Friday, March 29, 2013

National Academies Report Released: Assessment of Advanced Solid State Lighting

Recently, the National Academies Press (NAP) released a report produced by the Committee on Assessment of Solid State Lighting; Board on Energy and Environmental Systems; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences;and the National Research Council titled, Assessment of Advanced Solid State Lighting (2013). The 191-page report (available free with a one-time registration) discusses how,
The standard incandescent light bulb, which still works mainly as Thomas Edison invented it, converts more than 90% of the consumed electricity into heat. Given the availability of newer lighting technologies that convert a greater percentage of electricity into useful light, there is potential to decrease the amount of energy used for lighting in both commercial and residential applications. Although technologies such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have emerged in the past few decades and will help achieve the goal of increased energy efficiency, solid-state lighting (SSL) stands to play a large role in dramatically decreasing U.S. energy consumption for lighting. This report summarizes the current status of SSL technologies and products—light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic LEDs (OLEDs)—and evaluates barriers to their improved cost and performance.
Assessment of Advanced Solid State Lighting also discusses factors involved in achieving widespread deployment and consumer acceptance of SSL products. These factors include the perceived quality of light emitted by SSL devices, ease of use and the useful lifetime of these devices, issues of initial high cost, and possible benefits of reduced energy consumption.

National Acadamies Report Released: Levees and the National Flood Insurance Program: Improving Policies and Practices

Recently, the National Academies Press (NAP) released a report produced by the Committee on Levees and the National Flood Insurance Program Improving Policies and Practices; Water Science and Technology Board; Division on Earth and Life Studies; and the National Research Council titled, Levees and the National Flood Insurance Program: Improving Policies and Practices (2013). The 332-page prepublication report (available free with a one-time registration) discusses how,
[t]he Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is a cornerstone in the U.S. strategy to assist communities to prepare for, mitigate against, and recover from flood disasters. The NFIP was established by Congress with passage of the National Flood Insurance Act in 1968, to help reduce future flood damages through NFIP community floodplain regulation that would control development in flood hazard areas, provide insurance for a premium to property owners, and reduce federal expenditures for disaster assistance. The flood insurance is available only to owners of insurable property located in communities that participate in the NFIP. Currently, the program has 5,555,915 million policies in 21,881 communities3 across the United States.
The NFIP defines the one percent annual chance flood (100-year or base flood) floodplain as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA is delineated on FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM's) using topographic, meteorologic, hydrologic, and hydraulic information. Property owners with a federally back mortgage within the SFHAs are required to purchase and retain flood insurance, called the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement (MPR). Levees and floodwalls, hereafter referred to as levees, have been part of flood management in the United States since the late 1700's because they are relatively easy to build and a reasonable infrastructure investment. A levee is a man-made structure, usually an earthen embankment, designed and constructed in accordance with sound engineering practices to contain, control, or divert the flow of water so as to provide protection from temporary flooding. A levee system is a flood protection system which consists of a levee, or levees, and associated structures, such as closure and drainage devices, which are constructed and operated in accordance with sound engineering practices.
Recognizing the need for improving the NFIP's treatment of levees, FEMA officials approached the National Research Council's (NRC) Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) and requested this study. The NRC responded by forming the ad hoc Committee on Levee and the National Flood Insurance Program: Improving Policies and Practices, charged to examine current FEMA treatment of levees within the NFIP and provide advice on how those levee-elated policies and activities could be improved. The study addressed four broad areas, risk analysis, flood insurance, risk reduction, and risk communication, regarding how levees are considered in the NFIP. Specific issues within these areas include current risk analysis and mapping procedures behind accredited and non-accredited levees, flood insurance pricing and the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement, mitigation options to reduce risk for communities with levees, flood risk communication efforts, and the concept of shared responsibility. The principal conclusions and recommendations are highlighted in this report. 

GAO Report Released: Energy Efficiency: Better Coordination among Federal Programs Needed to Allocate Testing Resources

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Energy Efficiency: Better Coordination among Federal Programs Needed to Allocate Testing Resources GAO-13-125 (Mar. 28, 2013). The details of the 26-page report, available here, are discussed below:

Why GAO Did This Study

The federal government has established three key programs to encourage energy efficiency in household appliances and consumer electronics sold in the United States: (1) federal minimum efficiency standards, led by DOE; (2) EnergyGuide, which requires product labeling and is led by the FTC; and (3) Energy Star, a voluntary labeling program led by EPA.
Pub. L. No. 111-139 requires GAO to annually identify programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities. In response to this mandate, the objectives for this report are to: (1) examine these three programs' approaches to improving the energy efficiency of household appliances and consumer electronics and the scope of products they cover, and (2) determine to what extent, if any, federal programs to foster energy efficiency for these products are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative. GAO reviewed relevant legislation and program documents and spoke with staff at the agencies about each of the programs, and to stakeholders, including manufacturers.

