Thursday, July 29, 2010

Evaluating Sustainability of Projected Water Demands Under Future Climate Change Scenarios

This report drafted by the National Resources Defense Council Dated July 2010 finds Climate change will impact water supplies, exacerbating existing pressures on water resources caused by population and economic growth. Given the combination of these stressors, the sustainability of water resources in future decades is a concern in many parts of the world. This study presents an integration of water withdrawal projections and future estimates of renewable water supply across the United States to assess future water availability in the face of a changing climate.

International Energy Outlook 2010

The International Energy Outlook 2010 (IEO2010) presents an assessment by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the outlook for international energy markets through 2035. U.S. projections appearing in IEO2010 are consistent with those published in EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010 (AEO2010), (April 2010).

NOAA: Past Decade Warmest on Record According to Scientists in 48 Countries

This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2009 State of the Climate report dated July 28, 2010 draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. More than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries contributed to the report, which confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DOE Webinar July 26: Petroleum Reduction in the Transportation Sector

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Technical Assistance Project (TAP) for state and local officials presents a Webinar about how to use online tools and resources for petroleum reduction projects in the transportation sector. At the Webinar, you will learn how to use online calculators, databases, and interactive maps that can help you fine-tune your transportation programs to fit local conditions.

The presentation will take place this Wednesday, July 28, from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, and is titled "Clean Cities and Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC): Tools and Resources for Petroleum Reduction in the Transportation Sector. The speakers will be Wendy DaFoe, Clean Cities project leader at the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Johanna Levene, senior applications engineer at NREL.

This Webinar is free of charge, but you must sign up in advance to obtain a URL for the presentation and call-in phone number. You can register online, find information about the presenters, and read background materials and reports on the Webinar section of the DOE Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program Web site.

EPA’s Action Development Process: Interim Guidance on Considering Environmental Justice During the Development of an Action

TThis step-by-step Guide (dated July 2010) will help EPA staff determine whether EPA actions raise possible environmental justice concerns and will encourage public participation in the rulemaking process. Further, the Guide will support us in meeting our responsibilities under Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-lncome Populations, and EPA's regulatory authorities to consider the needs of'minority, low-income, and indigenous populations overburdened by pollution.

The purpose of this Guide is to explicitly integrate Environmental Justice considerations into the fabric of EPA’s ADP—from rule inception through all the stages leading to promulgation and implementation—requiring that workgroups meaningfully engage with and consider the impacts on minority, low-income, and indigenous populations, and tribes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New EPA Toolkit to Help Local Governments with Green Building Practices

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 4 announced the release of the Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit for Local Governments (Toolkit). The Toolkit was developed collaboratively by the Agency’s Regional Resource Conservation and Recovery Act Division and Water Protection Division and Pollution Prevention Office, with support from the EPA Green Building and Smart Growth Programs, the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response’s Innovations Workgroup, and many external partners. The Toolkit is designed to assist local governments in identifying and removing permitting barriers to sustainable design and green building practices. It provides a resource for communities interested in conducting their own internal evaluation of how local codes/ordinances either facilitate or impede a sustainable built environment, including the design, construction, renovation, and operation and maintenance of a building and its immediate site.

Oil and Gas Management: Past Work Offers Insights to Consider in Restructuring Interior’s Oversight

This Government Accountability Office Testimony (GAO-10-888T) dated July 22, 2010 states that the GAO’s recent evaluations of federal oil and gas management have identified areas where Interior could provide more effective oversight, including:

• In October 2008, GAO reported that Interior policies and practices for leasing offshore and onshore oil and gas differed in key ways. Considering the ways that areas are selected for leasing, GAO found that MMS sets out a 5-year strategic plan identifying both a leasing schedule and the offshore areas it will lease. In contrast, BLM relies on industry and others to nominate onshore areas for leasing, then selects lands to lease from these nominations and from areas it has identified.
• Oil and gas activity has generally increased in recent years, and Interior has at times been unable to meet its legal and agency mandated oversight obligations in key areas. For example, in a June 2005 report, GAO found that Interior was unable to complete its environmental inspections because of increased onshore drilling activity. GAO also found in a September 2008 review that Interior was not consistently completing inspections to verify oil and gas volumes produced from federal leases. GAO found in a March 2010 report that MMS faces challenges conducting required environmental reviews in Alaska. In particular, MMS has no handbook providing guidance on how to conduct these reviews, although Interior policy directs it to prepare one.
• Interior may be missing opportunities to fundamentally shift the terms of federal oil and gas leases and increase revenues. In a September 2008 report, GAO reported that, compared to other countries, the United States receives one of the lowest shares of revenue for oil and gas. In addition, Interior’s royalty rate, which does not change to reflect changing prices and market conditions, has at times led to pressure on Interior and Congress to periodically change royalty rates in response to market conditions. Interior also has done less than some states and private landowners to encourage lease development and may be missing opportunities to increase production revenues. Interior began studying ways to improve revenue collection and leasing practices earlier this year.
• Interior’s oil and gas IT systems lack key functionalities. A September 2008 GAO review found that MMS’s ability to maintain the accuracy of oil and gas production and royalty data was hampered by two key limitations in its IT system: (1) it did not limit companies’ ability to adjust self-reported data after MMS had audited them and (2) it did not identify missing royalty reports. More recently, a March 2010 report found that Interior’s long-standing efforts to implement two key technologies for verifying oil and gas production are behind schedule and years from widespread adoption.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

China overtakes the United States to become world’s largest energy consumer

IEA calculations based on preliminary data show that China has now overtaken the United States to become the world's largest energy user. China's rise to the top ranking was faster than expected as it was much less affected by the global financial crisis than the United States.

