Monday, December 22, 2008

Producing Liquid Fuels FromCoal: Prospects and Policy Issues

This Report prepared by the Rand Corporation for the United States Air Force and the
National Energy Technology Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy describes the technical status, costs, and performance of methods that are available for producing liquids from coal; the key energy and environmental policy issues associated with Coal-to-Liquid development; the impediments to early commercial experience; and the efficacy of alternative federal incentives in promoting early commercial experience.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Decline of Clean Water Act Enforcement Program

This Memo from the House Majority Staff, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Majority Staff, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to Rep. Henry A. Waxman Chairman, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and James L. Oberstar Chairman, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure dated December 16,2008 details allegations that the Clean Water Act enforcement program has deteriorated significantly over the past two years. The memo is based on a review of more than 20,000 pages of documents produced to the Committees by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Documents are found here:Supporting Documents

The documents indicate that the Supreme Court's decision on June 19,2006, in Rapanos v. United States and the Administration's guidance implementing that decision have resulted in a decline in the number of Clean Water Act inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions. In numerous e-mails, memos, and other documents, EPA field offices across the country have expressed serious concerns about this negative trend, warning that they are no longer able to ensure the safety and health of the nation's waters.

The documents also indicate that in one particular case involving the Santa Cruz River in Arizona, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works disregarded a scientific determination of career staff that would prevent the reduction of Clean Water Act coverage.

Working in conjunction with corporate lobbyists and developers, this political appointee launched a campaign to overturn the scientific determination, although his efforts ultimately failed after direct intervention by EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Endangered Species Act and the Conflict between Science and Policy

This Report by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior dated December 10, 2008 finds that actions of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish Wildlife and Parks in circumventing the scientific analysis of Endangered Species Act decisions jeopardised the entire decision-making process by making it appear arbitrary and capricious.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Transition to Green: Leading the Way to a Healthy Environment, a Green Economy, and a Sustainable Future

This report published by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Dated November 2008 provides environmental transition recommendations for the Obama Administration.

The Report produced by a coalition of environmental action groups states that science should have a primary role. The base environmental regulations should rest not politics but science. The report notes top areas for action and makes numerous recommendations across a wide range of federal agencies. The report identifies four broad areas that deserve special attention during the Obama transition.
-Clean Energy and Climate Change
-The Federal Budget and Stimulus Legislation
-The White House as a Leader on Clean Energy and the Environment
-Putting the Right People in the Right Jobs

Kyoto Protocol Reference Manual on Accounting of Emissions

This Manual produced by the UNFCCC secretariat and dated February 2007 provides "a reference tool to assist Parties included in Annex I to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Annex I Parties) in the implementation of their commitments related to accounting of emissions and assigned amounts under the Kyoto Protocol. In this regard, the manual synthesizes the requirements for Annex I Parties
with respect to:
• National systems for preparation of national inventories;
• National registries;
• Reporting, review and compliance procedures related to the
accounting of emissions and assigned amount;
• Accounting for land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)
• Participation in the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms and the procedures
for establishing, maintaining and suspending eligibility; and
• Transactions of Kyoto Protocol units.
This manual does not address methodologies and baselines or procedures for crediting of emission reduction and removal projects under the clean development mechanism or joint implementation. Nor does it provide information on other Kyoto Protocol commitments not directly related to the accounting of Parties’ emissions and assigned amounts, other than what is covered in this introduction.

Bush Watch: The Last One Hundred Days

This Report by the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Majority Staff subtitled: Past is Prologue: For Energy and the Environment, the Bush Administration’s Last 100 Days Could Rival the First 100: Deregulatory Risks Abound for Environment and Energy Policy in Final Months of Bush Administration while not politically balanced offers the view of the committee's majority on regulatory changes during the last days of the administration.

