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BUILD Discretionary Grants

Posted by GLHC on May 1, 2018 at 8:40 AM

U.S. Department of Transportation Launches BUILD Transportation Program

Announces $1.5 Billion Notice of Funding Opportunity

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $1.5 billion in discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program.

BUILD Transportation grants replace the pre-existing Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. As the Administration looks to enhance America’s infrastructure, FY 2018 BUILD Transportation grants are for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

“BUILD Transportation grants will help communities revitalize their surface transportation systems while also increasing support for rural areas to ensure that every region of our country benefits,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Projects for BUILD will be evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership, and additional non-Federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.

To reflect the Administration’s Infrastructure Initiative, DOT intends to award a greater share of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas that align well with the selection criteria than to such projects in urban areas. The notice highlights rural needs in several of the evaluation criteria, including support for rural broadband deployment where it is part of an eligible transportation project.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 made available $1.5 billion for National Infrastructure Investments, otherwise known as BUILD Transportation Discretionary grants, through September 30, 2020. For this round of BUILD Transportation grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the FY 2018 Appropriations Act. At least 30 percent of funds must be awarded to projects located in rural areas.

To provide technical assistance to a broad array of stakeholders, DOT is hosting a series of webinars during the FY 2018 BUILD grant application process. A webinar on how to compete for BUILD Transportation Grants for all applicants will be held on Thursday, May 24; a webinar for rural and tribal applicants will be held on Tuesday, May 29; and a webinar on how to prepare a benefit cost analysis for a BUILD application will be held on Thursday, May 31. All webinars will take place from 2:00-4:00 PM EDT. Details and registration information regarding these webinars will be made available at https://www.transportation.gov/BUILDgrants/outreach. The Department will schedule additional webinars on these topics in June.

The deadline to submit an application for the FY 2018 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants program is July 19, 2018.

For more information, please visit https://www.transportation.gov/BUILDgrants.

Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WannaCry Ransomware Update

Posted by GLHC on May 16, 2017 at 11:05 AM

WannaCry Ransomware

According to open-source reports, WannaCry is a part of a widespread ransomware campaign affecting thousands of companies and individuals nationwide. As of the writing of this document, reports indicate more than 200,000 computers have been impacted located in 150 countries. This software has the ability to run in 27 different languages. In the U.S. multiple organizations have been impacted. For example, FedEx reportedly had their computer systems impacted. A hospital in the U.S. also had some of their medical devices taken offline after being hit with this ransomware.

WannaCry (also known as WCry or Wanna Decryptor) was discovered in the early morning hours of May 12, 2017. This ransomware leverages a Windows SMB exploit to remotely target a computer running on unsupported or unpatched versions of windows. This exploit has been identified as part of the EternalBlue collection of hacking tools which were allegedly created by the National Security Agency (NSA) and dumped over a month ago by a hacking group going by the name of “The Shadow Brokers.” The exact infection vector has not been identified yet.

Once a machine is infected, the malicious program encrypts all the data on the system. It then reveals a message stating that victims can get their data back if they pay roughly $300 in Bitcoins. Open- source reporting indicates cyber criminals behind this attack have made more than

$50,000 so far. Paying the ransom does not guarantee the encrypted files will be released or the infection has been removed.

Additionally, once a machine is infected, the malware scans for other vulnerable computers on the same network, as well as for additional hosts on the wider internet so that it can continue to spread. This worm has the ability to cause damage even if it does not detonate and encrypt the system’s data. There are multiple reported methods of infection and currently there are 65 known variants of this ransomware. Out of these 65 variants, two are known to have “kill switches” while the others do not. On May 14, 2017, Microsoft released a security update to mitigate the SMB vulnerability used by this ransomware. They released patches for Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 on May 13, 2017 as well. Information on these patches can be found at MS17-010 and Microsoft Update Catalog.

To help reduce the chances of falling victim to this ransomware, it is highly recommended all systems be patched and updated if possible. If it is not possible, it is recommended that those systems be isolated and taken off the network. Additionally, it is recommended that users stay vigilant to potential social engineering attacks as reports indicate some cyber criminals have used this incident to gain access to systems by stating they are from Microsoft and want to help.MC3 personnel will continue to monitor the situation and will notify as necessary. Any additional questions or concerns can be sent to mc3@michigan.gov

FRESHWATER FUTURE Grant Deadlines

Posted by GLHC on March 21, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Walk Paddle & Roll


Freshwater Future has TWO grant deadlines fast approaching!


