- American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Special Committee on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities, Report of an AAUP Special Committee: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities (May-June 2007)
"[T]he Special Committee on Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans Universities of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) finds that there was 'nearly universal departure from (or in some cases complete abandonment of) personnel and other policies' by five New Orleans institutions—the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, the University of New Orleans, Southern University at New Orleans, Loyola University New Orleans, and Tulane University—as they contended with the disaster that befell the city and its universities."—Press release (May 15, 2007)
- The Associated Press, Smithsonian Toned Down Exhibit on Climate Change in the Arctic, International Herald Tribune (May 21, 2007)
"The Smithsonian Institution toned down an exhibit on climate change in the Arctic for fear of angering the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration, says a former administrator at the museum.
"Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year's exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans, said Robert Sullivan, who was associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
"Also, officials omitted scientists' interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered 'to show that global warming could go either way, Sullivan said."
- Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc. (ASFPM), National Flood Programs and Policies in Review—2007 (Final draft)
"It is evident that the top-down model used by the United States for managing flood risk and floodplain resources over the past 75 years has achieved only marginal success. This, combined with anticipated impacts of population growth and climate change, and the prevailing upward trend in flood losses, have convinced the ASFPM that now is the time to debate a drastic overhaul of national policy and programs.
"Some ideas for an alternative model have already been offered.... Is flood insurance still the best approach? Should floodplains be preserved for biomass production and carbon sequestration? Can the federal government’s role be redefined?
"Scattered throughout this report, therefore, are recommendations that would certainly entail re-thinking and quite possibly re-shaping today’s federal model of floodplain management, or parts of it, in order to better meet the challenges that
the nation will face in the future."—Thinking Outside the Box.
- Lenora Ausbon-Odom, Ernst & Young, U.S. Tax Considerations for Energy Infrastructure Projects, National Tax (May 2007)
"Infrastructure projects vary widely with respect to types of assets (e.g., transportation, energy and utility, stadiums), form of investment (direct versus indirect), characteristics of investor (e.g., domestic taxable, domestic tax-exempt, public, foreign) and type of arrangement with public sector (e.g., toll road concession, regulated industry); any of which may alter the tax analysis and raise unique tax issues. While a survey of all potential tax issues is beyond the scope of this article, certain U.S. federal income tax ('Tax') and other tax considerations are discussed below that are common to energy infrastructure projects. This article addresses the recent statutory and legislative changes which impact the tax treatment of energy infrastructure projects."
- Barbara H. Bean, Research Guide on Transboundary Freshwater Treaties and Other Resources (April 2007)
"Approximately 260 of the world’s river basins, with a majority of the world’s freshwater flow, cross or create international political boundaries. 145 countries, with close to half of the world’s population, are located in international river basins. Although conflicts over water resources date back thousands of years, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the essential role water plays in sustaining human civilization, the nations have found a way to cooperate in sharing and managing water resources. In addition to global conventions and rules governing the use of water resources, hundreds of regional treaties and agreements exist between and among nations, covering a wide range of issues, from border security and navigation to hydro-electric power and water quality and water quantity. Many treaties contain mechanisms for conflict resolution and many establish international commissions for water resource management."—Introduction.
- Stacy C. Davis & Susan W. Diegel, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Transportation Energy Data Book, Edition 26 (2007)
" In January 1976, the Transportation Energy Conservation (TEC) Division of the Energy Research and Development Administration contracted with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to prepare a Transportation Energy Conservation Data Book to be used by TEC staff in their evaluation of current and proposed conservation strategies. The major purposes of the data book were to draw together, under one cover, transportation data from diverse sources, to resolve data conflicts and inconsistencies, and to produce a comprehensive document. The first edition of the TEC Data Book was published in October 1976. With the passage of the Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act, the work being conducted by the former Transportation Energy Conservation Division fell under the purview of the DOE's Office of Transportation Programs, then to the Office of Transportation Technologies. DOE, through the Office of Transportation Technologies, has supported the compilation of Editions 3 through 21. In the most recent DOE organization, Editions 22 through 26 fall under the purview of the Office of Planning, Budget and Analysis in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
"Policymakers and analysts need to be well-informed about activity in the transportation sector. The organization and scope of the data book reflect the need for different kinds of information. For this reason, Edition 26 updates much of the same type of data that is found in previous editions."—About the Transportation Energy Data Book.
