Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Schneider Visit to Willamette Almost Live

Streaming video of Dr. Steve Schneider, former IPCC chair and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize with Al Gore, visit to Willamette earlier this month is available now. Repaired: video link!   Schneider is an extremely humorous and pragmatic guy -- who definitely believes that we've waited far too long to make meaningful efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

March 26, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Proposed Revision of Forest Service Mining Regulations

Yesterday, the U.S. Forest Service proposed revision of the bonding and environmental requirements for hard-rock mines operating within national forests or grasslands.  Those regulations can be found at 73 FR 25694-01.  The summary and proposed provisions are provided below.  Comments are due May 27, 2008.

They purport to be based on the 1999 NRC recommendations.  It sure took them awhile -- the entirety of the Bush administration!

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March 26, 2008 in Governance/Management, Mining, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Award Winning IUCNPaper: Validity of Actions taken by COPs organized under Multilateral Environmental Agreements

Louise Camenzuli from Sydney, Australia is the winner of the 2007 Alexandre Kiss Environmental Law  Papers Award, sponsored by the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law. She won the prize for her paper on “The development of international environmental law at the Multilateral Environmental Agreements’ Conference of the Parties and its validity”, which includes a thorough analysis of the legal mandates of the different Conferences of the Parties of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Full Paper

Abstract:
It is now well understood that many environmental challenges are global in nature. This recognition has led to a proliferation of international legal instruments directed at environmental conservation and protection, such as multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). This paper examines the role of Conferences of the Parties (CoPs) in MEA based law making. It promotes the view that effective international environmental law must be dynamic and responsive to changing environmental conditions and changes in the state of knowledge on the best measures and methods to deal with the subject matter of MEAs. In this context, it is now recognised that while MEAs may set out the basic framework in respect of global environmental matters, treaty based law must be shaped by continuous interaction
of member States to provide guidance on, and ensure consistency in, the implementation of the MEA in a way that responds to the environmental challenge it seeks to address. It is in this process that MEA CoPs have and should have law making functions. However, the legal status of acts and decisions of CoPs is unclear. To date, little consideration has been given to the legal personality of CoPs, in particular, whether the exercise of their law making powers (if any) are properly conceptualised within the law of treaties and/or within international institutional law. This in turn has given rise to questions regarding the validity and legally binding nature of CoP made ‘law’.

In this context, this paper reviews existing research on what powers CoPs have to develop international law. It considers the validity of the exercise of these powers and the implications of CoP law making for the legitimacy of international environmental law. Through this process of review, several important research priorities are identified that must be urgently pursued in view of the significant role CoPs play in providing efficient and effective responses to serious emerging and pre-existing environmental challenges. The recent attention to CoP made law and the questions being asked about its legal basis will
otherwise result in a significant threat to the legitimacy of international environmental law.

March 26, 2008 in Governance/Management, International, Law, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Another one bits the dust: another antarctic ice shelf bites the dust

Generally, rock songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s are the associations that I make in my mind as I read.  The association here might be "another one bites the dust" as we're about to lose the 7th shelf in recent years.  But the other song is from Buffalo Springfield: Something's happening here....

To avoid the alarmist tag, I'll simply quote the press release from the British Antarctic Survey press office:

