Thursday, January 31, 2008

Literary Warrant [25]

The environment-poem bridges the gap between the opaque thingness of nature lying "out there," and the philosophical and scientific access we gain by developing terms, formulas, explanations, and theories of the order and meaning hidden within that opaque nature.

— Angus Fletcher, A New Theory for American Poetry: Democracy, the Environment, and the Future of Imagination (Harvard University Press 2004) 12.

  • Douglas C. Cogan, RiskMetrics Group, Corporate Governance and Climate Change: The Banking Sector (A Ceres Report) (January 2008)

    "This report analyzes the corporate governance and strategic approaches of 40 of the world’s largest banks to the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change. With delegates of 190 nations meeting in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007 to decide whether to extend or replace the 10-year old Kyoto Protocol after 2012, climate change has become not just a future political consideration, but also a key driver of how global business is being conducted today.

    "The financial community is at the center of this economic transformation. With nearly $6 trillion in market capitalization, banks are the world’s major capital providers and risk management experts. As such, banks have a vital role in finding timely, practical and cost-effective solutions to mitigate climate change and adapt the economy to its already apparent effects. Bringing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under control presents a formidable technological and financial challenge that will require an effective 'decarbonization' of the global economy over the next 50 years. Banks can begin by factoring a market price for carbon dioxide (the main greenhouse gas) in lending and investment decisions, while helping to build new markets through GHG emissions management, trading and brokerage."—Executive Summary.

Read the rest of this post . . . .
  • Juscelino F. Colares, Syracuse University, A Brief History of Brazilian Biofuels Legislation (January 1, 2008)

    "Due to concerns with global climate change, Brazil's long and diversified experience with biofuels has captured the attention of policymakers worldwide. Yet, little is known about the history and scale of the Brazilian biofuels program. This brief article provides an introduction to the history of Brazil's biofuels program and refers to the basic statutes that set it in place. Due to the unavailability of these enactments in English, an appendix provides the relevant portions of these statutes both in Portuguese and in the author's English translation."—Abstract.

  • Jon Creyts et al., McKinsey & Company, Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost? (United States Greenhouse Gas Abatement Mapping Initiative Executive Report) (December 2007)

    "Consensus is growing among scientists, policy makers, and business leaders that concerted action will be needed to address rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. The discussion is now turning to the practical challenges of where and how emissions reductions can best be achieved, at what costs, and over what periods of time."—Executive Summary.

  • Earthjustice, Wolves in Danger (Campaigns)

    Pinker's Wolves at Cloisters"The wolf's amazing comeback in the northern Rockies is one of our country's greatest wildlife success stories. But it may be dangerously short-lived now that the federal government has issued a rule that permits wolf killing in the northern Rockies. This heralds the beginning of a larger plan to remove the animals from the Endangered Species List and allow large-scale slaughters of more than 80% of the wolf population."

  • Environmental Working Group, The Unintended Environmental Impacts of the Current Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS): A Guide to Common Sense RFS Policy (Fall 2007)

    "Biofuels can provide a significant source of renewable energy to reduce dependency on foreign oil and reduce climate change pollution. As Congress considers increasing the current RFS, we have an opportunity to promote biofuels while reducing unintended negative effects on the environment, natural resources and public health. Unfortunately, the ethanol industry is ramping up production dramatically before even rudimentary questions about the environmental impacts have been answered. Reliance on corn grain as a feedstock—which accounts for 98% of current ethanol production1—is already having adverse effects on food and feed prices, and is already posing local and regional environmental problems...."

  • European Environment Agency (EEA), Estimating the Environmentally Compatible Bioenergy Potential from Agriculture (EEA Technical Report, no. 12/2207)

    "Increasing the use of bioenergy offers significant opportunities for Europe to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the security of its energy supply. However, the substantial rise in the use of biomass from agriculture and other sectors for producing transport fuels and energy can put significant environmental pressures on farmland or forest biodiversity as well as on soil and water resources. Consequently, it may counteract current and potential future environmental policies and objectives, such as improving the quality of ground and surface waters or biodiversity protection. These issues are addressed in the EEA Report No 7/2006 on 'How much bioenergy can Europe produce without harming the environment?'.

