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Good to Know…Week of October 24, 2011

EPA Plans to Issue Rules Covering Fracking Wastewater
The EPA took another step toward tightening oversight of hydraulic fracturing today, announcing it would initiate a process to set national rules for treating wastewater discharged from gas drilling operations.

To read this article, go to: Propublica.org

Energy Efficiency Push Survives State Budget Crunch
The $5 billion federal Home Star program, or “Cash for Caulkers” as most people referred to the plan to incentivize home energy savings, met a slow death last session on Capitol Hill. But that didn’t keep at least one state from quickly crafting a plan of its own.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Solar Energy’s Potential is Hottest in the Planet’s Coldest Regions
Think the best place for solar panels is the desert? Think again. In Antarctica, the sun shines 24 hours a day.

To read this article, go to: FastCompany.com

Most Energy-Efficient State? California No Longer Tops List
For the first time, Massachusetts takes the top spot, which California held for the last four years, according to the fifth annual 50-state ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a private research group.

To read this article, go to: USATODAY.com

210 Million Vehicles Cross Deficient Bridges Daily
In Los Angeles, an average of 396 drivers cross a deficient bridge every second. In New York, that number is 203 drivers per second. And those cities don’t even have the highest percentage of worst bridges in the country.

To read this article, go to: TransportationNation.org

Joint Commission Advocates IT to Counter Racial Disparities in Health Care
A new article published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety finds that differences in the quality and safety of medical treatment received by minorities could be reduced through the better use of health information technology.

To read this article, go to: HealthcareITNews.com

States Rewrite Education Rules, With or Without Race to the Top
Colorado, for example, is moving forward with a new system tying teacher and principal reviews to student performance. That sort of linkage is central to the Race to the Top program.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Student Loans Outstanding Will Exceed $1 Trillion This Year
The amount of student loans taken out last year crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time and total loans outstanding will exceed $1 trillion for the first time this year. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, reports the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

To read this article, go to: USATODAY.com

School Accreditation Explained: Does a Seal of Approval Matter?
Last month, Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that it would be stripping Kansas City’s schools of their accreditation next year. Responding to the news, Stephen Green, the school district’s interim superintendent, told reporters that the change wouldn’t impact graduating seniors or make their diplomas less valuable. Those students would be unaffected in applying to colleges and would still be eligible for scholarships, he said, answering two of the first questions many parents and students had.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

Senate Blocks Money for Teachers, Firefighters
Nine days after President Obama’s $447 billion jobs package was blocked in the U.S. Senate, one of the plan’s key components–which would provide $35 billion to states and local governments to hire teachers and first responders–suffered the same fate late Thursday.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

Budget Cuts Claim Hundreds of Thousands of County, City Jobs
Local governments, once a steady source of employment in tough economic times, are shedding jobs in unprecedented numbers, and heavy payroll losses are expected to persist into next year.

To read this article, go to: USATODAY.com

Senior Executive Service to Get Standard Evaluations
The Senior Executive Service’s 7,000 or so members will get a new performance management system as early as this month. The new system, being finalized by the Office of Management and Budget, aims to evaluate SES members on how well they demonstrate the SES’s five “core qualifications”: leading people, leading change, business acumen, building coalitions and being results driven.

To read this article, go to: FederalTimes.com

States Retool Food Stamp, Benefits Systems
Food stamp applicants in California and Texas no longer have to be fingerprinted, a change both states hope will save money and improve the process of distribution.

To read this article, go to: Stateline.org

USAJobs Revamp: Is the Site Any Better? Users Say No
ight days after launching what it described as a new and improved Web site for federal job seekers, the Office of Personnel Management is still working to clear up major glitches that are blocking access for many users.

To read this article, go to: WashingtonPost.com

How Data Wizardry Can Revive America’s Cities
Advanced software analytics is coming of age in many local governments, where city managers and capital planners are using the technology to model solutions to perplexing problems, such as determining the optimum time to repair aging highway infrastructure or showing the impact of air pollution on the costs of public health.

To read this article, go to: GCN.com

Obama’s ICE Reports Record Number of Deportations of Illegal Immigrants
The U.S. deported more people–nearly 400,000–who were in the country illegally in fiscal 2011 than ever before, according to the latest numbers released Tuesday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau.

To read this article, go to: TheHill.com

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