Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Global Warming Science: Arctic Tundra Changes Attributable to Global Warming

In a cover story of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  (published before print on January 20, 2006) and published today (vol 103, no. 5, 1342-1346), Walker et all. report that recent changes in tundra ecosystems are responses to global warming.   The article is a metaanalysis of experimental data in 11 locations as part of the International Tundra Experiment.  Experimental data confirms that warming the tundra ecosystem 1 - 3 degrees increases scrub cover, decreases moss and lichen cover, and decreases species diversity and evenness.  Abstract:

 

Recent observations of changes in some tundra ecosystems appear to be responses to a warming climate. Several experimental studies have shown that tundra plants and ecosystems can respond strongly to environmental change, including warming; however, most studies were limited to a single location and were of short duration and based on a variety of experimental designs. In addition, comparisons among studies are difficult because a variety of techniques have been used to achieve experimental warming and different measurements have been used to assess responses. We used metaanalysis on plant community measurements from standardized warming experiments at 11 locations across the tundra biome involved in the International Tundra Experiment. The passive warming treatment increased plant-level air temperature by 1-3°C, which is in the range of predicted and observed warming for tundra regions. Responses were rapid and detected in whole plant communities after only two growing seasons. Overall, warming increased height and cover of deciduous shrubs and graminoids, decreased cover of mosses and lichens, and decreased species diversity and evenness. These results predict that warming will cause a decline in biodiversity across a wide variety of tundra, at least in the short term. They also provide rigorous experimental evidence that recently observed increases in shrub cover in many tundra regions are in response to climate warming. These changes have important implications for processes and interactions within tundra ecosystems and between tundra and the atmosphere.

January 31, 2006 in Asia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, EU, International, North America, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Another Thought -- Stop Collaborating with US News and World Report

Rosa Brooks some day may be as well known to the American legal academy as Rosa Parks is to the global community.  She wrote a post at the end of December arguing that tenured law professors should stop writing law review articles.  Goodbye

I have another liberating thought -- and I actually put it into action this year.  I received the U.S. News  & World report survey on the best environmental law programs -- and I threw it in the trash.  I received a second and a third -- I threw them in the trash.

U.S. News & World report has done virtually infinite damage to the legal academy.  It is time that we stopped collaborating with them.  It may be impossible for law schools to refuse to fill out the questionnaires -- but we could deprive them of a large part of their value by withholding our opinions.  And, even more radically, by writing those in the legal profession and urging that they withhold their opinions.

January 30, 2006 in US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mixed Reaction to Bush Administration Gagging Climate Scientist

Letters in the NYTimes indicate the mixed reaction to the Administration's attempt to restrict policy oriented remarks of its senior climate scientist Dr. James Hansen.Scientists condemn; federal employee condones gag order

Here is the original post:

Andrew Rivkin of The NY Times reports that the Bush Administration is attempting to silence Dr. James Hansen, NASA's director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies since he gave a speech in December at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting.  In the speech, Hansen indicated "significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth 'a different planet.'"  NASA Public Affairs Office Attempts to Limit Media Access

The Times coverage gives details about the attempt to gag Hansen:

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. "That's not the way we operate here at NASA," Mr. Acosta said. "We promote openness and we speak with the facts."

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

Mr. Acosta said other reasons for requiring press officers to review interview requests were to have an orderly flow of information out of a sprawling agency and to avoid surprises. "This is not about any individual or any issue like global warming," he said. "It's about coordination."

Dr. Hansen strongly disagreed with this characterization, saying such procedures had already prevented the public from fully grasping recent findings about climate change that point to risks ahead.

"Communicating with the public seems to be essential," he said, "because public concern is probably the only thing capable of overcoming the special interests that have obfuscated the topic."

Dr. Hansen, 63, a physicist who joined the space agency in 1967, directs efforts to simulate the global climate on computers at the Goddard Institute in Morningside Heights in Manhattan.

Since 1988, he has been issuing public warnings about the long-term threat from heat-trapping emissions, dominated by carbon dioxide, that are an unavoidable byproduct of burning coal, oil and other fossil fuels. He has had run-ins with politicians or their appointees in various administrations, including budget watchers in the first Bush administration and Vice President Al Gore.

In 2001, Dr. Hansen was invited twice to brief Vice President Dick Cheney and other cabinet members on climate change. White House officials were interested in his findings showing that cleaning up soot, which also warms the atmosphere, was an effective and far easier first step than curbing carbon dioxide.

He fell out of favor with the White House in 2004 after giving a speech at the University of Iowa before the presidential election, in which he complained that government climate scientists were being muzzled and said he planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

But Dr. Hansen said that nothing in 30 years equaled the push made since early December to keep him from publicly discussing what he says are clear-cut dangers from further delay in curbing carbon dioxide.

In several interviews with The New York Times in recent days, Dr. Hansen said it would be irresponsible not to speak out, particularly because NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

He said he was particularly incensed that the directives had come through telephone conversations and not through formal channels, leaving no significant trails of documents.