British Antarctic Survey has captured dramatic satellite and video images of an Antarctic ice shelf that looks set to be the latest to break out from the Antarctic Peninsula. A large part of the Wilkins
Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is now supported only by a thin strip of ice hanging between two islands. It is another identifiable impact of climate change on the Antarctic environment.  Scientists monitoring satellite images of the Wilkins Ice Shelf spotted that a huge (41 by 2.5 km) km2 berg
the size of the Isle of Man appears to have broken away in recent days - it is still on the move.  Glaciologist Ted Scambos from the University of Colorado alerted colleagues Professor David Vaughan
and Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) that the ice shelf looked at risk. After checking daily satellite pictures, BAS sent a Twin Otter aircraft on a reconnaissance mission to check out the extent of the breakout.  Professor Vaughan, who in 1993 predicted that the northern part of Wilkins Ice Shelf was likely to be lost within 30 years if climate warming on the Peninsula were to continue at the same rate, says,"Wilkins is the largest ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula yet to be threatened. I didn't expect to see things happen this quickly. The ice shelf is hanging by a thread - we'll know in the next few days or weeks what its fate will be."  Jim Elliott was onboard the BAS Twin Otter to capture video of the breakout for Vaughan and colleagues.   He says, "I've never seen anything like this before - it was awesome. We flew along the main crack and observed the sheer scale of movement from the breakage. Big hefty chunks of ice, the size of small houses, look as though they've been thrown around like rubble - it's like an explosion."  The breakout is the latest drama in a region of Antarctica that has experienced unprecedented warming over the last 50 years. Several ice shelves have retreated in the past 30 years - six of them collapsing completely (Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones Ice Shelf.)  Professor Vaughan continues, "Climate warming in the Antarctic Peninsula has pushed the limit of viability for ice shelves further south - setting some of them that used to be stable on a course of retreat and eventual loss. The Wilkins breakout won't have any effect on sea-level because it is floating already, but it is another indication of the impact that climate change is having on the region." Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado says, "We believe the Wilkins has been in place for at least a few hundred years. But warm air and exposure to ocean waves are causing a break-up."

March 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Giving Makes You Happy: Behavioral Economics Wins Again

Most of us were schooled in neoclassical economics, which makes a series of assumptions about  the behavior of homo economis that behavioral economists and their colleagues in other disciplines dispute.  These and other heterodox economic approaches are gradually creating much more sophisticated notions of how the world works. Some of the most interesting research is on happiness.  What makes people happy -- is it the self-interested behavior that we typically associate with rational actors in economics and public choice theory or something else?  Does money make people happy as economists tend to assume?   Some more light on these issues has been provided by some new research by social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia.

While rich people are a little happier than poor people, the correlation between wealth and happiness is weak. It turns out that how we spend our money may be most important in creating happiness.  While we think we'd rather spend money on ourselves than others, actually spending money on others makes people happier. 

According to Dunn the effects of altruistic spending are probably akin to those of exercise,  which can have immediate and long-term effects. Giving once might make a person happy for a day, but "if it becomes a way of living, then it could make a lasting difference," she says. She hopes the finding might someday spur policymakers to promote widespread philanthropy that could make for a more altruistic--and happier--population.

Check out ScienceNOW Daily News, March 20, 2008 for the full report.

March 25, 2008 in Economics, Governance/Management, Social Science | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Rankings Czar: US News and World Report

The ABA Journal offers a story on the rankings, which are due out on Friday.  I still adhere to the position that no law professor or law school should respond to its questionnaires.  It is high treason with respect to making the world a better place.ABA Journal

March 25, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Huh?: The Bush Administration Response to Massachusetts v. EPA and the Rule of Law

It is quite fashionable for American politicians and pundits to suggest that somehow the United States has a unique role in spreading the rule of law throughout the world.  The response of the Bush administration to the Supreme Court's decision certainly calls into question the United States' qualifications as an epitome of diligent observance of the rule of law.  Almost one year ago, the Supreme Court held that EPA's denial of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.  It concluded, as it always does, "It is so ordered."   EPA dutifully prepared an "endangerment" finding on the petition and forwarded it for White House review.  The White House is simply sitting on the finding, now suggesting that somehow the new CAFE rules excuse it from complying with the Court's mandate.  And now EPA has been forced to dodge and weave in oversight hearings on the Hill and decline to provide documents to Congress concerning its response.  Even if one does not regard the Bush administration's current attempt to avoid the clear import of the Supreme Court's decision as blatantly illegal or unconstitutional, the interplay between EPA, the White House, and Congress in the past year in response to the Supreme Court should be required reading for any student of law or government.

If you're interested in raising the issue, you might start with:
Massachusetts v. EPA decision  (the most relevant excerpt is posted below)
House Oversight Committee's letter to EPA's Administrator Steve Johnson
Hearing held by House Select Committee on Global Warming

EPA has refused to provide the documents that would establish the role of the White House and EPA's political management in drafting the endangerment finding required to comply with the Supreme Court's decision. e-NewsUSA Report on EPA Refusal 

Other excellent substantive blog postings include:
Center for American Progress - Robert Sussman
Hill Heat
Warming Law

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March 24, 2008 in Air Quality, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Today's AMS Seminar addresses relative contributions of GHG emissions, solar radiation, and cosmic rays to global warming

American Meteorological Society's Environmental Science Seminar Series

Solar Radiation, Cosmic Rays and Greenhouse Gases: What's Driving Global Warming?