    "This report underpins the 2006 document by providing technical details on the scenario assumptions and models for deriving the agricultural bioenergy potential."

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Bureau of Consumer Protection, Energy & Environment

    "Whether you need energy information about an appliance purchase, guidance for environmental claims made by your business, or facts about the fuel you put in your car, the FTC has a number of programs that provide consumers and businesses with important information about energy and environmental issues. These web pages connect you to FTC resources on energy labeling for consumer products, retail sales of electricity, environmental marketing claims, insulation and home energy issues, and fuel and automotive products."

  • Green Infrastructure Action Strategy, Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure: Action Strategy 2008 (January 2008)

    "A set of techniques, technologies, approaches and practices—collectively referred to as 'green infrastructure'—can be used to eliminate or reduce the amount of water and pollutants that run off a site and ultimately are discharged into adjacent water bodies. As cities move towards sustainable infrastructure, green infrastructure can be a valuable approach."—Introduction | Background.

  • Lisa Heinzerling, Climate Change in the Supreme Court Environmental Lawyer, v.3, p.3 (2008)

    "In Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, the Supreme Court confronted the issue of climate change for the first time. The Court held that the Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate greenhouse gases and that the agency may not decline to exercise this authority based either on factors not present in the statute or inconclusive gestures toward uncertainty in the science of climate change. I had the privilege of serving as the lead author of the winning briefs in this case. This Article provides an insider's perspective on the choices that went into bringing and briefing the case. This Article is an edited version of the 20th Annual Natural Resources Law Institute Distinguished Lecture, delivered in the fall of 2007 at Lewis & Clark Law School."

  • Richard J. Holden, Regional Commissioner, San Francisco regional office, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Donna Bahls, geographic information specialist (GIS), California
    Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division & Charles Real, Supervising Engineering Geologist, California Geological Survey, Seismic Hazard Assessment Program, Estimating Economic Losses in the Bay Area from a Magnitude-6.9 Earthquake, Monthly Labor Review (December 2007)

    San Francisco 1906"This article analyzes and maps employer data on employment and wages to assess potential business and economic losses from a magnitude-6.9 earthquake in northern California along the Hayward Fault. The article uses data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to demonstrate how these data—when combined with seismic hazards in-formation—can be used to assess potential business and economic losses from a major earthquake. (Such an approach could also be used to assess the damages from other natural disasters.) Labor market analysts from the California Employment Development Department overlaid employment data from the QCEW onto seismic hazard information provided by the California Geological Survey to produce maps and tabulations that correlate estimated shaking intensities with employment levels for the counties in the San Francisco Bay Area that lie along the Hayward Fault." Includes comparison with losses from Katrina.

  • David Maurer, Acting Director, Natural Resources and Environment, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Great Lakes Initiative: EPA and States Have Made Progress, but Much Remains to Be Done If Water Quality Goals Are to Be Achieved (Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives) (January 23, 2008)

    "Millions of people in the United States and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, and economic livelihood. During the 1970s, it became apparent that pollutants discharged into the Great Lakes Basin from point sources, such as industrial and municipal facilities, or from nonpoint sources, such as air emissions from power plants, were harming the Great Lakes. Some of these pollutants, known as bioaccumulative chemicals of concern (BCC), pose risks to fish and other species as well as to the humans and wildlife that consume them. In 1995, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued the Great Lakes Initiative (GLI). The GLI established water quality criteria to be used by states to establish pollutant discharge limits for some BCCs and other pollutants that are discharged by point sources. The GLI also allows states to include flexible permit implementation procedures (flexibilities) that allow facilities’ discharges to exceed GLI criteria."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • NetworkWorld, Layer 8, Robot Planes to Track Weather, Climate (January 22, 2008)

    "The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week announced a $3 million, three-year program to test the use of unmanned aircraft to measure hurricanes, arctic and Antarctic ice changes and other environmental tasks. The agency said the drone aircraft would be outfitted with special sensors and technology to help NOAA scientists better predict a hurricane’s intensity and track, how fast Arctic summer ice will melt, and whether soggy Pacific storms will flood West Coast cities."

  • Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Towards an Integrated Multi-Track Climate Framework (December 2007)

    "The report builds on the recommendations of the Pew Center’s Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, which brought together 25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries. The group’s consensus report recommends engaging all major economies in the post-2012 climate effort through a flexible framework allowing countries to take on different types of commitments...."—Press release (December 12, 2007)

  • Louise Smith, Science and Environment Section & Paul Bolton, Social and General Statistics Section, House of Commons Library, Aviation and Climate Change (Research Paper 08/08) (January 24, 2008)

    "Aviation is a growing industry. Government and the aviation industry recognise a link between aviation emissions and climate change, although there is uncertainty about the measurement of the exact effects. Given the predicted growth in the aviation sector, it seems likely that unless emissions are curbed, they will cancel out efforts made to reduce emissions in other sectors. This paper sets out to explain: the effects of emissions from aviation; the difficulties in making accurate calculations about how these emissions effect climate change; and what proposals and actions are being taken at various levels to reduce these emissions."

  • Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Natural Resources Defense Council vs. Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, United States District Court, District of Utah, Central Division, Case No. 2:08cv00064 (DAK) (January 23, 2008) (Plaintiffs' Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief)

    "This suit challenges the decisions by the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of the Interior, and Secretary of the Department of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne (collectively referred to as 'BLM') authorizing the sale of 60 oil and gas leases that allow surface occupancy on tens of thousands of acres of BLM managed lands in Utah at three lease sales held between February 2004 and May 2005. Each of these three sales presents the identical legal and factual issues recently addressed by the court in Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Norton (SUWA), 457 F. Supp. 2d 1253 (D. Utah 2006)—whether BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it sold oil and gas leases on lands recognized by the agency as having or likely possessing wilderness character and when it sold oil and gas leases without adequate pre-leasing analysis."

  • United Nations General Assembly, Secretary General, Overview of United Nations Activities in Relation to Climate Change (A/62/644) (January 10, 2008)

    "The present annex aims to provide an overview of the United Nations system’s current climate change activities. It has been compiled on the basis of written submissions from members of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and subsequent consultations in the framework of the Chief Executives Board High-level Committee on Programmes. This does not constitute an attempt to provide an exhaustive inventory of all relevant United Nations activities, or to evaluate their effectiveness. Moreover, as the overview does not account for the financial resources allocated to each activity, it therefore does not attempt to assess the scale of individual and collective activities. Finally, it does not take account of the specialized role of multilateral environmental agreements."—Annex I, Introduction.

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Tsunami Reconstruction, Three Years Later (January 18, 2008, rev'd January 28, 2008)

    "In the days immediately following the Dec. 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies launched a $656 million reconstruction program. The money was provided by Congress in May 2005 and signed into law by President Bush for the Tsunami Relief and Reconstruction Fund (including $31.3 million to combat avian influenza).

    "When added to the money spent by the Department of Defense on emergency recovery assistance and relief aid, as well as food aid provided by USDA, the United States contributed $841 million. Moreover, swift action by the United States, in cooperation with other donors and private organizations, prevented another disaster by ensuring critical water and sanitation needs were met."

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2004 Report to Congress (January 2008)

    "A new report from the EPA estimates $202.5 billion is the nationwide capital investment needed to control wastewater pollution for up to a 20-year period. Delivered to Congress this week, the 2004 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey summarizes the results of the agency's 14th national survey on the needs of publicly owned wastewater treatment works. The estimate includes $134.4 billion for wastewater treatment and collection systems, $54.8 billion for combined sewer overflow corrections, and $9.0 billion for stormwater management."—Press release (January 16, 2008)

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Hazardous Waste Management System; Modification of the Hazardous Waste Program; Cathode Ray Tubes

    "Today is the one-year anniversary of the Cathode Ray Tube Rule in the U.S., which is intended to encourage recycling and reuse of CRTs and CRT glass. The rule requires that recyclers notify EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. when they plan to export used and broken CRTs. EPA will then notify the receiving country of the shipment. However, if the CRTs are intact, instead of broken, and destined for reuse, the recycler must send a one-time notification to EPA before exportation. In this case, there is no requirement to notify the receiving country...the CRT Rule also covers recycling in the U.S. In many cases the recycler will disassemble the CRTs for its glass, lead or plastic components. The rule exempts CRTs from all hazardous waste requirements, if the recycler complies with certain conditions for packaging, labeling and storage. So, in general, the CRT Rule makes it easier to recycle CRTs than if the CRTs had to be handled as hazardous waste."