Dr. Hansen's supervisor, Franco Einaudi, said there had been no official "order or pressure to say shut Jim up." But Dr. Einaudi added, "That doesn't mean I like this kind of pressure being applied."

The fresh efforts to quiet him, Dr. Hansen said, began in a series of calls after a lecture he gave on Dec. 6 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he said that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles, and that without leadership by the United States, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

The administration's policy is to use voluntary measures to slow, but not reverse, the growth of emissions.

After that speech and the release of data by Dr. Hansen on Dec. 15 showing that 2005 was probably the warmest year in at least a century, officials at the headquarters of the space agency repeatedly phoned public affairs officers, who relayed the warning to Dr. Hansen that there would be "dire consequences" if such statements continued, those officers and Dr. Hansen said in interviews.

Among the restrictions, according to Dr. Hansen and an internal draft memorandum he provided to The Times, was that his supervisors could stand in for him in any news media interviews.

Mr. Acosta said the calls and meetings with Goddard press officers were not to introduce restrictions, but to review existing rules. He said Dr. Hansen had continued to speak frequently with the news media.

But Dr. Hansen and some of his colleagues said interviews were canceled as a result.

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.

Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.

But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal."

Normally, Ms. McCarthy would not be free to describe such conversations to the news media, but she agreed to an interview after Mr. Acosta, at NASA headquarters, told The Times that she would not face any retribution for doing so.

Mr. Acosta, Mr. Deutsch's supervisor, said that when Mr. Deutsch was asked about the conversations, he flatly denied saying anything of the sort. Mr. Deutsch referred all interview requests to Mr. Acosta.

Ms. McCarthy, when told of the response, said: "Why am I going to go out of my way to make this up and back up Jim Hansen? I don't have a dog in this race. And what does Hansen have to gain?"

Mr. Acosta said that for the moment he had no way of judging who was telling the truth. Several colleagues of both Ms. McCarthy and Dr. Hansen said Ms. McCarthy's statements were consistent with what she told them when the conversations occurred.

"He's not trying to create a war over this," said Larry D. Travis, an astronomer who is Dr. Hansen's deputy at Goddard, "but really feels very strongly that this is an obligation we have as federal scientists, to inform the public."

Dr. Travis said he walked into Ms. McCarthy's office in mid-December at the end of one of the calls from Mr. Deutsch demanding that Dr. Hansen be better controlled.

In an interview on Friday, Ralph J. Cicerone, an atmospheric chemist and the president of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's leading independent scientific body, praised Dr. Hansen's scientific contributions and said he had always seemed to describe his public statements clearly as his personal views.

"He really is one of the most productive and creative scientists in the world," Dr. Cicerone said. "I've heard Hansen speak many times and I've read many of his papers, starting in the late 70's. Every single time, in writing or when I've heard him speak, he's always clear that he's speaking for himself, not for NASA or the administration, whichever administration it's been."

The fight between Dr. Hansen and administration officials echoes other recent disputes. At climate laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for example, many scientists who routinely took calls from reporters five years ago can now do so only if the interview is approved by administration officials in Washington, and then only if a public affairs officer is present or on the phone.

Where scientists' points of view on climate policy align with those of the administration, however, there are few signs of restrictions on extracurricular lectures or writing.

One example is Indur M. Goklany, assistant director of science and technology policy in the policy office of the Interior Department. For years, Dr. Goklany, an electrical engineer by training, has written in papers and books that it may be better not to force cuts in greenhouse gases because the added prosperity from unfettered economic activity would allow countries to exploit benefits of warming and adapt to problems.

In an e-mail exchange on Friday, Dr. Goklany said that in the Clinton administration he was shifted to nonclimate-related work, but added that he had never had to stop his outside writing, as long as he identified the views as his own.

"One reason why I still continue to do the extracurricular stuff," he wrote, "is because one doesn't have to get clearance for what I plan on saying or writing."

January 30, 2006 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Governance/Management, Physical Science, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pacific Northwest Salmon -- The Administration Aims its Arrow at Harvest and Hatcheries

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality today called for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest.  Beginning next week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's fisheries service (NOAA Fisheries) will launch a collaborative review of how harvest and hatcheries - particularly federally funded hatcheries - are affecting the recovery of ESA-listed salmon and steelhead. CEQ Speech

January 25, 2006 in Biodiversity, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Law, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2006 Environmental Performance Index: US 28th in the world

The NY Times and Washington Post have reported the US bottomline in the 2006 Environmental Performance Index, developed by Yale and Columbia.  But here's more.  2006 EPI Rankings

The Pilot 2006 Environmental Performance Index, developed  by the Center for Environmental Law & Policy at Yale University and               the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)   at Columbia University in collaboration with  the World Economic Forum and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, will be formally released in Davos, Switzerland, at the annual meeting of the World  Economic Forum on Thursday, 26 January 2006, but is currently available online.   Full 2006 EPI Report 

The index benchmarks national pollution control and natural resource management results. The index focuses on two goals shared by policymakers, including the internationally agreed upon UN Millennium Development Goals: 1) reducing environmental stresses on human health and 2) protecting ecosystem vitality.  Environmental health and               ecosystem vitality are gauged using sixteen indicators tracked in               six established policy categories: Environmental Health, Air Quality, Water Resources, Biodiversity and Habitat, Productive Natural Resources, and Sustainable Energy.

