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Federal News

New Mexico Awarded More than $3 Million for Road Repairs in Lincoln County

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 17:25

DENTON, Texas – On Oct. 6, 2014, at the request of Governor Susana Martinez, President Obama declared a major disaster for the state of New Mexico. In June 2015, the state of New Mexico was awarded more than $3 million in federal disaster assistance for repairs to roads in Lincoln County following severe storms and flooding in July and August 2014. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management continues to administer the funds and provide support to the county as it recovers.

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Categories: Federal News

More than $137 Million Flows to Texas One Month Following Disaster

FEMA Press Releases - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 15:56

AUSTIN, Texas – State and federal dollars are flowing into Texas communities recovering from the May 4 through June 19 storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes and floods.

To date, more than $137 million in state and federal grants, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans, and National Flood Insurance Program claims have been approved and/or paid to Texans.

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Categories: Federal News

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Remain the Primary Threat to Polar Bears

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 13:30
Summary: Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models

Contact Information:

Paul  Laustsen ( Phone: 650-329-4046 ); Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );



ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.  

Under both scenarios, the outcome for the worldwide polar bear population will very likely worsen over time through the end of the century.

The modeling effort examined the prognosis for polar bear populations in the four ecoregions (see map) comprising their range using current sea ice projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for two greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Both scenarios examined how greenhouse gas emissions may affect polar bears: one looked at stabilization in climate warming by century’s end because of reduced GHG emissions, and the other looked at unabated (unchanged) rates of GHG emissions, leading to increased warming by century’s end.

“Addressing sea ice loss will require global policy solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and likely be years in the making,” said Mike Runge, a USGS research ecologist. “Because carbon emissions accumulate over time, there will be a lag, likely on the order of several decades, between mitigation of emissions and meaningful stabilization of sea ice loss.”

Under the unabated emission scenario, polar bear populations in two of four ecoregions were projected to reach a greatly decreased state about 25 years sooner than under the stabilized scenario. Under the stabilized scenario, GHG emissions peak around 2040, decline through 2080, then decline through the end of the century. In this scenario, USGS projected that all ecoregion populations will greatly decrease except for the Archipelago Ecoregion, located in the high-latitude Canadian Arctic, where sea ice generally persists longer in the summer. These updated modeling outcomes reinforce earlier suggestions of the Archipelago’s potential as an important refuge for ice-dependent species, including the polar bear.

The models, updated from 2010, evaluated specific threats to polar bears such as sea ice loss, prey availability, hunting, and increased human activities, and incorporated new findings on regional variation in polar bear response to sea ice loss.

“Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations,” said Todd Atwood, research biologist with the USGS, and lead author of the study. “We found that other environmental stressors such as trans-Arctic shipping, oil and gas exploration, disease and contaminants, sustainable harvest and defense of life takes, had only negligible effects on polar bear populations—compared to the much larger effects of sea ice loss and associated declines in their ability to access prey.”

Additionally, USGS researchers noted that if the summer ice-free period lengthens beyond 4 months – as forecasted to occur during the last half of this century in the unabated scenario – the negative effects on polar bears will be more pronounced. Polar bears rely on ice as the platform for hunting their primary prey – ice seals – and when sea ice completely melts in summer, the bears must retreat to land where their access to seals is limited. Other research this year has shown that terrestrial foods available to polar bears during these land-bound months are unlikely to help polar bear populations adapt to sea ice loss.

USGS scientists’ research found that managing threats other than greenhouse gas emissions could slow the progression of polar bear populations to an increasingly worse status. The most optimistic prognosis for polar bears would require immediate and aggressive reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that would limit global warming to less than 2°C above preindustrial levels.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008 due to the threat posed by sea ice loss. The polar bear was the first species to be listed because of climate change. A plan to address recovery of the polar bear will be released into the Federal Register by the USFWS for public review on July 2, 2015.