What GAO Recommends

To limit the potential for duplication in the current Energy Star verification testing activities, GAO recommends that EPA take steps to better communicate to DOE the models selected for testing so DOE can avoid testing the same ones. DOE and EPA acknowledged the importance of coordination, but EPA disagreed with the draft recommendation, citing concerns it could be labor intensive to implement. GAO revised the recommendation to clarify EPA’s flexibility in implementing it.

ABA / NJ Bar Association: Recovery and Rebuilding After Superstorm Sandy

Legal Perspectives on What We Know and Where We Go

 
Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:30am—5PM
Earn up to 7.2 CLE credits!
The panelists will discuss how making our communities more resilient will require rethinking of physical changes to our environment and also a reconsideration of local federal and state land use and environmental laws and regulations. After an assessment of vul-nerabilities, the conference will take a hard look at how planning, infrastructure, and environmental laws and regulations will need to be changed to address the new paradigm.
 
Register Now!
Registration Fee:
$30 for breakfast, lunch & program (No CLE credits)
$100 for breakfast, lunch, program & CLE credits

Register Online
Download registration Form (PDF)


Speakers include:
Tim Dillingham, Executive Director, American Littoral Society
Laurie J Sands, Counsel, Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP
Ed Lloyd, Professor, Director of Clinical Programs, Columbia University School of Law, Chris Len, Staff Attorney, NY/NJ Baykeeper
Joe Siegel, Attorney, EPA Region 2
Alexandra Dunn, Executive Director, Assoc. of Clean Water Administrators & Chair, ABA Section of Environment, Energy and Resources
Patricia Ruby, Executive Director, Hunterdon Land Trust
Neil Yoskin, Partner, Sokol Behot & Fiorenzo
Pam Esterman, Principal, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C.
Sean Dixon, Coastal Policy Attorney, Clean Ocean Action
Hon. Bob Smith, New Jersey State Senator, Chair, Senate Environment and Energy Committee

 
For more information visit, http://www.njsba.com/meetings-events/recovery-and-rebuilding-after-superstorm-sandy.html.

DOE Audit Report Released: The Department of Energy's Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Program Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Recently, the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General released an audit report titled, The Department of Energy's Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Program Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2013) (OAS-RA-13-15).  The 33-page report available here, discusses the following:
[t]he Department of Energy (Department) received nearly $1.5 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) to invest in clean industrial technologies and sequestration projects through the Industrial Carbon Capture and Storage Program (Carbon Program). The National Energy Technology Laboratory awarded 46 cooperative agreements to a variety of demonstration and research and development projects. The agreements required substantial involvement by Federal project managers and relied on recipients to share in the investments needed to complete the projects. The audit found that the Department had not always effectively managed the Carbon Program and the use of Recovery Act funds. In particular, our review of the Carbon Program, including 15 recipients awarded a total of approximately $1.1 billion, revealed that the Department had not adequately documented the approval and rationale to use $575 million of the $1.1 billion reviewed to accelerate existing projects rather than proceeding with new awards as required by Federal and Department policies. In addition, the Department reimbursed recipients approximately $16.8 million without obtaining or reviewing adequate supporting documentation, and awarded three recipients over $90 million in Recovery Act funding even though the merit review process identified significant financial and/or technical issues. Further, the Department had not ensured that recipient subcontractor or vendor selections for goods and services represented the best value to the Government. Therefore, we identified up to $18.3 million in questionable reimbursement claims that were approved by the Department for just the sample of awards reviewed. The issues identified occurred, in part, because program officials had not always provided effective monitoring and oversight of recipient activities. In response to our finding, management concurred with most of the recommendations and indicated that it had initiated and/or taken corrective actions to improve the Department’s implementation of the Carbon Program.