The EPI differs from the Environmental Sustainability Index because it stresses a comparison of current conditions with targets as opposed to long term sustainability.  Underdeveloped African countries may be relatively unpolluted (and therefore rank high on long-term sustainability), but may not be providing drinking water and sanitation services for their current population.  Other countries, such as the UK and Germany, may be handling current environmental challenges well, but face difficult long-term sustainability problems.  For a comparison of the ESI and EPI, see Appendix E.  Comparison of ESI and EPI

January 25, 2006 in Air Quality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Social Science, Sustainability, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Global warming science: Don't buy that beachfront property: shoreline will move inland 300 meters by 2100

An empirical study of sea level data from tide gauges and satellites ( Church J. A. & White N. J,  Geophys. Res. Lett., 33. L01602  (2006)) confirms model predictions of a 31 centimeter increase in sea level by 2100, which would move the coastline in 300 meters on average.  Based sea level data since 1870, sea level has risen by an average of 1.7 millimetres each year, but the rate of rise has increased by an average of 0.01 millimetres per year.  Nature report

January 23, 2006 in Climate Change, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

It's all about plankton! A new positive feedback loop for global warming effects on the oceans

The Independent News reported today on a letter published in Nature by a prominent plankton expert, Jef Huisman and his colleagues.  Huisman letter   Although the situation may not  be as grim as the Independent headline,

      Warmer seas will wipe out plankton, source of ocean life

it is still significant.  The Independent News reported:

      
                                                                                                                                
 
                                   
          
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The microscopic plants that underpin all life in the oceans are likely to be destroyed by global warming, a study has found.
Scientists have discovered a way that the vital plankton of the oceans can be starved of nutrients as a result of the seas getting warmer. They believe the findings have catastrophic implications for the entire marine habitat, which ultimately relies on plankton at the base of the food chain.

  The study is also potentially devastating because it has thrown up a new "positive feedback" mechanism that could result in more carbon dioxide ending up in the atmosphere to cause a runaway greenhouse effect. <>

Scientists led by Jef Huisman of the University of Amsterdam have calculated that global warming, which is causing the temperature of the sea surface to rise, will also interfere with the vital upward movement of nutrients from the deep sea. These nutrients, containing nitrogen, phosphorus and iron, are vital food for phytoplankton. If the supply is interrupted the plants die off, which prevents them from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

<>

"Global warming of the surface layers of the oceans reduces the upward transport of nutrients into the surface layers. This generates chaos among the plankton," the professor said.

<>

  The sea is one of nature's "carbon sinks", which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposits the carbon in a long-term store - dissolved in the ocean or deposited as organic waste on the seabed. The vast quantities of phytoplankton in the oceans absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. When the organisms die they fall to the seabed, carrying their store of carbon with them, where it stays for many thousands of years - thereby helping to counter global warming.  "Plankton... forms the basis of the marine food web. Moreover, phytoplankton consumes the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide during photosynthesis," Professor Huisman said. "Uptake of carbon dioxide by phytoplankton across the vast expanses of the oceans reduces the rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere." 

<>

Warmer surface water caused by global warming causes greater temperature stratification, with warm surface layers sitting on deeper, colder layers, to prevent mixing of nutrients.  Professor Huisman shows in a study published in Nature that warmer sea surfaces will deliver a potentially devastating blow to the supply of deep-sea nutrients for phytoplankton.

His computer model of the impact was tested on real measurements made in the Pacific Ocean, where sea surface temperatures tend to be higher than in other parts of the world. He found that his computer predictions of how nutrient movement would be interrupted were accurate.

  "A larger temperature difference between two water layers implies less mixing of chemicals between these water layers," he said. "Global warming of the surface layers of the oceans, owing to climate change, strengthens the stratification and thereby reduces the upward mixing of nutrients." Scientists had believed phytoplankton, which survives best at depths of about 100 metres, is largely stable and immune from the impact of global warming. "This model prediction was rather unexpected," Professor Huisman said.  "Reduced stability of the plankton, caused by global warming of the oceans, may result in a decline of oceanic production and reduced sequestration of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the oceans."