The report will cover the following major rulemaking topics:
• New Source Review and other air pollution rules under Clean Air Act
• Fuel economy
• Biofuels
• Endangered Species Act
• Mountaintop mining, oil shale, tar sands and other resource extraction rules
• Clean water rules
• Global warming
• Nuclear energy and safety
• Rules already issued

Review of the Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research

The report by the National Research Council calls for a revamped national strategic plan that will minimize potential risks and permit innovation to flourish and society to reap nanotechnology’s benefits.

The risk research plan developed under the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has been widely criticized by consumer groups, chemical industry representatives and congressional lawmakers from both major parties as lacking a clear vision and the resources necessary to improve understanding of the potential risks posed by nanomaterials.

This report calls for an improved mechanism for conducting research. As many as 18 federal agencies — including the Defense Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration — are under the umbrella of the NNI’s environment and health implications working group, making coordinating research a challenging task. The principal recommendation is to replace the current bottom-up collection of individual agency research agendas and budgets with a top-down, highly focused and fully-funded strategy that addresses the risk research priorities of a rapidly commercializing new technology.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Environmental Effects of Agricultural Land-Use Change: The Role of Economics and Policy

This Report (Economic Research Report Number 25) from the United States Department of Agriculture examines the relationship between agricultural land-use changes, soil productivity, and indicators of environmental sensitivity. If cropland that shifts in and out of production is less productive and more environmentally sensitive than other cropland, policy-induced changes in land use could have production effects that are smaller—and environmental impacts that are greater—than anticipated. To illustrate this possibility, this report examines environmental outcomes stemming from landuse conversion caused by two agricultural programs that others have identified as potentially having important influences on land use and environmental quality: Federal crop insurance subsidies and the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Nation’s largest cropland retirement program. The report finds that lands moving between cultivated cropland and less intensive agricultural uses are, on average, less productive and more vulnerable to erosion than other cultivated lands, both nationally and locally. These lands are also associated with greater potential nutrient runoff and leaching compared with cultivated cropland nationally. Crop insurance subsidies and CRP have estimated effects on erosion and other environmental factors that are disproportionate to the acreage and production effects, but specific environmental impacts vary with the features of each program.

Report of the Conference of the Parties on its thirteenth session, held in Bali from 3 to 15 December 2007

This Report of the proceedings of the Bali Meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC/CP/2007/6, dated: 14 March 2008) sets forth the work of the parties at the Bali meeting.

Environmental Protection Agenncies Most Wanted Environmental Criminals

The EPA is offering a Web tool to enlist the public and other law enforcement agencies in tracking down fugitives accused of violating environmental laws and evading arrest.

The Web site includes photos of the accused, summaries of their alleged environmental violations, and information on each fugitive’s last known whereabouts. The alleged violations include smuggling of ozone-depleting substances, illegally disposing of hazardous waste, discharging pollutants into the air and water, laundering money and making criminally false statements.

Increasing Feedstock Production for Biofuels: Economic Drivers, Environmental Implications, and the Role of Research

This Report from the interagency Biomass Research and Development Board on the economic feasibility of developing both farm- and forest-derived biofuel feedstocks to meet national targets for biofuels to reduce gasoline consumption.

Among the report's overall conclusions is that new technologies resulting from research and development are the linchpin to developing a sustainable biofuel industry that meets national targets. Last year's energy bill set out a Renewable Fuels Standard that calls for production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels annually by 2022.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Future of Public Nuisance

This Webcast covers the concept of public nuisance and its use in environmental issues. It takes note of a recent Rhode Island case rejecting the expanded use of public nuisance. Learn more about:

The history of public nuisance litigation and the Rhode Island decision;
The advantages and disadvantages of public nuisance claims;
Current and expected public nuisance lawsuits, including climate change;
California’s role in public nuisance litigation;
Establishing and challenging causation;
The use of contingent fee counsel in claims brought by some public authorities;
The applicability of market share liability to public nuisance;
The types of relief being sought and traditionally available.

Registration is free.

Webcast: State Policies to Encourage Green Building Principles

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials is offering a Web seminar on how states are setting voluntary targets and requirements for reducing energy consumption in public facilities. The presentation will take place December 17, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and is titled "State Policies to Encourage and Require Green Building Principles in the Public Sector."

