
The 16-page opinion outlines him tribal issues clarified over the years by the courts. It does not take positions on areas courts have not addressed.
For example, Lindemuth notes that tribes are legal entities separate from other governments. The state, however, initially held that legally, tribes did not exist. The federal government formally recognized Alaska tribes in 1994, a determination that was initially challenged by the state.
Currently, there are 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska. There is just one reservation, the southeast Alaska community of Metlakatla.
My colleague Stacey Isaac Berahzer, a senior project director here at the Environmental Finance Center, made her podcast debut this week on The Water Values Podcast, a series specifically focused on drinking water finance and management. The Water Values is one of several podcast series that feature content on the drinking water sector.
Polling & Social Science
Strategic Approach: Audiences, Engagement
The Trump administration has put a strain on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The organization, Save EPA, works with congress and the public to ensure new standards are in place to counter attempts to roll back federal protections.
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A LOOK:
The tools and talking points discussed support individuals and groups that want to speak out in defense against regulatory rollback.
Participate in rulemakings to roll back or delay protections:
- Comment on the proposed rule change
- Testify at public hearings if there are any close to you
- Request meetings or phone calls with agency staff, managers and/or White House officials
Engage outside of the rulemaking process:
- Enlist your members of congress
- Use social and mainstream media campaigns
- Participate in mass letter-writing campaigns
- Stage or participate in demonstrations or other group actions
Join in the public conversation about regulations and the protections they provide
- If you hear something that is untrue, write back or say something
- Remain clear and civil in your communication
- Provide good information and fair analysis, not alternative facts
Sometimes, all you can do is scratch your head.
“Here’s the issue,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told CNN last week when asked about the connection between Hurricane Irma and climate change, “To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced.”