- Robert Bamberger, Specialist in Energy Policy, Resources, Sciences, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues (Order Code RL33341) (Updated May 15, 2008)
"Congress authorized the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163) to help prevent a repetition of the economic dislocation caused by the 1973-1974 Arab oil embargo. The program is managed by the Department of Energy (DOE). The capacity of the SPR is 727 million barrels, and it currently holds slightly more than 700 million barrels of crude oil. In addition, a Northeast Heating Oil Reserve (NHOR) holds 2 million barrels of heating oil in above-ground storage. At issue in recent years has been whether SPR capacity should be expanded and whether the reserve should continue to be filled."—Summary.
- Lauretta Burke, World Resources Institute (WRI), Coastal Capital: Putting a Value on The Caribbean's Coral Reefs (June 13, 2008)
"Coral reefs are a vital part of the Caribbean’s marine environment, and are integral to the economies of many of the region’s small island states. WRI’s economic valuation methodology can help decision-makers in the region better understand the enormous economic value the reef provides and use this data to make better-informed coastal policy."
- Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) & IBM, Making Advances in Carbon Management: Best Practice from the Carbon Information Leaders (A Joint CDP and IBM Study) (2008)
"This study covers one of the biggest long term campaigns facing business leaders today. A campaign recognised as vital in government, in industry, and among the general public. Across the corporate world, managers are drawing up strategies to measure and manage greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to use that intelligence to cut their carbon footprint. During March and April 2008, eleven carbon leaders co-operated in sharing information about how they gather their GHG emissions data, what they measure, how far they have gone in the process, and what the experience has been like. Their insights and discoveries will help other companies to follow where they have led."—Objectives of the study.
- Council on Foreign Relations, Confronting Climate Change: A Strategy for U.S. Foreign Policy (Independent Task Force Report no. 61) (2008)
"A cap-and-trade system will create economic incentives to reduce emissions, but those incentives will not be sufficient to deliver deep cuts in emissions at an acceptable cost.The Task Force thus recommends that the United States take complementary steps to help market forces functionmore effectively and to seize the many opportunities to align the goal of slowing climate change with other important policy objectives. Those other steps include adopting policies that would improve energy security by reducing oil use in ways that also lower emissions; using traditional regulation in places where markets fail to function efficiently, most notably by targeting opportunities to improve energy efficiency; expanding federal support for research, development, and commercial scale demonstration of low-carbon technologies; and supporting the construction of new infrastructure, such as a more robust electric grid, that will support low-carbon energy. The Task Force also recommends that the United States seek to reduce biofuels tariffs, since many imported biofuels are currently more climate-friendly than many domestically produced ones; however, the United States should do so only in a context where changes to tariffs do not ultimately encourage increased emissions. It also recommends phasing out subsidies for mature biofuels such as conventional corn-based ethanol."—Executive Summary.
- Carol L. Cwiak, North Dakota State University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Emergency Management, Emergency Management Education: A Status Report (2008 FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Program Report)
"The number of emergency management higher education programs continue to grow in both number and strength. The data collection herein was undertaken to provide a status report of where emergency management higher education currently stands. The goal of this report is to assist the FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Program, policymakers, educators, students, practitioners and other interested parties in understanding where higher education is today and where it is heading in the future. This report will examine current program status, program and student demographics, growth expectations, trends and challenges."—Introduction.
- Forbes.com, Special Report: Water (June 19, 2008)
"The news is grim. In China, India, the U.S. and elsewhere, people are depleting aquifers faster than they are being replenished. At current rates of consumption and growth, two-thirds of the world's population will face water scarcity in 20 years. Drought has come to sear not just famously dry places like Arizona and Australia but also cities like Atlanta and Barcelona. Water-borne diseases kill 5 million people each year—more than AIDS and war combined.