• Project Grant applications (awards ups to $3,500 USD) are due March 31, 2017. Please call - 231-348-8200 ext 4 or email - becca@freshwaterfuture.og if you have any questions about this grant program. https://freshwaterfuture.org/grants/project-grant-program/

Additionally, if you are wondering if you qualify for Project Grants visit: www.freshwaterfuture.org

• Great Lakes Network Grant applications (awards up to $10,000 USD) are due - March 31, 2017. Please call - 231-348-8200 ext 6 or email - nancy@freshwaterfuture.org for any questions about this grant program: https://freshwaterfuture.org/grants/freshwater-future-grants/great-lakes-network/.

• Don't forget we have other grant programs with rolling deadlines - Healing Our Waters:  https://freshwaterfuture.org/grants/healing-our-waters-grant-program/

 


In the News

Posted by GLHC on February 27, 2017 at 9:55 AM

The following are links we'd like to share with you concerning issues relevent to the Great Lakes Hazards Coalition and our member base. 


The Partnership Bulletin, designed for widest distribution, provides a snapshot of upcoming training and exercise opportunities, critical infrastructure events, and key announcements. Below, is a link to February's issue of the Partnership Bulletin. It provides information regarding appointments within the Department of Hoemland Security, updates to the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, and various upcoming conferences and trainings.To receive this Bulletin directly, please send your request to sector.partnership@hq.dhs.gov.

https://share.dhs.gov/p7anvmfmo0m/


The following is a link to Security Debrief, a blog dedicated to homeland security, terrorism and counter-terrorism, intelligence and law enforcement that provides context to the debates, policies and politics that are playing out in Washington, D.C. This article discusses the future of the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the current political climate. It outlines details from the recent congressional hearing and highlights various program and issues that will be pursued.

http://securitydebrief.com/2017/02/15/femas-future-save-the-grants-partnerships-and-children/

Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month

Posted by GLHC on October 26, 2016 at 3:00 PM

November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month. This nation-wide initiative is sponsored by the Office of Infrastructure Protection of the Department of Homeland Security. It is designed to educate businesses, partners, and the general public of the importance of our critical infrastructure and provide them with tools to promote the initiative within their community. With this initiative, DHS also hopes to bring awareness to their other campaigns like Hometown Security and See Something, Say Something, which also assists in protecting our nation’s infrastructure.


During this month, DHS would like to remind people to engage in their See Something, Say Something and Hometown Security campaigns. See Something, Say Something is an initiative to remind the general public that while law enforcement does everything in their power to protect and defend, we, the public, have the ability to contribute to this by reporting any suspicious activity that we see. You can report suspicious activity to your state fusion center by calling 1-877-OHS-INTEL. The Hometown Security campaign is designed to help the private sector and community partners better protect their facilities and venues. DHS offers free tools on their website for the private sector to form plans and secure their facilities to mitigate risk and encourage resilience. They also have information about contacting your Private Security Advisor to discuss security at length and request a site assessment.


DHS has created a fact sheet outlining the importance of our critical infrastructure. This fact sheet explains what qualifies as critical infrastructure, – assets, physical or virtual, that if destroyed would have a debilitating effect on the continuity of our way of life - while reminding us how often we depend on it in our daily lives. These assets are separated into 16 sectors that have been defined by DHS. The fact sheet also stresses the importance of partnerships between governmental entities and the private sector that help to protect our critical infrastructure, such as OP3 here in Ohio. It goes on to discuss how DHS’s Office of Infrastructure Protection leads the coordinated national effort to mitigate risks and manage threats to our critical infrastructure. The fact sheet also asks the public to become involved in protecting our critical infrastructure by learning more about it and engaging in partnerships that promote the security of our critical infrastructure.


In addition to the fact sheet, DHS has also produced a toolkit designed to help organizations get involved in the effort to protect their critical infrastructure. This toolkit provides information on how to promote awareness about critical infrastructure security resilience. It also provides information on how to get involved from the private sector and the public sector. The toolkit contains a press release, proclamation, and social media resources if your organization is interested in participating.


"Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month." 11 October 2016. Department of Homeland Security. https://www.dhs.gov/cisr-month. (Accessed 26 October 2016).

