September 9, 2005
Invasive Species are Still Winning the Ballast Water War
According to GAO, invasive species are still winning the ballast water war. Zebra mussels and other water-borne invasive species catch a free ride on ballast water from ships. Almost a decade ago, Congress instructed the Coast Guard to mount a ferocious attack on invasive species carried by ballast water, using voluntary guidelines and reporting. If that salvo wasn't adequate to prevail, the Coast Guard was authorized to impose mandatory ballast water regulations. After miserable results, the Coast Guard issued regulations for ballast water in 2004 -- requiring ballast water exchange by ships sailing from outside the EEZ and requiring reporting. The Coast Guard says that compliance with the regulations is high -- now that the Coast Guard can impose penalties for noncompliance. [This should come as no surprise to the "economic incentive" folks]. But still the invasive species are advancing. One shortcoming of the regulatory system is that the regulations do not reach enough vessels -- contaminated ballast water is still discharged from coastal ships and from NOBOBs (no ballast on board -- in theory). Another problem is that the regulations impose operational requirements for ballast water exchange -- and ballast water exchange does not completely prevent invasive species from advancing into our waters. GAO cites the Coast Guard's failure to establish a discharge standard as a primary reason that no one has developed more effective technologies. This is the chicken and egg problem that led Congress in the Clean Air Act to use technology forcing standards to reduce mobile source emissions. Maybe Congress should try it with invasive species, which are a primary threat to biodiversity. invasive species report
September 8, 2005
A Vicious Circle - Warming Soil Releases More CO2
In Nature, UK researchers suggest that the warming of British soil from increasing temperature leads to increasing release of CO2, more than cancelling out UK's reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Nature: UK Soil Losing Carbon (subscription);
open access summary Independent Online Edition > UK Environment
Energy Policy Act - RMMLF Conference
The Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation (RMMLF) will webcast a conference on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 on October 11, 2005. The live location is Westminister CO. The conference program itself is worth a read, summarizing significant aspects of the Energy Policy Act from the industry standpoint. RMMLF Conference Program
Financing Ecosystem Services - Conference
A Seminar on Environmental Services and Financing for the Protection and Sustainable Use of Ecosystems will be held in Geneva on 10-11 October 2005.The Seminar will examine existing methodologies to value ecosystem services; will review legal and contractual arrangements supporting the establishment of payments for ecosystem services and the challenges for
implementation. National experiences in the UNECE region will be exchanged.
The Seminar is intended to foster development of concrete joint activities at international, regional, transboundary, national and local levels, and recommendations for future action by the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. It will also contribute to the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Kampala, Uganda, 8-15 November 2005).
The Seminar is a follow-up to the "Seminar on the Role of Ecosystems as Water Suppliers" (December 2004), highlighting the role of water-related ecosystems (wetlands and forests) in water management and development of mechanisms to finance their protection and restoration.
The Seminar is organized by the Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape and the secretariat of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.
Additional information is available at:
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and
Web site: http://www.unece.org/env/water/
September 7, 2005
UN Progress Report on Millenium Development Goals
The UN 2005 Human Development Report maps the progress towards meeting the Millenium Development Goals set during the 2000 World Summit. The report demonstrates mixed success and failure in making progress towards meeting the MDG. But the world is far off the mark. 2005 UNDP Human Development Report 50 countries are moving backwards, including many sub-Saharan African nations and former Soviet Union countries. If current trends continue, the UN estimates that over 800 million people will be living in "abject poverty" [less than $1/day] in 2015. UNDP Summary See also IPS news item posted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Time for a "Decisive Breakthrough", UN Urges. See also the Millenium Development Goals. MDG List .
Next week the largest World Summit ever will take place in New York -- 191 countries are scheduled to attend.
Bump in the Biofuel Road
The Indian Planning Commission's proposal in India to raise use of biofuels from 5% to 20% by 2012 is running into roadblocks with the Rural Development ministry. One key is whether there will be competition with food crops for land. The proposal involves growing a drought-resistant plant, Jathropa, on 11 million hectares of "wasteland." News & Media (WBCSD).
The EU and China set goals:
By 2020, advanced coal-fired power plants that produce near zero CO2 emissions and reduce costs of key energy technologies and promote their use.
Link: EU and China agree climate change partnership.
The Politics of Katrina
The furor over the response to Hurricane Katrina has largely drowned out any discussion of how environmental policies contributed to the diaster of Katrina. The Democrats have seized on the inadequate federal response and the Republicans are stressing the "natural disaster" and state/local response angles. Perhaps later the environment will get onto the agenda, but don't hold your breath. Link: ABC News: The Note
Forget the Hybrids: Biofuels!
The Renewable Energy Resources Committee of the ABA Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources will hold a Brown Bag teleconference on September 21, 2005 at noon Eastern. The teleconference will address the tax, regulatory and transactional aspects of biofuels. You can listen to the experts live in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., Albany, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, NYC, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.
Center for Economic and Environmental Partnership
Democracy at Risk
For those of you with an interest in governance issues, a new book published by Brookings - Democracy at Risk
discusses the causes and some cures for civic disengagement.