Microscopic plankton comes in animal and plant forms. The plants are known as phytoplankton. They lie at the base of the marine food chain because they convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into organic carbon - food for everything else.<>

  Smaller animals such as shrimp-like krill feed on plankton and are themselves eaten by larger organisms, from small fish to the biggest whales. Without phytoplankton, the oceans would soon because marine deserts. Phytoplankton are also important because of the role they play in the carbon cycle, which determines how much carbon dioxide - the most important greenhouse gas - ends up in the atmosphere to cause global warming. Huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which dissolves in the oceans, are absorbed by phytoplankton and converted to organic carbon. When the phytoplankton die, their shells and bodies sink to the seabed, carrying this carbon with them.  Phytoplankton therefore acts as a carbon "sink" which takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposits the carbon in long-term stores that can remain undisturbed for thousands of years. If the growth of phytoplankton is interrupted by global warming, this ability to act as a buffer against global warming is also affected - leading to a much-feared positive feedback.

                                
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

          IN Report on lankton and Global Warming

January 19, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Frogs: the Canary in the Biodiversity Mine?

A study recently published in Nature links the disasterous decline in amphibians with global warming. Frog study

The scientific blogosphere, of course, is stoutly debating the study.  See, e.g. Deltoid on Frogs

January 19, 2006 in Biodiversity, Climate Change, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Alito

For coverage on Alito, go to Alito coverage list

January 18, 2006 in Cases, Constitutional Law, Governance/Management, Law, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oregon Physician Assisted Suicide Case and State Efforts to Protect Public Health and the Environment

Does the Supreme Court's decision in Gonzales v. Oregon foreshadow success for states which choose to address environmental problems that the federal government does not clearly address: say, for example, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?  Certainly, the 6-3 vote is promising.  Physician Assisted Suicide 

Note also: Scalia and Thomas -- so devoted to protecting state power and limiting the exercise of Commerce Clause -- again vote against the states.

January 17, 2006 in Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Governance/Management, Law, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 13, 2006

The American Public Supports US Action on Climate Change

I came across a poll from July indicating that "[a]n overwhelming majority of Americans supports the US agreeing to limit greenhouse gas emissions in concert with other members of the G8 Summit."  Climate Change Poll  So, there is a significant disconnect between the American public and American leaders on responding to global warming.  The interesting question is why?  In foreign policy, Congress acts contrary to the shared views of the American public and American leaders, perhaps because the leaders do not believe the American public shares their views. Foreign Policy Contrary to Public Opinion  Could it be that American leaders do not act forcefully to address climate change because they think that the American public does not support a response?

Continue reading

January 13, 2006 in Climate Change, Economics, Governance/Management, International, Law, Social Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Data Shows Thriving Commercial Market in Great White Sharks

A study by Shivji published in Conservation Biology on January 9 revealed that there is a thriving commercial market in great white shark fins.  The study confirms the need for the protection great whites are now given under CITES.  Great White Sharks Hunted for Fins

January 13, 2006 in Asia, Biodiversity, Governance/Management, International, Law, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Coming Apocalypse: Norway Prepares to Save the World from Famine

New Scientist reports that Norway is building a doomsday vault within a freezing-cold island just 1000 kilometres from the North Pole.  It will hold around 2 million seeds, representing all known varieties of the world's crops. The vault's seed collection duplicates seeds already held at other seed banks -- most are no longer widely planted, but they contain genetic traits regularly used in plant breeding.  It is being built to safeguard the world's food supply against nuclear war, climate change, terrorism, rising sea levels, earthquakes and the ensuing collapse of electricity supplies. "If the worst came to the worst, this would allow the world to reconstruct agriculture on this planet," says Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, an independent international organisation promoting the project.                                                      
From issue 2534 of New Scientist magazine, 12 January 2006, page 12

January 13, 2006 in Agriculture, Biodiversity, EU, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Advice from an Old Grizzly to a Young Grizzly: Stay in the Park

Planet Ark reports that, if the states assume management authority over Yellowstone grizzlies crossing the park's border, they plan to allow hunting of "nuisance" bears:

Millions of tourists visit Yellowstone annually hoping to see the outsize, hump-shouldered bears that were hunted and trapped to near extinction before being classified in 1975 as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. 

In the past three decades, the number of grizzlies in Yellowstone and surrounding areas - eastern Idaho, southern Montana and northwest Wyoming - has risen to more than 600 from 136, prompting the government to propose removing that population from the list of protected wildlife.

Public hearings on the proposal began on Monday in Montana and will conclude on Thursday in Idaho. If the measure is approved, which could happen by the end of the year, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming will oversee management of grizzlies that have ventured outside the park.

Each state has crafted a plan to allow hunting of some of those grizzlies under certain conditions, a practice banned for more than 30 years. Each state would have the authority to kill bears considered chronic nuisances to humans or livestock.

Grizzlies, like gray wolves, have been at the center of controversy in Western states ever since they came under federal protection.

The plan to lift the grizzlies' federal protection is opposed by some powerful environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, which say it is premature to remove the bears' safety net because their long-term success is still not assured.


