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Daily Archives: March 25, 2014

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands

News release: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule. Determining Clean Water Act protection for streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity. The proposed rule clarifies protection for streams and wetlands. The proposed definitions of waters will apply to all Clean Water Act programs. It does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction…The health of rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities – they trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. They are also economic drivers because of their role in fishing, hunting, agriculture, recreation, energy, and manufacturing. About 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S. only flow seasonally or after rain, but have a considerable impact on the downstream waters. And approximately 117 million people – one in three Americans – get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on these streams. These are important waterways for which EPA and the Army Corps is clarifying protection. Specifically, the proposed rule clarifies that under the Clean Water Act and based on the science: · Most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected.· Wetlands near rivers and streams are protected.· Other types of waters may have more uncertain connections with downstream water and protection will be evaluated through a case specific analysis of whether the connection is or is not significant. However, to provide more certainty, the proposal requests comment on options protecting similarly situated waters in certain geographic areas or adding to the categories of waters protected without case specific analysis.The proposed rule preserves the Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture. Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption. Any agriculture activity that does not result in the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. still does not require a permit.”

From Digitally Disrupted to Digital Disrupter

Accenture Technology Vision 2014 - Every Business Is a Digital Business “Big companies are back in the digital game. Procter & Gamble, Tesco, Disney, GE—these are just a few of the global 2,000 that are now in a race to become digital. Those that get there first will be able to disrupt their existing markets and penetrate new ones. TheyContinue Reading

Economic Policy Review – Federal Reserve Bank of New York

A Special Issue on Large and Complex Banks Volume 20, Number 2, March 2014 Do Big Banks Have Lower Operating Costs? Anna Kovner, James Vickery, and Lily Zhou Evidence from the Bond Market on Banks’ “Too-Big-to-Fail” Subsidy - João Santos Do “Too-Big-to-Fail” Banks Take on More Risk? - Gara Afonso, João Santos, and James Traina Components of U.S. Financial SectorContinue Reading

CFPB Data Point: Payday Lending

“In this Data Point we present the results of several analyses of consumers’ use of payday loans. The focus of the analyses is loan sequences, the series of loans borrowers often take out following a new loan. Key findings of this report include: Over 80% of payday loans are rolled over or followed by anotherContinue Reading

FHFA Oversight of Enterprise Controls Over Pre-Foreclosure Property Inspections

Audit Report, AUD-2014-012, March 25, 2014: “The pre-foreclosure property inspection process needs improvement to ensure that  pre-foreclosure inspection objectives are achieved in the most effective manner. There is limited assurance that the Enterprises have effective controls in place to ensure the quality of inspections conducted and that inspectors issue reports consistent with contractual requirements. Overall, several servicers reviewedContinue Reading

Federal Reserve survey provides information on mobile financial services

News release: “The use of mobile phones to access a bank account, credit card, or other financial account continued to increase in prevalence among adults in the United States last year, according to the Federal Reserve Board’s latest report on the use of mobile financial services. As of December 2013, 33 percent of all mobileContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Architect of the Capitol, VA Information Security

ARCHITECT OF THE CAPITOL: Incorporating All Leading Practices Could Improve Accuracy and Credibility of Projects’ Cost Estimates, GAO-14-333: Published: Mar 25, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 2014: “GAO’s Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide (Cost Guide) defines 12 leading practices that are associated with four characteristics—comprehensive, well documented, accurate , and credible —that are important to developing high-quality, reliable project-cost estimates.” INFORMATION SECURITY: VA NeedsContinue Reading

Census Data Mapper – Beta

“The Census Data Mapper is a web mapping application intended to provide users with a simple interface to view, save and print county-based demographic maps of the United States. The data are from the 2010 Census.”

2014 Global Retirement Index

“The Natixis CoreData Global Retirement Index is an international comparison tool with an objective of providing a global benchmark for retirees and future retirees to evaluate and compare the suitability of nations globally in meeting retirement expectations, needs and ambitions. Welfare in retirement is an increasingly relevant issue in modern societies as demographic compositions continueContinue Reading