Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Congressional Research Service Report Released: Drought in the United States: Causes and Issues for Congress

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy research arm of Congress,in August released a report titled, Drought in the United States: Causes and Issues for Congress (August 15, 2012). The brief 34 page report authored by Peter Folger, Betsy A. Cody and Nicole T. Carter was written to discuss:
how drought is defined (e.g., why drought in one region of the country is different from drought in another region), and why drought occurs in the United States. How droughts are classified, and what is meant by moderate, severe, and extreme drought classifications, are also discussed. The report briefly describes periods of drought in the country’s past that equaled or exceeded drought conditions experienced during the 20th century. This is followed by a discussion of the future prospects for a climate in the West that would be drier than the average 20th century climate. The report concludes with a primer on policy challenges for Congress, such as the existing federal/non-federal split in drought response and management and the patchwork of drought programs subject to oversight by multiple congressional committees.

GAO Report Released: Interior’s Reorganization Complete, but Challenges Remain in Implementing New Requirements

Recently the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, titled
Interior’s Reorganization Complete, but Challenges Remain in Implementing New Requirement GAO-12-423 (July 30, 2012). This 143 page report, available here, was conducted by the GAO in the wake of the Deepwater Drilling incident in order to:

assess[ ] (1) Interior’s reorganization of its oversight of offshore oil and gas activities; (2) how key policy changes Interior has implemented since this incident have affected Interior’s environmental analyses, plan reviews, and drilling permit reviews; (3) the extent to which Interior’s inspections of drilling rigs and production platforms in the Gulf identify violations or result in civil penalty assessments; (4) when stakeholders provided input to Interior on proposed oil and gas activities, and the extent which they believe Interior considered their concerns; and (5) key challenges, if any, Interior faces in overseeing offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf.
Based on its research the GAO recommended that the Department of the Interior improve the efficacy of its inspections with the "timely input of violation correction data, its capacity for categorizing oil and gas activities according to risk, and its strategic planning for information technology and workforce efforts."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In the News: Invasive Species

Over the last few weeks, news sources all over the country have focused on the issue of invasive species as a record-breaking Burmese python was recently recovered from the Everglades National Park.  University of Florida researchers found and euthanized the 165.5lb., 17.5 ft. after discovering it was pregnant with 87 eggs [1].  The problems most frequently associated with invasive species include the extinction of local populations of native species which can disrupt anything and everything from agriculture to aquaculture to tourism; while other concerns such as in the case of the pythons invoke issues of safety. For more information on invasive species, below please find a list of agency links and resources: 


National Invasive Species Council ("established by Executive Order (EO) 13112 to ensure that Federal programs and activities to prevent and control invasive species are coordinated, effective and efficient) (last visited Aug. 23, 2012).

National Invasive Species Information Center, USDA (links to laws, maps, and guidance on a myriad of issues pertaining to invasive species. Can browse by geography: U.S. and International; as well as by subject: aquatic species, plants, animals, and microbes.) (last visited Aug. 23, 2012)

Invasive Species, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv. (links to law, news and other resources) (last visited Aug. 23, 2012).

Invasive Species Program, USGS (maps, monitoring, and early detection information) (last visited Aug. 23, 2012).

[1] Alvin, C. Revkin, Biologists Track Biggest Florida Python - 17-Footer with 87 Eggs, NY Times (Aug. 15, 2012); Scientists Examine Record Python Found in Florida in Effort to Stop Snakes' Spread, CNN.US (Aug. 13, 2012).

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Library Acquisitions -- Week of August 20th

Featured Book: 

Christopher C. Sellers, Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America (2012).  Seller's in his book, Crabgrass Crucible examines the birth and relationship of the American suburb in the twentieth century.  Focusing on the post-war expansion of the suburbs in New York and Los Angeles, the author argues that despite the role of the suburbs in altering the natural state, the suburbs with their unique connection with their environment ironically sparked the birth of the environmental movement in this country.  A fascinating read for anyone interested in the birth of the environmental movement in the U.S.