Pace Energy and Climate Center Releases Study on Impact of July 2006 Con Edison Power Outage in Western Queens

This report studies the effects of the electrical failure of Con Edison's Long Island City network causing a power outage in Wester Queens County, New York. Pace Energy and Climate Center and several partners were selected by the NYS PSC to study the economic and health impacts that were a result of the outage.

Executive Order--Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes

This Executive Order (dated July 19, 2010) adopts the recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, except where otherwise provided in this order, and directs executive agencies to implement those recommendations under the guidance of a National Ocean Council. It revokes Executive Order 13366 of December 17, 2004.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill:

This Congressional Research Service papers explores the issues that the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill have set in motion about oil exploration and recovery in the Gulf of Mexico generally, about the federal offshore oil and gas program, and about the risks of deepwater drilling in particular. The incident
has raised many issues; this report provides a set of selected descriptions to give the reader a baseline and context for pursuing topics of interest.

Several themes trace through the diverse aspects of the incident:
• The explosion and oil spill having occurred, what lessons should be drawn from the incident? Such lessons may involve the appropriateness and capabilities of the technologies used in drilling and in trying to stop the spill; the adequacy of
the regulatory regime and how it was administered and enforced; possible implications of corporate cultures of the companies involved; and the adequacy
of cleanup technologies and of the safety net for impacted businesses and
• As oil and gas exploration and recovery moved into the deepwater frontier, were
technologies and regulatory capacities keeping pace with new and/or heightened risks? Technologies and regulations appropriate to onshore and shallow-water
exploration and recovery may not be adequate to address risks in deep water.
There are economic incentives to develop technologies to find and recover
deepwater oil and gas, but the question arises of whether concomitant incentives
exist to ensure that those technologies are robust enough to provide a reasonable
margin of safety in this more challenging environment. Likewise, it might be
asked if administrative and regulatory requirements appropriate to the lesschallenging onshore and shallow-water environments have been, or need to be,
strengthened to address deepwater risks.
• What interventions may be necessary to ensure recovery of Gulf resources and
amenities? The spilled oil will surely degrade over time; intervention might
accelerate cleanup, but may have its own costs.
• What does the Deepwater Horizon incident imply for national energy policy, and
the tradeoffs between energy needs, risks of deepwater drilling, and protection of
natural resources and amenities?

From Sprawl to Sustainability

This ABA sponsored CLE teleconference on July 20, 2010 will offer ways to develop effective wealth producing sustainable growth systems that produce quality of life, revitalize neighborhoods, conserve agricultural and sensitive environmental land, combat climate change, and reduce air pollution and energy usage.

Coal Power Plants: Opportunities Exist for DOE to Provide Better Information on the Maturity of Key Technologies to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-10-675) dated July 2010 concludes that addressing climate change while retaining the use of coal to generate electricity will likely require the successful deployment of CCS and efficiency technologies in coal power plants. CCS, in particular, remains relatively immature compared to efficiency technologies, but offers the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants to a greater extent.

The current regulatory and legislative efforts to reduce CO2 emissions at coal power plants include consideration of the commercial availability of CCS. DOE plays a key role both in its efforts to advance CCS and efficiency technologies toward commercialization and in giving policymakers an accurate view of their maturity.

However, because the agency does not systematically assess their development, DOE is unable to provide a clear picture of the maturity of these technologies or the necessary resources that might be required to move these technologies toward commercial demonstration. This lack of information limits congressional oversight of the hundreds of millions of dollars DOE is currently spending annually on efforts to advance coal technologies, and it hampers policymakers’ efforts to gauge the maturity of these technologies as they consider climate change policies.

Using Biofuel Tax Credits to Achieve Energy and Environmental Policy Goals

This congressional Budget Office Report Dated July 2010 assesses the incentives provided by the biofuel tax credits for producing different types of biofuels and analyzes whether they favor one type of biofuel over others. In addition, the study estimates the cost to U.S. taxpayers of reducing the use of petroleum fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases through those tax credits; it also analyzes the interaction of the credits and the biofuel mandates. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, the study contains no recommendations.

Law and Policy of the Chesapeake Bay: 2010 and Beyond

In this BNA webinar this 90-minute webinar, Beth McGee (Senior Water Quality Scientist, Chesapeake Bay Foundation), Jon Mueller (Vice President, Litigation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation) and Richard Davis (private Clean Water Act practitioner at Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.) will discuss key elements of the new program and its implementation. Issues discussed during the webinar will include:

The current backdrop, settlement agreement, Executive Order strategy, and Bay total maximum daily load – how they fit together.