 

January 11, 2006 in Biodiversity, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AALS: Blogging: Scholarship or Distraction

Those of you who are interested in blogging will want to check out Paul Caron's report on this session.  Blogging

January 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ABA Environmental Law Activities

Environmental Law Activities

Update 2006

January 2006  1/12 Environmental Sciences – Session 3 Hydrogeology Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Join Moderator Susan Bromm of the U.S. EPA in Washington DC and featured speaker Ellen Manges, Program Manager of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Land Revitalization Office at the U.S. EPA in Washington in a discussion centering around an overview of basic geology, geologic materials, the hydrologic cycle, soil and rock properties, aquifer characteristics, groundwater flow and associated parameters, groundwater quality and fate and transport of contaminants, including practical examples of how these concepts are applied in assessing contaminated sites. Location: Teleconference Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724 February 2006 2/4 Section Council Meeting Section of Environment Energy and Resources Program Description: Business Meeting Location: Chicago, IL Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

February 2006

2/9 Environmental Sciences – Session 4 Air Quality and Pollution Control Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Moderator Mary Ellen Ternes of McAfee & Taft in Oklahoma City, OK and featured speaker John (Jay) Hoffman, President of Trinity Consultants, Inc. in Dallas will provide an overview of the science and technology of air quality assessment and air pollution control, including identification of commonly regulated air pollutants under the Clean Air Act (including criteria pollutants, hazardous air pollutants and air toxics), techniques for measuring ambient air quality and pollutant emissions from point sources, air pollutant fate and transport modeling, and traditional and evolving air pollution control technologies for stationary and mobile sources. Location: Teleconference Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

ഊ2/15 The Post-Katrina Legal Cleanup Sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division, Health Law Section, Section of Environment, Energy and Resources, Section of State and Local Government Law, Section of Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Law, ABA Journal, and ABA-CLE. Program Description: When Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast in late August, the storm devastated the region's legal system along with everything else. As the attorneys and people of the region continue to sort out the legal system months after the hurricane, their efforts are likely to make new law not only along the Gulf Coast but for the rest of the country. The ABA Journal article and accompanying teleconference will look at specific legal issues facing businesses and individuals in the regions hit by Katrina, Rita and subsequent storms, and how lawyers are seeking to help resolve them. Registration begins January 23, 2006. Location: Teleconference Contact: ABA Service Center 1-800-285-2221

2/23-2/24 24th Annual Water Law Conference: 19th Century Rules for the 21st Century: Are Growth and Development Outpacing Water Law? Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources with The State Bar of California Environmental Law Section , Conference of Western Attorneys General, Native American Rights Fund, Western States Water Council Program Description: The conference will focus on the Nation’s system of water laws in the face of an explosion of population growth and a real estate boom. Speakers will address the central question of whether antiquated laws are flexible enough to provide policymakers with the tools needed to manage our water supplies in the face of increasing demand and urbanization. Location: San Diego, CA Hotel Del Coronado Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

March 2006

3/9-3/12 35 th Conference on Environmental Law Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: This conference has such highlights as Ann R. Klee as keynote speaker and a variety of Sessions including: General Session: Change at the Supreme Court: What Does it Mean for Environmental Law?; Session 1: Current Considerations in Corporate Environmental Reporting -- SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Voluntary Disclosure...If Your Head is in the Sand, Then Your Assets (and Your Clients) May be Exposed; Session 2: Enforcement Paradigms for EPA and Regulated Industries - A Comparison of Strategies and Results; Session 3: Taking Stock of the Endangered Species Act; Session 4: Winning the Clean Air Challenge; Practice Development Workshop: Developing Environmental Practice; General Session: Hurricane Katrina: It'sഊan Ill Wind that Blows No Good; Session 5: Practical Considerations and Pragmatic Solutions for the Environmentally Challenged Transaction; Session 6: Climate Change in the Courts: Litigation over Climate Change Liabilities and Policies; Session 7: Coming of Age for Watershed Permitting; and Session 8: Hot Topics; General Session: When and How, if Ever, is it Appropriate for the Government to Insist upon Waiver of Attorney-Client Privilege in Environmental Enforcement Investigations? What Comes Next? Location: Keystone, CO Keystone Resort and Conference Center Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

3/23 Environmental Sciences – Session 5 Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Join moderator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies in Washington, DC and featured speakers Bill Hansard, president of Environmental Management Services, Inc. and W. Wesley Eckenfelder, P.E., D.Sc., D.E.E., senior technical consultant at AquAeTer, Inc., both in Brentwood, TN for a discussion on the science and technology of surface water quality and wastewater treatment, including watershed concepts, the measurement of water quality parameters, water quality requirements imposed by the Clean Water Act (e.g. ambient water quality criteria, NPDES permits and total maximum daily loads), point and non-point sources of surface water pollution and conventional and innovative water pollution control technologies used for treating municipal and industrial wastewater. Location: Teleconference Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

