Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For those of you interested in mercury issues:


MERCURY FREE PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPS DRAFT OF GROUNDBREAKING LEGISLATION TO KEEP AIR AND WATER CLEAN

Communities and Individuals Form Coalition Focused on Mercury Reduction within

Broad Environmental Policy

 

 September 9, 2009—The Mercury Free Partnership has developed a draft of legislation which would reduce 90% of harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest emitter of mercury in the United States. This draft, called the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009, would target coal-fired plants which emit more than 100,000 pounds of mercury into the air each year. In fact, the EPA estimates that about 250 pounds of mercury are currently pumped out of U.S. coal-fired plants into the atmosphere every single day, contaminating our nation’s air and water supplies. Contamination not only poses a multitude of health risks to extremely vulnerable citizens, but it also significantly affects the economic interests of related industries. This is an important initiative because so much attention has been focused on global climate change; what has to be realized is that immediate mercury reduction alone would significantly enhance environmental and health benefits in our world. The purpose of this draft is to initiate dialogue with all concerned stakeholders in order to develop a finalized piece of legislation.

The Mercury Free Partnership believes that the new administration will be taking the necessary steps to curb various industrial emissions and ensure that citizens are protected from many harmful chemicals produced by the market. To make certain that mercury emissions are not swept under the rug in this crucial time period, the Mercury Free Partnership will focus on engaging Congress to work on delivering sensible mercury reduction legislation in the coming session. This can be done with new green technologies that will save lives, create jobs and build momentum for comprehensive environmental change.

The Proposed Legislative Principles of the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009

The key elements of the proposal are as follows:

  • Phased reductions that are achievable by utilities versus one hard standard.
  • 80% of capture inlet mercury by 2012 (a level that can be met with current technology).
  • 90% of capture inlet mercury by 2015.
  • Flexible monitoring systems.
  • Excess emissions penalties of $50,000 for each pound of mercury emitted over the limit.

These points show how the Mercury Reduction Act will deal directly with the problem of mercury, and will do so in an immediate manner. According to Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, more focus is needed on particular legislation: “While we recognize the desire to also tackle the broader air issues, we fear that those issues will get bogged down in partisan wrangling, or most likely litigation, and we will end up with years more of pollution impacting our community.” The Mercury Reduction Act will serve as interim bridge to current legislation, providing one national standard for mercury reduction, while providing measureable, achievable reductions of mercury from coal-fired plants. Most importantly, the MRA provides a significant environmental benefit in an area not addressed by larger climate change legislation moving through Congress: mercury reduction.

Mercury emissions are a major health issue with serious financial impact, but technology exists today that can clean up to 90% of airborne mercury emissions from coal-fired plants.

There are many effective technologies to reduce mercury. One such technology is called Activated Carbon Injection (ACI). It has been found to reduce 90% of the mercury emissions from waste incinerators.  A small amount of activated carbon is injected into the plant ductwork where it captures the gaseous mercury and then is removed along with the plant’s fly ash in particulate collectors.  This highly effective environmental solution is very cost-effective, costing only about $1 per month per residential customer for 90% reductions according to a detailed 2004 study by the National Wildlife Federation, and significant cost reductions have been made since then.

Recent evaluations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have confirmed that the technology to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by up to 90% percent exists. In testimony submitted to the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, John B. Stephenson, Director of Natural Resources & Environment at the GAO, explains how sorbent injection systems have demonstrated the ability to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants anywhere from 80 to 90%.

How to Support the Mercury Free Partnership and the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009

The Mercury Free Partnership is looking to partner with a broad base of individuals and organizations, as no one organization or individual can tackle the daunting task of environmental/health protection alone. It has already received the support of a broad cross-section of environmental, community and science-based groups, including a majority of utilities in key coal-fired utility states. Indications of support have been shown from the EPA, the Obama administration, as well as a large number of congressional members from key regions of the U.S. The Mercury Free Partnership has the specialized and localized knowledge needed to fully inform state and national policymakers as they consider impending legislation.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and more specifically the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, oversees such legislation. In addition to contacting the Mercury Free Partnership, you can contact the office of Rick Boucher (VA-9) directly at:

Congressman Rick Boucher

2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-3861
202-225-0442(fax)

 For more information on this issue, please visit www.mercuryfreepartnership.org.

The Mercury Free Partnership is a group of organizations, non-profits, and green businesses that are dedicated to enacting sensible and comprehensive Mercury reduction legislation in the 2009 U.S. Congressional session.   Working collectively with all stakeholders, the utility industry, medical and advocacy groups and clean coal industries we believe we can achieve our goal of removing significant amounts of Mercury from the environment while maintaining essential energy and financial areas of our economy.