- Docuticker, U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook & Interactive Drought Impact Reporter (May 23, 2007)
"On the cusp of the summer season, NOAA meteorologists are anticipating major drought concerns in sections of the U.S. possibly fueling an already busy wildfire season. In today’s updates of the U.S. Drought Monitor and the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook, NOAA scientists are indicating extreme drought to plague areas from Southern California into western Arizona as summer approaches. Meanwhile, drought conditions in the Southeast are expected to show some improvement in the coming weeks and months."—NOAA Press release (May 17, 2007)
- Maggie Eldridge, Bill Prindle, Dan York & Steve Nadel, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), The State Energy Efficiency Scorecard for 2006 (June 2007) (Free registration required.)
"More and more states are turning to energy efficiency as the 'first fuel' in the race for clean and secure energy resources. In their commitments to advance energy efficiency policies and programs, they are outpacing the federal government by a widening margin. States now spend about three times as much on energy efficiency programs as the federal government, and are leading the way on appliance standards, building codes, energy efficiency resource standards, and other key policies that drive energy efficiency investment. In this era of state pre-eminence, it is important to document best practices and recognize leadership among the states, so that other states follow, and to encourage federal action to catch up. Toward that end, ACEEE developed this report as a comprehensive ranking of state energy efficiency policies and identified exemplary programs and policies within each policy category."—Executive Summary (abridged)
- Energy Information Administration, About U.S. Natural Gas Pipelines—Transporting Natural Gas
"This information product provides the interested reader with a broad and non-technical overview of how the U.S. natural gas pipeline network operates, along with some insights into the many individual pipeline systems that make up the network. While the focus of the presentation is the transportation of natural gas over the interstate and intrastate pipeline systems, information on subjects related to pipeline development, such as system design and pipeline expansion, are also included."
- Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (June 12, 2007)
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has forecast an active hurricane season again this year with 13 to 17 named storms forming in the Atlantic Basin, including 7 to 10 hurricanes. This Outlook includes hurricane-induced production outages of 13 million barrels of crude oil and 86 billion cubic feet of natural gas, primarily occurring in August and September (see this month’s supplemental report, The 2007 Outlook for Hurricane Impacts on Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production) [below]."—Highlights.
- Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook Supplement: The 2007 Outlook for Hurricane Impacts on Gulf of Mexico Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production (June 2007)
"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts above-normal hurricane activity in the May 22, 2007 version of its Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. They project 13 to 17 named storms will form within the Atlantic Basin, including 7 to 10 hurricanes of which 3 to 5 will be intense."—Highlights.
- Energy Information Administration, State Energy Consumption, Price, and Expenditure Estimates (SEDS) (June 1, 2007)
"The State data are estimates of consumption for all energy sources by end-use sector beginning in 1960 and estimates of prices and expenditures for the same energy sources by end-use sector beginning in 1970. This release includes all State and sector totals through 2004 and State rankings of consumption, prices, and expenditures by major energy source and end-use sector. Data are provided in tables of PDF and HTML format, as well as in comma-separated data files that are spreadsheet and database compatible. Detailed documentation of data sources and estimation methodologies are also provided."
- Ernst & Young, Global Real Estate Outlook Turns "Green", Global Real Estate Newsline (May 2007)
"For individuals and organizations interested in renting space in green buildings, the most recent Global Real Estate Newsline can be a valuable tool for assessing the impact of energy efficiency, tax incentives, and capital allowances on their behavior, policies, and bottom lines. This 'green' issue—featuring articles about environmental policies in three key countries—helps build a business case for ecological and economic foresight."