The presenters will be:

Brian Lips: Lips is a policy analyst for the North Carolina Solar Center at N.C. State University and conducts research related to government and utility incentives and policies for the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. He will give an overview of state green government policies nationwide.

Chuck Sathrum: Sathrum is a program manager at the North Carolina State Energy Office. He will discuss the N.C. Utility Savings Initiative, which is a comprehensive program to reduce utility expenditures and resource use in public buildings.

Angie Fyfe: Fyfe is the manager of the Greening Government Program at the Colorado Governor's Energy Office. She will discuss how the Colorado governor has used executive orders to engage state employees to reduce energy consumption.

You can find more information about the presenters as well as links to background materials and reports on the TAP section of the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Web site.

The Webcast is free of charge, but you must register in advance to obtain a URL for the presentation and call-in phone number. Please contact Misty Conrad by phone at 303-384-7467 or via email.

Cleaning Up America's Nuclear Weapons Complex

This Report by National Governor's Association sets forth the progress states have made in partnership with the federal government treating, cleaning and disposing of waste throughout America's nuclear weapons complex. The report also details recommendations to help improve this partnership.

States became partners in the nuclear weapons cleanup process in 1992 when Congress passed the Federal Facility Compliance Act, which provided states an active role working with the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) to determine appropriate treatment and disposal of America's nuclear weapons. To formalize this new working relationship, NGA formed the Federal Facilities Task Force, which is comprised of governor appointed representatives from 13 affected states.

A number of unresolved challenges remain between states and the U.S. DOE, including:

Funding – securing federal funding to meet agreed-upon, enforceable cleanup milestones;
Cleanup – getting sites to meet both federal and state cleanup standards;
Disposal and Transport – ensuring a safe transport and disposal system for radioactive waste; and
Land Use – assessing and compensating states for damages to natural resources.
In early November 2008, a number of national groups representing state, local, and tribal governments met with U.S. DOE as part of the seventh annual meeting to discuss cleanup and management of federal facilities. The groups – including the NGA Center's Federal Facilities Task Force – acknowledged their common interest in cleaning up federal facilities across the country and affirmed their commitment to working collaboratively to ensure effective and efficient cleanup efforts. The groups pledged to build on previous combined meetings and on the cooperative programs each group has developed independently.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Public Finance Mechanisms to Mobilise Investment in Climate Change Mitigation

This Report was produced by the United Nations Environmental Programme"s (UNEP) Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, under its Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative, commissioned the report as a contribution to the UNFCCC Secretariat Technical Paper “Investment and Financial Flows to Address Climate Change: An Update.” The Report finds that "Parties to the UNFCCC are currently assessing how to respond to the challenge of financing the new technology needed to mitigate climate change.

Discussions focus on new financing resources and vehicles to support the development, deployment, diffusion and transfer of climate-friendly technologies in developing countries. Key questions include: What should be the scale of new financing by governments? How can public monies mobilise and leverage sufficient commercial capital to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction objectives? In other words: how can the most be made of those new financing resources?
Much of this government support will be used to set up or expand existing Public Finance Mechanisms (PFMs) aimed at climate change negotiation. These PFMs vary in their structure and focus, but all broadly seek to mobilise commercial financing and build commercially sustainable markets for GHG mitigation activities. Examples of climate mitigation focused PFM include:
· Credit lines to local commercial financial institutions (CFI) for providing both
senior and mezzanine debt to projects;
· Guarantees to share with local CFIs the commercial credit risks of lending to
projects and companies;
· Debt financing of projects by entities other than CFIs;
· Private equity (PE) funds investing risk capital in companies and projects;
· Venture capital (VC) funds investing risk capital in technology innovations,
· Carbon finance facilities that monetize the advanced sale of emissions
reductions to finance project investment costs;
· Grants and contingent grants to share project development costs, and
· Loan softening programmes, to mobilise domestic sources of capital,
· Inducement prizes, to stimulate R&D or technology development,
· Technical assistance to build the capacity of all actors along the financing

Low Carbon Energy: A Roadmap

This Worldwatch Report (WORLDWATCH REPORT 178) by Christopher Flavin finds that: "Concern about climate change and rising energy prices have sparked a nascent transformation of the energy business, with engineers, entrepreneurs, and investors who would have been focused on the Internet and biotechnology a decade ago now focused on energy. Their skills, energy, and commitment to solving one of the world’s greatest problems is likely to prove as revolutionary as their great-grandparents’ work to build a carbon-based economy a century ago.