Contact: Jason Sabo, Mercury Free Partnership, 877-603-2337 or info@mercuryfreepartnership.org

Jason Sabo

Mercury Free Partnership

Office: 310.310.2616

Fax: 310.496.1335

Mobile: 574.274.1801

jason@jcipr.com

September 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

1 million trees

I prefer reforestation in developing countries like Haiti where reforestation has great social justice impacts, but the bottom line is great: actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere:

BALTIMORE STUDENTS AND LAWYERS TEAM UP TO LAUNCH THE ABA’S ONE MILLION TREES PROJECT

CHICAGO, Sept 18, 2009 – The American Bar Association, in partnership with the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) and the Parks & People Foundation, will kick off the ABA’s One Million Trees Project in a public ceremony Sept. 23 at Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School in West Baltimore.

 The ABA’s One Million Trees Project is a five-year national effort to plant one million trees across the United States.  Overseen by the local ACT affiliate Parks & People Foundation, the Franklin Square project will bring together volunteer ABA members along with students, teachers and community members to plant trees in the schoolyard and around the building as part of the campaign to beautify Baltimore’s neighborhoods.

 WHAT:             Participants will plant 10 to 15 trees at the Franklin Square schoolyard, surrounding streets and nearby park, as well as weed, mulch and install flowering beds.  The tree planting event will also serve as the launching point for NeighborWoods Month, a community service campaign to heighten awareness for trees in cities all around the nation

 WHO:               Lawyers, students, volunteers

 WHEN:             Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon

 WHERE:           Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School

1400 W. Lexington Street

 For more information on the One Million Trees Project, please visit http://www.abanet.org/environ/projects/million_trees/home.shtml.

 

September 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New CAFE-GHG Proposal

The Obama administration on Tuesday formally proposed joint CAFE-CAA fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks that link fuel economy to reduced emissions from vehicles.  Manufacturers would need to increase fuel economy 5 percent per year from 2012 to 2016, with new cars and trucks averaging 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016.  Alternatively, manufacturers must meet a requirement that their vehicles on average emit no more than 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. With current technology, the measures are essentially equivalent.  Current CAFE standards require that cars average 27.5 miles per gallon and light trucks average 23.1 miles per gallon.  Download 2012-2016_CAFE_GHGN_PRM  EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson estimates the proposed regulations would save 1.8 billion gallons of oil between 2012 and 2016, and prevent greenhouse-gas equivalent to the output of 42 million cars.

According to the Washington Post, Washington Post story President Obama appeared at a General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, claiming the proposal is a boon for both the environment and the automobile industry because "it will give our auto companies some long-overdue clarity, stability and predictability." The Alliance of Auto Manufacturers, the industry trade group, supported Obama's remarks, stating "This is really the road map for automakers to follow."  AAM estimated that the required changes would cost the auto industry $60 billion by 2016, but did not provide an estimate of price increase that consumers would experience..    

The proposal, if finalized in a timely manner -- i.e. before Copenhagen -- is a victory on one front of the battle to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  The other front is the legislation to cap GHGs from stationary sources such as utility and industrial powerplants.  According to the Washington Post, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that the Senate may not act on climate legislation until next year. The Obama administration, of course, could pressure Congress by proceeding to regulate GHGs under the existing Clean Air Act through calling for new State Implementation Plans, requiring New Source Review permits impose LAER and BACT for GHG, and imposing New Source Performance Standards for GHG.  However, the Administration is unlikely to play chicken with Congress absent proof that Congress is truly dragging its feet.

The Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA almost 2 1/2 years ago determined that EPA has the power to regulate greenhouse gases from vehicles, prompting yesterday's action.

See the press release below:

CONTACT:

EPA: Cathy Milbourn

milbourn.cathy@epa.gov

202-564-7849

202-564-4355

 

DOT: Rae Tyson

202-366-9550

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 15, 2009

 

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson Propose National Program to Improve Fuel Economy and Reduce Greenhouse Gases

 

New Interagency Program to Address Climate Change and Energy Security

 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson today jointly proposed a rule establishing an historic national program that would improve vehicle fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases.  Their proposal builds upon core principles President Obama announced with automakers, the United Auto Workers, leaders in the environmental community, governors and state officials in May, and would provide coordinated national vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards.  The proposed program would also conserve billions of barrels of oil, save consumers money at the pump, increase fuel economy, and reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

 

“American drivers will keep more money in their pockets, put less pollution into the air, and help reduce a dependence on oil that sends billions of dollars out of our economy every year,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  “By bringing together a broad coalition of stakeholders – including an unprecedented partnership with American automakers we have crafted a path forward that is win-win for our health, our environment, and our economy. Through that partnership, we’ve taken the historic step of proposing the nation’s first ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles, and moved substantially closer to an efficient, clean energy future.”

 

“The increases in fuel economy and the reductions in greenhouse gases we are proposing today would bring about a new era in automotive history,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “These proposed standards would help consumers save money at the gas pump, help the environment, and decrease our dependence on oil – all while ensuring that consumers still have a full range of vehicle choices.”

 

Under the proposed program, which covers model years 2012 through 2016, automobile manufacturers would be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. The proposed program includes miles per gallon requirements under NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) program and the first-ever national emissions standards under EPA’s greenhouse gas program. The collaboration of federal agencies for this proposal also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA, and a state standard).