New Library Acquisitions:


Friday, August 24, 2012

In the News: Keystone XL Pipeline and Eminent Domain in Texas

The Keystone XL Pipeline situation took an interesting twist yesterday, with Judge Bill Harris of Lamar County Court at Law and his decision to uphold TransCanada’s condemnation of a 50-foot strip of land across a Texas plaintiff's land.  As reported by the New York Times, Plaintiff Julia Trigg Crawford plans to appeal Judge Harris' ruling which was apparently emailed to parties from his iPhone (text of the alleged 15-word ruling reported here). For those unfamiliar with the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, TransCanada has applied to the U.S. Department of State to obtain a permit to build a 1,179 mile pipeline from Alberta to Nebraska with possible extensions in Texas and Oklahoma allowing for easy access to the Gulf Coast.  TransCanada's initial application was denied, however, a second application is now being reviewed by the Department of State (DOS). The DOS is expected to make a decision on this pipeline in the early part of 2013. For more information about this issue see the related resources listed below:

Map by TransCanada of the existing and proposed Keystone XL pipelines, available at

Related Resources:

Saul Elbein, Judge Upholds Eminent Domian for Pipeline in Texas, NY Times (Aug. 23, 2012).
Leslie Kaufman & Don Forsch, Eminent Domain Fight Has a Canadian Twist, NY Times (Oct. 11, 2011).
New Keystone XL Pipeline Application, U.S. Dep't of State (last visited Aug. 24, 2012) (project documents / press releases - includes DOS' January 18, 2012 Report to Congress).
Keystone XL Pipeline Project, TransCanada (last visited Aug. 24, 2012).


Nebraska's XL Keystone Pipeline Evaluation, Neb. Dep't Envtl. Quality (last visited Nov. 6, 2012). 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

U.S. Geological Survey Report Released: Occurrence of Pesticides in Water and Sediment Collected from Amphibian Habitats Located Throughout the United States, 2009-10

Recently the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report, titled Occurrence of Pesticides in Water and Sediment Collected from Amphibian Habitats Located Throughout the United States, 2009-10, USGS Data Series: 707 (2012). In the 48 page report, here,
Water and bed-sediment samples were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in 2009 and 2010 from 11 sites within California and 18 sites total in Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, and Oregon, and were analyzed for a suite of pesticides by the USGS. Water samples and bed-sediment samples were collected from perennial or seasonal ponds located in amphibian habitats in conjunction with research conducted by the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative and the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program.

Broken out into two geographic areas (national and for the State of California), scientists analyzed each water sample for 96 different pesitcides.  The report concluded that "[a] total of 24 pesticides were detected in one or more of the 54 water samples, including 7 fungicides, 10 herbicides, 4 insecticides, 1 synergist, and 2 pesticide degradates."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

GAO Report Released: Environmental Protection Agency Needs to Resolve Weaknesses

Recently the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, titled Environmental Protection Agency Needs to Resolve Weaknesses GAO-12-696 (July 19, 2012). This 45 page report, available here, was conducted by the GAO in order "to determine whether the [EPA] has effectively implemented appropriate information security controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information and systems that support its mission." Finding "pervasive" weaknesses the GAO made 12 recommendations to remedy percieved deficiencies in the EPA's network and then made an additional 94 recommendations to "enhance access and other information security controls over its systems."

New U.S. Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) Newsletter

The U.S. Department of Energy 's (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) recently began reissuing its OSTI Newsletter in an online format.  Beginning with July 2012, vol. 1 issue 1, this newsletter focuses on providing updates on the "OSTI Mission: Advancing science and sustaining technological creativity by making R&D findings available and useful to  . . . [ ] DOE researchers and the public."  In addition, it appears that the newsletter will also incorporate the DOE's new monthly Science Showcase, a monthly update that provides researchers with information relating to the DOE's document and database holdings in certain hot topic areas (see below). RSS feeds are available for OSTI updates and email subscriptions are available for the newsletter.