3/31 Storm Water Permitting and Enforcement: Alice Visits Wonderland Sponsored by the Section of State & Local Government Law Program Description: Storm water regulation and enforcement is a stated priority for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result of this increased focus, the EPA has initiated numerous enforcement actions seeking millions of dollars in civil penalties from developers and builders for failing either to secure a storm water permit or to comply with its terms. In 2004, for example, the U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA, along with the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Delaware, and the states of Tennessee and Utah reached a settlement for storm water violations at Wal-Mart store construction sites across the country. As a result, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $3.1 million civil penalty and reduce storm water runoff at its sites by instituting better control measures. States are also actively involved in the storm water arena. The program should be lively and informative. Speakers will include S. Wayne Rosenbaum, Foley Lardner LLP, San Diego, California, Elizabeth Miller Jennings, Staff Counsel IV, State Water Resources Control Board, Sacramento, California, and John H. Minan, University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, California. The moderator will be Krista S. Stearns, Boyd, Chandler & Falconer, LLP, Anchorage, Alaska Location: San Diego, CA Wyndham San Diego Time: 1:45 PM to 3:15 PMഊContact: Leigh A. Stewart (312) 988-5649 or Jack Minan (619) 260-4607

April 2006

4/1 Hot Topics – Environmental Law Sponsored by the Section of State & Local Government Law Program Description: Latest issues relating to environmental law. Location: San Diego, CA, Wyndham San Diego Time: 1:45 PM to 2:45 PM Contact: Leigh A. Stewart (312) 988-5649 or Jack Minan (619) 260-4607 4/1 Section of State & Local Government Law – Environmental Law Committee Business Meeting Location: San Diego, CA, Wyndham San Diego Time: 9:15 AM to 10:45 AM Contact: Leigh A. Stewart (312) 988-5649

4/6 Environmental Sciences – Session 6 Site Remediation Technologies Sponsored by the Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Dr. Neil Ram of Roux Associates Inc. in Islandia, NY, will review conventional and evolving remediation technologies used to remove chemical contaminants from soil, groundwater and other media, including problem definition (nature and extent of contamination and subsurface conditions), clean up goals, basic remediation processes and technologies for contaminant removal, extraction, destruction, stabilization and containment, technology selection and steps in remedy design, implementation, operation and maintenance to achieve site "closure." Moderator will be Dan Mueller, P.E. of the Mueller Consulting Group, LLC in Plano, TX. Location: Teleconference Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724 4/7 Environmental Due Diligence After EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) Rule: How Will AAI Impact Business and Real Estate Transactions Sponsored by the Section of Business Law – Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Location: Tampa, FL Time: 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM Contact: Lawrence P. Schnapf (212) 756-2205ഊ4/8 Annual Review of Hot Topics in Environmental and Energy Law for Business Lawyers Sponsored by the Section of Business Law – Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Location: Tampa, FL Time: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM Contact: Stephen J. Humes (860) 275-6761

May 2006

5/11 Environmental Sciences – Session 7 Toxicology and Risk Assessment Sponsored by the Section on Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Drs. Jonmaire and Harbison will provide a lively and interesting overview of the science of toxicology and the practice of risk assessment as applied to environmental contaminants, including basic dose/response principles, toxicity of common compounds, assessment of exposure, risk assessment principles and how they have been integrated into the regulatory process and environmental forensics as applied to litigation addressing real world environmental issues and incidents. Speakers are Dr. Paul W. Jonmaire, Ph.D., Ecology & Environment, Inc. in Lancaster, NY and Dr. Ray D. Harbison, Ph.D., Ecology & Environment, Inc. and the University of South Florida College of Public Health in Tampa, FL. Moderator will be James W. Conrad, Jr., Assistant General Counsel of the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, VA. Location: Teleconference Time: 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724

June 2006

6/9/06 34th National Spring Conference on the Environment Sponsored by Standing Committee on Environmental Law Program Description: This year's program will address the adequacy of U.S. laws and policies addressing ecosystems and infrastructure. Speakers will assess Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma as cases in point, examining what went wrong and why along the Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005; the role of wetlands in infrastructure preservation; energy infrastructure needs and challenges; risk evaluation and allocation; environmental justice concerns; NEPA issues; the proper roles of private market insurance, public insurance, subsidies and tax policy; and ways in which to appropriately value ecosystems and incorporate that value into infrastructure decision-making. The faculty will feature federal and state government officials, private practitioners, scholars, and representatives from the energy, insurance, and non-profit sectors. Location: University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, MD Contact: Mary Jordan Mullinax, 202-662-1694 or mullinam@staff.abanet.orgഊ

August 2006

8/4 Federalism, Land Use, and the Environment Under the Roberts Court CLE Meeting Co-Sponsored by the State and Local Government Section and the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section in accordance with its CLE Committee and Land Use and Environmental Group Program Description: This seminar will review recent Supreme Court jurisprudence on federal oversight of land use and federalist approaches to environmental regulation, with a particular focus on the new Roberts Court. Location: Honolulu, HI Time: 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM Contact: Steven J. Eagle (703) 993-8054, seagle@gmu.edu