What are the relative contributions from the sun, cosmic rays, and greenhouse gases, to the observed warming in the late 20th century and what are their expected contributions during the 21st Century? How does this compare to natural climate variability of past centuries and millennia? What is the principle driver or drivers of global warming in the 20th and 21st centuries? How are cosmic rays different from solar irradiance? Are there direct measurements of solar irradiance changes over the last 30 years or so? If so, what do these measurements show? What are the signals of this solar variability in the Earth’s atmosphere, and how do climate models reproduce these? Are we likely to observe additional changes in solar irradiance in the future and what might such variability have as an effect on climate? How is the ozone layer affected by solar activity changes and how does it influence surface weather and climate?

Today's seminar with Dr. Judith Lean, Senior Scientist for Sun-Earth System Research, Space Science Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC and Dr. Caspar Ammann, Research Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO answered those questions.  According to the Program Summary  which is available below, climate reconstructions suggest there has been a small, but persistent, climate response to solar variability on both a global/hemispheric scale as well as in some regions. Solar forcing and volcanic activity appear to have driven the majority of global/hemispheric climate variations over the past Centuries. But from about the mid-20th Century onward, the sum of these natural factors is no longer consistent with the observed warming. Only anthropogenic forcings, such as greenhouse gas increases and emissions of aerosol particles, can explain the observed temperature record. This explanation is even stronger when the vertical structure of the trends is included in the explanation. The panelists suggest that future natural solar variations will be insufficient to counter global warming that we can anticipate from future increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.

The next AMS Seminar is scheduled for April 7, 2008. Tentative Topic: Adapting to Climate Change: What Happens to Our Energy and Transportation Infrastructure?





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March 24, 2008 in Climate Change, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Governor Kills Coal Fired Power Plant

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed legislation that would have revoked the power of the Kansas environmental agency to reject air permits based on greenhouse gas emissions.  The legislation was an attempt to reverse that agency's decision to deny a permit for a $ 3.6 billion project to build two 700 MW coal-fired electric generating plants because of its CO2 emissions.  Governor Sebelius reasoned that federal legislation regulating GHG emissions would be implemented with a few years and that Kansas should not build facilities making it more difficult to comply with those regulations.  She is apparently a rising star in Democratic politics, having given an eloquent response on behalf of the Democratics to President Bush's 2008 State of the Union address.  If she didn't live in the Midwest and if she had some foreign policy experience, I'll bet that Obama would be considering her as a running mate.

March 24, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Big Tobacco Comparison

Welcome to Katrina Kuh from Hofstra Law who has agreed contribute to the blog.  Here's her first piece on a topic that has crossed my mind more than once since ExxonMobil's funding of organizations who promote denialist global warming reports became an issue.  Certainly the effect has been no more benign than Big Tobacco, but it's not necessary a good analogy.  Professor Kuh's analysis follows:

In their recently-filed public nuisance suit, the plaintiffs in Kivalina v. ExxonMobil et al. allege a civil conspiracy by select energy defendants to distort public perceptions about the causes and effects of climate change.  In its description of the conspiracy, the Complaint suggests similarities between the energy defendants and Big Tobacco.  See Kivalina Complaint ¶¶ 192-93.  This follows on the heels of a number of reports and articles likewise drawing comparisons between major energy companies (Big Energy) and Big Tobacco.  E.g., Union of Concerned Scientists, Smoke, Mirrors & Hot Air: How ExxonMobil Uses Big Tobacco's Tactics to Manufacture Uncertainty on Climate Science (January 2007).  The tobacco comparison thus seems to be catching on as a way to frame the climate change narrative.  However, is this comparison (1) apt and (2) useful in the context of climate change?  Are energy companies (really) to climate change as tobacco companies are to smoking?