"In short, the prognosis is poor—if, that is, we continue our wayward ways. Fortunately, we don't have to. Unlike such global problems as war and poverty, the water crisis stands a good chance of being solved in our lifetimes, through human ingenuity."Foreign Policy, The World's Lost Environmental Causes (June 2008)
"A few of what were once considered imminent environmental catastrophes now seem like memories from a bygone era. Whether the problem is solved, the public loses interest, or there was never really much to fear, environmental causes can sometimes simply fade away."
- G-8 Summit, Hokkaido Toyako, Japan, Declaration of Leaders Meeting of Major Economies on Energy Security and Climate Change (July 9, 2008)
"Climate change is one of the great global challenges of our time. Conscious of our leadership role in meeting such challenges, we, the leaders of the world's major economies, both developed and developing, commit to combat climate change in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and confront the interlinked challenges of sustainable development, including energy and food security, and human health. We have come together to contribute to efforts under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the global forum for climate negotiations. Our contribution and cooperation are rooted in the objective, provisions, and principles of the Convention."
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change and Water (IPCC Technical Paper VI) (June 2008)
"Observational records and climate projections provide abundant evidence that freshwater resources are vulnerable and have the potential to be strongly impacted by climate change, with wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems."—Executive Summary.
- International Trade Administration (ITA), United States Department of Commerce, Clean Energy Exporter Guides Released (July 17, 2008)
"The U.S. Department of Commerce today released two clean energy technology export guides to help American businesses navigate Chinese and Indian energy markets. The reports—Clean Energy: An Exporters Guide to China, and Clean Energy: An Exporters Guide to India—provide information to U.S. clean energy companies on current political and market conditions and future opportunities in these two growing economies. The guides also provide detailed information on Chinese and Indian national and local clean energy promoters and regulators."—Press release.
- Law Librarian Blog, Primers on the Energy Crisis of 2008 (June 8, 2008)
"The price of crude oil has doubled over the past year, from $65 for a barrel in June 2007 to $130 a barrel now. With no end in sight, CNN and Fortune have recently published special reports on this energy 'crisis.'"
- Ann Bessie Mathew, MPH & Kimiko Kelly, MPP, Disaster Preparedness in Urban Immigrant Communities: Lessons Learned from Recent Catastrophic Events and Their Relevance to Latino and Asian Communities in Southern California (A Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and Asian Pacific American Legal Center Report) (June 2008)
"Southern California is at high risk for a major natural disaster. Yet, few assessments have been made to discover how communities with large populations of Limited English Proficient (LEP) immigrants would fare in such an event. It has also not been established whether LEP immigrants who may be poor and have low levels of education have the information necessary to prepare for and survive a disaster, or whether the social networks, formats, and language in which they can successfully receive and respond to emergency information are in place."—Executive Summary.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008 (NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 73) (April 2008)
"The report issued today . . . says that the nation’s coral reef ecosystems, particularly those adjacent to populated areas, continue to face intense human-derived threats from coastal development, fishing, sedimentation and recreational use. Even the most remote reefs are subject to threats such as marine debris, illegal fishing and climate-related effects of coral bleaching, disease and ocean acidification."—Press release (July 7, 2008)
- National Research Council (NRC) & the National Academies Press (NAP), Transitions to Alternative Transportation Technologies—A Focus on Hydrogen (2008)
"A transition to hydrogen vehicles could greatly reduce U.S. oil dependence and carbon dioxide emissions, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council, but making hydrogen vehicles competitive in the automotive market will not be easy. While the development of fuel cell and hydrogen production technology over the past several years has been impressive, challenges remain. Vehicle costs are high, and the U.S. currently lacks the infrastructure to produce and widely distribute hydrogen to consumers. These obstacles could be overcome, however, with continued support for research and development and firm commitments from the automotive industry and the federal government, concluded the committee that wrote the report."—Press release (July 17, 2008)
- Cath O'Driscoll, A Dash of Lime—A New Twist That May Cut CO
2Levels Back to Pre-Industrial Levels, Chemistry & Industry (c/o PhysOrg.com, h.t. Slashdot) (July 21, 2008)
"Scientists say they have found a workable way of reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere by adding lime to seawater. And they think it has the potential to dramatically reverse CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere..."