8/4 The Kyoto – Good for US Business? Sponsored by the Business Law Section – Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Program Description: The Kyoto Treaty does not specifically apply to the US but it applies to the activities of multinational businesses and businesses acting individually in ratifying countries, including in Canada, EU and Asia. New Business, Legal Restrictions, Notice and Disclosure – many transaction opportunities and complexities to be discussed. Location: Honolulu, HI Time: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM Contact: Jim Harbell (416) 869-5690

8/6 Section Business Meeting Section of Environment, Energy and Resources Program Description: Business Meeting Location: Honolulu, HI Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724 8/6 Section Council Meeting Section of Environment Energy and Resources Program Description: Business Meeting Location: Honolulu, HI Contact: Ninah Smith (312) 988-5724ഊPublications ARE YOU READY? What Lawyers Need to Know About Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Recovery Produced by the Section of State and Local Government Law Competent legal advice is critical to any government or public authority’s efforts to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic events. Yet most attorneys are not familiar with the special legal and practical issues arising from natural catastrophes and terrorist events. This documentary-style video brings together lawyers and other experts from around the nation with experience in responding to catastrophic events. They describe in simple but powerful ways how lawyers can help prepare their communities and the nation for the effects of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes, or tornados, and man-made disasters, such as terrorist attacks or biological warfare. Whether discussing the response to an urban forest fire in Albuquerque, the challenge of continuing operations after a disaster on the scale of the World Trade Center collapse, or the destruction caused by a hurricane in Florida, their advice has a practical edge. The Section hopes to stimulate audience members to enhance their community’s preparedness and to increase awareness of the legal resources that are available when planning for and coping with disaster. Pricing: DVD and Videotape are both $25. Ordering Info: Order through the ABA Web Store at www.abaclecatalog.org or by phone at 800-285-2221 and select option 2. To fax an order for Credit Cards only use 312-988-5568. Mail orders can be received at American Bar Association – Financial Services, PO Box 109078, Chicago, IL 60610-9078. http://www.abanet.org/statelocal/home.html The Federal Information Manual: How the Government Collects, Manages, and Discloses Information under FOIA and Other Statutes by P. Stephen Gidiere III Produced by the Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources The Federal Information Manual is about the vast amount of federal information and the legal framework that controls the government’s collection, management, and disclosure of its records. Pricing: $119.95 USD (Regular), $99.95 USD (ABA Member) Ordering Info: Available January 2006 http://www.abanet.org/abastore/index.cfm?section=main&fm=Product.AddToCart&pid= 5350144

Other Activities Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy Sponsored by Standing Committee on Environmental Law; Co-sponsored by Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Description: Annual award given to one individual and one organization who have distinguished themselves through significant leadership contributions to improvement in the substance, process, or understanding of environmental law or policy. While nominations may honor distinction relating to any environmental subject matter, the awards committee particularly encourages nominations this year that recognize singular contributions to environmental law and policy in the areas of ecological andഊinfrastructure risk analysis, disaster planning, and environmental emergency response efforts. Eligible individual nominees must be lawyers and may include academics, policymakers, legislators, practitioners, members of the judiciary, or journalists. Nominated practitioners must be duly licensed members of a bar association in good standing. Eligible organizations may include non-profits, bar associations, law school clinical programs, legal services programs, tribal nations, and law firms. Persons submitting nominations must be members of the ABA. Deadline for receipt of nominations for 2006 is March 31, 2006. For a nomination packet, please contact Mary Jordan Mullinax, 202/662-1694, mullinam@staff.abanet.org.

January 10, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 6, 2006

Deep Sea Fish Populations in North Atlantic Plummet

Two graduate students have published a key study in Science indicating that deep sea fish populations of 17 species have plummeted in recent years : fishers pursued fish at greater and greater depths in already overfished areas.  Devine  study

January 6, 2006 in Biodiversity | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Salvage Logging Counterproductive

A study by Donato et al published online today in Science indicates that post-fire salvage logging may increase short-term fire risk.  This finding is significant enough that I simply provide the "untranslated" abstract.

                                                         

Post-wildfire Logging Hinders Regeneration and Increases Fire Risk

D. C. Donato 1*, J. B. Fontaine 2, J. L. Campbell 1, W. D. Robinson 1, J. B. Kauffman 3, B. E. Law 1

1 Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
2 Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.
3 Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, 60 Nowelo Street, Hilo, HI 96720, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
D. C. Donato , E-mail: dan.donato@oregonstate.edu

 

Legislation currently pending in U.S. Congress, HR 4200, would expedite postfire logging projects, citing reforestation and fuels reduction among its goals. To help inform the dialogue, we present data from a study of early conifer regeneration and fuel loads following the 2002 Biscuit Fire, OR, USA, with and without postfire logging. Natural conifer regeneration was abundant after high-severity fire. Postfire logging reduced median regeneration density by 73% and significantly increased downed woody fuels and thus short-term fire risk. Additional fuels reduction is necessary for effective fire risk mitigation. Postfire logging can be counterproductive to stated goals of ecosystem restoration. 

