Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Literary Warrant [40]

Bodleian Library Quadrangle

Bodleian Library Quadrangle

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2009 Report Card for America's Infrastructure

    "The Report Card is an assessment by professional engineers of the nation's status in 15 categories of infrastructure. In 2009, all signs point to an infrastructure that is poorly maintained, unable to meet current and future demands, and in some cases, unsafe. Since the last Report Card in 2005, the grades have not improved. ASCE estimates the nation still stands at a D average. Deteriorating conditions and inflation have added hundreds of billions to the total cost of repairs and needed upgrades. ASCE's current estimate is $2.2 trillion, up from $1.6 trillion in 2005."

  • American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Wind Energy Grows by Record 8,300 MW in 2008: Smart Policies, Stimulus Bill Needed to Maintain Momentum in 2009 (Press release) (January 27, 2009)

    "The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8,358 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity (enough to serve over 2 million homes), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said today, even as it warned of an uncertain outlook for 2009 due to the continuing financial crisis.

    "The massive growth in 2008 swelled the nation’s total wind power generating capacity by 50% and channeled an investment of some $17 billion into the economy, positioning wind power as one of the leading sources of new power generation in the country today along with natural gas, AWEA added. At year’s end, however, financing for new projects and orders for turbine components slowed to a trickle and layoffs began to hit the wind turbine manufacturing sector."
Read the rest of this post . . .
  • Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program, The New Orleans Index: Tracking the Recovery of New Orleans & the Metro Area (January 2009)

    "In contrast to the nation, the greater New Orleans economy has grown, boosted by the large-scale rebuilding effort underway. There is a new uptick in population growth and the region’s unemployment rate is a relatively low 4.9 percent. Yet, storm damage remains widespread, potential destruction from new storms looms large, and state and local leaders must simultaneously confront the opportunities and challenges presented by Washington’s economic recovery efforts and the potential sunsetting of the federal Office of Gulf Coast Recovery."

  • Mian Chin et al., National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Atmospheric Aerosol Properties and Climate Impacts: Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.3 (Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program And the Subcommittee on Global Change Research) (January 2009)

    "This report critically reviews current knowledge about global distributions and properties of atmospheric aerosols, as they relate to aerosol impacts on climate. It assesses possible next steps aimed at substantially reducing uncertainties in aerosol radiative forcing estimates. Current measurement techniques and modeling approaches are summarized, providing context. As a part of the Synthesis and Assessment Product in the Climate Change Science Program, this assessment builds upon recent related assessments, including the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4, 2007) and other Climate Change Science Program reports. The objectives of this report are (1) to promote a consensus about the knowledge base for climate change decision support, and (2) to provide a synthesis and integration of the current knowledge of the climate-relevant impacts of anthropogenic aerosols for policy makers, policy analysts, and general public, both within and outside the U.S government and worldwide."—Executive Summary.

  • European Environment Agency (EEA), Impacts of Europe's Changing Climate (EEA Briefing no. 3/2008) (January 28, 2009)

    "Global climate change is a reality. In Europe the most vulnerable regions are the Arctic, mountain areas, coastal zones and the Mediterranean. Key economic sectors, which will need to adapt include energy supply, health, water management, agriculture, forestry, tourism and transport."—Introduction. Note the correct URL for the full briefing.

  • Richard Harris, NPR, Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says (January 26, 2009)

    "As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world's top climate scientists."

  • Homeland Security Council Interagency Policy Coordination Subcommittee for Preparedness & Response to Radiological and Nuclear Threats, Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation (1st ed.) (January 16, 2009)

    "One of the most catastrophic incidents that could befall the United States (US), causing enormous loss of life and property and severely damaging economic viability is a nuclear detonation in a US city. It is incumbent upon all levels of government, as well as public and private parties withinthe US, to prepare for this incident through focused nuclear attack response planning. Nuclear explosions present substantial and immediate radiological threats to life. Local and State community preparedness to respond to a nuclear detonation could result in life-saving on the order of tens of thousands of lives.

    "The purpose of this guidance is to provide emergency planners with nuclear detonation-specific response recommendations to maximize the preservation of life in the event of an urban nuclear detonation. This guidance addresses the unique effects and impacts of a nuclear detonation such as scale of destruction, shelter and evacuation strategies, unparalleled medical demands, management of nuclear casualties, and radiation dose management concepts. The guidance is aimed at response activities in an environment with a severely compromised infrastructure for the first few days (e.g., 24-72 hours) when it is likely that many Federal resources will still be en route to the incident."—Introduction.

  • Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Memo to EPA Employees (January 23, 2009)

    "In outlining his agenda for the environment, President Obama has articulated three values that he expects EPA to uphold. These values will shape everything I do.