- Mary Graham & Elena Fagotto, Brookings Institution, How to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions Now (Policy Brief no. 161) (June 2007)
"Support is growing in the 110th Congress for legislation to counter climate change. Yet action on any of the major cap-and-trade proposals will leave a critical policy gap. None of the proposed systems would take full effect for at least five years. Meanwhile, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and company executives are locking in future emissions as they finalize plans for new power plants, factories and cars. The Administration's latest climate action report, circulated in draft in March 2007, estimates that a 19 percent increase in U.S. emissions between 2000 and 2020 will contribute to persistent drought, coastal flooding and water shortages in many parts of the country and around the world. This policy brief proposes that Congress legislate product-by-product and factory-by-factory disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions to create immediate incentives for companies to cut those emissions. Labeling products and disclosing factory emissions would provide market benefits now by exposing inefficiencies and informing the choices of investors, business partners, employees and consumers and would give companies the information base they need to prepare for cap-and-trade regulation."—Abstract.
- Walter Jetz, David S. Wilcove & Andrew P. Dobson, Projected Impacts of Climate and Land-Use Change on the Global Diversity of Birds (PLoS Biol 5(6): e157) (June 5, 2007)
"Land conversion and climate change have already had significant impacts on biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. Using future land-cover projections from the recently completed Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we found that 950–1,800 of the world's 8,750 species of land birds could be imperiled by climate change and land conversion by the year 2100. These projections are based on the assumption that birds will not dramatically shift their ranges in response to a changing climate, a process that would lessen the range contractions we predict. While climate change will be the principal driver of range contractions at higher latitudes, our projections reveal that land conversion (e.g., deforestation, conversion of grasslands to croplands, etc.) will have a much larger effect on species that inhabit the tropics. This is because birds in the tropics are especially diverse and tend to have small ranges, making them particularly vulnerable to extinction; in contrast, birds at higher latitudes are less diverse and tend to have large ranges. A vastly expanded reserve network in the tropics, coupled with more ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and monitor biodiversity impacts, will be needed to minimize global extinctions."—Author summary.
- William P. Kucewicz, Electricity Prices and the Fuel Function: An Empirical & Global Analysis Economics & Public Policy Report, v.VIII, no.1 (May 2007)
"[P]robably the single biggest factor affecting the price of fuel has been geopolitical risk. Ever since the tragic events of 9/11 and the later U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, global markets have become acutely aware of the potential dangers posed by terrorism and the risk of instability in the oil-rich Persian Gulf. Vital commodities such as oil and safe havens like gold have, not surprisingly, become particularly sensitive to geopolitical risk. Experience has shown, though, that geopolitical risk factors can disappear as quickly as they appear, meaning the potential for a price correction is ever-present."—Executive Summary.
- Local Government Commission, Emergency Response and Traditional Neighborhood Street Design
"In recent years, local governments and developers have been trying to build new neighborhoods with traditional-style streets that are narrow, tree-lined and allow on-street parking. These streets—along with shorter, well-connected blocks—are a shift away from the trend since the Second World War to build large subdivisions with hierarchical networks of wide streets, long blocks and disconnected, dead-end cul de sacs.
"These narrower, traditional-style streets are considered key features of livable, sustainable, and smart growth neighborhoods that are becoming increasingly popular with local governments, developers and home buyers.
"This 12-page fact sheet (PDF, 896 KB) contains case studies illustrating how these issues were handled in three cities. We hope that the lessons learned from these projects will help local governments, emergency responders and developers work together to create safe, livable and walkable neighborhoods with great streets in the future."