The plan, process, science, and schedule for a Bay-wide federal TMDL
States’ obligations to develop pollutant reduction programs (Watershed Implementation Plans)

EPA’s creative use of its NPDES permitting authority to reach discharges currently beyond the control of permits, particularly CAFOs and urban runoff

The role of water quality credits trading and agricultural grant programs
State accountability: What are the screws that EPA can turn? Will they work?
Potentially game-changing legislation‑-What does it say? What is the status?
As EPA and the NGOs come together, what will be the reactions of the regulated communities?

Final Recommendations Of The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force

The White House Council on Environmental Quality issued its Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force on July 19, 2010, which would establish a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes (National Policy) and create a National Ocean Council (NOC) to strengthen ocean governance and coordination.

The Final Recommendations prioritize actions for the NOC to pursue, and call for a flexible framework for coastal and marine spatial planning to address conservation, economic activity, user conflict, and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes. The NOC would coordinate across the Federal Government to implement the National Policy. The Final Recommendations also call for the establishment of a Governance Coordinating Committee to formally engage with state, tribal, and local authorities, The Final Recommendations [have been] adopted into an Executive Order by President Obama."

Outback Carbon: An assessment of carbon storage, sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in remote Australia

This Pew Research Report dated July 2010 demostrates that protecting and sequestering carbon in the Australian ‘outback’ provides cheap options to help Australia make deep and early cuts to the nations projected emissions

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dept. of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve DOE’s Ability to Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program

Government Accountability Office Report 10-627 finds that the Department of Engery has broadly indicated the loan program’s direction but has not developed all the tools necessary to assess progress.

DOE has explained, through agency documents, that the program is intended to support early commercial production and use of new or significantly improved technologies in energy projects that abate emissions of air pollutants or of greenhouse gases and have a reasonable prospect of repaying the loans.

GAO has found that to help operationalize such policy goals efficiently and effectively, agencies should develop associated performance goals that are objective and quantifiable and cover all program activities. DOE has linked the LGP to two departmentwide performance goals, namely to (1) double renewable energy generating capacity by 2012 and (2) commit conditionally to loan guarantees for two nuclear power facilities to add a specified minimum amount of capacity in 2010. However, the two performance goals are too few to reflect the full range of policy goals for the LGP.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review, July 2010.

From the UK Independent Climate Change E-mails Review their findings are documented here. They found that:

"Climate science is a matter of such global importance, that the highest standards of honesty, rigour and openness are needed in its conduct. On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of CRU scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.

In addition, we do not find that their behaviour has prejudiced the balance of advice given to policy makers. In particular, we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments.

But we do find that there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness, both on the part of the CRU scientists and on the part of the UEA, who failed to recognise not only the significance of statutory."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Library Acquisitions on Environmental Law

Environmental law in a nutshell / by Daniel A. Farber, Roger W. Findley

Regulating from nowhere : environmental law and the search for objectivity / Douglas A. Kysar

Sustainable development in western China : managing people, livestock and grasslands in pastoral areas / C.G. Brown, S.A. Waldron and J.W. Longworth

Sustainable cities : diversity, economic growth and social cohesion / edited by Maddy Janssens ... [et al.]

Law, technology and science for oceans in globalisation : IUU fishing, oil pollution, bioprospecting, outer continental shelf / edited by Davor Vidas

The World Bank policy for projects on international waterways : an historical and legal analysis / Salman M.A. Salman

Climate change justice / Eric A. Posner, David Weisbach

A vast machine : computer models, climate data, and the politics of global warming / Paul N. Edwards

The lumberman's frontier : three centuries of land use, society, and change in America's forests / Thomas R. Cox

How to cool the planet : geoengineering and the audacious quest to fix earth's climate / Jeff Goodell

The battle for Gotham : New York in the shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs / Roberta Brandes Gratz

The Lomborg deception : setting the record straight about global warming / Howard Friel ; foreword by Thomas E. Lovejoy

Global governance of hazardous chemicals : challenges of multilevel management / Henrik Selin

Toxic mix? : a handbook of science and politics / Herbert N. Foerstel

Capitalism as if the world matters / Jonathon Porritt

Recovering the commons : democracy, place, and global justice / Herbert Reid and Betsy Taylor

Living through the end of nature : the future of American environmentalism / Paul Wapner

Reinventing the automobile : personal urban mobility for the 21st century / William J. Mitchell, Christopher E. Borroni-Bird, and Lawrence D. Burns

Red to green : environmental activism in post-Soviet Russia / Laura A. Henry

Petroleum exploration and production rights : allocation strategies and design issues / Silvana Tordo ; with David Johnston and Daniel Johnston

Low-carbon development : Latin American responses to climate change / [edited by] Augusto de la Torre, Pablo Fajnzylber, John Nash

Eco2 cities : ecological cities as economic cities / Hiroaki Suzuki ... [et al.]