Tuesday, September 29, 2009

North American Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy

This Declaration by the United States, Canada, and Mexico dated August 10, 2009 reads in full:

We, the leaders of North America reaffirm the urgency and necessity of taking aggressive action on climate change. We stress that the experience developed during the last 15 years in the North American region on environmental cooperation, sustainable development, and clean energy research, development, and deployment constitutes a valuable platform for climate change action, and we resolve to make use of the opportunities offered by existing bilateral and trilateral institutions.

We recognize the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2 degrees C, we support a global goal of reducing global emissions by at least 50% compared to 1990 or more recent years by 2050, with developed countries reducing emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 or more recent years by 2050.

We share a vision for a low-carbon North America, which we believe will strengthen the political momentum behind a successful outcome at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC meeting this December, and support our national and global efforts to combat climate change. To achieve our low-carbon development goals, and consistent with our respective circumstances and capacities, we agree to the following:

We will work together as we set and implement our own ambitious mid-term and long-term goals to reduce national and North American emissions;

We will work together to develop our respective low-carbon growth plans;

We underscore the importance of developing and strengthening financial instruments to support mitigation and adaptation actions and welcome in this regard the proposal by Mexico of a Green Fund. We will conduct further work on the proposal and will consider other views presented for scaling-up financing from both public and private sources;

We will cooperate and exchange experiences in climate change adaptation in order to better integrate adaptation into national, sub-national, and sectoral planning to reduce vulnerabilities to climate change;

We will develop comparable approaches to measuring, reporting, and verifying emissions reductions, including cooperating in implementing facility-level greenhouse gas reporting throughout the region;

We will build capacity and infrastructure with a view to facilitate future cooperation in emissions trading systems, building on our current respective work in this area; and

We will collaborate on climate friendly and low-carbon technologies, including building a smart grid in North America for more efficient and reliable electricity inter-connections, as well as regional cooperation on carbon capture and storage.
Working in key sectors can help accomplish our emission reduction goals. With this in mind, we will:

Work together under the Montreal Protocol to phase down the use of HFCs and bring about significant reductions of this potent greenhouse gas;
Cooperate in sustainably managing our landscapes for GHG benefits, including protecting and enhancing our forests, wetlands, croplands and other carbon sinks, as well as developing appropriate methodologies to quantify, manage and implement programs for emission reductions in this sector;

Reduce transportation emissions, including by striving to achieve carbon-neutral growth in the North American aviation sector in the context of global action;
Pursue a framework to align energy efficiency standards in the three countries in support of improved national energy efficiency and environmental objectives; and

Work to reduce GHG emissions in the oil and gas sector, and promote best practices in reducing fugitive emissions and the venting and flaring of natural gas.
In order to facilitate these actions, we will work cooperatively to develop and follow up on a Trilateral Working Plan and submit a report of results at our next North American Leaders Summit in 2010.

Wildlife and Forestry in New York Northern Hardwoods: A Gide for Forest Owners and Managers

This guide produced by the New York Audubon Society shows "how wildlife is related to different forest conditions in the northern hardwood forests of upstate New York. The manual supplies science-based information about how different methods of timber management (i.e., logging) change wildlife habitats, and how wildlife communities
change (and how they may be similar) across different forest conditions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Economic Effects of Legislation to Reduce Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

This Congressional Budget Office Report (Pub. No. 4001) dated September 2009 makes the following key points:

-Climate change is an international problem. The economic impacts of climate change are extremely uncertain and will vary globally. Impacts in the United States over the next 100 years are most likely to be modestly negative in the absence of policies to reduce greenhouse gases, but there is a risk that they could be severe.

-The economic impact of a policy to ameliorate that risk would depend importantly
on the design of the policy. Decisions about whether to reduce greenhouse gases
primarily through market-based systems (such as taxes or a cap-and-trade program)or primarily through traditional regulatory approaches that specify performance or technology standards would influence the total cost of reducing those emissions and the distribution of those costs in the economy.

-Reducing the risk of climate change would come at some cost to the economy. For example, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concludes that the cap-andtrade provisions of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA), if implemented, would reduce gross domestic product (GDP) below what it would otherwise have been—by roughly ¼ percent to ¾ percent in 2020 and by between 1 percent and 3½ percent in 2050. By way of comparison, CBO projects that real (inflation-adjusted) GDP will be roughly two and a half times as large in 2050 as it is today, so those changes would be comparatively modest.