There are compelling similarities between the energy industry's response to climate change science and the tobacco industry's response to research showing that smoking is harmful.  "Greenwashed" ads alternating images of oil rigs and natural vistas call to mind the rugged, healthy-looking Marlboro man; industry-funded "reports" and adverts about climate "science" call to mind tobacco company ads with doctors extolling the health benefits of smoking.  And there seems to be evidence that at least some energy companies used a number of the same strategies (and even sometimes the same advocacy groups, e.g., TASSC) as Big Tobacco in conducting so-called "information" campaigns.   Moreover, there is a similar specter of political capture - both Big Tobacco and Big Energy generously fill the coffers of influential politicians.

However, the comparison between Big Tobacco and Big Energy becomes strained when you move beyond the narrow issue of how the industries responded to science presenting a threat to the industry and consider more broadly the industries and the social problems at hand.   Cigarettes are expendable with respect to our way of life; fossil-fuel energy (at least for now) is not.  Stopping cigarette production on a dime would have bankrupted some major corporations and tobacco farmers; stopping fossil fuel energy production on a dime would bring our lives to a halt and cripple a massive economic infrastructure.  Although Big Energy may well be blameworthy in its efforts to unnecessarily prolong the use of fossil fuel energy, the mere fact that the industry continues to generate energy from fossil fuels (even with knowledge of climate change) simply isn't as culpable as the tobacco industry continuing to sell cigarettes knowing that they cause cancer. Moreover, unlike the tobacco industry, there is an opportunity (perhaps necessity) for energy companies to help implement responses to climate change.

Wholesale conflating of Big Energy and Big Tobacco may also have some unintended adverse consequences.   Painting Big Energy as a Darth Vader-like enemy could complicate efforts to involve the energy industry in responding to climate change.   It may also make it harder to induce GHG-lowering behavior changes by individuals.  In the context of climate change, we cannot indulge the environmental policy cliché that the problem can be solved by running herd on a few large ("evil," i.e., energy industry) polluters.  A meaningful response to climate change is going to require a far broader response with far greater impacts on individuals.  Moreover, if those who produce fossil fuel energy are evil then it's a short leap to paint energy consumers as complicit - in effect, energy consumers become the storm troopers to the Big Energy Darth Vader.  If individuals hear a message that they must adopt GHG-reducing actions (driving a hybrid, buying a fluorescent bulb) as atonement for "bad" behavior, that risks trading the halo effect for a pitchfork effect and engendering resistance and rejection.

Highlighting political failures (and the extent to which they may have been contributed to by industry disinformation campaigns and political contributions) can be helpful to insure healthier policy discussions going forward; comparisons to the tobacco experience in that limited context may well be appropriate and useful.  However, advancing a narrative with Big Energy cast broadly as the new Big Tobacco overstates the case and could have unfortunate consequences.   --  Professor Katrina Kuh, Hofstra Law

March 19, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 17, 2008

World Water Day 2008

World Water Day 2008

Please help spread the word about these events happening
on or around World Water Day, March 22, 2008.

Beginning Sunday, March 16 through Saturday, March 22,
restaurants will invite their customers to donate a minimum of $1
for the tap water they would normally get for free. These donations
to UNICEF will go towards improving access to safe water and
sanitation facilities in schools and communities, while promoting
safe hygiene practices in more than 90 countries around the world.
Plug in your zip code to find restaurants in your city.Tap project link

World Water Day 2008 will be celebrated by the UN on Thursday,
March 20. In New York you can help bring awareness to the
sanitation crisis by "standing up for those that can't sit down."
Link

PSI will host a World Water Day discussion about their Safe Water
Programs, the successes and challenges, and the way forward on
March 20 from 3:30-5:00 PM. If interested, please RSVP to
akhanna@psi.org. Learn more by visiting http://www.psi.org/wwd

Celebrate World Water Day with Water For People
on Friday, March 21. Raffles and speakers-including Amy Hart -
Filmmaker, WATER FIRST-will make the evening one to remember.
Water for People link

If in Louisville, KY, join Edge Outreach on March 21, 2008
for a night of music, water and film. Join speakers and hear
stories of what is being done for those without water and sanitation.
Link

The DC Environmental Film Festival will have several
water movies showing on World Water Day March 22. 
There is also a panel of water experts at 4:00 PM that day from
Water Advocates, the Global Water Challenge, Natural Resources
Defense Council and ConservationStrategy. 
DC Film Fest