January 6, 2006 in Forests/Timber | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Administrative enforcement: the coal mine disaster

The coal mine disaster, killing 12 after in a mine cited for more than 200 health and safety violations in recent years, raises in a dramatic manner the question of inadequate administrative enforcement.
   
Here's the Christian Science Monitor's take:  CSM report

    

Nearly half of the 208 safety citations levied in 2005 against the Sago coal mine where 12 men died this week were "serious and  substantial."Federal inspectors found 20 dangerous roof-falls, 14 power wire insulation problems, and three cases of inadequate ventilation plans, among the 96 major violations. Nearly half of the 208 safety citations levied in 2005 against the Sago coal mine where 12 men died this week were "serious and substantial." 

Sago's "S&S" violations, which rose fourfold in 2005 over 2004, form a pattern that worries safety experts, who say it raises serious questions about mine management - and the efficacy of government inspections.Despite major safety strides in recent decades, mining remains one of the nation's most dangerous jobs. And it's not unusual for mines to be cited for violations of the 1977 Mine Safety Act. But Sago's record, some say, should have raised red flags. "If you have a widespread practice of S&S violations over an extended period of time like we have here, it suggests that you've got much more serious problems than just paperwork violations," says J. Davitt McAteer, a former official in the Mine Safety and Health Administration. 

During the last quarter of 2005, for instance, federal inspectors at Sago cited or ordered the company to fix 50 safety violations - 19 of them serious and substantial. As a result, the company was fined $24,374 last year. It also recorded 39 accidents in 2005, 16 with injuries requiring days away from work.  Inspectors also noted lesser violations such as electrical equipment maintenance, accumulations of coal dust, inadequate fresh air ventilation of the coal-face, and too few methane monitors. (It is still not known what caused the explosion that trapped and killed the miners.)  Taken separately, the number of violations and the variety of issues involved are not particularly troubling, says Mr. Mc-Ateer. Indeed, accumulations of coal dust and electrical and ventilation problems are not unusual in coal mines. But taken "as a package," three issues stick out about the violations, McAteer says:

• The number is on the high side for a coal mine of that size. 

• A high proportion are substantial. 

<>

• The 2005 total was more than triple the 68 tallied in 2004.<>

Despite this record, the entire mine was never ordered closed for a safety overhaul.  "I've seen other mines with as many or nearly as many violations," McAteer says. "But these are substantial ventilation, roof control, and emergency escape violations. If you look at the direction [Sago is] going, you see both federal and state numbers increasing."Although federal inspectors have the legal right to close a mine for safety reasons - and often do close sections - it can be difficult to close a mine outright. Courts have been reluctant to support such actions by the government, even when there are a large number of violations, McAteer says. <>

International Coal Group, a private company based in Ashland, Ky., bought the Sago mine from Anker West Virginia Mining Company last year. An ICG spokesperson reserved comment for company officials who were unavailable at press time. But on Monday - before news came that the miners had died - an ICG vice president told reporters that the company had recorded an 80 percent improvement in safety from earlier in the year. "We think we're operating a safe mine.

Calls Wednesday to MSHA's Washington headquarters seeking comment on the significance of the Sago mine violations went unreturned. On Wednesday, government officials began an investigation. "The purpose of MSHA's investigation is to determine what caused the explosion and whether any safety and health standards were violated," said David Dye, MSHA's acting assistant secretary. "Then we can take effective action to prevent such tragedies in the future."

 

January 5, 2006 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AALS: Revitalizing NEPA 101

Tom Jensen of the CEQ stood in for Dinah Bear today at the Section on Natural Resources Law meeting.  He brought an interesting message: NEPA 101 is alive and well, just not living in its old body.  Despite Vermont Yankee, NEPA 101 has been relied upon in executive orders and agency directives.  It was also placed in the Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution authorizing statute, which mandated that the institute address how to implement NEPA 101.  The Institute appointed a broad based committee that concluded government competence to solve natural resources problems has decreased because of the contentiousness of the disputes, the harder problems that are being addressed, and the antipathy towards regulation.  It recommended a change in the style of natural resources decision-making-- basing those decisions on consensus principles and direct democratic participation in the process.  With the work of the NEPA taskforce this year, it is notable that NEPA 101 provides such consensus principles because the taskforce noted that NEPA 101 remains valid today.  Jensen sees NEPA 101 as common language that can bring people to the table to work towards a community view.  The question is whether NEPA 101 (with its broad array of consderations and language on rights and responsibilities) is sufficient.  He also invited us to examine that question as well as questions of how the new decision-making processes mesh with FACA, the appointments clause, civil service rules, the winners and losers, the impacts on states and tribes.  Interesting things may be happening!!!

January 5, 2006 in Governance/Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)