In the models that CBO reviewed, the long-run cost to households would be smaller than the changes in GDP. Projected GDP impacts include declines in investment, which only gradually translate into reduced household consumption. Also, the effect on households’ well-being of the reduction in output as measured by GDP (which reflects the market value of goods and services) would be offset in part by the effect of more time spent in nonmarket activities, such as childrearing, caring for the home, and leisure. Moreover, these measures of potential costs imposed by the policy do not include any benefits of averting climate change.

-Climate legislation would cause permanent shifts in production and employment away from industries focused on the production of carbon-based energy and energy-intensive goods and services and toward the production of alternative energy sources and less-energy-intensive goods and services. While those shifts were occurring, total employment would probably be reduced a little compared with what it would have been without a comparably stringent policy to reduce carbon emissions because labor markets would most likely not adjust as quickly as would the composition of demand for different outputs.

-CBO has estimated the loss in purchasing power that would result from the primary
cap-and-trade program that would be established by the ACESA. CBO’s measure reflects the higher prices that households would face as a result of the policy and the compensation that households would receive, primarily through the allocation of allowances or the proceeds from their sale. The loss in purchasing power would be modest and would rise over time as the cap became more stringent and larger amounts of resources were dedicated to cutting emissions, accounting for 0.2 percent of after-tax income in 2020 and 1.2 percent in 2050.

-The expected distribution of the loss in purchasing power across households depends importantly on policymakers’ decisions about how to allocate the allowances. The allocation of allowances specified in H.R. 2454 would impose the largest loss in purchasing power on households near the middle of the income distribution. Which categories of households would ultimately benefit from the allocation of allowances is more uncertain in 2020 than in 2050. A large fraction of the allowances in 2020 would be distributed to households via private entities, and the distribution of the allowance value would depend on whether those entities passed the value on to customers, workers, or shareholders. In contrast, most of the value of allowances in 2050 would flow to households directly.

Eleventh Annual Institute on Public Utility Law

This CLE program sponsored by the New York State Bar Association features expert speakers. The faculty represent corporate attorneys, government agencies, and leading law firms will cover some of the latest developments in these areas, as described in the agenda. There will be breakout sessions during the program so that those present may select the topic that interests them most. Attendees will receive a detailed set of course materials prepared by the faculty. Utility legal staff, regulators, and all practitioners representing energy and telecom providers are strongly encouraged to attend.

Friday, October 16, 2009
State Bar Center
One Elk Street
Albany, NY
(518) 463-3200

Energy Policy Act of 2005: Greater Clarity needed to Address Concerns with Categorical Exclusions for Oil and Gas Development Under Section 390

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-09-872) dated, September 2009, finds that Section 390 categorical exclusions were used to approve approximately 6,100 of 22,000 applications for drilling permits (about 28 percent) and about 800 other actions—mostly modifications to existing permits—from fiscal years 2006 to 2008.

GAO is reporting about 1,150 more instances in which BLM approved section 390 categorical exclusions than had been reported by BLM headquarters, largely because many field offices erroneously used single decision documents to approve multiple oil and gas wells. While section 390 categorical exclusions increased the efficiency of certain operations, some BLM field offices benefited more than others. The differences in benefits stem from a variety of factors and circumstances, such as whether an office had recent and site-specific National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation.

BLM’s use of section 390 categorical exclusions has frequently been out of compliance with both the law and BLM’s guidance. First, GAO found several types of violations of the law, including approving more than one oil or gas well under a single decision document, approving projects inconsistent with the law’s criteria, and drilling a new well after time frames had lapsed. Second, GAO found numerous examples—in 85 percent of the field offices sampled—where officials did not correctly follow guidance, most often by failing to adequately justify the use of a categorical exclusion. A lack of clear guidance and oversight contributed to the violations and noncompliance. While many of these are technical in nature, others are more significant and may have thwarted NEPA’s twin aims of ensuring that BLM and the public are fully informed of the environmental consequences of BLM’s actions.