TEEB Report Released: Organizational Change for Natural Capital Management: Strategy and Implementation

This month, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), a "a global initiative focused on drawing attention to the economic benefits of biodiversity" released its report Organizational Change for Natural Capital Management: Strategy and Implementation (2013). The 47-page document available here, discusses the following:
Organisational Change for Natural Capital Management: Strategy and Implementation is based on data from 26 businesses across nine industrial sectors (60 per cent of them with revenues of over US$10 billion), which are implementing behavioural and organisational changes to promote natural capital management.
The main findings of the study include:
  • A small group of pioneering companies, who recognise the growing business case for NCM, are moving NCM forward and expect to build it deeply into their business within the next 3 years.
  • Their rationale is that they will be much better positioned than other companies to manage and thrive in a resource-constrained world that could have serious implications for business in 3-5 years.  
  • Delaying the measurement and management of natural capital carries a significant business risk for companies regarding the availability of key raw materials and maintaining competitive advantage.  
  • In particular, the availability of freshwater, renewable energy, climate regulation, fibre and food were identified as the most important natural capital risks in the next 3 -5 years.  
  • Current barriers to change for business on NCM are at the macro-level (e.g. lack of government regulation and customer demand) and organisationally. In particular challenges at the organisational level include establishing the relevance of NCM to the business, and a lack of harmonised methods to measure, prioritise and integrate natural capital into business decision-making.
  • NCM is a business innovation that changes business processes, practices, systems and strategies. It is therefore a major driver of organisational change.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

USGS Report Released: Geophysical and Hydrologic Analysis of an Earthen Dam Site in Southern Westchester County, New York

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report titled Geophysical and Hydrologic Analysis of an Earthen Dam Site in Southern Westchester County, New York (USGS Sci. Investgn. Rep. 2012-5247). The 76-page report available here, authored by Anthony Chu et al., discusses the following:
Ninety percent of the drinking water for New York City passes through the Hillview Reservoir facility in the City of Yonkers, Westchester County, New York. In the past, several seeps located downslope from the reservoir have flowed out from the side of the steepest slope at the southern end of the earthen embankment. One seep that has been flowing continuously was discovered during an inspection of the embankment in 1999. Efforts were made in 2001 to locate the potential sources of the continuous flowing seep. In 2005, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, began a cooperative study to investigate the relevant hydrogeologic framework to characterize the local groundwater-flow system and to determine possible sources of the seeps. The two agencies used hydrologic and surface geophysical techniques to assess the earthen embankment of the Hillview Reservoir. Between April 1, 2005 and March 1, 2008, water levels were measured manually each month at 46 wells surrounding the reservoir, and flow was measured monthly at three of the five seeps on the embankment. Water levels were measured hourly in the East Basin of the reservoir, at 24 of 46 wells, and discharge was measured hourly at two of the five seeps. Slug tests were performed at 16 wells to determine the hydraulic conductivity of the geologic material surrounding the screened zone. Estimated hydraulic conductivities for 25 wells on the southern embankment ranged from 0.0063 to 1.2 feet per day and averaged 0.17 foot per day. The two-dimensional resistivity surveys indicate a subsurface mound of electrically conductive material (low-resistivity zone) beneath the terrace area (top of dam) surrounding the reservoir with a distinct elevation increase closer to the crest. Two-dimensional shear wave velocity surveys indicate a similar structure of the high shear wave velocity materials (high-velocity zone), increasing in elevation toward the crest and decreasing toward the reservoir and toward the northern part of the study area. Water-quality samples collected from 12 wells, downtake chamber 1 of the reservoir, and two seeps detected the presence of arsenic, toluene, and two trihalomethanes. Water-quality samples collected at the two seeps detected fluoride, indicating a connection with reservoir water. Shallow wells on the southern embankment exhibited the largest seasonal water-level fluctuations ranging between 6 feet and 12 feet. The embankment is constructed from reworked low-permeability glacial deposits at the site. Water-level responses in observation wells within the embankment indicate that there is a shallow (approximately the upper 45 feet of the embankment) and a deep water-bearing unit within the embankment with a large downward vertical gradient between the shallow and deep water-bearing units. Precipitation strongly affected water levels in shallow wells, whereas the basin appears to be the main control on water levels in the deep wells. Seeps on the embankment slope appear to be caused by above-average precipitation that increases water levels in the shallow water-bearing unit, but does not easily recharge the deep water-bearing unit. Based on the data that have been analyzed, source water to the seeps appears to be primarily groundwater and, to a lesser extent, water from the East Basin of the reservoir.