Join the Global Water Challenge, Water Advocates and
others at the Student Movement for Real Change event on March 22:
"Water is Life: Youth Leading Change on World Water Day".
Student Water Conference

In 2007, 69 cities across the United States passed resolutions
acknowledging March 22 as World Water Day. Join those interested
in promoting World Water Day in a variety of events across the country.
World Water Day link

WaterAid America in conjunction with the American Museum of
Natural History present a panel discussion exploring the burden
unsafe water and sanitation place on women, and the role women
can play in water and sanitation development interventions. The
discussion will be held on World Water Day, March 22.
WaterAid America link

Attention runners: join in an effort to raise awareness about the
global water and sanitation challenge and help build a borehole well
in the Azawak Valley, Niger - please sign up for a Run for Water on
March 22. Run Water for Niger

The Global Health Council will hold a briefing on Capitol Hill called
"The Link Between Clean Water and Health." The briefing will be
on March 26 at 12:30 PM on Capitol Hill. Global Health Council link

Continue reading

March 17, 2008 in Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Drink Water for Life

This article is written by Denise Olivera, Columbia School of Journalism, about the Drink Water for Life Challenge originated by 1st Congregational Church, U.C.C. of Salem, Oregon.  The article was covered by the Great Reporter newsservice link The congregation pledges to give up some of its lattes, sodas, etc. during Lent and give the money to our Pure Water Fund.  In celebration of Lent, spring, or World Water Day, please chose to follow this lead.

March 17, 2008 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Chinese Environmental Law Blog

Here's a new blog to keep track of, if you're interested in environmental law in China: China Environmental Law   This spring break I'll be renovating the site and will provide full lists of blogs, environmental programs, etc. for your reading pleasure.

March 17, 2008 in Asia, Governance/Management, International, Law, Water Quality | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Powered by WebRing.

March 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 14, 2008

DOT Downplays Transportation Report on Climate Change Impacts and Prevents Press from Interviewing the Author

HT to Lance Olson Climate Change Yahoo group:

The Government Accountability Project reported today on a major study on climate change impacts released on Wednesday by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.Gulf Coast Transportation study   This study reported on the likely impacts of global climate disruption on transportation infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region.  GAP indicates that the  report release was buried by the DOT, and officials have been blocking journalists from speaking with the report's lead author.

Specifically the report, Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, analyzes how Gulf Coast roads and highways, transit services, oil and gas pipelines, freight handling ports, transcontinental railroad networks, waterway systems, and airports are likely to be harmed by heat waves, extreme precipitation events, sea level rise, increased hurricane intensity, and storm surge damage associated with climate change. The report outlines why changes must be incorporated in transportation planning now in order to avoid serious future problems.

Three hours after the report was posted online Wednesday, DOT issued an uninformative and misleading press release on a separate Web site. The press release lists only one contact - a DOT press official. Reporters who have tried to interview the report's lead author, Federal Highway Administration official Michael Savonis, have been explicitly told by DOT officials that the author and the press cannot communicate with each other. As lead author, Savonis should be allowed to brief and respond to press inquiries.



March 14, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Law, North America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

EPA Sets Primary Ozone Standard at 75 ppb Ignoring Scientific Advice; Sets Unlawful Secondary Standard Based on Bush's Personal Order

EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee recommended a primary health standard no higher than 70 ppb and EPA's Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee recommended the standard be set at 60 ppb because children are more vulnerable to air pollution.  EPA estimates that excess deaths of 1700 - 5700 will occur from the new standard as opposed to a 65 ppb standard.

In addition, EPA set the secondary standard identical to the primary standard, not based on science, but based on an order from the President.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post reported yesterday:

Documents obtained by The Washington Post indicate that White House officials chafed at the idea that they could not factor costs into the ozone rule, which requires setting one standard for protecting health and a separate one for protecting public welfare, and that the president himself intervened in the process Monday. In a March 6 memo to the EPA, Susan E. Dudley of the Office of Management and Budget questioned the need for two different ozone limits, noting that the Clean Air Act's definition of public welfare includes "effects on environmental values." The EPA's Marcus C. Peacock replied the next day that it is important to keep in mind that "EPA cannot consider costs in setting a secondary standard."... The rule's preamble indicates Bush settled the dispute March 11, saying the president concluded the secondary standard should be set "to be identical to the new primary standard, the approach adopted when ozone standards were last promulgated."