Energy and Water Development: FY2010 Appropriations

This Congressional Research Service Report (R40669) dated August 26, 2009 discusses The Energy and Water Development appropriations bill provides funding for civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy (DOE), and a number of independent agencies. Key budgetary issues for FY2010 involving these programs may include:
• the distribution of Corps appropriations across the agency’s authorized planning,
construction, and maintenance activities (Title I);
• support of major ecosystem restoration initiatives, such as Florida Everglades
(Title I) and California “Bay-Delta” (CALFED) and San Joaquin River (Title II);
• funding for the proposed national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain,
Nevada (Title III: Nuclear Waste Disposal);
• several new initiatives proposed for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
(EERE) programs (Title III); and
• Funding decisions in DOE’s Office of Environmental Management.
Energy and Water Development funding for FY2009 was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, the “Stimulus” Act, P.L. 111-5) included funding for numerous programs in the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Department of Energy, to be expended in FY2009 and FY2010.

Electric Power Storage

This Congressional Research Service Report (R40797) dated, September 8, 2009, summarizes the technical, regulatory, and policy issues that surround implementation
of electric power storage (EPS).

Electricity storage is one of several non-traditional technologies and methods of meeting power demand that are of current Congressional interest (others include distributed generation, renewable power, and demand response). EPS and these other alternatives do not fit the traditional power industry paradigm, which involves reliance on large scale central power plants and long distance transmission lines to meet demand. This raises the question of how quickly and effectively the power industry and its regulators will be willing to pursue and deploy new
approaches. Electricity storage is also currently a relatively high cost technology, another factor which could delay its deployment.

The report identifies several areas for possible cfongressional oversight, including:
• Power industry and state regulator acceptance of storage technologies.
• Integration of storage into transmission system planning, including integration of
renewable power into the electricity grid.
• Federal executive agency focus on EPS as a solution to power system needs.
• The application of incentives for electric power storage development included in
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA; P.L. 111-5).

The report discusses how the provisions of several pending bills relate to the development of electric power storage, including S. 1091, the Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2009 (STORAGE Act); H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES); and S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wildland Fire Management: Federal Agencies Have Taken Important Steps Forward, but Additiona, Strategic Action Is needed to Capitalize on Those Steps

This Government Accountability Office Report (GAO-09-877) dated September 2009 finds that the Forest Service and the Interior agencies have improved their understanding of wildland fire’s ecological role on the landscape and have taken important steps toward enhancing their ability to cost-effectively protect communities and resources.

However, much work remains. GAO has recommended several key actions—including development of an overarching fire management strategy—that, if completed, would substantially improve the agencies’ management of wildland fire. Nonetheless, the agencies have yet to:
• Develop a cohesive strategy laying out various potential approaches for addressing the growing wildland fire threat, estimated costs associated with each approach, and the trade-offs involved. Such information would help the agencies and Congress make fundamental decisions about an effective and affordable approach to responding to fires.
• Establish a cost-containment strategy that clarifies the importance of containing costs relative to other, often-competing objectives. Without such clarification, GAO believes managers in the field lack a clear understanding of the relative importance that the agencies’ leadership places on containing costs and are therefore likely to continue to select firefighting strategies without duly considering the costs of suppression.
• Clarify financial responsibilities for fires that cross federal, state, and local
jurisdictions. Unless the financial responsibilities for multijurisdictional fires are clarified, concerns that the existing framework insulates nonfederal entities from the cost of protecting the wildland-urban interface—and that the federal government would therefore continue to bear more than its share of the cost—are unlikely to be addressed.
• Take action to mitigate the effects of rising fire costs on other agency programs. The sharply rising costs of managing wildland fires have led the agencies to transfer funds from other programs to help pay for fire suppression, disrupting or delaying activities in these other programs.
• Better methods of predicting needed suppression funding could reduce
the need to transfer funds from other programs.

Arming for the Cleantech Revolution: The United States Prepares Landmark Federal and State Legislation to Save the Climate and the Economy

This Teleconference sponsored by the ABA's The Cleantech and Climate Change Committee (CTC3) will lead a discussion on federal and state legislation designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate the economy, and strengthen our energy independence. The panelists will explore the risks, opportunities, and interrelationships among federal assistance, in the form of loan guarantees, tax incentives and grants, low carbon fuel standards, renewable portfolio standards, cap and trade schemes, and energy efficiency, to implement cleantech projects and finance technological innovation. In addition, they will examine the Obama Administration’s first six months with regard to implementation of its national energy policy, in conjunction with efforts in the House and Senate and in the states and regions across the country.

The experts will provide a timely and unique look into new and potentially revolutionary energy and environmental laws that will significantly affect our domestic economy and our relationships with trading partners abroad. Finally, the panelists will speculate on the potential success and failure of these policies in the short term to jump start the economy, and in the long-term to respond to the tremendous mitigation and adaptation challenges of climate change.

