Thursday, August 30, 2007

Literary Warrant [17]

  • beSpacific, $114 Billion Funds Gulf Coast Recovery (August 28, 2007)

    "24 billion went to rebuild the Gulf Coast states and provide survivors with a place to live, repair damaged infrastructure, and build houses and schools in 2007. Of the $114 billion allocated for Gulf Coast recovery, 84 percent has either been disbursed or is awaiting claims. FEMA awarded $8.3 billion in public assistance funding for education, criminal justice, public works, health and hospitals, and historic and cultural resources; education and public works receive $1.3 billion apiece. As of July 2007, over 95,000 households have received aid."—DHS.

  • Joel K. Bourne, Jr., New Orleans: A Perilous Future, National Geographic (August 2007)

    "With seas rising, storms getting stronger, and ground subsiding, another disaster like Katrina seems inevitable. Yet some residents would rather run that risk than leave the place they call home.

    "Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in United States history, was also a warning shot. Right after the tragedy, many people expressed a defiant resolve to rebuild the city. But among engineers and experts, that resolve is giving way to a growing awareness that another such disaster is inevitable, and nothing short of a massive and endless national commitment can prevent it."

  • Center for American Progress, New Orleans by the Numbers: A City Struggles to Rebuild (August 29, 2007)

    "Two years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the city faces challenges as it tries to rebuild: not just those posed by mountains of rubble and the prospect of future hurricanes, but also a rebuilding effort hampered by inaction, mismanagement, and corruption." Related materials include an interactive map for identifying parish-by-parish evidence of progress.

  • Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), Accommodating People With Disabilities In Disasters: A Reference Guide To Federal Law (Release no. HQ-07-169) (August 21, 2007)

    "The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released a new reference guide that outlines existing legal requirements and standards relating to access for people with disabilities. A Reference Guide for Accommodating Individuals with Disabilities in the Provision of Disaster Mass Care, Housing and Human Services is the first of a series of disability-related guidelines to be produced by FEMA for disaster preparedness and response planners and service providers at all levels."—Press release.

  • Michael Grunwald et al., Hurricane Katrina—Two Years Later (Time magazine special report)

    "The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks."

  • Insurance Information Institute, Hurricane Katrina and Insurance: Two Years Later $40.6 Billion in Insurance Claim Dollars Aid Recovery (August 27, 2007)

    "The magnitude of Hurricane Katrina triggered a reexamination of how the United States deals with the financial consequences of natural disasters among insurers, reinsurers and public policymakers, which continues today, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

    "Despite the attention focused on lawsuits filed following this catastrophic storm, the number of claims in litigation accounted for a very small percentage of the total number of claims filed and most of those are no longer in contention. The I.I.I. estimates that fewer than 2 percent of homeowners claims in Louisiana and Mississippi were disputed either through mediation or litigation.

    "Insurance companies have paid an estimated $40.6 billion to policyholders on 1.7 million claims for damage to homes, businesses and vehicles in six states. By contrast, Hurricane Andrew, the previous record holder, resulted in $15.5 billion in losses in 1992 ($22.2 billion in 2006 dollars) and 790,000 claims."—Press release.

  • Charles Kenny, The World Bank, Sustainable Development Network, Finance, Economics and Urban Division, Infrastructure Governance and Corruption: Where Next? (Policy Research Working Paper 4331) (August 2007)

    "Governance is central to development outcomes in infrastructure, not least because corruption (a symptom of failed governance) can have significantly negative impact on returns to infrastructure investment. This conclusion holds whether infrastructure is in private or public hands. This paper looks at what has been learned about the role of governance in infrastructure, provides some recent examples of reform efforts and project approaches, and suggests an agenda for greater engagement—primarily at the sector level—to improve governance and reduce the development impact of corruption. The discussion covers market structure, regulation, state-owned enterprise reform, planning and budgeting, and project design."—Abstract.

  • Eli Lehrer, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Watery Marauders: How the Federal Government Retarded the Development of Private Flood Insurance (Issue Analysis no. 8) (August 2007)

    "This paper describes how America's National Flood Insurance Program came into existence and seeks to answer the question of why private flood insurance never developed in the United States on a significant scale. It consists of three sections. The first section attempts to provide a brief theoretical framework for thinking about flood insurance. It describes what flood insurance does and presents a theory as to how it ought to work. The second section provides the early history of the flood insurance program. It outlines how the federal government first took on the responsibility of protecting the nation from flooding and how Congress failed in its first effort to offer federal flood insurance. The third section explains how America got the system of flood insurance that it has today. It explains how the Tennessee Valley Authority, U.S. Geological Survey, and a variety of local governments gathered enough risk data to make federal flood insurance palatable to Congress, how Congress implemented a program, and then stripped it of its risk-based character.

