Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Literary Warrant [15]

  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), CREW'S Hurricane Katrina International Offers of Assistance Matrix (July 27, 2007)

    "CREW's matrix is based on 25,000 Department of State (DOS) documents it received as a result of a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act in December 2005 for records relating to the federal government's handling and acceptance of international offers of aid after Hurricane Katrina.

    "The matrix includes all international offers, whether they were rejected or accepted and the reasons why, if available. The documents reveal a number of disturbing responses to offers from 145 countries and 12 international organizations from around the world."—Press release.

  • Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), FEMA Was Not Forthright with Congressional Investigators (July 19, 2007)

    "Apparently, the problem of unsafe formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers was more widespread than initially acknowledged. And FEMA's reaction to the problem was deliberately stunted to bolster the agency’s litigation position. New information recently provided to the Committee shows those statements mischaracterized the scope and purpose of FEMA's actual response to the formaldehyde reports. Recently discovered documents make it appear FEMA's primary concerns were legal liability and public relations, not human health and safety. Decisions about assistance to Gulf Coast residents seem to have been driven by the desire to limit litigation, even if that meant limiting genuine testing and risk mitigation efforts as well."—Press release.

  • Environmental Law Institute (ELI), The Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Handbook, 2007 ed.

    "In June 2006 the Supreme Court, in a decision that split 4-1-4, produced a result in Rapanos v. United States that makes federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction over the wetlands, streams, and other waters of the United States confusing and uncertain for citizens, landowners, and regulators alike. Members of Congress have introduced new legislation to restore jurisdiction over many of the waters cast into doubt by the decision; and the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers (the federal regulatory agencies) issued a joint guidance document in June 2007 attempting to guide their respective staffs. Numerous federal courts have attempted to apply the uncertain teachings of Rapanos as well.

    "With the support of the Turner Foundation, and the assistance of numerous experts in wetlands science and law, the Environmental Law Institute has prepared a handbook that analyzes the case law, compiles the relevant scientific studies, and provides a set of jurisdictional checklists. The Handbook will assist anyone faced with a jurisdictional question involving a wetland or stream to understand what factors will allow them to find Clean Water Act jurisdiction."

  • Food & Water Watch, New Web Map Shows Regional Concentration of Factory Farms (July 24, 2007)

    "America's rural communities from coast to coast are living with the human health and environmental costs of factory farms that cram together hundreds of thousands of animals in filthy conditions, said Food & Water Watch today. The organization released a first-ever national map charting factory farms to illustrate how these facilities are concentrated in some regions of the country....

    "The Food & Water Watch factory farm map illustrates that confined animal feeding operations, the dominant form of livestock production in the United States, also known as CAFOs or factory farms, are found throughout the country. But some regions host a comparatively large share of intensive animal production—Iowa and North Carolina for hogs, California and Idaho for dairy cows, Texas and Kansas for cattle feedlots, Georgia and Alabama for broiler chickens, and Iowa and Ohio for egg production."—Press release.

  • Green Electronics Council, The Environmental Benefits of the Purchase or Sale of EPEAT Registered Products in 2006 (June 17, 2007)

    "Numerous environmental benefits of buying high-performance, environmentally friendly computer equipment are highlighted in the first annual report issued by the Green Electronics Council this week. The report, called The Environmental Benefits of the Purchase or Sale of EPEAT Registered Products in 2006, states that the purchase of more than 36 million EPA approved computer desktops, laptops and monitors has led to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."—Press release (June 18, 2007)

  • Harvard School of Public Health, Project on the Public and Biological Security, Hurricane Readiness in High-Risk Areas (June 18-July 10, 2007)

    "According to a new survey of people in high-risk hurricane areas conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health Project on the Public and Biological Security, one-third (31%) of residents said if government officials said they had to evacuate due to a major hurricane this season, they would not leave. This is an increase from 2006 when 23% said they would not evacuate.