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Research Finds That Earth's Climate is Approaching 'Dangerous' Point (May 30, 2007)
"From a combination of climate models, satellite data, and paleoclimate records the scientists conclude that the West Antarctic ice sheet, Arctic ice cover, and regions providing fresh water sources and species habitat are under threat from continued global warming. The research appears in the current issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics."—Press release.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CAMEO Chemicals: An Online Database of Hazardous Materials
"CAMEO Chemicals is an online library of more than 6,000 data sheets containing response-related information and recommendations for hazardous materials that are commonly transported, used, and/or stored in the United States. CAMEO Chemicals also contains the Chemical Reactivity Worksheet (in the Predict Reactivity section of this site), which you can use to predict potential reactive hazards between chemicals of concern."—About CAMEO Chemicals.
- Paul W. Parfomak, Specialist in Science and Technology, Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service, Vulnerability of Concentrated Critical Infrastructure: Background and Policy Options (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RL33206) (Updated January 26, 2007)
"Some analysts may argue that little government intervention is necessary to alleviate geographic vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure because the private sector will adjust its practices out of its own financial interest. However, if Congress concludes that federal intervention is needed, it may employ a number of policy options to encourage geographic dispersion (including eliminating policies that encourage concentration ), ensure survivability, or ensure that effective infrastructure recovery capabilities are in place to mitigate impacts of concentrated infrastructure disruption. Addressing geographic vulnerabilities may call for a combination of options. Congress may also consider whether other legislative proposals with the potential to affect critical infrastructure development—directly or indirectly—are likely to relieve or exacerbate geographic vulnerability. The economic efficiency of public critical infrastructure and the efficient use of federal funds for infrastructure development may also be important considerations."—Summary.
- UN Pulse, UN Documentation on the Environment (May 24, 2007)
"The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has prepared a new chapter for the UN Documentation Research Guide on the Environment. The guide provides an overview of the development of UN consideration of issues related to the environment, highlights the major bodies in the UN family currently at work on the topic, and provides information about the kind of documentation produced for each body. Currently available in English, the guide will be translated into the other official languages."
- United Nations Environment Programme, GEO: Global Environment Outlook, GEO Yearbook 2007: An Overview of Our Changing Environment
"The GEO Year Book 2007 is the fourth annual report on the changing environment produced by the United Nations Environment Programme in collaboration with many world environment experts.
"The 2007 Year Book includes global and regional overviews of significant developments over the past year. It highlights linkages among ecosystem health, human well-being, and economic development; examines new thinking on the value of ecosystem services and the threat from ecosystem degradation; and describes recent research findings and policy decisions that affect our awareness and response to global change.
"A special feature focus analyzes the intersection between environment and globalization where ecosystem services and the human well-being that depends on those services are affected by natural resource exploitation in response to global demands. The chapter also explores some of the innovative policy mechanisms that link global supplies of goods and services with sustainable development objectives.
"The emerging scientific and policy challenges of nanotechnology are examined from an environmental perspective. Nanotechnology will bring environmental benefits but it is vital that we adopt appropriate assessment and legislative processes to address the unique challenges presented by nanomaterials and their life cycles."—About GEO Year Book 2007.
- United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for Europe, First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, Baku, Azerbaijan, 23 – 25 May 2007
"The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea is the first legally binding agreement signed by all five nations surrounding the Caspian Sea, laying down the general requirements and the institutional mechanism for environmental protection in the Caspian region. Also known as Tehran Convention after the city where it was adopted in November 2003, the Convention aims at protecting the Caspian environment from all sources of pollution and to protect, preserve and restore the marine environment of the Caspian Sea. It is based on a number of underlying principles including the polluter pay principle and the principle of access to information. The Convention includes provisions on sustainable and rational use of the living resources of the Caspian Sea, as well as provisions on environmental impact assessment and environmental monitoring, research and development."