- On Water (blog)
"Featuring news, research, and current events on all aspects of water resources. Brought to you by the Water Resources Center Archives and the Center for Water Resources, University of California."
- Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), Directorate for Trade and Agriculture, Economic Assessment of Biofuel Support Policies (2008)
"Government support of biofuel production in OECD countries is costly, has a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy security, and has a significant impact on world crop prices, according to a new study of policies to promote greater production and use of biofuel in OECD countries.
OECD’s Economic Assessment of Biofuel Support Policies says biofuels are currently highly dependent on public funding to be viable. In the US, Canada and the European Union government support for the supply and use of biofuels is expected to rise to around USD 25 billion per year by 2015 from about USD 11 billion in 2006. The report estimates that biofuel support costs between USD 960 to USD 1700 per tonne of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide equivalent) saved."—Press release (July 16, 2008)
- Fred Stolle, World Resources Institute (WRI), Groundbreaking Study Finds the "Hotspots" Most Responsible For Deforestation (July 16, 2008)
"A new collaborative study by World Resources Institute and other researchers finds that much of the world’s deforestation is isolated in a handful of 'hotspots,' not spread out over many nations and many locations. In fact, this study showed that over half the world’s deforestation (in this study only clear-cut are monitored) is happening in just two locations: 48% is occurring in Brazil, with another 13% concentrated in Indonesia. Meanwhile, deforestation in Africa is negligible in comparison."
- United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Prioritizing Invasive Species Management by Optimizing Production of Ecosystem Service Benefits: Final Report (Contractor and Cooperator Report No. 44) (July 2008)
"This report examined how decisions to invest in invasive species management on public lands could incorporate economic concepts to better gauge the level of social benefits generated and how optimization models could be applied to produce the maximum potential gains in ecosystem services. Findings suggested that management decisions were effectively modeled using GIS-based decision support tools, providing a means to reveal assumptions and allow greater input by the public and scientific community into the decision-making process. The optimization model results suggested that benefits achieved through invasive species treatment might be improved if multiple ecosystem service benefits were considered simultaneously when choosing sites and treatment options rather than choosing options that maximized a particular ecosystem service."—Abstract.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), A Business Guide to U.S. EPA Climate Partnership Programs (EPA-100-B-08-001) (June 2008)
"Many signs suggest the business community is beginning to confront the climate issue on a wide scale. There are now more than 13,000 firms and other organizations participating in climate-related EPA Partnership Programs. Through participation, these organizations have invested in energy efficiency, clean energy supply, and other climate-friendly technologies, reaping value such as:
- Substantial energy cost savings.
- Improved operating efficiencies.
- Improved risk management.
- Expanded market opportunities.
- Improved job satisfaction, employee recruiting, and worker productivity.
- Enhanced brand and corporate reputation."
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act (Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [ANPR], EPA-HQ-OAR-2008-0318) (July 11, 2008)
"The ANPR is one of the steps EPA has taken in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Massachusetts v. EPA. The Court found that the Clean Air Act authorizes EPA to regulate tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions if EPA determines they cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. The ANPR reflects the complexity and magnitude of the question of whether and how greenhouse gases could be effectively controlled under the Clean Air Act."
