Here are some recent publications of interest. In future posts, I'll catch up with some of the aging ones.
- American Rivers, 1,333 Unsafe Dams Threaten Nation's Communities: Unsafe High Hazard Dams Litter the US (September 6, 2007)
"Congress will soon consider the Dam Rehabilitation and Repair Act of 2007 (H.R 3224) which would direct $200 million to states for improving the safety of publicly-owned dams, through either repairing or removing problem dams. To date, only 11 members have signed on to co-sponsor the bill introduced by Congressman John Salazar (D-CO).
"'Dams across the country are living on borrowed time, and many of our communities are at risk,' said American Rivers’ President Rebecca Wodder. 'Closing our eyes to the problem doesn’t make it disappear; Congress needs to take action now.'"—Press release.
- Stephen L. Caldwell, Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Radiation Exposure Compensation Act: Program Status (September 7, 2007)
"From 1945 through 1962, the United States conducted a series of aboveground atomic weapons tests as it built up its Cold War nuclear arsenal. Around this same time period, the United States also conducted underground uranium-mining operations and related activities, which were critical to the production of the atomic weapons. Many people were exposed to radiation resulting from the nuclear weapons development and testing program, and such exposure is presumed to have produced an increased incidence of certain serious diseases, including various types of cancer. To make partial restitution to these individuals, or their eligible surviving beneficiaries, for their hardships associated with the radiation exposure, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was enacted on October 15, 1990.1 RECA provided that the Attorney General be responsible for processing and adjudicating claims under the act. The Department of Justice (DOJ) established the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program (RECP), which is administered by its Civil Division’s Torts Branch. RECP began processing claims in April 1992."
- Green Party of England and Wales, Greenprint for a Renewable Energy Policy That Works (September 2007)
"The Green Party has a comprehensive set of policies that will guarantee we achieve reductions in carbon dioxide, year-on-year, that will enable us to reduce UK emissions by 90% by 2030. As part of this programme, the best way to support and develop the renewables industry is to adopt a simple framework of guaranteed prices for exported renewable energy. Feed-in tariffs have been a runaway success in Germany and other countries, stimulating both large- and small-scale projects and kick-starting a profitable industry that supports many thousands of jobs."
- Insurance Information Institute, Facts and Statistics: Catastrophes (2007)
Figures for the ten most costly world insurance losses, the ten most costly catastrophes in the United States, the top fifteen most costly hurricanes in the United States, and related phenomena.
- Jessica Milano, Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), Spoiled: Keeping Tainted Food Off America’s Tables (Policy Report) (September 2007)
"Currently, Americans are protected against tainted goods by a system of redundant, inefficient programs that let too many dangerous products through the cracks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulate different categories of food with disparate resources and authority. While 80 percent of the nation's overall food supply falls under the authority of the FDA—including recently recalled foods such as spinach and peanut butter—80 percent of America's food safety budget is allocated to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA. The confusion is exacerbated by the fact that the FSIS—which regulates domestic and imported meat, poultry, and certain egg products—requires that each exporting country have a food and safety system roughly comparable to that of the United States, while the FDA—which regulates all other foods—evaluates each individual company that applies to import food."—Press release (September 7, 2007)
- David Owen, The Dark Side: Making War on Light Pollution, New Yorker (August 20, 2007)
"The stars have not become dimmer; rather, the Earth has become vastly brighter, so that celestial objects are harder to see. Air pollution has made the atmosphere less transparent and more reflective, and high levels of terrestrial illumination have washed out the stars overhead—a phenomenon called 'sky glow.' Anyone who has flown across the country on a clear night has seen the landscape ablaze with artificial lights, especially in urban areas. Today, a person standing on the observation deck of the Empire State Building on a cloudless night would be unable to discern much more than the moon, the brighter planets, and a handful of very bright stars—less than one per cent of what Galileo would have been able to see without a telescope."
- United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Climate Change and Tourism.