USGS Report Released: Critical Analysis of World Uranium Resources

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report titled Critical Analysis of World Uranium Resources (USGS Sci. Investgn. Rep. 2012-5239). The 66-page report available here, authored by Susan Hall and Margaret Coleman discusses the following:
The U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration (EIA) joined with the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to analyze the world uranium supply and demand balance. To evaluate short-term primary supply (0–15 years), the analysis focused on Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR), which are resources projected with a high degree of geologic assurance and considered to be economically feasible to mine. Such resources include uranium resources from mines currently in production as well as resources that are in the stages of feasibility or of being permitted. Sources of secondary supply for uranium, such as stockpiles and reprocessed fuel, were also examined. To evaluate long-term primary supply, estimates of uranium from unconventional and from undiscovered resources were analyzed. At 2010 rates of consumption, uranium resources identified in operating or developing mines would fuel the world nuclear fleet for about 30 years. However, projections currently predict an increase in uranium requirements tied to expansion of nuclear energy worldwide. Under a low-demand scenario, requirements through the period ending in 2035 are about 2.1 million tU. In the low demand case, uranium identified in existing and developing mines is adequate to supply requirements. However, whether or not these identified resources will be developed rapidly enough to provide an uninterrupted fuel supply to expanded nuclear facilities could not be determined. On the basis of a scenario of high demand through 2035, 2.6 million tU is required and identified resources in operating or developing mines is inadequate. Beyond 2035, when requirements could exceed resources in these developing properties, other sources will need to be developed from less well-assured resources, deposits not yet at the prefeasibility stage, resources that are currently subeconomic, secondary sources, undiscovered conventional resources, and unconventional uranium supplies. This report’s analysis of 141 mines that are operating or are being actively developed identifies 2.7 million tU of in-situ uranium resources worldwide, approximately 2.1 million tU recoverable after mining and milling losses were deducted. Sixty-four operating mines report a total of 1.4 million tU of in-situ RAR (about 1 million tU recoverable). Seventy-seven developing mines/production centers report 1.3 million tU in-situ Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) (about 1.1 million tU recoverable), which have a reasonable chance of producing uranium within 5 years. Most of the production is projected to come from conventional underground or open pit mines as opposed to in-situ leach mines. Production capacity in operating mines is about 76,000 tU/yr, and in developing mines is estimated at greater than 52,000 tU/yr. Production capacity in operating mines should be considered a maximum as mines seldom produce up to licensed capacity due to operational difficulties. In 2010, worldwide mines operated at 70 percent of licensed capacity, and production has never exceeded 89 percent of capacity. The capacity in developing mines is not always reported. In this study 35 percent of developing mines did not report a target licensed capacity, so estimates of future capacity may be too low. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimate an additional 1.4 million tU economically recoverable resources, beyond that identified in operating or developing mines identified in this report. As well, 0.5 million tU in subeconomic resources, and 2.3 million tU in the geologically less certain inferred category are identified worldwide. These agencies estimate 2.2 million tU in secondary sources such as government and commercial stockpiles and re-enriched uranium tails. They also estimate that unconventional uranium supplies (uraniferous phosphate and black shale deposits) may contain up to 7.6 million tU. Although unconventional resources are currently subeconomic, the improvement of extraction techniques or the production of coproducts may make extraction of uranium from these types of deposits profitable. A large undiscovered resource base is reported by these agencies, however this class of resource should be considered speculative and will require intensive exploration programs to adequately define them as mineable. These resources may all contribute to uranium supply that would fuel the world nuclear fleet well beyond that calculated in this report. Production of resources in both operating and developing uranium mines is subject to uncertainties caused by technical, legal, regulatory, and financial challenges that combined to create long timelines between deposit discovery and mine production. This analysis indicates that mine development is proceeding too slowly to fully meet requirements for an expanded nuclear power reactor fleet in the near future (to 2035), and unless adequate secondary or unconventional resources can be identified, imbalances in supply and demand may occur.

USGS Report Released: Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Allegheny and Susquehanna Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004--2010

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report titled Landscape Consequences of Natural Gas Extraction in Allegheny and Susquehanna Counties, Pennsylvania, 2004--2010 (USGS Open File Rep. 2013-1025). The 38-page report available here, authored by E.T. Sloanecker et al. discusses the following:
Increased demands for cleaner burning energy, coupled with the relatively recent technological advances in accessing unconventional hydrocarbon-rich geologic formations, have led to an intense effort to find and extract natural gas from various underground sources around the country. One of these sources, the Marcellus Shale, located in the Allegheny Plateau, is currently undergoing extensive drilling and production. The technology used to extract gas in the Marcellus Shale is known as hydraulic fracturing and has garnered much attention because of its use of large amounts of fresh water, its use of proprietary fluids for the hydraulic-fracturing process, its potential to release contaminants into the environment, and its potential effect on water resources. Nonetheless, development of natural gas extraction wells in the Marcellus Shale is only part of the overall natural gas story in this area of Pennsylvania. Coalbed methane, which is sometimes extracted using the same technique, is commonly located in the same general area as the Marcellus Shale and is frequently developed in clusters of wells across the landscape. The combined effects of these two natural gas extraction methods create potentially serious patterns of disturbance on the landscape. This document quantifies the landscape changes and consequences of natural gas extraction for Allegheny County and Susquehanna County in Pennsylvania between 2004 and 2010. Patterns of landscape disturbance related to natural gas extraction activities were collected and digitized using National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery for 2004, 2005/2006, 2008, and 2010. The disturbance patterns were then used to measure changes in land cover and land use using the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) of 2001. A series of landscape metrics is also used to quantify these changes and is included in this publication.