- United States Department of Energy, U.S. Continues to Lead the World in Wind Power Growth: DOE Report Shows Growing U.S. Wind Power Market (May 31, 2007)
"The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released its first Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends: 2006, which provides a detailed and comprehensive overview of development and trends in the U.S. wind power market. Most notably, the Report concludes that U.S. wind power capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006; and that the U.S. had the fastest growing wind power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006. More than 61 percent of the U.S.’s total wind capacity—over 7,300 Megawatts (MW)—has been installed since President Bush took office in 2001."
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Fiscal Year 2006 and 2005 Financial Statements for the Pesticide Registration Fund (Audit Report No. 2007-1-00071) (May 31, 2007)
"To expedite the registration of certain pesticides, Congress authorized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess and collect pesticide registration fees. The fees collected are deposited into the PRIA Fund. The Agency is required to prepare financial statements that present financial information about the PRIA Fund."—Background.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) & Environment Canada, State of the Great Lakes 2007 (Draft)
"U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Canada today released the 2007 State of the Great Lakes Highlights Report at the International Joint Commission meeting in Chicago.
"Overall, the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem is mixed, with some conditions improving while others are getting worse.
"Every two years the Great Lakes community reports on the condition of the Great Lakes ecosystem at the State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference. The last conference was held Nov. 1-3, 2006, in Milwaukee, Wis. The State of the Great Lakes Highlights Report summarizes the information provided in indicator reports presented at the biennial conference."—Press release (June 7, 2007)
- United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FDA Finalizes Guidances for Pandemic and Seasonal Influenza Vaccines (May 31, 2007)
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today issued final recommendations to increase the supply of safe and effective influenza vaccines for both seasonal and pandemic use.
"FDA's goal with the guidances is to outline the regulatory pathways for the rapid development and approval of these products."—Press release.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Biofuels: DOE Lacks a Strategic Approach to Coordinate Increasing Production with Infrastructure Development and Vehicle Needs (Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-07-713) (June 2007)
"DOE has not yet developed a comprehensive approach to coordinate its strategy for expanding biofuels production with the development of biofuel infrastructure and production of vehicles. Such an approach could assist in determining which blend of ethanol—E10, E85, or something in between—would most effectively and efficiently increase the use of the fuel and what infrastructure development or vehicle production is needed to support that blend level. In addition, DOE has not evaluated the performance of biofuel-related tax credits, the largest of which cost the Treasury $2.7billion in 2006. As a result, it is not known if these expenditures produced the desired outcomes or if similar benefits might have been achieved at a lower cost."—What GAO Found.
- University of Michigan News Service, Shine On, Shine On, Climate Monitoring Station: Moon-based Observatories Proposed (May 23, 2007)
"Poets may see 'a face of plaintive sweetness' or 'a cheek like beryl stone' when they look at the moon, but [University of Michigan geophysicist] Shaopeng Huang sees something else altogether: the ideal location for a network of observatories dedicated to studying climate change on Earth....
"Global climate change is driven by an imbalance between incoming energy from the sun and outgoing energy from Earth. Without understanding the climate system's inputs and outputs—its so-called energy budget—it is impossible to tease out the relative contributions of natural and human-induced influences and to predict future climate, Huang said.
"But detecting changes in the energy budget is difficult with existing ground-based and space-borne technologies, he noted. Fortunately, instruments left behind by the Apollo 15 astronauts—all U-M alumni, incidentally—inadvertently provided just the necessary measurements."—Press release.
- Walmsley, C. A. et al., UK Climate Impacts Programme, MONARCH (Modelling Natural Resource Responses to Climate Change): A Synthesis for Biodiversity Conservation (May 2007)
"The MONARCH synthesis report is the result of a seven-year partnership programme, involving 15 partner organisations across Britain and Ireland, including governmental agencies and NGOs and a research team led by the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. The final phase of the MONARCH programme studied the projected change in suitable climate for 120 rare or threatened species that are currently being conserved through the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Thirty-two of these were explored in detail and it was found that a majority are likely to be affected by climate change."
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Catching up here after a month away. Apologies for the extent of this post.