Lead in School Water: Less Than Half the States Test for It, and Fewer Require It

Five years after the Flint water crisis reminded Americans about the danger of lead in drinking water, nearly half of U.S. students are attending schools in states that don’t have programs or requirements to test tap water in schools, according to a new report.

And the 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, that do require testing for lead or have programs to conduct that testing lack uniformity in how they go about it, researchers from Harvard University and the University of California pointed out in the report, released Wednesday. Only seven states and D.C. require water tests in schools; in the other 17 states with programs, participation is voluntary.

Governing.com

Report: East Texas coal plants leaching pollutants into groundwater

As the Trump administration considers weakening Obama-era safeguards for disposal of toxic coal waste, a new report shows groundwater near all of Texas’ 16 monitored coal-fired power plants is contaminated with pollutants — including known carcinogens — linked to so-called coal ash. That includes four plants in Northeast Texas.

The report from the Washington D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project analyzed on-site groundwater monitoring data that power companies are required to report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under an Obama-era regulation known as the “Coal Ash Rule.”

News-Journal.com

In Trump country, Republicans cheer on shutdown: The ‘government is our biggest enemy’

Ten words in faded red ink adorn the glass door of the federal building: “Please hold mail for duration of government shutdown. Thank you.”

Here in this northern Colorado coal town, those 10 words, and the unplowed parking lot of that Bureau of Land Management facility, are among the few obvious signs that the nation’s federal government is partially closed, resulting in nearly 1 million American workers not getting their taxpayer-paid paychecks.

Many of Craig’s 9,000 residents are just fine with that.

In this low-slung Western town that still celebrates cowboys and cattle rustlers, Christmas and Christ, and where the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants bracket the broad valley, residents wonder aloud: Doesn’t the shutdown prove their long-held argument that the federal government is too big, too powerful and too expensive?

USA Today

In Texas, It’s Not Just Federal Workers Who Are Affected By The Government Shutdown

On Tuesday, it will be one month since the start of what is already the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, albeit a partial one. It’s certainly taking its toll on federal employees having to work without pay, including those here in Texas.

Brian Kirkpatrick of Texas Public Radio in San Antonio, Richard Pineda of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas El Paso and Kevin Diaz of the Houston Chronicle’s Washington bureau are all exploring the shutdown’s effect in the Lone Star State, and they say that it’s having ripple effects beyond just government workers.

TexasStandard.org

In Non-Medicaid Expansion States, Some Rural Hospitals Forced to Close

In crime novelist Agatha Christie’s biggest hit, “And Then There Were None,” guests at an island mansion die suspicious deaths one after another.

So you can forgive Jeff Lyle, a big fan of Christie’s, for comparing the 36-bed community hospital he runs in Marlin, Texas, to one of those unfortunate guests. In December, two nearby hospitals, one almost 40 miles away, the other 60 miles away, closed their doors for good.

Tech company moving to Hutto, will double workforce

HUTTO  — Just 30 minutes northeast of Austin, Hutto, one of the fastest growing cities in Texas, is welcoming a tech company that’s doubling the size of its workforce over the next five years.

The City of Hutto and Titan Development announced BryComm, LLC will build a 30,000 square feet building at Innovation Business Park.

“The company intends to acquire 6.53 acres at Titan’s Innovation Business Park and hopes to break ground in January 2019,” officials wrote in a news release.

Innovation Business Park is a 72-acre site that’s under construction right now

Kxan.com

JW Aluminum Announces Addition of New Office Space to Support Plant Expansion and Growth

Goose Creek, South Carolina — To support the company’s growth, JW Aluminum, a leading North American manufacturer of flat-rolled aluminum products, has signed a lease with Daniel Island Sun, LLC to add additional corporate office space at The Landing, 115 Fairchild Street on Daniel Island, South Carolina. Carolina One Commercial Real Estate represented JW Aluminum in the transaction. The additional 22,000 square feet of Class A office space will house up to 50 teammates to perform key corporate functions as the $250 million expansion progresses at JW Aluminum’s existing Goose Creek, South Carolina manufacturing facility.

GlobeNewsWire.com

Atlanta’s Divisive Deal

ATLANTA — Atlanta exists because of railroads. In 1837, the city was founded as the terminus of the Western & Atlantic Railroad line. Atlanta’s name even comes from the word “Atlantic.”

So it’s fitting that the railroad has again entered into public conversation.

The Gulch, a 40-acre sunken expanse of rail tracks and parking lots in the heart of the city, has become a political and legal battleground. Real estate investment firm CIM Group proposed a mixed-use development for the long-underutilized area – a mini city within downtown with office towers, apartments, hotels and retail.

US News & World Report

Court: No New Offshore Drilling Work During Federal Shutdown

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A federal judge in South Carolina has turned back the Trump administration’s attempt to continue preparatory work for offshore drilling during the federal government’s partial shutdown, issuing a ruling in a federal lawsuit challenging the overall expansion plans.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel halted federal agencies “from taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action” for permits to conduct testing that’s needed before drilling work can begin.

The ruling comes a few days after President Donald Trump’s decision this week to recall workers at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management so they could continue to process testing permits for possible drilling off the Atlantic coastline. The recall drew an objection from the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva (gri-HAWL-vah) of Arizona. He called on Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to reverse course or provide a briefing on the legal justification for the move.

Earlier this month, South Carolina joined a federal lawsuit opposing the administration’s plans to conduct offshore drilling tests using seismic air guns. Gergel is overseeing that case, initially filed by environmental groups and municipalities along the state’s coast.

US News & World Report