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Reducing Stormwater Costs through Low Impact Development (LID) Strategies and Practices (EPA 841-F-07-006)(December 2007)

    "This report summarizes 17 case studies of developments that include Low Impact Development (LID) practices and concludes that applying LID techniques can reduce project costs and improve environmental performance. In most cases, LID practices were shown to be both fiscally and environmentally beneficial to communities. In a few cases, LID project costs were higher than those for conventional stormwater management practices. However, in the vast majority of cases, significant savings were realized due to reduced costs for site grading and preparation, stormwater infrastructure, site paving, and landscaping. Total capital cost savings ranged from 15 to 80 percent when LID methods were used, with a few exceptions in which LID project costs were higher than conventional stormwater management costs."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Atmospheric Programs, EPA Analysis of the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007, S. 1766 in 110th Congress (EPA Analysis of S. 1766) (January 15, 2008)

    "S. 1766 places a GHG emission cap on all GHGs in the Transportation, Electricity, Industrial, and Commercial sectors, establishes an auction and after-market for emission allowances, allows for unlimited domestic offsets, and does not allow the use of foreign credits or international offset projects."—Key Results & Insights.

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Influenza Pandemic: Efforts Under Way to Address Constraints on Using Antivirals and Vaccines to Forestall a Pandemic (Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-08-92) (December 2007)

    "Pandemic influenza poses a threat to public health at a time when the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO) has said that infectious diseases are spreading faster than at any time in history. The last major influenza pandemic occurred from 1918 to 1919. Estimates of deaths worldwide if a similar pandemic were to occur have ranged between 30 million and 384 million people. Individual countries and international organizations have developed and begun to implement a strategy for forestalling (that is, containing, delaying, or minimizing the impact of) the onset of a pandemic. Antivirals and vaccines may help forestall a pandemic.

    "GAO was asked to examine (1) constraints upon the use of antivirals and vaccines to forestall a pandemic and (2) efforts under way to overcome these constraints. GAO reviewed documents and consulted with officials of the Departments of State and Health and Human Services (HHS), international organizations, and pharmaceutical manufacturers."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Flood Insurance Program: Greater Transparency and Oversight of Wind and Flood Damage Determinations Are Needed (Report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Financial Services, House of Representatives, GAO-08-28) (December 2007)

    "Disputes between policyholders and insurers after the 2005 hurricane season highlight the challenges in understanding the cause and extent of damages when properties are subjected to both high winds and flooding. Questions remain over the adequacy of steps taken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) cover only those damages caused by flooding. GAO was asked to evaluate (1) issues that arise when multiple insurance policies provide coverage for losses from a single event, (2) state regulators’ oversight of loss adjusters, and (3) information that NFIP collects to assess the accuracy of damage determinations and payments. GAO collected data from FEMA, reviewed reinspection reports and relevant policies and procedures, and interviewed state regulatory officials and others about adjuster oversight and NFIP."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • Wall Street Journal, Environmental Capital (blog) (January 30, 2008)

    "Welcome to Environmental Capital, The Wall Street Journal’s new daily blog about the business of the environment. It’s not just about melting ice sheets. It’s about the flow of money.

    "The global-warming debate is at a tipping point that makes it a massive economic story. There’s widespread agreement that climate change is an issue that isn’t going away. The real debate is over what the world will do about it – and who will foot the bill. That scramble for solutions already is beginning to redistribute capital among countries, companies and investors. We hope to follow that ferment."—Environmental Capital: Following the Greenbacks.


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