    "Science must be the backbone for EPA programs. The public health and environmental laws that Congress has enacted depend on rigorous adherence to the best available science. The President believes that when EPA addresses scientific issues, it should rely on the expert judgment of the Agency’s career scientists and independent advisors. When scientific judgments are suppressed, misrepresented or distorted by political agendas, Americans can lose faith in their government to provide strong public health and environmental protection.

    "The laws that Congress has written and directed EPA to implement leave room for policy judgments. However, policy decisions should not be disguised as scientific findings. I pledge that I will not compromise the integrity of EPA’s experts in order to advance a preference for a particular regulatory outcome.

    "EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying.

    "EPA’s actions must be transparent. In 1983, EPA Administrator Ruckelshaus promised that EPA would operate 'in a fishbowl' and 'will attempt to communicate with everyone from the environmentalists to those we regulate, and we will do so as openly as possible.'"

  • Vinca LaFleur, Nigel Purvis & Abigail Jones, Brookings Institution, Double Jeopardy: What the Climate Crisis Means for the Poor (Brookings Blum Roundtable) (2008)

    "From August 1 to 3, 2008, more than fifty preeminent policymakers, practitioners, and thought leaders from around the world convened at the Aspen Institute to explore the links between global climate change and poverty alleviation. Starting from the premise that climate solutions must empower the poor by improving livelihoods, health, and well-being, and that poverty alleviation itself must become a central strategy for both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change, the roundtable sought to shape a common agenda to tackle two of the greatest challenges of our time."—Foreword.

  • M. Granger Morgan et al., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making (U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2)

    "The primary objective of this report is to provide a tutorial to the climate analysis and decision-making communities on current best practice in describing and analyzing uncertainty in climate-related problems. While the language is largely semi-technical, much of it should also be accessible to non-expert readers who are comfortable with the treatment of technical topics at the level of journals such as Scientific American."—Preface.

  • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Patchwork Proven: Why A Single National Fuel Economy Standard Is Better For America Than A Patchwork of State Regulations (January 2009)

    "A comprehensive analysis released today by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) on a California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) rule that would allow individual states to regulate fuel economy standards finds numerous unintended consequences that will cause economic harm and provide little or no environmental benefit over the proposed federal standards."—Press release.

  • National Research Council of the National Academies, Mapping the Zone: Improving Flood Map Accuracy (Prepublication version) (2009)

    "Significant loss of life, destroyed property and businesses, and repairs to infrastructure could be avoided by replacing Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps with ones that contain high-accuracy and high-resolution land surface elevation data, says a new report from the National Research Council. The benefits of more accurate flood maps will outweigh the costs, mainly because insurance premiums and building restrictions would better match the actual flood risks. Coastal region flood maps could also be improved by updating current models and using two-dimensional storm surge and wave models."

  • United Nations International Strategy on Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction (2009)

    "The UNISDR Terminology aims to promote common understanding and common usage of disaster risk reduction concepts and to assist the disaster risk reduction efforts of authorities, practitioners and the public.... The Terminology has been revised to include words that are central to the contemporary understanding and evolving practice of disaster risk reduction but exclude words that have a common dictionary usage. Also included are a number of emerging new concepts that are not in widespread use but are of growing professional relevance; these terms are marked with a star (*) and their definition may evolve in future. The English version of the 2009 Terminology provides the basis for the preparation of other language versions...."—Introduction.

  • United States Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Information Administration, Office of Oil and Gas, Impact of the 2008 Hurricanes on the Natural Gas Industry

    "Hurricanes Gustav and Ike inflicted significant damage to the nation’s oil and natural gas infrastructure, causing devastating impacts on offshore natural gas production, shutting in production facilities and the pipelines that move the natural gas to processors along the Gulf coast. As a result of the two storms, almost all of the natural gas production and processing capacity in the area was shut in, with continued shut-ins affecting production into December 2008. There were 55 major natural gas processing plants in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that were in the path of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, representing about 38 percent of the U.S. processing capacity. Twenty-eight pipelines declared force majeure during early September. Most of these pipelines move natural gas from offshore production platforms to onshore processing plants and many of them were effectively shutdown. Onshore interstate pipeline companies also were affected, with about a dozen interstate pipelines experiencing lower-than-normal flows in the aftermath of the hurricanes."

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), The Federal Preparedness Report (January 13, 2009)

    "The Federal Preparedness Report (FPR) provides a snapshot of the state of preparedness in the United States at the end of Fiscal Year 2007. This Report is the first comprehensive review of the combined preparedness efforts of Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial homeland security partners over the past five years. As directed by Section 652(a) of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA), Public Law 109-295—the goal of this Report is to provide a review of national preparedness."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), FEMA Transition Binder: For the 2009 Presidential Administration Transition (2009)

    "This document, the FEMA 2009 Presidential Transition Binder, consisting of six tabs as described below, is intended to serve as a reference for FEMA leadership and employees to help orient them to its organizational structure, programs, resources, stakeholders, and operations."—Preamble.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), National Disaster Housing Strategy (January 16, 2009)

    "The National Disaster Housing Strategy (the Strategy) serves two purposes. First, it describes how we as a Nation currently provide housing to those affected by disasters. It summarizes, for the first time in a single document, the many sheltering and housing efforts we have in the United States and the broad array of organizations that are involved in managing these programs. The Strategy also outlines the key principles and policies that guide the disaster housing process.