Apparently industry has actively lobbied to keep the standard at 84 ppb to avoid the estimated cost to industry of $7.6 - $ 8.8 billion a year.  EPA estimates that the new standard will yield $2 billion to $19 billion in health benefits.  For many years, I've maintained that having the government prepare these estimates under EO 12866  (or allowing industry to provide agency decision-makers with its estimates) skews the process towards an illegal cost-benefit analysis.

It is no surprise that faced with numbers, President Bush interfered in what should have been a legal/scientific decision.  Legal because the secondary standard must be set to protect public welfare and there is no basis for assuming that the secondary NAAQS should be the same as the primary NAAQS.  Scientific because only the science should matter: cost and benefit numbers are not what EPA is supposed to consider under the CAA.  Bush had no business making any decision about this.  Bush should not have those cost-benefit numbers in front of him because it leads to bad choices.  Don't put cookies in front of a starving child unless you want them to eat.  Don't put a stack of million dollar bills in front of a thief unless you want to part with them. 

It was the Attorney General's responsibility to tell EPA to set the primary and secondary standards according to science, not cost-benefit estimates.  Period.  End of discussion.  Apparently, some officials at the Justice Department attempted to tell the President just that.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post reported today:

EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA's scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials and on Tuesday ordered the agency to increase the limit, according to the documents. "It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA's expert scientific judgment," said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council....The president's order prompted a scramble by administration officials to rewrite the regulations to avoid a conflict with past EPA statements on the harm caused by ozone....Solicitor General Paul D. Clement warned administration officials late Tuesday night that the rules contradicted the EPA's past submissions to the Supreme Court... As a consequence, administration lawyers hustled to craft new legal justifications for the weakened standard.

I don't envy my former colleagues at the Justice Department who get to defend this embarrassingly illegal action.

March 14, 2008 in Air Quality, Biodiversity, Cases, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Buzz on Climate Legislation

According to E & E, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will send House Speaker Pelosi a report from the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming with legislative proposals to address climate change on or before the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a markup on a major piece of climate legislation.  Markey was selected by Pelosi as chair of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which Pelosi created  when the Democrats took control of Congress last year.  Markey's committee lacks legislative authority, but has held more than 30 hearings on climate change and energy issues.

Markey's staff reportedly has been meeting with alternative energy firms, labor groups, finance specialists, and others seeking legislative ideas.  Markey's report is expected after House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell releases his draft climate legislation in mid-April. Dingell (D-Mich), of course, has been protective of the automobile industry -- for example, he attempted last summer to preempt California's GHG emission standards for motor vehicles.   If displeased with the bill ultimately reported by Dingell, Pelosi could seek a special rule making Markey's legislative proposal(s) the basis of floor debate, in lieu of Dingell's bill.  If Dingell bill's is overly protective of narrow interests or insufficiently stringent, that sort of end run just might happen.

March 10, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Crude oil surpasses $ 108

Crude-oil futures surpassed $108 for the first time, before closing above $107 a barrel.  The gloomy economic outlook in the United States increases the prospect that the Fed will cut interest rates again, creating an even weaker dollar.  The euro was trading at $1.5358, near its record high. A weaker dollar pushes oil prices up as it makes dollar-denominated oil less expensive to buyers holding other currencies.

March 10, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Plug in to NRDC's Blog

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Disinformation Campaign Continues: Utilities Say EEI Exaggerates Costs to Address Climate Change

According to Greenwire, eight utility executives, including PG & E, FPL, and Entergy, wrote Edison Electric Institute seeking changes in EEI's report on the cost of implementing pending   climate change legislative proposals.  "It appears that EEI has been circulating this material as an effort to scare senators from moving forward with the Lieberman-Warner legislation," Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch wrote the Miami Herald in an e-mail. "In a polite, corporate way, the power execs appear to be wood-shedding EEI CEO Tom Kuhn" (John Dorschner, Miami Herald, March 6).

March 6, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)