USGS Report Released: Web-based Flood Database for Colorado, Water Years 1867 Through 2011

Recently, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report titled Web-based Flood Database for Colorado, Water Years 1867 Through 2011 (USGS Open File Rep. 2012-1225). The 32-page report available here, authored by Michael S. Kohn et al. discusses the following:
In order to provide a centralized repository of flood information for the State of Colorado, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation, created a Web-based geodatabase for flood information from water years 1867 through 2011 and data for paleofloods occurring in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years. The geodatabase was created using the Environmental Systems Research Institute ArcGIS JavaScript Application Programing Interface 3.2. The database can be accessed at http://cwscpublic2.cr.usgs.gov/projects/coflood/COFloodMap.html. Data on 6,767 flood events at 1,597 individual sites throughout Colorado were compiled to generate the flood database. The data sources of flood information are indirect discharge measurements that were stored in U.S. Geological Survey offices (water years 1867–2011), flood data from indirect discharge measurements referenced in U.S. Geological Survey reports (water years 1884–2011), paleoflood studies from six peer-reviewed journal articles (data on events occurring in the past 5,000 to 10,000 years), and the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System peak-discharge database (water years 1883–2010). A number of tests were performed on the flood database to ensure the quality of the data. The Web interface was programmed using the Environmental Systems Research Institute ArcGIS JavaScript Application Programing Interface 3.2, which allows for display, query, georeference, and export of the data in the flood database. The data fields in the flood database used to search and filter the database include hydrologic unit code, U.S. Geological Survey station number, site name, county, drainage area, elevation, data source, date of flood, peak discharge, and field method used to determine discharge. Additional data fields can be viewed and exported, but the data fields described above are the only ones that can be used for queries.

GAO Report Released: Inspectors General: USDA Office of Inspector General Resources, Accomplishments, Coverage, and Quality

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Inspectors General: USDA Office of Inspector General Resources, Accomplishments, Coverage, and Quality GAO-13-245 (Mar. 22, 2013). The details of the 32-page report, available here, are discussed below:

Why GAO Did This Study

The USDA OIG plays a critical role in addressing issues of economy, efficiency, and potential fraud involving scarce taxpayer dollars allocated to USDA.
GAO was asked to review a number of issues related to the OIG's operations in comparison to other cabinet-level OIGs. The objectives of this report were to provide information on the USDA OIG's (1) budget and staffing levels, (2) reported accomplishments, (3) reported oversight coverage, (4) reported quality of work, and (5) oversight of USDA's reported causes of estimated improper payments. To address these objectives, GAO obtained information over the 3-year period covering fiscal years 2009 through 2011 on the OIG's budget and staff levels and the reported monetary and nonmonetary accomplishments from this work. GAO obtained similar information reported by the OIGs in all cabinet-level departments. In addition, GAO summarized information on the USDA OIG's oversight coverage reported by audits and investigations, and the quality of the OIG's work as reported by peer reviews performed by other OIGs. Also, GAO obtained information on the OIG's audit of USDA's reporting on improper payments.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making specific recommendations in this report. The USDA Inspector General commented that the draft of this report provided an objective and comprehensive review of the OIG.

GAO Report Released: Department of Energy: Concerns with Major Construction Projects at the Office of Environmental Management and NNSA

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, titled Department of Energy: Concerns with Major Construction Projects at the Office of Environmental Management and NNSA GAO-13-484T (Mar. 20, 2013). The details of the 13-page report, available here, are discussed below:

Why GAO Did This Study

DOE relies primarily on contractors to carry out its diverse missions and operate its laboratories and other facilities, with about 90 percent of its annual budget spent on contracts and capital asset projects. Since 1990, GAO has reported that DOE has suffered from substantial and continual weaknesses in effectively overseeing contractors and managing large, expensive, and technically complex projects. As of February 2013, EM and NNSA remained on GAO's list of areas at high risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement for major contract and project management.
This testimony, which is primarily based on GAO reports issued from March 2009 to December 2012, focuses on (1) prior GAO findings on DOE major projects and the impact of recent DOE steps to address project management weaknesses and (2) preliminary observations from GAO's ongoing work on the reasons behind the planned increase in the performance baseline--a project's cost, schedule, and scope--for two projects being constructed as part of NNSA's Plutonium Disposition Program--the MOX facility and the Waste Solidification Building.
GAO is making no new recommendations. DOE and NNSA continue to act on the numerous recommendations GAO has made to improve management of the nuclear security enterprise. GAO will continue to monitor DOE's and NNSA's implementation of these recommendations.