Previous Showcases:

Wind Power (Aug. 2012).
Nanotechnology (July 2012).
Fuel Cells Research (June 2012).
Computing Research (June 2012).


Monday, August 20, 2012

Congressional Research Service Reports for Environmental Law

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the public policy research arm of Congress. CRS reports are an invaluable resource for anyone interested in researching new and upcoming issues in environmental law, however, their dissemination is only allowed at the discretion of Congress–as a result only select materials are available to the public. Below please find a list of websites that provide copies of environmental CRS reports. Additional reports may be available to Pace students via ProQuest Congressional:

Friday, August 17, 2012

GAO Report Released: EPA Regulations & Electricity Better Monitoring by Agencies Could Strengthen Efforts to Address Potential Challenges

Recently the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, titled EPA Regulations & Electricity Better Monitoring by Agencies Could Strengthen Efforts to Address Potential Challenges GAO-12-635 (July 17, 2012). This one hundred page report, available here, was conducted because the
EPA recently proposed or finalized four regulations affecting coal-fueled electricity generating units . . . (1) the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule; (2) the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards; (3) the proposed Cooling Water Intake Structures regulation; and (4) the proposed Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals regulation . . . EPA estimated two of the regulations would prevent thousands of premature deaths and generate $160-$405 billion in annual benefits. [however] [s]ome stakeholders have expressed concerns that these regulations could increase electricity prices and compromise reliability—the ability to meet consumers' demand . . . [Here] GAO was asked to examine: (1) actions power companies may take in response to these regulations; (2) their potential electricity market and reliability implications; and (3) the extent to which these implications can be mitigated.
Ultimately the GAO recommend that the EPA, DOE and FERC "take additional steps" to monitor industry's compliance; EPA & DOE agreed while FERC disagreed.

Additional Resources:

Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, EPA (last visited Aug. 17, 2012).

Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, EPA (last visited Aug. 17, 2012).

Cooling Water Intake Structures - CWA §316(b), EPA (last visited Aug. 17, 2012) (scroll down to link for the Federal Register Notice).

Coal Combustion Residuals - Proposed Rule, EPA (last visited Aug. 17, 2012) (scroll down to link for the Federal Register Notice).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spotlight: National Renewable Energy Laboratory Publications Database

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL),
"is the only national laboratory solely dedicated to advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies from concept to commercial application." Located in Golden, Colorado, the lab, which has been in existence for the last 35 years, has expertise in the following areas: Renewable Fuels, Renewable Electricity, Energy Science, Strategic Energy Analysis, Commercialization and Technology Transfer and Deployment.  The NREL is also the principal research laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). 

However, of interest to environmental researchers, the NREL, has a searchable online Publications Database available here.

          The database includes:
    • Technical reports
    • Journal articles
    • Conference papers
    • Patents
    • Presentations
    • Books
    • Fact sheets
    • Brochures.
In addition, the database also has an Advanced Search feature which allows users to search by title, author, source, publication year (plus others).  The database contains bibliographic information on "publications from 1977 to the present on subjects related to renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies."  Many publications are available in pdf while others can be obtained in print from other sources (click here for more information).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy's 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report Released

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its report titled, 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report.  The report, which was produced by the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory discusses how,  "the United States remained one of the world’s largest and fastest growing wind markets in 2011, with wind power representing a remarkable 32 percent of all new electric capacity additions in the United States last year and accounting for $14 billion in new investment."  For those unfamiliar with it,  
[t]he report, which has been issued annually since 2007, analyzes a range of developments in the wind market, including trends in wind project installations, turbine size, turbine prices, wind project costs, project performance, and wind power prices. The report also details trends in project financing, a key concern for the wind industry in the current economic climate, as well as trends in project ownership, public policy, and the integration of wind power into the electrical grid. The report provides the wind industry, state and local policy makers, and the general public with valuable information on the state of wind power in the United States.
The DOE does not have one centralized location for its past reports, however, previous editions on the Wind Technologies Market Reports have been collected below:

Related Reports: 
Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost and Performance Trends

