Monday, February 18, 2008

ExxonMobil Deliberately Misled Blogosphere About Funding Global Warming Denialists

Yesterday's post on ExxonMobil (2/17/08)  highlighted that it had funded the Frontiers of Freedom and its Center for Science and Public Policy (CSPP link ) during 2006, contrary to its claim that it was not funding global warming denialists.  You may wonder about the context in which ExxonMobil made this claim.


Remember last year when the IPCC 4th Assessment report came out – the Guardian wrote a story about American Enterprise Institute soliciting result-oriented denialist analyses of the IPCC report and that report included information about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI. Guardian 2/2/07 Report.  During conversations in late January and early February, 2007 with me and other bloggers, Maria Surma Manka from Green Options [Giant Part I Post; Giant Part II Post], Jesse Jenkins from Watthead [ExxonMobil Posts], Tom Yulsman from Prometheus [Post on earlier conversations -- I can't recall whether Tom participated in the February call, but I believe he did], Stuart Staniford from The Oil Drum [ExxonMobil AEI Post], Ken Cohen, ExxonMobil’s Vice President for Public Affairs had assured us that ExxonMobil was no longer funding controversial denialist groups like Competitive Enterprise Institute and it did not fund AEI with the intent that they engage in denialist analyses.  The first conference call occurred in late January and the second on the same day that the Guardian story and the IPCC report came out.

 

Cohen spent considerable time before the IPCC report came out in January 2007 trying to convince us that ExxonMobil was changing its Neanderthal stripes, truly accepted that anthropogenic global warming was a serious problem, and was ready to take a responsible role in the future discussions of how to reduce GHG emissions. Admittedly Cohen did that in the truly diplomatic way of saying that ExxonMobil had not effectively communicated its position that anthropogenic global warming is real and that GHG emissions need to be reduced.

 

During the February call, Cohen knew that the Guardian’s report about ExxonMobil’s funding of AEI and AEI’s alleged solicitation of result-oriented denialist analyses threatened to undercut public perception of ExxonMobil as a responsible actor. Indeed, those reports ended up on CNN. So, Cohen went out of his way to schedule this call about the Guardian’s allegations.

 

As Maria recounted that discussion:

“We had no knowledge that this was going on,” insisted Cohen. He explained that Exxon funds a lot of different groups, and “when we fund them, we want good analysis." Exxon does not condone what AEI did, but Cohen confirmed that it does continues to fund AEI, although other groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute are not funded by them anymore.

Cohen assured us that Exxon is “trying to be a constructive player in the policy discussion and not associate [themselves] with those that are marginalized and are not welcome in that discussion.” The IPCC report “is what it is,” and Exxon does not believe in engaging in scientific research that preordains an answer. Cohen:

…that's the issue with AEI: Are they preordaining an answer?…I can understand taking a market approach or a government interventionist approach, but this is not a question of trying to find who’s right or who’s wrong. Let’s let the process work.

But, I asked, how can you grant AEI nearly two million dollars (n.b. slsmith -over the entirety of AEI operations, not annually) and not know what they’re doing with the money? Turns out that Exxon conveniently funds the “general operations” of AEI, not specific programs that would allow them to track how the money is being used. Perhaps Exxon needs to think hard next time before it funds an organization so clearly disinterested in constructive solutions.

Cohen was consistently explicit in Exxon's position that global warming is happening and mainly caused by human activities. If that is true, then how will Exxon fight the huge misperception that it’s still the planet's largest naysayer? Cohen conceded that the company needed to do a better job of communicating its position on global warming, rather than allowing a fact sheet or news release on their website to do the work.

 

Cohen kept telling us that the 2006 contribution report was coming out, but declined to give us any specifics about ExxonMobil’s contributions to AEI or other groups, but he said Competitive Enterprise Institute was no longer funded.  Cohen continued to defend AEI as a responsible, albeit very conservative, think tank doing legitimate policy research. And frankly, I supported him on that score during the calls because at least some of the work done by AEI is just that. And I was not nearly as skeptical as others about ExxonMobil's protestations of innocence.  See my post on the AEI matter ELP Blog Post on AEI

 

Here’s why yesterday I called ExxonMobil’s behavior in early 2007 deliberately misleading. Initial Post on 2006 Funding Report  

 

As the quoted material above indicates, Cohen in early February 2007 led us to believe that ExxonMobil was no longer in the denialist camp and did not condone AEI soliciting denialist analysis (if indeed that’s what they had done). He claimed that ExxonMobil no longer associated with marginalized denialist groups. He suggested that the 2006 report would indicate that ExxonMobily had disassociated itself from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which brought us the classic, sadly humorous “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution, we call it life!” TV commercials. You tube link to CEI Energy commercial.

 

From this discussion, it seems clear that Cohen knew precisely which “public information and policy research” organizations that were funded by ExxonMobil during 2006. Yet, while he perhaps sat with the 2006 report in front of him and refused to release its contents, the 2006 contribution report later showed that in 2006 ExxonMobil provided $ 180,000 to Frontiers of Freedom and the CSPP, the policy center it created with ExxonMobil's funding several years ago. P.S. Cohen denied funding CSPP in an e-mail today, but unless my sight is failing: CSPP is reported as the Science and Policy Center under Frontiers of Freedom Download 2006 ExxonMobil's "public information and policy research" contributions If that’s not supporting denialists and associating with marginalized denialist groups, I don’t know what is!