Date: Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Format: Teleconference and Live Audio Webcast
Duration: 90 minutes
1:00 PM-2:30 PM Eastern 12:00 PM-1:30 PM Central
11:00 AM-12:30 PM Mountain 10:00 AM-11:30 AM Pacific

Chemical Products and Toxic Torts at a Crossroads: New Developments, Significant Trends, and a View into the Future

This ABA Regional CLE Workshop is an interactive seminar involving nationally known plaintiffs’ lawyers, members of the judiciary, in-house counsel and defense-oriented trial lawyers who will discuss new developments and significant trends in toxic and mass torts involving chemicals and industrial products, including a look at the impact of a post-Bush, recessionary world on pending and future litigation, the use of biomonitoring and toxicogenomics to determine medical causation, the evolution of environmental justice and nuisance theories, and the next wave of litigation involving household products.

September 11, 2009
8:00 AM – 3:30 PM

at: Exxon Mobil Corporation, Houston, TX
Registration Deadline: September 7, 2009

Tax Incentives for the “Green” Industry

This BNA live audioconference covers available tax incentives for green industries and understanding how to take advantage of them.

This includes:
Overview of Available Tax Incentives
Tax Credits
Eligibility of Taxpayers To Take Advantage of the Incentives
The Energy Production Tax Credit
The Energy Investment Tax Credit
Electing a Tax-Free Grants In Lieu of Tax Credits
Special Depreciation and Deductions

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. ET

Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with NOAA, Rhode Island Sea Grant, and the International City/County Management Association, EPA has released Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities. This interagency guide builds on existing smart growth principles to offer 10 specific development guidelines for coastal and waterfront communities.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Testing the Waters 2009: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

This annual report on beachwater quality is produced by the National Resources Defense Council. NRDC used a five-star system to rate a selection of popular beaches across the country. NRDC evaluated 200 popular beaches, some with multiple segments that are monitored separately. In total, 344 beach water quality sampling points from these 200 beaches are rated.

The Impact of Transactional Energy Disclosure Regulations and Sustainability Due Diligence Requirements on Commercial Real Estate Transactions

This CLE teleconference sponsored by the Bureau of National Affairs covers ASTM International's new standard for the collection and disclosure of energy use information associated with buildings involved in real estate transactions. Given the fact that ASTM developed environmental due diligence standards in the early 1990s that set the framework for later policy and regulations, it is likely the new ASTM standard will serve as a precursor for the development of green building due diligence standards. ASTM WK24707, Guide for Building Energy Performance Disclosure, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E50.02 on Real Estate Assessment and Management.

The teleconference will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. (ET).

Public and Private Municipal Financing of Renewable Energy Projects and Green Expenditures

This CLE Teleconference program sponsored by the American Bar Association will take place on Wednesday, September 30 at 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern Time.

This teleconference will explore the various ways municipal bonds can be utilized in connection with the public and private development of new energy technologies and renewable energy projects. Our panel will identify and discuss the panoply of municipal bonds available to finance the different types of energy facilities including Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, Qualified School Construction Bonds, Solid Waste Exempt Facility Bonds, Build America Bonds, Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, Cogeneration Exempt Facility Bonds and Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds etc.

Assessing the Costs of Adapting to Climate Change

The review of previous studies by the International Institute for Environment and Development dated August 2009 concludes that this re-assessment of the UNFCCC estimates for 2030 suggests that they are likely to be substantial under-estimates. The purpose of this report is to illustrate the uncertainties in these estimates rather than to develop new cost estimates, which is a much larger task than can be accomplished here.

The main reasons for under-estimation are that: (i) some sectors have not been included in an assessment of cost;
(ii) some of those sectors which have been included have been only partially covered; and
(iii) the additional costs of adaptation have sometimes been calculated as ‘climate mark-ups’ against low levels of assumed investment.

Residual damages also need to be evaluated and reported because not all damages can be avoided due to technical and economic constraints.

Evaluation of the work of the Work of the Forest Governance Learning Group 2005-2009

This report prepared for the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) dated August 2009 describes the Groups researcher in working with forest community groups and policy makers in ten countries in Africa and Asia explains a novel way to improve the flow of social and environmental benefits from tropical forests, according to an independent evaluation of an International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) project published today. With forests set to take center stage in a new global deal to tackle climate change, there is a desperate search underway for proven ways to improve governance to ensure that forest resources are managed for the public good.