- beSpacific, EPA Issues Strengthened National Standards for Ground-Level Ozone (March 12, 2008)
"On March 12, 2008, EPA significantly strengthened its national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog. These changes will improve both public health protection and the protection of sensitive trees and plants."—Fact Sheet: Final Revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone | Summary of Action.
- Thomas E. Drabek, John Evans Professor, Emeritus, Department of Sociology and Criminology, University of Denver, Social Problems Perspectives, Disaster Research and Emergency Management: Intellectual Contexts, Theoretical Extensions, and Policy Implications (2007)
"This essay explores the intellectual contexts wherein disasters are defined as non-routine social problems. The argument is advanced that this theoretical orientation can both open new doors for researchers and assist emergency management professionals in critically reviewing existing policy and future proposals. The essay is comprised of five sections: 1) introduction (how I came to this topic); 2) social problems perspectives (key insights from past and recent analyses); 3) disaster research (sampling of theoretical issues and conclusions relevant to a social problems orientation); 4) emergency management (selected policy areas and implications) and 5) conclusions (payoffs for future theory and application)."—Abstract.
- National Research Council, Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation, Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation (March 2008)
"Transportation professionals should acknowledge the challenges posed by climate change and incorporate current scientific knowledge into the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems. Every mode of transportation and every region in the United States will be affected as climate change poses new and often unfamiliar challenges to infrastructure providers. Special Report 290: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation—the report of a study conducted by a committee of experts under the auspices of the Transportation Research Board and the Division on Earth and Life Studies of the National Research Council—makes the case that focusing on the problem now should help avoid costly future investments and disruptions to operations."—Transportation Report in Brief (TRB)
- National Wildlife Federation (NWF) et al., Imperiled Treasures: How Recent Supreme Court Decisions and Agency Actions Have Endangered Southwest Waters and Wildlife (January 2008)
"For thirty years the federal Clean Water Act broadly protected waters in the nation and across the Southwest. It sought, with a great deal of success, to safeguard important waters from pollution and destruction. Historically, it applied to waters from the Rio Grande to playa lakes. However, now the protections of the Act are being whittled away. Two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2001) and Rapanos v. United States (2006), have placed protections of many of the nation’s waters, such as intermittent and ephemeral streams and so-called 'isolated' wetlands, in doubt. While these Supreme Court decisions have not overturned any of the current regulations that broadly protect waters, they have created significant legal confusion over the scope of the Act’s protections.
In response to these decisions, federal agencies have issued guidance that has directly affected waters vital to the Southwest. In 2003, agency guidance effectively removed protections for so-called geographically 'isolated' waters like playa lakes. In response to Rapanos, guidance issued in 2007 makes it nearly impossible to protect many intermittent and ephemeral streams, along with wetlands that neighbor such streams."—Executive Summary.
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), OECD Environmental Outlook to 2030 (2008)
"The 2008 OECD Environmental Outlook is a pathbreaking report that marries economic and environmental projections for the next few decades and simulates specific policies to address the key challenges. It identifies four priority areas where urgent action is needed: climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and the impact on human health of pollution and toxic chemicals....
"OECD recommends use of policy mixes, and to keep the costs of action low these should be heavily based on economic and market-based instruments. Examples are the use of green taxes, efficient water pricing, emissions trading, polluter-pay systems, waste charges, and eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies (e.g. for fossil fuels and agriculture). But more stringent regulations and standards (e.g. for transport and building construction), investment in research and development, sectoral and voluntary approaches, and eco-labelling and information are also needed."—Press release (March 5, 2008)
- Skaidra Smith-Heisters, Reason Foundation, Illegally Green: Environmental Costs of Hemp Prohibition
"The Reason Foundation study reveals that polyester fiber manufacturing requires six times the energy needed to grow hemp. And cotton is one of the most 'water- and pesticide-intensive crops in the world.' Hemp's naturally higher resistance to weeds and pests means it requires dramatically fewer pesticides than cotton.
"Not only has the government banned hemp production in the U.S., it is also directly subsidizing other crops that the study shows to be 'environmentally inferior.' Corn farmers received $51 billion in subsidies between 1995 and 2005; wheat farmers were given $21 billion; cotton farmers fleeced taxpayers for $15 billion; and tobacco farmers were handed $530 million in taxpayer-funded subsidies."—Press release (March 13, 2008)
- Russel S. Sobel, Christopher J. Coyne & Peter T. Leeson, The Political Economy of FEMA: Did Reorganization Matter? (January 25, 2008)
"This paper investigates the political economy of FEMA’s post-9/11 merger with the Department of Homeland Security. Using panel data for the post-DHS merger but pre-Katrina period, we examine how FEMA’s much-debated reorganization has impacted the strong political influences on disaster declaration and relief spending identified by Garrett and Sobel (2003) before FEMA’s reorganization. We find that although politically-important states for the president continue to have a higher rate of disaster declaration, disaster expenditures are no longer higher in states with congressional representation on FEMA oversight committees. These results suggest reorganization has reduced political pressures within FEMA. Tullock’s theory of bureaucracy helps to explain this change."—Abstract.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), A Decade of Children's Environmental Health: Highlights from EPA's Science to Achieve Results Program (December 2007)
"In 1997, Federal Executive Order 13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks, mandated Federal agencies to place a high priority on identifying and assessing risks affecting children and to ensure their policies, standards, and programs address disproportionate risks to children. The Executive Order stimulated a wide array of research supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly through the National Center of Environmental Research’s (NCER) extramural Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program.