    "The top reasons people give for not evacuating involve issues of safety and security. Three-quarters (75%) say their home is well-built and they would be safe there. Over half (56%) feel that roads would be too crowded, and slightly more than one in three (36%) feels that evacuating would be dangerous. One-third (33%) worry that their possessions would be stolen or damaged while one in four (27%) say they would not evacuate because they do not want to leave their pets."—Press release (July 24, 2007)

  • Kevin Jon Heller, Opinio Juris (blog), The World's 15 Greenest Cities (July 30, 2007)

    Having just returned from the city ranked number 2, I can vouch for the ease of access to public transportation, a feature that complements well what I regard as Portland's preeminence, namely, its stature as the World's Hoppiest City. After three days of beer festival, one ought to leave the driving to Max and the TriMet.—DCR.

  • Muel Kaptein et al., RSM Erasmus University, 2007 Report on European CSR Survey (July 2007)

    "While the world is clamouring for measures to combat climate change, the corporate community is actually taking a growing number of initiatives to tackle the problem. Likewise, climate change, which took 8th place on the 'social agenda' of major European companies in 2002, has now jumped to 4th place. In fact, the corporate community expects the issue of climate change to top its agenda within the next five years. This has become clear from a survey held among the 200 largest European companies this spring. The research focussed on the issue of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)."—Press release (July 16, 2007)

  • Pamela Kaval, Department of Economics, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, The Link between Perceived and Actual Wildfire Danger: An Economic and Spatial Analysis Study in Colorado (USA) (Working Paper in Economics 07/13) (July 2007)

    "Over the last 20 years, costs for wildfire initial attack in the U.S. have increased significantly. The increased cost relates to wildfire suppression practices as well as the growing number of wildland urban interface (WUI) homes. Requiring WUI residents to pay an annual tax for their wildfire risk would lower costs to the general taxpayer. Willingness-to-pay (WTP) for wildfire prevention, in relation to both perceived and actual wildfire danger, was the focus of this study. Colorado WUI residents had a high awareness of wildfire risk and were willing to pay over $400 annually to reduce this risk. Respondents beliefs about wildfire frequency were comparable to the original natural wildfire regimes of their areas pre-European settlement."—Abstract.

  • Eileen R. Larence, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Critical Infrastructure: Sector Plans Complete and Sector Councils Evolving (Testimony before the Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, U.S. Senate, GAO-07-1075T) (July 12, 2007)

    "As Hurricane Katrina so forcefully demonstrated, the nation's critical infrastructures—both physical and cyber—have been vulnerable to a wide variety of threats. Because about 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is privately owned, it is vital that public and private stakeholders work together to protect these assets. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for coordinating a national protection strategy and has promoted the formation of government and private councils for the 17 infrastructure sectors as a collaborating tool. The councils, among other things, are to identify their most critical assets, assess the risks they face, and identify protective measures in sector-specific plans that comply with DHS's National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP)."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • Angela Logomasini, Environmentalism's Legal Legacy (Issue Analysis, no. 7) (July 2007)

    "This paper highlights legislative expansion of environmental law. It uses several datasets to document the growth of the environmental legal legacy. First, an analysis of congressional vote scoring by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) reveals that environmental pressure groups do relatively well even in a subset of close votes scored—winning a majority of the time in eight out of 17 congresses and winning 43 percent of these votes overall. It does indicate that environmental groups faced some real challenges in recent years, but it does not reveal how that affected public policy. The LCV scoring also shows that environmental groups are involved in policy making at a very detailed level."—Executive Summary.

  • National Climatic Data Center (NOAA), Climate of 2007—June in Historical Perspective (July 17, 2007)

    "Warmer- and drier-than-average conditions dominated much of the United States during the first half of 2007, according to scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The lack of precipitation led to widespread drought which contributed to an early start to the wildfire season, mounting crop losses, and local drought emergencies. However, drought in the southern and central Plains gave way to heavy and persistent rains which led to devastating flooding from Texas to Kansas in June. Meanwhile, the global average temperature was the second warmest on record for the January-June six-month period."—Major Highlights.