UNEP Year Book 2013: Emerging Issues in Our Global Environment Released

Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released its annual year book, UNEP Year Book 2013: Emerging Issues in Our Global Environment. The 78-page document available here, discusses the following:
The UNEP Year Book 2013 is the 10th edition of the Year Book series. This series presents annual reviews of emerging environmental issues and policy-relevant developments.
Rapid change in the Arctic threatens ecosystems and but also provides new development opportunities, including easier access to oil and gas, minerals and fisheries. The Year Book 2013 shows that change in the Arctic has consequences far beyond this fragile region, and that international response is urgently needed.
To meet the internationally agreed goal of producing and using chemicals in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on health and the environment by 2020, countries need to step up efforts to reduce use of toxic chemicals, promote safer alternatives and build capacity for sound chemicals management. Adequate information for minimizing chemical risks is essential to support these efforts.
The Year Book looks at key environmental events in 2012-13 and at changes in the global environment, based on key environmental indicators.
Previous editions of the yearbook are available here:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

UNEP Global Environmental Alert Released for March: The Impact of Corruption on Climate Change: Threatening Emissions Trading Mechanisms?

Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme released a new Global Environmental Alert titled, The Impact of Corruption on Climate Change: Threatening Emissions Trading Mechanisms? (Mar. 2013). According to the 13-page alert,
[t]his bulletin provides an overview of recent discussions about the impact of corruption on environmental governance, with a focus on emissions trading. It reviews new definitions and the latest corruption assessment methodologies in order to illuminate the broader challenges faced by GHG trading mechanisms and climate finance.

Prior alerts are available here, dating from Aug. 2010 to the present.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bureau of Land Management's Geothermal Resources Management Final Evaluation Report Released

Recently, the Bureau of Land Management Office of Inspector General released their Geothermal Resources Management Final Evaluation Report (2013).  The 24-page report available here, discusses,
two issues that hinder a more effective geothermal energy program at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). First, Geothermal Resources Operational Orders (orders) are outdated. BLM no longer uses several of the orders, some orders reference organizations and regulations incorrectly, one order has been in draft status since 1980, and none of the orders address inspection and enforcement adequately.
Second, BLM does not have a standardized geothermal inspection and enforcement program. We found variations in types of inspections conducted, forms and formats used for conducting inspections, and frequency of inspections. We also found issues concerning who is conducting inspections and the training requirements for inspectors. Finally, we found inconsistencies in data collection for inspections because there is no guidance on data collection.






 
 
 






 




American Chemistry Council Recycling Reports Released

Recently, the American Chemistry Council, a trade organization "representing companies engaged in the business of chemistry" released two reports discussing recycling of rigid plastics.  According to the press release,
[t]he “2011 National Postconsumer Non-Bottle Rigid Plastic Recycling Report” found that 61 percent of rigid plastics collected in the United States were recycled in the United States or Canada, a sharp increase from the slightly over one-third recycled in this region in 2007, when Moore Recycling began measuring rigid plastics collection.
This report also found that polypropylene and polyethylene plastics comprise the largest portion (70 percent) of postconsumer non-bottle rigid plastics collected in the United States with polypropylene constituting 39 percent of all rigid plastics recycling and high-density polyethylene constituting 31 percent.
Contributing to the recent surge in rigid plastics recycling has been a substantial increase in the number of communities that are now collecting many types of rigid plastics in addition to bottles. The new consumer access report, “Plastic Recycling Collection: National Reach Study, 2012 Update” found that more than 1,400 cities and 300 counties in the United States now collect all rigid plastic containers in addition to plastic bottles.

American Society of Civil Engineers 2013 Infrastructure Report Card Released

Recently, the American Society of Civil Engineers, a professional organization "represent[ing] . . . 140,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide" issued its 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure. The report card, which is produced once every four years "depicts the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card—assigning letter grades that are based on physical condition and needed fiscal investments for improvement."  According to the press release, America's overall grade was a D+ reflecting a $3.6 trillion dollar investment to correct by 2020.