Rebuilding the global energy system will be expensive, but it can also be transformative. And its sheer scale would create thousands of new businesses and millions of jobs for decades to come. At a time of serious economic troubles, volatile oil prices, and instability in many fossil fuel producing regions, building an efficient, low-carbon energy system can become an engine of economic recovery,
job creation, and international cooperation. Climate change, energy security, and economic development should be viewed, in the words of Common Cause founder John
Gardner, as 'breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.'"

Friday, December 5, 2008

OECA FY 2008 Accomplishments Report

This Report by the Environmental Protection Agencies Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance details enforcement and compliance efforts during the 2007 fiscal year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Following the U.S . Supreme Court's Decision in Rapanos v. United States & Carabell v. United States

This document produced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency aims at providing guidance to the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding the jurisdiction of federal regulations pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in Rapanos where the Court defined "Waters of the United States."

Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2007

This report (DOE/EIA-0573(2007)) by the Department of Energy dated December 3, 2008 finds that: "total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were 7,282 million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO 2e) in 2007, an increase of 1.4 percent from the 2006 level according to Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2007, a report released today by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Since 1990, U.S. GHG emissions have grown at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent."

Document to be found here

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pace Environmental Notes - November 2008

The latest issue of P.E.N. is ready and can be accessed here.

Pace Environmental Notes is a service of Pace Law Library and is compiled by Jack McNeill, Associate Library Director and liaison to the Environmental Law Program. P.E.N. offers the latest periodical publications, library acquisitions and other materials in the areas of environmental and public utilities law, ecology, and related areas.

Pace Environmental Notes is published each month during the school year, September through May. Back issues may be found by following the P.E.N. link on the Law Library’s “Internet Resources” web page.

Pace Environmental Notes is distributed to members of the Pace Law School community and other interested individuals in Adobe .pdf and Microsoft Word formats. Either version may be read online or printed out. If you would like to be added to, or removed from, the distribution list, please send an e-mail to Jack McNeill at

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Poznań, Poland - COP 14

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznań opened on Monday, 1 December. The Conference is a milestone on the road to success for the processes which were launched under the Bali Road Map.The meeting comes midway between COP 13 in Bali, which saw the launch of negotiations on strengthened international action on climate change, and COP 15 Copenhagen, at which the negotiations are set to conclude.

The Conference includes the 29th sessions of the Convention’s subsidiary bodies - SBSTA and SBI – as well as the 4th session of the AWG-LCA and the 2nd part of the 6th session of the AWG-KP. Almost eleven thousand participants are attending the Poznań meeting, which will both advance international cooperation on a future climate change regime and ensure progress on key issues.
Provisional agendas and further information

International Climate Change Programs

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-09-151) dated November 2008 is subtitled: Lessons Learned from the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme and the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism. The Report concludes that In the EU "the ETS phase I established a functioning market for carbon dioxide allowances, but its effects on emissions, the European economy, and technology investment are less certain. Nonetheless, experts suggest that it offers lessons that may prove useful in informing congressional decision making. By limiting the total number of emission allowances provided to covered entities under the program and enabling these entities to sell or buy allowances, the ETS set a price on carbon emissions. However, in 2006, a release of emissions data revealed that the supply of allowances the cap exceeded the demand, and the allowance price collapsed. Overall, the cumulative effect of phase I on emissions is uncertain because of a lack of baseline emissions data. The long-term effects on the economy also are uncertain."