"The World Tourism Organization has created an information gathering web resource called Climate and Tourism Information Exchange Service, which displays data, studies, policy papers, videos and other materials as part of its effort to combat climate change. Registration (free) is required. The organization has spearheaded the study of linkages between climate and tourism, having convened the first-ever International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism in Tunisia in 2003. The second Conference will be held in Davos, Switzerland, in October."—UN Pulse (September 7, 2007)
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General, Federal Facilities in Chesapeake Bay Watershed Generally Comply with Major Clean Water Act Permits (Evaluation Report no. 2007-P-00032) (September 5, 2007)
"Overall, EPA and the States are doing well managing how major Federal facilities comply with their NPDES [National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] permits. In EPA’s last reporting period (2004), major Federal facilities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed had a lower rate of Significant Noncompliance than other Federal and non-Federal major-permit facilities nationwide."—What We Found.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS), Future Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice Will Lower Polar Bear Populations and Limit Their Distribution (September 7, 2007)
"Future reduction of sea ice in the Arctic could result in a loss of 2/3 of the world's polar bear population within 50 years according to a series of studies released today by the U.S. Geological Survey....
"The newly-released USGS information, presented to the Service in the form of nine administrative reports to be open for public comment, will now be considered within the context of the Fish and Wildlife Service's one-year review. The Service will analyze it and other information provided by scientists, government agencies and the public in order to arrive at an informed and scientifically justifiable decision. That decision is due in January."—Press release.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Influenza Pandemic: Further Efforts Are Needed to Ensure Clearer Federal Leadership Roles and an Effective National Strategy (Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-07-781) (August 2007)
"An influenza pandemic is a real and significant potential threat facing the United States and the world. Pandemics occur when a novel virus emerges that can easily be transmitted among humans who have little immunity. In 2005, the Homeland Security Council (HSC) issued a National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza and, in 2006, an Implementation Plan.
"Congress and others are concerned about the federal government’s preparedness to lead a response to an influenza pandemic. This report assesses how clearly federal leadership roles and responsibilities are defined and the extent to which the Strategy and Plan address six characteristics of an effective national strategy. To do this, GAO analyzed key emergency and pandemic-specific plans, interviewed agency officials, and compared the Strategy and Plan with the six characteristics GAO identified."—Why GAO Did This Study.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Maritime Transportation: Major Oil Spills Occur Infrequently, but Risks to the Federal Oil Spill Fund Remain (Report to Congressional Committees, GAO-07-1085) (September 2007)
"On the basis of cost information collected from a variety of sources, GAO estimates that 51 spills with costs above $1 million have occurred since 1990 and that responsible parties and the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (Fund) have spent between about $860 million and $1.1 billion for oil spill removal costs and compensation for damages (e.g., lost profits and natural resource damages). Responsible parties paid between about 72 percent and 78 percent of these costs; the Fund has paid the remainder. Since removal costs and damage claims may stretch out over many years, the costs of the spills could rise. The 51 spills, which constitute about 2 percent of all vessel spills since 1990, varied greatly from year to year in number and cost."—What GAO Found.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Water Resources: Four Federal Agencies Provide Funding for Rural Water Supply and Wastewater Projects (Report to the Honorable Gordon Smith, U.S. Senate, GAO-07-1094) (September 2007)
"Rural areas generally lack adequate funds for constructing and upgrading water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. As a result, they typically rely on federal grants and loans, primarily from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), to fund these projects. Concern has been raised about potential overlap between the projects these agencies fund. For fiscal years 2004 through 2006 GAO determined the (1) amount of funding these agencies obligated for rural water projects and (2) extent to which each agency’s eligibility criteria and the projects they fund differed."—Why GAO Did This Study.
- United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), NRC Issues Mid-Cycle Letters for Nation’s Nuclear Plants (September 6, 2007)
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued mid-cycle assessment letters to the nation’s 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants. The agency’s most recent assessments show all the plants continue to operate safely....
"If a nuclear power plant’s performance declines, the NRC assigns additional resources to ensure the plant operator is taking the steps necessary to correct the situation. Only one plant, Palo Verde in Arizona, requires the NRC’s highest level of attention, which will include additional inspectors this fall to confirm the plant’s performance issues are being addressed. Ten plants require significant NRC attention, and another 19 plants get some additional attention. These numbers are generally comparable to last year’s mid-cycle assessments."—Press release.
- World Resources Institute & World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: Guidelines for Quantifying GHG Reductions from Grid-Connected Electricity Projects (2007)
"As concern about climate change has grown, one of the key challenges facing energy-project developers, as well as legislators and other key decision-makers, has been to accurately quantify the reduced GHG emissions that result from these projects.
"'These are the best guidelines available to calculate meaningful numbers for quantifying emissions reductions,' said Lars Kvale at the Center for Resource Solutions, a national nonprofit working to establish consumer-protection standards for greenhouse gas offsets. 'This will really help energy-project developers and offset-program designers who do not have the resources to run detailed grid-emissions models.'"—News release.