 

 

Sturgeon Poaching in the Great Lakes

Posted by GLHC on October 18, 2016 at 10:15 AM

Great Lakes sturgeon are in trouble. They are being poached at alarming rates for black market caviar. A single sturgeon’s unfertilized eggs can be worth nearly $200,000, making it highly sought after by poachers.


It is currently illegal throughout the Great Lakes to harvest the eggs of sturgeon, however, it is not illegal in the U.S. to fish for sturgeon commercially or for sport – like it is in Ontario. Ontario has banned sturgeon fishing since 2008, with the fish listed under the Endangered Species Act.


In order to harvest the unfertilized eggs, poachers have to slice open the sturgeon and remove the eggs. Because it is so difficult to determine male sturgeon from female sturgeon, poachers will indiscriminately cut open male sturgeon along with the females. In many cases, after removing the eggs, poachers will leave the remaining sturgeon to rot.


The Great Lakes Fishery Commission in conjunction with the Crime Stoppers of Canada and the U.S. have formed an initiative to alert the general public of the issue and report any suspicious activity to police or wildlife conservation officials.


Some signs to look out for are: large pools of blood on the ground, use of heavy fishing line needed for sturgeon, and sturgeon tied up along the bank to be kept alive until poachers are able to find a buyer. Remember to report this or other suspicious activity to local law enforcement.


Ferguson, Rob. “Ontario, U.S. authorities appeal for help to stop sturgeon poaching in Great Lakes.” 16 October 2016. thestar.com. https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/10/16/ontario-us-authorities-appeal-for-help-to-stop-sturgeon-poaching-in-great-lakes.html. (Accessed 18 October 2016).

 

Growing Concern Over Microplastics in Great Lakes

Posted by GLHC on October 17, 2016 at 4:05 PM

The presence of microplastics in our water has been a growing concern over the last several years. Microbeads, found in some hand sanitizers, facial and body washes, and toothpastes, are one of the most prevalent plastics found in our water systems. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 prohibited production of microbeads. By mid-2018, microbeads will be completely phased out of production and sale.


However, microbeads aren’t the only microplastics being found in our water supply. Fibers, fragments, and films are also to blame. Microplastics are defined as any piece of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters in diameter.


A recent study found plastic particles in all of the 107 samples they took from 29 Great Lakes tributaries throughout six states. There is little research done on the effects that microplastics have on humans, but there has been some research done on the implications they have on marine life. A study of two dozen Great Lakes fish species found microplastics in each one. Fish ingest the plastic accidentally or thinking its food, which can stem their appetite. Researchers are also concerned that the potentially carcinogenic chemicals found in many of these plastics will be absorbed by the fish and later consumed by humans.


It is no surprise that the highest concentrations of microplastics are found in the Great Lakes tributaries nearest to urban areas. However, this is not just an issue in the Great Lakes. Microplastics have been found in beer from Germany and sea salt in Japan.


The issue is not only in the gaps occurring within our wastewater systems, but with the lifestyle that has progressed since the mass use of plastics following World War II. Although we do not know the entirety of the implications of microplastics to ourselves and our environment, the research we do have supports the idea that microplastics have the potential to be very harmful to our ecosystems and to our own bodies. It is becoming increasingly apparent that we find a way to keep microplastics out of our water supply; even if this comes at the price of minimized plastic use.


Massing, Dana. “Microplastics in Great Lakes tributaries raise health concerns.” 11 October 2016. GoErie.com. http://www.goerie.com/news/20161011/microplastics-in-great-lakes-tributaries-raise-health-concerns. (Accessed 17 October 2016).

 

Michigan Tribe's Opposition to Enbridge Pipeline Construction

Posted by GLHC on October 17, 2016 at 11:55 AM

Recent controversies surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline have raised questions about the effects pipelines like these have on nearby Native American communities. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has managed to successfully halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline for the foreseeable future with the help of nearly 90 different tribes throughout the U.S. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is using the same argument to fight construction on an Enbridge Pipeline that runs partially through their territory.


Enbridge Pipeline and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reached a settlement in July over the 2010 Michigan oil spill. Enbridge is required to pay a $61 million fine for the spill and spend an additional $110 million on safety upgrades to pipelines in their North American pipeline network. The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians oppose the construction to the aging Line 5 that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.