    "Second, and more importantly, the Strategy charts the new direction that our disaster housing efforts must take if we are to better meet the emergent needs of disaster victims and communities. Today we face a wider range of hazards and potentially catastrophic events than we have ever faced before. These include terrorist attacks and major natural disasters that could destroy large sections of the Nation’s infrastructure. This new direction must address the disaster housing implications of all these risks and hazards and, at the same time, guide development of essential, baseline capabilities to overcome existing limitations. The new direction for disaster housing must leverage emerging technologies and new approaches in building design to provide an array of housing options. It must also be cost effective and draw on lessons learned and best practices. Above all, this new direction must institutionalize genuine collaboration and cooperation among the various local, State, tribal, and Federal partners, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to meet the needs of all disaster victims."—Overview.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), Evolving National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) Communications in a Global Environment (2008 Research and Development Exchange Workshop Proceedings) (September 25-26, 2008)

    "Dramatically changing business models of traditional telecommunications carriers, along with new technologies, are accelerating the advancement of global communications networks. The scale, scope, and character of the global next generation networks will revolutionize the planning, prioritization, and delivery of NS/EP communications. The 2008 RDX Workshop addressed a variety of high-level concerns that are affecting the communications and cyber environment and the way those concerns could alter NS/EP efforts."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Annual Superfund Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2008 (EPA-350-R 09-001) (January 2009)

    "Although EPA regions have recovered 56 percent of the total Superfund costs from sites reviewed during an evaluation, they could recover more. EPA had not collected as much as $129 million (44 percent), and determined it will not attempt to recover between $30 million and $90 million of that amount. This indicates a potentially significant breakdown in controls over Superfund cost recovery."—Foreword.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), EPA Needs a Comprehensive Research Plan and Policies to Fulfill its Emerging Climate Change Role (Evaluation Report No. 09-P-0089) (February 2, 2009)

    "EPA does not have an overall plan to ensure developing consistent, compatible climate change strategies across the Agency. We surveyed EPA regions and offices and found they need more information on a variety of climate change topics. They need technical climate change research and tools as well as other climate change policy guidance and direction. We learned that, in the absence of an overall Agency plan, EPA’s Office of Water and several regional offices have independently developed, or are developing, their own individual climate change strategies and plans. The lack of an overall climate change policy can result in duplication, inconsistent approaches, and wasted resources among EPA’s regions and offices. EPA has not issued interim guidance to give its major components consistent direction to ensure that a compatible national policy—when it emerges—will not result in wasted efforts."—What We Found.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Inspector General (OIG), EPA Plans for Managing Counter Terrorism/ Emergency Response Equipment and Protecting Critical Assets Not Fully Implemented (At a Glance 09-P-0087) (January 27, 2009)

    "The Office of Inspector General (OIG) sought to determine whether the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively implemented corrective actions to address findings and recommendations in our previous report, EPA Needs to Better Implement Plan for Protecting Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources Used to Respond to Terrorist Attacks and Disasters, issued in April 2006."—Why We Did This Review.

  • Orice M. Williams, Director, Financial Markets and Community Investment, United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Natural Hazard Mitigation and Insurance: The United States and Selected Countries Have Similar Natural Hazard Mitigation Policies but Different Insurance Approaches (Letter to the Honorable Spencer Bachus, Ranking Member,
    Committee on Financial Services, House of Representatives; the Honorable Shelley Moore Capito, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity,
    Committee on Financial Services, House of Representatives; and the Honorable Christopher Shays, House of Representatives) (December 22, 2008)

    "Natural hazards adversely affect hundreds of thousands of people worldwide each year and cause extensive property damage. In 2007, a year that was not considered an exceptional one for natural hazards, natural hazards caused an estimated 14,600 deaths and $70 billion in property losses. For that year, the insurance industry covered $23.3 billion in losses. In catastrophic loss years, such as 2005—the year that saw Hurricane Katrina—losses can be far greater. Scientific assessments indicate that climate change is expected to alter the frequency and severity of natural hazard events, and as a result, losses can be expected to climb. Given this scenario, examining policies that are used in other countries to reduce the loss of life and property caused by natural hazard events and examining insurance approaches that provide coverage for natural hazard losses can help identify practices in both areas that could benefit the United States. Similarly, given the ongoing challenges facing the United States, international cooperative efforts may provide instructive examples of risk management and disaster reduction."


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