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Climate Change: Expert Opinion on the Economics of Policy Options to Address Climate Change (Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-08-605) (May 2008)
"All of the panelists agreed that the Congress should consider using a market-based mechanism to establish a price on greenhouse gas emissions, and 14 of the 18 panelists recommended additional actions as part of a portfolio to address climate change, such as investment in research and development of low-emissions technologies. Experts differed on the initial stringency of the market-based mechanism, with 14 of the 18 panelists recommending an initial price between less than $1 and $20 per ton of emissions. In addition, 14 of 18 panelists were at least moderately certain that the benefits of their recommended portfolio of actions would outweigh the costs. To establish a price on emissions, most of the panelists preferred either a tax on emissions or a hybrid policy that incorporates features of both a tax and a cap-and-trade program. A tax would set a fixed price on every ton of emissions, whereas a cap-and-trade program would limit or cap total emissions and establish a market for trading (buying and selling) permits to emit a specific amount of greenhouse gases. Under the cap-and-trade system, the market would determine the price of emissions. A hybrid system differs from a traditional cap-and-trade system in that the government would cap emissions, but could sell additional emissions permits if the permit price rose above a predetermined level. Panelists also identified general categories of benefits, such as avoided climate change damages, and costs, such as increases in energy prices, associated with their recommended actions. Overall the panel rated estimates of costs as more useful than estimates of benefits for informing congressional decision making, with some panelists citing uncertainties associated with the future impacts of climate change as limitations to estimating benefits. Further, the majority of panelists agreed that the United States should establish a price on greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible regardless of the extent to which other countries adopt similar policies. At the same time, the majority of panelists said it was at least somewhat important to participate in international negotiations on climate change."—What the Experts Said.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Hurricane Katrina: Trends in the Operating Results of Five Hospitals in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina (July 17, 2008)
"Operating results of all five hospitals significantly declined in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, based on the three measures of profitability we used to illustrate differences in the hospitals’ operating results before and after the hurricane—operating income or loss, net income or loss, and earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization. However, four out of the five hospitals showed some improvement in their operating results for 2006, 2007, and projected for 2008. For the fifth hospital, the amounts for the three profitability measures for 2007 and projected for 2008 declined from 2005 amounts. In viewing these trends, it is important to consider the amount and timing of special payments that the hospitals received to cover Hurricane Katrina-related losses for 2005 through 2008. These special payments included insurance payments from private insurers for business interruption and property and casualty claims, wage index grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to cover some of the increases in labor costs experienced by the hospitals and funds from the state of Louisiana for uncompensated care to cover the increased costs for providing health care to the uninsured. They also included Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reimbursements to cover losses due to flooding and federally declared disasters. Despite the improvements in operating results for four of the five hospitals we examined, the financial position for these four hospitals has weakened, as evidenced by declines in net asset balances since 2004. Such declines indicate that the hospitals have been either using their assets, incurring additional debt to support operations or both."—Results in Brief.
- United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Flood Insurance Program: Financial Challenges Underscore Need for Improved Oversight of Mitigation Programs and Key Contracts (Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, GAO-08-437) (June 2008)
"The number of federal flood insurance policies in force nationwide increased 36 percent from 1997 through 2006, but most homeowners at risk of flooding still lacked such insurance. While average insurance amounts (per policy) increased 78 percent from 1997 through 2006—consistent with rising home values—the average premium decreased 3 percent from 1997 through 2006, likely driven in part by the increase in policies sold in moderate- to low-risk areas. Conversely, loss amounts fluctuated by year, peaking at more than $17.7 billion in 2005. Seventy-nine percent of the funds paid out through NFIP from 1997 through 2006 were for hurricane-related claims, but the percentages in individual years varied widely (correlating with hurricane activity). Finally, the extent of claim payments attributed to repetitive loss properties (those with two or more claims in a rolling 10-year period) increased from 1997 through 2006, from $3.7 billion to nearly $8 billion, with the most significant increases resulting from the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes."—What GAO Found.
- United States International Trade Commission (ITC), Industrial Biotechnology: Development and Adoption by the U.S. Chemical and Biofuel Industries (Investigation No. 332-481) (USITC Publication 4020) (July 2008)
"The ITC found that the liquid biofuel industry, composed of ethanol and biodiesel producers, saw remarkable growth in its business activities from 2004 to 2007, with the number of producers, production establishments, and the value of corn ethanol shipments more than doubling and the value of biodiesel shipments increasing by well over 2,000 percent during that time."—Press release.