According to 1836 Treaty of Washington, the tribe has some authority over the Straits of Mackinac in regards to fishing. The tribe argues that because this treaty granted them fishing rights, they should have been consulted on the deal because of its potential to affect their fishing. They are using this reasoning in an attempt to block construction until their conditions are met. The tribe has many of the same concerns that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. They would like a full environmental impact review before work is done on the Line 5 under the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act due to the possibility of catastrophic consequences on their livelihoods should a spill occur.


The Grand Traverse Band of Ottwaw and Chipewa Indians has filed an objection with the U.S. District Court for the western district of Michigan. A spokesperson for the Justice Department announced that they are reviewing the tribe's objection. 


Hasemyer, David. "Michigan Tribe Aims to Block Enbridge Pipeline Spill Settlement." 13 September 2016. InsideClimate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/12092016/kalamazoo-river-oil-spill-deal-enbridge-michigan-tribe-line-5-oil-pipeline-dakota-access. (Accessed 17 October 2016).

 

Our Nation's Outdated Water Infrastructure

Posted by GLHC on October 15, 2016 at 12:50 AM

If a lesson is to be learned from the water crisis in Flint, MI, it is that a good portion of this nation’s infrastructure is outdated and potentially dangerous. Areas, particularly older settlements on the coasts, still use water systems that were built more than a century ago. In New York City alone, 8 million people get their drinking water from a tunnel that was built in 1917. The problem with these older water systems is that they have degradation occurring that can cause harmful substances to enter the water supply – the most notorious of which is lead.


According to the American Water Works Association, there are six million lead water lines in use today. These lines service as many as 22 million Americans. This is a critical issue to public health that needs to be addressed in order to prevent another event like Flint from happening.


The estimated cost to replace all lead lines over the next 20 years is $400 to $600 billion, and as much as $30 billion to replace the lines that present the most immediate danger.


Dealing with these lead lines will present a huge challenge for our nation and will likely take more than 20 years to complete, but it is something that is critically important to the health of our citizens. Currently, the onus falls on local governments, however, many of them have experienced funding issues that constrict their ability to tackle such an expensive public works project. It may soon be necessary to rely on federal funding to alleviate some of the financial burden this places on local governments, because continuing to ignore the problem will result in more cases like the water crisis in Flint.


Cisneros, Henry. "A National Water Crisis."  29 June 2016. U.S. News. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-29/the-united-states-faces-a-national-water-crisis. (Accessed 14 October 2016).

 

Waukesha Water Request Unanimously Approved

Posted by GLHC on June 23, 2016 at 1:55 PM

On Tuesday, eight delegates representing the governors of Great Lakes states voted unanimously to approve the City of Waukesha’s request to receive a diversion of water from Lake Michigan. This will make Waukesha the first U.S. city outside of the Great Lakes drainage basin to be approved for a diversion of lake water.1


The plan was originally introduced back in 2010 and has undergone six years of research to ensure its compliance with the Great Lakes Compact, a federal law that bans Great Lakes water from being distributed to counties outside of the Great Lakes drainage basin.2 While the city of Waukesha is located outside of Lake Michigan’s drainage basin, Waukesha County is part of it, making the city of Waukesha eligible to apply for water from Lake Michigan.


The decision to apply for the Lake Michigan water resulted from a series of studies indicating that Waukesha needed to find a long-term solution for their primary water supply. Currently, Waukesha is drawing water from deep underground wells that are producing radium-contaminated water.3 With no other sustainable, long-term solutions available, Waukesha turned to Lake Michigan as its only available option.4


Waukesha has been granted access to no more than an average of 8.2 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan (less than the 10.1 million gallons per day requested in the original application). The proposed distribution area will include the city’s current distribution area and several additional town islands (this, too, is less than what the city requested in the original application).5 These concessions come with the understanding that Waukesha will return 100% of the water used in the form of treated wastewater to Root River, a tributary of Lake Michigan.6


Initial estimates have determined that the plan will cost at least $207 million to implement. It is unclear how long it will take Waukesha to transition to the Lake Michigan water; however, it will take at least six months to a year to obtain the necessary permits to begin building the system, which is the next step in the process now that Waukesha’s plan has been approved.7


1-7 Behm, Don. “Great Lakes governors approve Waukesha water request.” 21 June 2016. Journal Sentinel. http://www.jsonline.com/news/waukesha/decision-day-arrives-for-waukeshas-lake-michigan-water-request-b99747111z1-383762921.html. (Accessed 22 June 2016).

 


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