The updated forecast for polar bears was developed by USGS as part of its Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative, together with collaborators from the U.S. Forest Service and Polar Bears International. The polar bear forecasting report is available online

Polar Bear Ecoregions: In the Seasonal Ice Ecoregion (see map), sea ice melts completely in summer and all polar bears must be on land. In the Divergent Ice Ecoregion, sea ice pulls away from the coast in summer, and polar bears must be on land or move with the ice as it recedes north. In the Convergent Ice and Archipelago Ecoregions, sea ice is generally retained during the summer. (High resolution image)

Water Used for Hydraulic Fracturing Varies Widely Across United States

USGS Newsroom - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 10:00
Summary: The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new USGS study accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union USGS Releases First Nationwide Map of Water Usage for

Contact Information:

Anne Berry Wade (USGS) ( Phone: 703-648-4483 ); Leigh Cooper (AGU) ( Phone: 202-777-7324 ); Tanya Gallegos ( Phone: 703-648-6181 );



The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new USGS study accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. The research found that water volumes for hydraulic fracturing averaged within watersheds across the United States range from as little as 2,600 gallons to as much as 9.7 million gallons per well.

This map shows the average water use in hydraulic fracturing per oil and gas well in watersheds across the United States. (High resolution image)

In addition, from 2000 to 2014, median annual water volume estimates for hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells had increased from about 177,000 gallons per oil and gas well to more than 4 million gallons per oil well and 5.1 million gallons per gas well. Meanwhile, median water use in vertical and directional wells remained below 671,000 gallons per well. For comparison, an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons.

“One of the most important things we found was that the amount of water used per well varies quite a bit, even within a single oil and gas basin,” said USGS scientist Tanya Gallegos, the study’s lead author. “This is important for land and resource managers, because a better understanding of the volumes of water injected for hydraulic fracturing could be a key to understanding the potential for some environmental impacts.”

This map shows the percentage of oil and gas wells that use horizontal drilling in watersheds across the United States. (High resolution image)

Horizontal wells are those that are first drilled vertically or directionally (at an angle from straight down) to reach the unconventional oil or gas reservoir and then laterally along the oil or gas-bearing rock layers. This is done to increase the contact area with the reservoir rock and stimulate greater oil or gas production than could be achieved through vertical wells alone.

However, horizontal wells also generally require more water than vertical or directional wells. In fact, in 52 out of the 57 watersheds with the highest average water use for hydraulic fracturing, over 90 percent of the wells were horizontally drilled.

Although there has been an increase in the number of horizontal wells drilled since 2008, about 42 percent of new hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells completed in 2014 were still either vertical or directional. The ubiquity of the lower-water-use vertical and directional wells explains, in part, why the amount of water used per well is so variable across the United States.

The watersheds where the most water was used to hydraulically fracture wells on average coincided with parts of the following shale formations:

  • Eagle Ford (within watersheds located mainly in Texas)
  • Haynesville-Bossier (within watersheds located mainly in Texas & Louisiana)
  • Barnett (within watersheds located mainly in Texas)
  • Fayetteville (within watersheds located in Arkansas)
  • Woodford  (within watersheds located mainly in Oklahoma)
  • Tuscaloosa  (within watersheds located in Louisiana & Mississippi)
  • Marcellus & Utica (within watersheds located in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and within watersheds extending into southern New York)

Shale gas reservoirs are often hydraulically fractured using slick water, a fluid type that requires a lot of water. In contrast, tight oil formations like the Bakken (in parts of Montana and North Dakota) often use gel-based hydraulic fracturing treatment fluids, which generally contain lower amounts of water.

This research was carried out as part of a larger effort by the USGS to understand the resource requirements and potential environmental impacts of unconventional oil and gas development. Prior publications include historical trends in the use of hydraulic fracturing from 1947-2010, as well as the chemistry of produced waters from hydraulically fractured wells.