American Bird Conservancy Report: The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds

Recently, the American Bird Conservancy, a "not-for profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas" issued a report titled, The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds (Mar. 19, 2013). The 288-page report available here, authored by environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau and Cynthia Palmer discusses the following:
[a]s part of a study on impacts from the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, nicotine-like chemicals called neonicotinoids, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a ban on their use as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.
“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New Library Acquisitions -- Week of March 18th

Pace Law Library
AGRICULTURE.
Grow! [videorecording] / Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson

FOOD LAW.
A practical guide to FDA's food and drug law and regulation / edited by Kenneth R. PiƱa and Wayne L. Pines

HISTORIC PRESERVATION.
Historic preservation : project planning & estimating / Swanke Hayden Connell Architects


HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Shale gas : a practitioner's guide to shale gas & other unconventional resources / consulting editor, Vivek Bakshi

INDEXES.
Master index : environmental law series

NEW YORK.
Landscape into cityscape : Frederick Law Olmsted's plans for a greater New York City / edited with an introductory essay and notes by Albert Fein

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
Keep moving, towards sustainable mobility / Bert van Wee (ed.)

WATER RESOURCES.
Water management, food security and sustainable agriculture in developing economies / edited by M. Dinesh Kumar, M.V.K. Sivamohan and Nitin Bassi

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Library Acquisitions -- Week of March 11th

Pace Law Library
ANIMAL LAW.
Animal Protection Laws of the United States of America and Canada / Animal Legal Defense Fund
Legal issues for implementing the clean development mechanism in China / Xiaoyi Jiang

CLIMATE CHANGE.
Local climate change and society / edited by M.A. Mohamed Salih

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM.
Talking green : exploring contemporary issues in environmental communications / edited by Lee Ahern & Denise Sevick Bortree

MEXICO.
Stealing shining rivers : agrarian conflict, market logic, and conservation in a Mexican forest / Molly Doane

NANOTECHNOLOGY.
Nanodevices and nanomaterials for ecological security / edited by Yuri N. Shunin and Arnold E. Kiv

PHILOSOPHY.
The geography of law : landscape, identity and regulation / edited by William Taylor

POLICY.
Open for business : conservatives' opposition to environmental regulation / Judith A. Layzer

SCIENCE.
Beyond "fortress America" : national security controls on science and technology in a globalized world / Committee on Science, Security, and Prosperity [and] Committee on Scientific Communication and National Security, Development, Security, and Cooperation, Policy, and Global Affairs ; National Research Council of the National Academies

WASTE TREATMENT.
Produced water : environmental risks and advances in mitigation technologies / Kenneth Lee, Jerry Neff, editors

WATER RESOURCES.
Thinking like a watershed : voices from the west / edited by Jack Loeffler and Celestia Loeffler

National Academies Report Released: Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels

Recently, the National Academies Press (NAP) released a report produced by the Committee on Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels; Board on Energy and Environmental Systems; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; and the National Research Council titled, Transitions to Alternative Vehicles and Fuels (2013). The 170-page report (available free with a one-time registration) discusses how,
[f]or a century, almost all light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have been powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) operating on petroleum fuels. Energy security concerns over petroleum imports and the effect of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions on global climate are driving interest in alternatives. This report assesses the potential for reducing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions by 80% across the U.S. LDV fleet by 2050, relative to 2005. It examines the current capability and estimated future performance and costs for each vehicle type and non-petroleum-based fuel technology as options that could significantly contribute to these goals. By analyzing scenarios that combine various fuel and vehicle pathways, the report also identifies barriers to implementation of these technologies and suggests policies to achieve the desired reductions. Several scenarios are promising, but strong, effective, and sustained but adaptive policies such as research and development (R&D), subsidies, energy taxes, or regulations will be necessary to overcome barriers such as cost and consumer choice.

National Academies Report Released: Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action

Recently, the National Academies Press (NAP) released a report produced by the Committee on Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries; Committee on Earth Resources; Board on Earth Sciences and Resources; Division on Earth and Life Studies; Board on Higher Education and Workforce; Policy and Global Affairs; and the National Research Council titled,  Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action (2013). The 390-page pre-publication report (available here free with a one-time registration) discusses how,
[e]nergy and mineral resources are essential for the nation's fundamental functions, its economy, and security. Nonfuel minerals are essential for the existence and operations of products that are used by people every day and are provided by various sectors of the mining industry. Energy in the United States is provided from a variety of resources including fossil fuels, and renewable and nuclear energy, all with established commercial industry bases. The United States is the largest electric power producer in the world. The overall value added to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011 by major industries that consumed processed nonfuel mineral materials was $2.2 trillion.
[r]ecognizing the importance of understanding the state of the energy and mining workforce in the United States to assure a trained and skilled workforce of sufficient size for the future, the Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Energy technology Laboratory (NETL) contracted with the National Research Council (NRC) to perform a study of the emerging workforce trends in the U.S. energy and mining industries. Emerging Workforce Trends in the U.S. Energy and Mining Industries: A Call to Action summarizes the findings of this study.