"In 1998, the STAR grant program, which supports human health, ecology, economics and engineering sciences through grants, centers, and fellowships, initiated a diverse portfolio focused specifically on children’s environmental health research. The goal of this research is to better understand children’s genetic, life stage, and behavioral susceptibilities. The research also aims to better characterize child-specific harmful chemical exposures and to demonstrate cost effective, protective interventions, particularly at the household and community level. Since 1998, the STAR grant program has issued more than 10 research solicitations and awarded over 60 grants focusing on children’s environmental health, including: Centers for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research (21 Children’s Centers awards—11 currently active); Aggregate Exposure Assessment of Pesticide Exposure (3 grants); Biomarkers for Children’s Risks (8 grants); Children’s Vulnerability to Toxics (19 grants); Children’s Valuation (7 grants); and Early Indicators of Environmentally Related Disease (5 grants). To date, NCER has funded more than a hundred individual projects resulting in more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles in a wide array of scientific publications."—Executive Summary.
N.B. 'at's my boy! (DCR)
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Vision, Mission and Strategy for Sustainable Ports
"Between 1970 and 1995, US international waterborne freight nearly doubled, and is forecast to triple by 2020. Ten billion dollars will be spent over the next 5 years to expand the commercial use of public port terminals. An equal amount may be spent to expand port security. This port growth has tremendous implications for intermodal transportation, e.g. ships, trucks, and trains, as well as property utilized for port activity. The challenge is to help the ports and their trade partners minimize their environmental footprint, even as they grow, i.e. to be economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible."—Sector Profile.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Annual Superfund Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2007 (EPA-350-R-08-001) (January 2008)
"Although EPA has taken actions to improve its 5-year review process for Superfund sites, additional steps are needed to support and communicate conclusions, improve review timeliness, and provide fuller assurance that cleanup actions protect human health and the environment. Addressing Superfund funding and program management issues remains important. We will continue to assist Congress and EPA in their efforts to protect against the potential adverse health and environmental impacts resulting from Superfund sites. Early identification, communication, and evaluation of issues needed to reform the Superfund program can better prepare the Agency to address Superfund issues."—Foreword.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Natural Resource Management: Opportunities Exist to Enhance Federal Participation in Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Conflicts and Improve Natural Resource Conditions (Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S. Senate, GAO-08-262) (January 2008)
"Experts generally view collaborative resource management that involves public and private stakeholders in natural resource decisions as an effective approach for managing natural resources. Several benefits can result from using collaborative resource management, including reduced conflict and litigation and improved natural resource conditions, according to the experts. A number of collaborative practices, such as seeking inclusive representation, establishing leadership, and identifying a common goal among the participants have been central to successful collaborative management efforts. The success of these groups is often judged by whether they increase participation and cooperation or improve natural resource conditions. Many experts also note that there are limitations to the approach, such as the time and resources it takes to bring people together to work on a problem and reach a decision."—What GAO Found.
- United States House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Climate Change Legislation Design White Papers
"The Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality are issuing a series of Climate Change Legislation Design White Papers as the next step toward enactment of a mandatory, economy-wide climate change program. While the hearings earlier in this Congress were designed to give the Committee an understanding of the status and projected path of climate change and potential ways to address it, these White Papers and the hearings on them will focus on the construction of mandatory, economy-wide climate change legislation. The White Papers will describe the basic design and key principles of a regulatory program and also identify issues about which further information and discussion is desirable."
- Bradley S. Van Gosen, United States Geological Survey (USGS), Reported Historic Asbestos Mines, Historic Asbestos Prospects, and Natural Asbestos Occurrences in the Southwestern United States (Arizona, Nevada, and Utah) (Open-File Report 2008-1095)
"This map and its accompanying dataset provide information for 113 natural asbestos occurrences in the Southwestern United States (U.S.), using descriptions found in the geologic literature. Data on location, mineralogy, geology, and relevant literature for each asbestos site are provided. Using the map and digital data in this report, the user can examine the distribution of previously reported asbestos occurrences and their geological characteristics in the Southwestern U.S., which includes sites in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. This report is part of an ongoing study by the U.S. Geological Survey to identify and map reported natural asbestos occurrences in the U.S., which thus far includes similar maps and datasets of natural asbestos occurrences within the Eastern U.S. (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1189/), the Central U.S. (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1211/), and the Rocky Mountain States (http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1182/). These reports are intended to provide State and local government agencies and other stakeholders with geologic information on natural occurrences of asbestos in the U.S."
- Sharon Wiharta et al., Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), The Effectiveness of Foreign Military Assets in Natural Disaster Response (2008)
"This study provides an overview of recent developments in the use of foreign military assets in response to major natural disasters, based on primary and secondary data. Four case studies of recent disaster relief operations that have involved major deployments of foreign military assets have been used to contextualize the general observations and give examples of good and bad practice. These case studies examine the responses to: floods and cyclones in Mozambique in 2000; the 2004 floods and tropical windstorms in Haiti; the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (focusing on Aceh province, Indonesia); and the 2005 South Asian earthquake (focusing on Pakistan-administered Kashmir)."—Executive Summary.