  • National Petroleum Council, Facing the Hard Truths about Energy: A Comprehensive View to 2030 of Global Oil and Natural Gas (Draft Report) (July 18, 2007)

    "'Accumulating risks to the supply of reliable, affordable energy' require an integrated national strategy, according to a major new report by the National Petroleum Council (NPC)....

    "Unique in its scope, the 18-month study of global energy to 2030 involved more than 350 experts from diverse backgrounds and organizations—the majority of them from outside the oil and gas industry....

    "Reviewing a broad range of more than 100 outlooks based on public and aggregated proprietary data, the Council study found that total global demand for energy is projected to grow from today’s huge base by 50-60 percent to 2030—the result of rising incomes around the world and population growth."—Press release.

  • Peter R. Orszag, Director, Congressional Budget Office, Would a Cap-and-Trade Program Harm the Economy? (Letter to Honorable Jeff Bingaman, Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, United States Senate) (July 9, 2007)

    "An effort to limit CO2 emissions in any given year would have two principal effects: It would produce long-term economic benefits (by avoiding damages in the future) but would impose economic costs in each year in which the limit was in effect (by restricting the use of fossil fuels, which emit CO2 into the atmosphere when they are burned). Although CBO's issue brief [Trade-Offs in Allocating Allowances for CO2 Emissions] acknowledged that reducing CO2 emissions would create both costs and benefits, it was not intended to quantify those benefits. Rather, the brief explicitly took the goal of reducing emissions as a given and focused on the near-term efficiency and distributional trade-offs associated with doing so under different methods of allocating emission allowances. More specifically, each allocation scenario considered in the brief would reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount and thus would produce the same long-term benefits, while imposing different near-term costs. Given the narrow objectives of the brief, the fact that it did not explicitly quantify the benefits of a cap-and-trade program should not be interpreted in any way as implying that CBO has concluded that the costs of such a program would outweigh the benefits."

  • Thea Sebastian, Research Associate & Rick Piltz, Director, Climate Science Watch, NextGen Air Transportation System Progress Reports Ignore Climate Change (July 2007)

    "The Bush administration and FAA are currently focusing on a multi-agency effort to enable a major expansion of American air transportation. This effort—the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen)—operates under the assumption that the U.S. aviation traffic will triple in the next 20 years. NextGen progress reports make no mention of climate change, global warming, or the carbon dioxide emissions of aircraft."—Press release (July 18, 2007)

  • John B. Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Environmental Contamination: Department of Defense Activities Related to Trichloroethylene, Perchlorate, and Other Emerging Contaminants (Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Readiness, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, GAO-07-1042T) (July 12, 2007)

    "DOD defines emerging contaminants as chemicals or materials with (1) perceived or real threat to health or the environment and (2) lack of published standards or a standard that is evolving or being reevaluated. Two emerging contaminants—trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchlorate—are of particular concern to DOD because they have significant potential to impact people or DOD's mission."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • John B. Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Environmental Justice: Measurable Benchmarks Needed to Gauge EPA Progress in Correcting Past Problems (Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health, Committee on Environment and Public Works, U.S. Senate, GAO-07-1140T) (July 25, 2007)

    "EPA generally devoted little attention to environmental justice when drafting three significant clean air rules between fiscal years 2000 and 2004. GAO's 2005 report concluded, for example, that while EPA guidance on rulemaking states that workgroups should consider environmental justice early in the process, a lack of guidance and training for workgroup members on how to identify potential environmental justice impacts limited their ability to analyze such issues. Similarly, while EPA considered environmental justice to varying degrees in the final stages of the rulemaking process, in general the agency rarely provided a clear rationale for its decisions on environmental justice-related matters. For example, in responding to comments during the final phase of one of the rules, EPA asserted that the rule would not have any disproportionate impacts on low-income or minority communities, but did not publish any data or the agency’s assumptions in support of that conclusion."—What GAO Found.