 

Specifically, the program would:

 

·         Increase fuel economy by approximately five percent every year

·         Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons

·         Save the average car buyer  more than $3,000 in fuel costs

·         Conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil

 

Increase Fuel Economy and Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions:

The proposed national program would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Under the proposed program, the overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2016, if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements. If this occurs, Congress’ fuel economy goal of 35.0 mpg by 2020 will be met four years ahead of schedule. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007, which required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020.

Reduce Greenhouse Gases:

Climate change poses a significant long-term threat to America’s environment. The vehicles subject to the proposed rules announced today are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. These will be the nation’s first ever national greenhouse gas standards. The proposed standards would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile under EPA’s greenhouse gas program. The combined EPA and NHTSA standards would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the light-duty vehicle fleet by about 21 percent in 2030 over the level that would occur in the absence of any new greenhouse gas or fuel economy standards. The greenhouse gas emission reductions this program would bring about are equivalent to the emissions of 42 million cars.

 

Save Consumers Money:

NHTSA and EPA estimate that U.S. consumers who purchase their vehicle outright would save enough in lower fuel costs over the first three years to offset the increases in vehicle costs. Consumers would save more than $3,000 due to fuel savings over the lifetime of a model year 2016 vehicle. 

 

Conserve Oil and Increase Energy Security:

The light-duty vehicles subject to this proposed National Program account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption. The program will provide important energy security benefits by conserving 1.8 billion barrels of oil, which is twice the amount of oil (crude oil and products) imported in 2008 from the Persian Gulf countries, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration Office. These standards also provide important energy security benefits as light-duty vehicles account for about 60 percent of transportation oil use.

 

Within the Auto Industry’s Reach:

EPA and NHTSA have worked closely to develop this coordinated joint proposal and have met with many stakeholders including automakers to insure the standards proposed today are both aggressive and achievable given the current financial state of the auto industry. 

 

NHTSA and EPA expect automobile manufacturers would meet these proposed standards by improving engine efficiency, transmissions and tires, as well as increasing the use of start-stop technology and improvements in air conditioning systems. EPA and NHTSA also anticipate that these standards would promote the more widespread use of advanced fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines.

 

NHTSA and EPA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins with publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments are at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm for EPA and http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.43ac99aefa80569eea57529cdba046a0/

for NHTSA.

 

Draft Environmental Impact Statement:

NHTSA has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed CAFE standards.  The Draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency’s proposal and reasonable alternatives.  NHTSA is providing a 45-day comment period on the Draft EIS.  Information on the submission of comments is provided at the above NHTSA Web address.

     

September 16, 2009 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Current Affairs, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Environmental Law Preference Rankings: a Prospective Student's Statistical Perspective

Here's an interesting new law ranking system authored by Josh Gellers, a 3rd year PhD student in Political Science at UC Irvine, who is applying to law school and interested in practicing environmental law. He devised a statistical ranking of all major environmental law programs.  Link to the ELPR: http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tXWyWMzdoyb7k-UKYdEBzQQ&output=html  Those who have been readers know my position on all of this nonsense: I continue to refuse to respond to USNWR's survey.  Cooperating with evil is evil.

In case you want to abuse Mr.Gellers or offer him admission, he is Assistant Director, Focused Research Group in International Environmental Cooperation and an Affiliate, Center for Research on International and Global Studies, at University of California, Irvine, 3151 Social Science Plaza A, Irvine, CA 92697, 

jgellers@uci.edu.

OK, OK, you want to know the bottom line.  Based on rankings allocating 30% to environmental resources, 60% to job prospects, and 10% to specialty, his list is rather unsurprising:

Top 5  Harvard, Berkeley, Yale, Stanford, NYU, 

6-10    Duke, Georgetown, UVa, Tulane, Michigan,

11-15    GW, Vermont, Columbia, UCLA,  Boston College,

16-20    Penn, Northwestern, L&C, Chicago, Minnesota,

21-25    Boston U, Texas, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Washington U

26-30    Cornell, Emory, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois-UC

31-35    USC, Pace, Florida, Arizona, Maryland,

35-39    Denver, Utah, FSU, Oregon

I like the list ending at 39 -- the rest of us can sleep at night, in the firm belief that we are associated with number 40.  Kudos to the tier 3 school - Vermont and the tier 4 school - PACE - that managed to raise themselves with their bootstraps to 12th and 32nd in this student's estimation.  Tulane also deserves some applause, making the top 10 when their USNW ranking is 45.

Interestingly enough, as a student, I made my choice from the first four law schools on the list - based on general reputation.  I suspect it really is at the margins that our Environmental Law Programs, however glorious, make a difference in student choices. 

September 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Changing Shape of the World Economy

World economy Take a look at this chart available at Visualizing Economics  You can also click the image to see it in a pop-up window.  It shows China, India, Russia and Brazil with rapidly growing GDPs between now and 2050.

September 14, 2009 in Asia, Current Affairs, Economics, EU, International, North America, South America, US | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)