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Congressional Research Service: Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies Report Released

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy research arm of Congress,in August released a report titled, Mountaintop Mining: Background on Current Controversies (August 1, 2012). The brief 20 page report authored by Claudia Copeland was written to provide
background on regulatory requirements, controversies and legal challenges to mountaintop mining, and recent Administration actions. Congressional interest in these issues also is discussed, including legislation in the 111th Congress seeking to restrict the practice of mountaintop mining and other legislation intended to block the Obama Administration’s regulatory actions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Library Acquisitions -- Week of August 6th

Featured Book: 

Told as a series of historical vignette's from the colonial era through to modern day Ruktow's American Canopy examines America's relationship with its most bountiful resource -- its forests.  Focusing on the economic, psychological, and cultural importance of trees and forests in the United States this work shows the collective evolution of America's forests from commodity to conservation.  In particular to environmental researchers, chapter 10 discusses the role of trees in the environmental era.

New Library Acquisitions:

Restoring Lands : coordinating science, politics and action : complexities of climate and governance / Herman A. Karl, Lynn Scarlett, Juan Carlos Vargas-Moreno, Michael Flaxman, editors

Remaking Wormsloe Plantation : the environmental history of a Lowcountry landscape / Drew A. Swanson

The republic of nature : an environmental history of the United States / Mark Fiege



ReThinking a lot : the design and culture of parking / Eran Ben-Joseph

Oil pollution deskbook / by Russell V. Randle

History of moral science [electronic resource] / by Robert Blakey

Renewable resources and renewable energy : a global challenge / edited by Paolo Fornasiero and Mauro Graziani

Bioremediation and sustainability : research and applications / edited by Romeela Mohee, Professor, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius and Ackmez Mudhoo, Lecturer, Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius

Sustainable development law in the UK : from rhetoric to reality / Andrea Ross
Sustainable development : environment, energy and water resources / M.K. Ghosh Roy

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spotlight: Archives of American Conservationists

Recently I have had a significant number of requests asking where to find information about some of the founders and major thinkers responsible for the environmental movement in the United States.  Other than monographs, one of the best sources for researching this topic is to determine whether an archival collection exists for a specific individual.  For those interested in researching the beginnings of environmental law please see below:

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948)
A conservationist, scientist, author and professor Leopold was most noted for his work A Sand County Almanac (1949) and his contributions to wilderness preservation.
The Leopold Collection houses the raw materials that document not only Leopold's rise to prominence but the history of conservation and the emergence of the field of ecology from the early 1900s until his death in 1948 . . . The collection has been augmented by correspondence and related materials carefully retained over the years by his mother, his wife, and other family members and professional associates; these span his entire life, but are most rich and voluminous for his early years. It also includes student notebooks and course materials from his studies in Burlington, Lawrenceville and Yale, and copies of his inspection reports on many national forests in the Southwest as well as hundreds of family photographs and photographs taken by Leopold to illustrate aspects of wildlife ecology and land management.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
A poet, essayist, naturalist, historian and transcendentalist, Thoreau is most well know for his work Walden (1854).
The Thoreau Institute library (“The Henley Library”) holds more than 60,000 items that include books, manuscripts, periodicals, art, music, maps, pamphlets, correspondence, and personal histories. We are honored to be the designated repository for a number of important collections, including the extensive collections of the Thoreau Society. It is the mission of the library to collect, preserve and make available research materials relating to Thoreau, his historical context, and his contemporary relevance to human-rights and environmental issues.
John Muir (1938-1914)
A Scottish-born naturalist, essayist and wilderness advocate, Muir co-founded the Sierra Club and played a pivotal role in promoting Yosemite in California to become a National Park.
The Muir Papers consists of John Muir's correspondence, journals, manuscripts, notebooks, drawings, and photographs. It also includes some Muir family papers, the William and Maymie Kimes collection of Muir's published writings, the Sierra Club Papers (1896-1913 ), materials collected and generated by his biographers William Badè and Linnie Marsh Wolf, and John Muir's clippings files and memorabilia . . . Today, approximately 75% of the extant papers of Muir are preserved here. 
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Often called the mother of the modern environmental movement, Carson's landmark book Silent Spring (1962) ushered in a new wave of environmental awareness at the national level.  A marine biologist and conservationist by trade, Carson also authored several other notable works.
The Rachel Carson Papers consist of manuscripts, notebooks, letters, newspaper clippings, photos, and printed material relating to the life and career of Rachel Carson. The collection spans the years 1921 to 1981, with the bulk of the material covering the period from 1950 to 1964. Currently, only a portion of these papers are available online.
Stewart L. Udall (1920-2010)
A former Arizona Congressman and Secretary of the Interior under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, Udall was responsible for advocating or sponsoring a number of major environmental statutes in the 1950s and 60s. He is also known for is work A Quiet Crisis (1964).
The collection is composed of Stewart Lee Udall's professional and public papers. Items of the 84th, 85th, and 86th Congresses are organized into administration and legislation files. Administration includes routine office matters, requests, and correspondence relating to particular problems or issues. Legislation encompasses correspondence arranged by subject, related bills, hearings, clippings, speeches, and background materials [from 1950-1977].
William O. Douglas (1801-1980)
The longest serving Justice in the history of the Supreme Court and an avid environmentalist in his later years, Douglas was responsible for authoring the memorable dissent in the case of Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.S. 727 (1972), which argued that inanimate objects should have standing to sue in court for environmental issues.
The papers of William Orville Douglas (1898-1980) span the years 1801 to 2008, with the heaviest concentration of material dated between 1923 and 1975. Although the collection is divided into three parts, some topics and time periods are common to all parts. Part I, dating from 1920 to 1953, focuses primarily on Douglas's professional life. Part II forms the bulk of the collection, and although it covers the years 180l to 1980, the earliest Douglas manuscript is dated 19l6. Part III is confined primarily to Douglas's diary and his personal correspondence with other justices of the United States Supreme Court. Part IV is made up chiefly of Douglas's correspondence, memoranda, and notes to Marshall L. Small, one of his law clerks, and family papers, primarily correspondence with his second wife, Mercedes D. Douglas Eichholz. The collection consists of a small group of family papers, several correspondence series, subject files, speeches and writings, Supreme Court files, financial papers, photographs, miscellany, and printed matter.

Related Resources

book jacket Richard J. Lazarus, The Making of Environmental Law (2004). [Pace KF3775 .L398 2004]. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

In the News: Extreme Heat and Climate Change

Today the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their National Climatic Data Center State of the Climate Report for the month of July (supplemental data available here).  According to the report,
July 2012 [was the] hottest month on record for the contiguous United States [as] [d]ought expands to cover nearly 63% of the Lower 48; wildfires consume 2 million acres... [resulting in] the warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since  record keeping began in 1895.
To access prior editions of NOAA's State of the Climate Reports, select the appropriate year and month from the drop-down menu at the top of the page; reports are available dating back to 1998.  The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS) Annual State of the Climate Reports are also available in various formats dating back to 1981.

Moreover, the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), a collaboration between NOAA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center also released its U.S. Drought Monitor report for August 7, 2012.  The report available here (explanatory text available here), illustrates how 62.9 % of the contiguous U.S. is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought - "the largest spatial extent of drought" ever recorded.
For previous editions of the U.S. Drought Monitor Report access the NIDIS' Drought Monitor Archives. The archives which date back to 1999, are a bit cumbersome to navigate as you have to actually click through which data sets you want to view,
do, however, allow for side-by-side comparisons as well as PDF and image downlads of each report.

Related Resources:

Environmental Visualization Laboratory, NOAA (last visited Aug. 9, 2012).

NWS Public Alerts in XML/CAP v1.1 and ATOM Formats, Nat'l Weather Service, (last visited) (scroll down to subscribe to RSS feeds for your state or individual county).

Free Online Sources of Historical Weather Data, NIDIS (last visited Aug. 9, 2012).