  • Alexandra D. Syphard, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, University of Wisconsin, et al., Human Influence on California Fire Regimes, Ecological Applications, v.17, no.5, pp.1388-1402 (July 2007)

    "A new study quantifies how distribution of housing developments and the kinds of fire fuels at the wildland-urban interface can help predict fires in California, a state that experiences monumental fire hazards."—Press release (July 18, 2007).

    The full-text of the study is available to subscribers to Ecological Applications.

  • Union of Concerned Scientists, Creating Jobs, Saving Energy, and Protecting the Environment: An Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Investing in Efficient Cars and Trucks, A 2007 Update.

    "Increasing the average fuel economy of America's new autos to 35 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2018 would save consumers $61 billion at the gas pump and increase U.S. employment by 241,000 jobs in the year 2020, including 23,900 in the auto industry, according to a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). This study comes as the House of Representatives prepares to consider energy legislation in the coming weeks. This energy package could include debate over a bill introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-Penn.) that calls for increasing fuel economy standards by four percent per year, with guaranteed progress to 35 mpg by 2018."—Press release (July 11, 2007)

  • United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), Report on the Fifteenth Session (12 May 2006 and 30 April-11 May 2007) (Economic and Social Council Official Records, 2007, Supplement No. 9, E/CN.17/2007/15)

    "[D]iscussions were based on a wide range of issues related to the interlinked themes of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change"—UN Pulse (July 17, 2007)

  • United States Department of Homeland Security, FY 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program (2007)

    "HSGP grants enhance the ability of states, territories, and urban areas to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters. Including this funding, by the end of FY 2007, DHS will have invested $23 billion in local planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercises for state and local governments since September 11, 2001."—Press release (July 18, 2007). See the beSpacific link for related documents, including a National Congress for Health System Readiness report on state disaster response plans.

  • United States Department of State, U.S. Climate Action Report—2006: Fourth National Communication of the United States of America under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2007)

    "The United States is pursuing a comprehensive strategy to address global climate change that is science-based, fosters breakthroughs in clean energy technologies, and encourages coordinated global action in support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    "The U.S. strategy integrates measures to address climate change into a broader agenda that promotes energy security, pollution reduction, and sustainable economic development. This integrated approach recognizes that actions to address climate change, including actions to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, will be more sustainable and successful if they produce multiple economic and environmental benefits.

    "The United States is committed to continued leadership on climate change. Promoting biofuels, advanced fossil fuel technologies, renewable sources of energy, and advanced nuclear technologies is a key component of U.S. climate-related efforts. Since 2001, the Nation has dedicated nearly $29 billion to advance climate-related science, technology, international assistance, and incentive programs."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency, US-Mexico Border 2012 Program

    "U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program (Border 2012) is a collaboration between the United States and Mexico to improve the environment and protect the health of the nearly 12 million people living along the border. The bi-national program focuses on cleaning the air, providing safe drinking water, reducing the risk of exposure to hazardous waste, and ensuring emergency preparedness along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    "Border 2012 is a results-oriented program that takes a 'bottom-up' approach to addressing the environmental and public health needs of the border region. Issues and projects are identified and implemented at the local level. The program encourages stakeholder involvement through a variety of opportunities."

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Emergency Management Assistance Compact: Enhancing EMAC's Collaborative and Administrative Capacity Should Improve National Disaster Response (Report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, GAO-07-854) (June 2007)

    "EMAC, along with its accompanying policies, procedures, and practices, enables its members to overcome differences to achieve a common mission—streamlining and expediting the delivery of resources among members during disasters. While these policies, procedures, and practices have worked well for smaller-scale deployments, they have not kept pace with the changing use of EMAC, sometimes resulting in confusion and deployment delays. The EMAC network has taken steps to address several of these challenges, but additional improvements can be made in a number of areas including clarifying roles and responsibilities of EMAC members and improving existing systems that track resources deployed under EMAC. In addition, a lack of sufficiently detailed federal standards and policies has led to some reimbursement delays and additional administrative burdens."—What GAO Found.

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