The report is entitled “Hydraulic fracturing water use variability in the United States and potential environmental implications,” and has been accepted for publication in Water Resources Research. More information about this study and other USGS energy research can be found at the USGS Energy Resources Program. Stay up to date on USGS energy science by signing up for our quarterly Newsletter or following us on Twitter!

FEMA provides federal funds to help fight Sleepy Hollow Fire

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 17:14

SEATTLE - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized the use of federal funds to help with firefighting costs for the Sleepy Hollow Fire, burning in Chelan County, Wash.


FEMA Region X Regional Administrator, Kenneth D. Murphy determined that the Sleepy Hollow Fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster. Murphy approved the state’s request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) on June 28, 2015 at 10:45 p.m. PDT. This is the first FMAG approved in the state of Washington this fire season.

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Categories: Federal News

FEMA Seeks Texans to Work at Disaster Recovery Offices

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:38

AUSTIN, Texas – Texans will have the opportunity to assist with the state’s disaster recovery from the severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding that occurred from May 4 to June 19. Dozens of qualified Texans will be offered temporary jobs as local hires of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in its Austin, Denton, and Houston offices.

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Categories: Federal News

Frequently Asked Questions on Disaster Assistance for Noncitizens

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 15:21

What is disaster assistance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may provide grants to help pay for rent, emergency home repairs, personal property replacement, and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other sources.

Low-interest disaster recovery loans may be available from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters.

 Who is eligible?

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Categories: Federal News

Australia and United States Strengthen Emergency Management Partnership

FEMA Press Releases - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 10:35

Today, Australia and the United States renewed and strengthened an important and valuable partnership to improve our respective emergency management capabilities. 

Emergency Management Australia (EMA), within the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security deepened their existing relationship through a renewed five-year Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Emergency Management 2015-2020. 

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Categories: Federal News

SBA Provides Low-Interest Loans to Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners, and Renters

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:36

What is an SBA disaster loan?

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans are the primary source of federal long-term disaster recovery funds for disaster damages not fully covered by insurance or other compensation.

SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance is working in conjunction with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help business owners and residents recover, as much as possible, from this declared disaster.

Who is eligible for SBA low-interest loans?

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Categories: Federal News

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Arkansas Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:06

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Arkansas.

Assistance for Affected Individuals and Families Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

Frequently Asked Questions on Letter of Eligibility

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:04

Why did I get a letter stating I’m ineligible?

FEMA routinely corresponds with applicants to let them know if they qualify for federal disaster assistance. The most common reasons for receiving a determination of ineligibility are:

  • Adequate insurance coverage.
  • Insufficient storm-related damage.
  • Missing documentation needed to complete the assistance evaluation process.

What are examples of missing documentation?

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Categories: Federal News

Letter on Eligibility May Not Be Last Word on Disaster Assistance for Texans Affected by Storms, Floods

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:59

AUSTIN, Texas – A letter stating a household is ineligible for disaster assistance may not be the final word on a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) application.

The most common reasons for receiving a determination of ineligibility are:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for Arkansas

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:58

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Arkansas and ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of May 7 to June 15, 2015.

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Categories: Federal News

Texans in Fayette County May Now Apply for Federal Disaster Assistance

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:55

AUSTIN, Texas – The federal disaster declaration for Texas has been expanded to include Individual Assistance for Fayette County as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that occurred between May 4 and June 19, according to the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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Categories: Federal News

Disaster Recovery Center Opens in Hidalgo County

FEMA Press Releases - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:52

AUSTIN, Texas – A State/FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is now open in Hidalgo County for homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from May 4 to June 19.

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Categories: Federal News

USGS Welcomes European Space Agency’s New Land Observing Satellite

USGS Newsroom Technical - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:18
Summary: The U.S. Geological Survey salutes the European Space Agency (ESA) on the successful June 23 launch of its Sentinel-2A satellite, the second satellite to be launched in Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring program.&nbsp ESA Sentinel-2A to collaborate with USGS-NASA Landsat mission

Contact Information:

Jon Campbell ( Phone: 703-648-4180 );



The U.S. Geological Survey salutes the European Space Agency (ESA) on the successful June 23 launch of its Sentinel-2A satellite, the second satellite to be launched in Europe’s Copernicus environment monitoring program. 