EPA Memorandum of Understanding to Promote Healthy Watersheds Initiative Released

 On February 22, 2013, EPA, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) jointly signed the Memorandum of Understanding between The Nature Conservancy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Association of Clean Water Administrators to Promote the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MOU). This MOU formalizes a mutual collaboration between these groups as they strive to develop and implement healthy watersheds programs in states and with regional aquatic ecosystem programs. These programs include working with states and other partners to identify healthy watersheds state-wide and to implement healthy watershed protection plans, to integrate such protection into EPA programs and to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of protecting our remaining healthy watersheds. TNC, EPA, and ACWA will promote data gathering / data sharing and evaluation of conservation and environmental outcomes resulting from the implementation of state and regional healthy watershed programs.
Memorandum of Understanding to Promote the Healthy Watersheds Initiative (PDF)

NYC Bar Event: Sunset for Elephants and Rhinos in the Wild? Illegal Trafficking, Inadequate Enforcement and Lack of Political Will


http://www.nycbar.org/

Hofstra Conference: Recovery and Rebuilding After Superstorm Sandy - Legal Perspectives: What We Know and Where We Go


Thursday, April 4, 2013 | 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Hofstra University Club
This conference will examine the significant flaws that Superstorm Sandy revealed in our housing, transit and electric power systems and infrastructure, and the legal implications of addressing those vulnerabilities and climate-change-related impacts. The panelists will discuss how making our communities more resilient will require a rethinking of physical changes to our environment and also a reconsideration of local, federal and state land use and environmental laws and regulations. Insurance and risk management have played and will continue to play a central role in response and recovery; those topics and sources of funding for rebuilding and mitigation will also be addressed.

Opening remarks by Edward P. Mangano, Nassau County Executive.

7.5 CLE credits are available.
Conference Co-Chairs:
Michael Bogin, Partner, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C.
Carol Casazza Herman, Visiting Practitioner-in-Residence in Environmental Law and Special Professor of Law, Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
 
For more information, please contact Professor Carol Casazza Herman at Carol.A.Casazza@hofstra.edu or 516-463-2797.
Co-Sponsors:
ABA
NYSBA
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Environmental Law Institute CLE: Environmental Impacts of Shale Development and Hydraulic Fracturing: Key Legal Issues and Future Directions

  Co-sponsored by ALI CLE
State and Regional Regulatory Trends in Hydraulic Fracturing
States are at the fore in regulating shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and several regional bodies have significant regulatory input as well. Get an in-depth examination of the changes and trends in state and regional regulation, including:
  • State regulatory initiatives and moratoria
  • Regional regulatory efforts by River Basin Compact Commissions
  • The tension between the states and US EPA over the regulation of drilling and hydraulic fracturing
  • Efforts to create model state codes and regulations
When: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
12:30–2PM ET

Where: Via teleconference and webcast.
RSVP: To attend, please visit http://www.ali-cle.org/index.cfmfuseaction=courses.course&course_code=TSUX06
Teleconference and webcast information will be emailed one business day prior to the event.
Continuing Legal Education credits will be available for this series

Panelists:
Joel R. Burcat, Partner, Saul Ewing LLP (moderator)
Scott R. Perry, Deputy Secretary, Office of Oil and Gas Management, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Craig Segall, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club
Edward L. Strohbehn Jr., Of Counsel, Bingham McCutchen LLP
Lori Wrotenbery, Director of Administration, Oklahoma Corporation Commission
This replay was originally presented on December 14, 2012. Questions submitted during the program will be answered by email within two business days after the program.
This program is part of the 5-part ALI CLE and ELI series, Environmental Impacts of Shale Development and Hydraulic Fracturing: Key Legal Issues and Future Directions. The series offers an in-depth examination of the environmental law and policy issues facing companies, governments, activist groups, and citizens who are concerned about this critical area of our nation’s energy infrastructure.
You do not have to participate in the entire series to benefit from the information provided in each individual program. For more information on the series go to http://eli.ali-cle.org.