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When is a wedding plan so awesome the Coast Guard gets involved?

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FireworksYou know your wedding day will be memorable when it triggers a series of environmental reviews and a proposed rule from the federal government.

That is definitely the case for a lucky person named “Ellie,’ whose planned wedding fireworks display on June 27 about 1.5 miles into the Long Island Sound near Greenwich, Conn., had to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Because the fireworks will be launched from a barge in navigable waterways, the Coast Guard had to perform an environmental impact review and formally establish a temporary safety zone.

This temporary rule proposes to establish a safety zone for the Ellie’s Wedding fireworks display. This proposed regulated area includes all waters of Long Island Sound within a 600 foot radius of the fireworks barge located approximate 1.5 miles south of Greenwich Point Park in Greenwich, CT,” according to the proposed rule.

Of course, since it’s a proposed rule, you can still comment officially on it until May 15. I will be sending them my best wishes for a long-lasting relationship.

All the details and procedures were published on Regulations.gov as part of the rulemaking process, but as far as wedding announcements go, its very formal.

So congratulations Ellie on your wedding day. I hear your fireworks are going to be great.

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The federal government–relevant, after all?

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Hurricane Sandy is nowhere near done pummeling the D.C. area tonight, but FedLine can’t help noticing how the storm has already showered attention on the federal government’s role in anticipating and responding to disasters.

Last Friday, for example, The New York Times ran a front-page article on how delays in development of the next generation of weather satellites could jeopardize future forecasting. That risk would not have come as news to Federal Times readers, but the mainstream media had previously paid little attention to the issue.

Since then, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has had to fend off questions over whether he wants to cut funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And at least one network newscast this evening carried a feature story on the Coast Guard’s rescue earlier in the day of 14 crew members from a replica of the H.M.S. Bounty that foundered off the coast of North Carolina.

This is not to say that Washington does everything well (as the Times story points out, mismanagement has been one factor in throwing the weather satellite program off track), or that it’s unreasonable to ask whether some missions can be carried out differently or more efficiently. But whether you think the federal government’s size is too big, too small or just right, there is no denying that we currently expect it to play a very large role in situations like this. And if it doesn’t take that responsibility, it is reasonable to ask: Who will?

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Photo of the Day: Good Eats for a Good Cause

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Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen (left) and a team judges rate batches of chili entered in the first Commandant's Chili Cookoff.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen (left) and a team judges rate batches of chili entered in the first Commandant's Chili Cookoff.

Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen was hard at work judging the first annual Commandant’s Chili Cookoff on Dec. 10. It was all for a deliciously good cause: raising funds for the National Capital Area Combined Federal Campaign, according to Allen’s blog. And from his comments there, it sounds like it was tough:

However, as much as I tried, I couldn’t match the intensity of Command Master Chief [Petty Officer Steven] Cantrell who obviously has grasp of the intricacies of fine chili.

Ultimately, Allen chose  U.S. Army Col. Kevin Hawkins’ steaming batch of Airborne Ranger Chili as the “Commandant’s Choice.” Hawkins’ chili also  collected the titles of Best Overall (picked by the judges) and People Choice (picked by employees), according to Allen’s spokespeople. The event raised $550.

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Senate stimulus: Fewer funds for feds

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A group of Republican and Democratic senators trimmed nearly $100 billion from the economic stimulus package over the last few days. Most economists say the cuts are a bad idea, because the smaller the stimulus bill, the less stimulative its effect on the economy. (Think of driving up an icy hill: If you’re not going fast enough, you slide back down.)

Federal managers might not like the cuts, either: The revised Senate stimulus plan eliminates billions of dollars that were allocated for federal agencies.

One of the biggest cuts will hurt the General Services Administration. The House stimulus bill gives GSA almost $7 billion to make federal buildings more energy-efficient. The Senate version cuts that in half — to $3.5 billion.

Other items cut from the Senate plan:

  • $122 million for the Coast Guard’s new polar icebreakers;
  • $200 million for new screening equipment for the Transportation Security Administration;
  • $75 million from the Smithsonian, which the institution would have used for capital improvements (the House bill included $150 million);
  • $200 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program;
  • $200 million for the National Science Foundation;
  • $1 billion for Head Start.

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