"We are very pleased to have such a talented new player join the team in watching Earth from space,” said Suzette Kimball, acting USGS Director. “The aptly named Sentinel mission will help sharpen our focus on changes in Earth systems and contribute further insight to a great many global challenges at international to local scales, including food security, forest and wildlife conservation, and disaster response."  

Sentinel-2 imagery is expected to supply valuable parallels and counterparts to Landsat imagery provided by the United States. Before Sentinel-2A launched, USGS and ESA staff worked together at length to ensure that Sentinel-2 data would be as compatible as possible with Landsat data. 

First launched by NASA in 1972, the Landsat series of satellites has produced the longest, continuous record of Earth’s land surface as seen from space. Landsat images have been used by scientists and resource managers to monitor water quality, glacier recession, coral reef health, land use change, deforestation rates, and population growth.

Landsat is a joint effort of USGS and NASA. NASA develops remote-sensing instruments and spacecraft, launches the satellites, and validates their performance. USGS develops the associated ground systems, then takes ownership and operates the satellites (since 2000), as well as managing data reception, archiving, and distribution. Landsat data were made available to all users free of charge under a policy change by the U.S. Department of the Interior and USGS in late 2008.

"We are also pleased that a free and open data policy has been adopted for users of Sentinel data,"Kimball added. “Free, open access to Landsat and Sentinel-2 data together will create remarkable economic and scientific benefits for people around the globe."

Designed as a two-satellite constellation – Sentinel-2A and -2B – the Sentinel-2 mission carries an innovative wide swath high-resolution multispectral imager with 13 spectral bands. However, it will not fully duplicate the Landsat data stream, which includes thermal measurements. Sentinel-1A, a satellite with radar-based instruments, was launched April 3, 2014. 

Once it is fully operational following several months of on-orbit testing, Sentinel-2A alone could provide 10-day repeat coverage of Earth’s land areas. With Sentinel-2A data added to the 8-day coverage from Landsat 7/8 combined, users can look forward to better-than-weekly coverage at moderate resolution. Repeat coverage capabilities will further increase with the planned launch of a second Sentinel-2 satellite (Sentinel-2B) next year. 

NASA has published an online comparison of Sentinel-2A and Landsat bandwidths.

Learn more:

  Sentinel 2A liftoff (video - 4:32)
  USGS Landsat
  NASA Landsat
  Landsat: Continuing to Improve Everyday Life

Federal Aid Programs for the State of Nebraska Declaration

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 18:36

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Nebraska.

Assistance for the Territory and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

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Categories: Federal News

President Declares Disaster for the State of Nebraska

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 18:29

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Nebraska to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of May 6 to June 17, 2015.

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Categories: Federal News

STATE/FEMA RECOVERY CENTER REOPENS IN ATOKA COUNTY

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 16:20

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Mobile Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will reopen in Atoka County to help people in Oklahoma who were affected by the severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding and tornadoes occurring May 5 through June 4.

A mobile DRC officially reopens for four days on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 7 a.m. in Atoka County at:

Kiamichi Technology Center, Business Center

1301 West Liberty Road

Atoka, OK 74525

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Categories: Federal News

Flood Insurance Policyholders have until September 15 to Request their Hurricane Sandy Claims be Reviewed

FEMA Press Releases - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 15:50

WASHINGTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is committed to ensuring every National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholder who filed a claim as a result of Hurricane Sandy receives every dollar they are due under their policy. The NFIP established a process for Hurricane Sandy survivors who feel they were underpaid to have their claims reviewed. Where warranted, additional payments will be made to those policyholders.

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Categories: Federal News