    "The paper reaches a simple conclusion: Flood insurance, in its current form, did not emerge as a result of market failure. While some factors, including the role of state regulation, remain undetermined, the current situation represents an example of what economists call 'government failure.'"—Executive Summary.

  • National Agricultural Law Center, Congressional Research Service Reports

    "The Congressional Research Service is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress and solely serves Congress as a source of nonpartisan, objective analysis and research on all legislative issues. Through the Congress, the National Agricultural Law Center is periodically receiving CRS reports related to agriculture and food issues. New and updated reports will be posted here as they are obtained." Topics include: Renewable Energy, Resources—Conservation, Resources—Wildlife, and Rural Development.

  • National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Hurricane Katrina Report Card (August 2007)

    "Two years after Hurricane Katrina much has become clear. We know that the devastation in New Orleans was less a natural than a man-made disaster. Katrina's surge into New Orleans and surrounding areas was the direct result of poorly constructed levees, an ill-conceived navigation channel, and the destruction of millions of acres of coastal wetlands. Furthermore, the storm's intensity itself was fueled by unusually warm waters in the tropical Atlantic due, in part, to global warming pollution.

    "How have Congress and the Administration responded to these lessons of Katrina and addressed the chief causes of its tragic aftermath? A report card is due on the federal government's response to global warming, reforming the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and restoring the wetlands along the Gulf Coast that act as a natural buffer to storms."

  • Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Survey: Nuclear Power Plant Neighbors Accept Potential for New Reactor Nearby by Margin of Nearly 3 to 1.

    "Eighty-two percent of Americans living in close proximity to nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy, and 71 percent are willing to see a new reactor built near them, according to a new public opinion survey of more than 1,100 adults across the United States. Source: Bisconti Research, Inc. with Quest Research Group."

  • United Nations, Gateway to the UN System's Work on Climate Change (August 22, 2007)

    "The United Nations launched Gateway to the UN System's work on climate change that provides easier access to climate change information, such as fact sheets, news, calendar of events, and links to the pages describing the work on climate change issues by various UN System organizations and specialized agencies."

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Global Outlook for Ice & Snow (2007)

    "Ice, snow and climate change are closely linked. The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow investigates those connections, the current situation of ice and snow and the global significance of changes, now and in the years to come. The book was prepared for World Environment Day 2007 to provide an up-to-date assessment on this year's theme: Melting Ice—A Hot Topic? The Global Outlook for Ice and Snow is the second thematic assessment report in UNEP's Global Environment Outlook series."—Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UNEP, Foreword.

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007: AWG 4 and the Dialogue 4 (August 27-31, 2007)

    "Around 1,000 representatives from governments, business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions are gathered this week for the Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007. The talks, held under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aim at setting the stage for the United Nations Bali Conference, next December. More information is available on the Web site, including side event details, submitted papers and webcast links."

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Improved Management Practices Needed to Increase Use of Exchange Network (Audit Report No. 2007-P-00030) (August 20, 2007)

    "Although EPA established a partnership with the Exchange Network's governance bodies to assist them with accomplishing Network initiatives, more improvements are needed to ensure Network partners fully utilize the Network. These partners include EPA, States, tribes, territories, and other parties with whom EPA and States exchange information. EPA should improve its methods for selecting and prioritizing which data flows to implement. EPA also needs to take further steps to complete measurements of Network initiatives to ensure investments are delivering expected results. In addition, EPA needs to improve its internal system development practices to ensure EPA offices perform cost benefit analyses for new or upgraded environmental systems. Further, EPA should strengthen its policies to define when offices should utilize the Network for receiving environmental information."—What We Found.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Making Better Use of Superfund Special Account Funds for Thermo Chem (Early Warning Report No. 2007-S-00002) (August 20, 2007)

    "We found that Region 5 missed an opportunity to make timely and better use of the funds in the Thermo Chem special account. In 2004, Region 5 staff recommended the reclassification of approximately $2.8 million from the Thermo Chem special account. However, these funds were not reclassified because the site managers were unaware that action was needed or required. In addition, while EPA's guidance states that 'Regions' are responsible for identifying special accounts having balances that are more than anticipated future site needs, it does not specify the title of the regional official responsible for doing so or responsible for processing the reclassification."—What We Found.

  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities (Facts & Trends) (Summary Report) (August 21, 2007)

    "Survey finds green costs overestimated by 300% and a need to foster zero net energy construction. Key players in real estate and construction misjudge the costs and benefits of 'green' buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector...."—Press release.

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