Take a good look at the high quality analysis of global warming that CSPP provides:

 

(1) the amicus curiae brief filed in Mass. v. EPA by lawyers from the Competitive Enterprise Institute

(2) Dr. Ball's The Science Isn't Settled powerpoint presentation - Dr. Ball is the Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project which describes its first project on understanding climate change as "a proactive grassroots campaign to counter the Kyoto Protocol and other greenhouse gas reduction schemes." NRSP describes Dr. Ball as the "lead participant in a number of recent made-for-TV climate change videos, The Great Global Warming Swindle."

(3) Joe Daleo's Congressional Seminar on global warming in March 2007 devoted to disputing the IPCC's report and arguing that anthropogenic global warming from greenhouse gas emissions are not a real problem.

(4) CSPP's May 2007 rebuttal of Al Gore's testimony, which suggests there is no scientific consensus that CO2 emissions are causing global warming

(5) a nonsensical piece on "Gore's Guru," positing that because Dr. Revelle, who died in 1991, had cautioned in 1988 and 1991 against drawing rash conclusions about global warming might still take that position.  I call it nonsensical because Dr. Revelle suggested that we wait 10-20 years to see if the trends continued.  We've waited and now we've answered that question: between 1998 and 2008 we witnessed incredibly dramatic global warming and the scientific community has spent the last 10-20 years studying whether indeed human-caused GHG emissions are responsible for much of that warming.  We and ExxonMobil know its answer to that question.


Obviously, the blogosphere is not the only group worried about ExxonMobil's funding choices.  Britain's national academy of scientists, The Royal Society,  in September 2006 took ExxonMobil to task about its funding of denialist groups.  Royal Society letter

Well, maybe ExxonMobil finally pulled the plug on FF and its “Science and Policy” center in 2007 (and so Cohen was just tap-dancing around the embarrassing, but not on-going, reality of funding denialists). Although, FF's CSPP might survive: it apparently does have funding from two major tobacco companies!

Maybe ExxonMobil has rethought its policy on funding organizations whose primary contribution to the climate change discussion is to distribute continued attacks on those who conclude that the current state of climate science supports an effective policy to reduce GHG emissions.  I’d like to think so – but we won’t know until ExxonMobil releases its 2007 contributions report. I requested that Cohen release it to me; he declined.

However, even if it had defunded FF and CSPP (and other denialist groups), I’m not sure I’d believe that ExxonMobil hadn’t found new denialist outlets to fund.

 

If the Guardian and other media or the blogosphere produce a big enough stir on this story, perhaps it will. But I am astonished that, just as it was selling itself as a responsible player on global warming, ExxonMobil would act so irresponsibly and so deceptively. And I am deeply embarrassed at my naievete in believing what Ken Cohen and ExxonMobil were selling about ExxonMobil’s born again conversion to a responsible position on anthropogenic global warming.

 

Watch out, though, ExxonMobil knows that the question is no longer whether global warming is real, but what to do about it. You can bet it is smart enough and devious enough to fund a lot of “public information and policy research” that will muddle policy discussions about global warming legislation and may assure that not much is done to regulate GHG emissions from oil and gas and that what is done doesn’t cut hardly at all into ExxonMobil’s astounding profits: $41 billion for 2007 and almost $ 12 billion in the 4th quarter of 2007 alone. ExxonMobil profits post


I have a modest suggestion for ExxonMobil: do not fund organizations whose published information, analysis, and research on global warming or climate change has primarily sought to undercut the conclusions reached by the joint statement published in 2005 by 11 national academies of science, including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, India, Brazil and China .  That statement is linked here:   Joint Science Academies' Statement: Global Response to Climate Change


Unless and until ExxonMobil stops funding the sort of stuff that Center for Science and Public Policy is peddling, I hope that the new President and Congress will not believe a single word that is said about global warming policy by ExxonMobil or any of denialist and anti-regulatory "public information and policy research" organizations it funds.

 

 

Continue reading

February 18, 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 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Foreign Affairs - The Candidates in Their Own Words --

During the last year, Foreign Affairs published a series of pieces on the 2008 presidential election, allowing candidates to frame their foreign policy in their own words. Foreign Affairs Election 2008  I am reviewing those pieces for discussions of global environmental issues, including climate change.  I find this a particularly useful approach because it allows candidates to move beyond sound bites and into the substance of what they believe. 

I expect to look at all of the current candidates: Democratic and Republican. The first candidate I am reviewing is Barack Obama.  I chose Obama first in part because I am torn between Clinton and Obama.  Although I respect John McCain's leadership on climate change, I could not vote for a Republican after the 1994 - 2006 Republican congressional legacy and the debacle of Bush's presidency for virtually every freedom and human need.  I also disagree with McCain's position on Iraq.

In his own words, Barack Obama primarily addresses climate change as a matter of global policy.  He ties the US response to global warming to his overall foreign policy in this way:

Strengthened institutions and invigorated alliances and partnerships are especially crucial if we are to defeat the epochal, man-made threat to the planet: climate change. Without dramatic changes, rising sea levels will flood coastal regions around the world, including much of the eastern seaboard. Warmer temperatures and declining rainfall will reduce crop yields, increasing conflict, famine, disease, and poverty. By 2050, famine could displace more than 250 million people worldwide. That means increased instability in some of the most volatile parts of the world.

As the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, America has the responsibility to lead. While many of our industrial partners are working hard to reduce their emissions, we are increasing ours at a steady clip -- by more than ten percent per decade. As president, I intend to enact a cap-and-trade system that will dramatically reduce our carbon emissions. And I will work to finally free America of its dependence on foreign oil -- by using energy more efficiently in our cars, factories, and homes, relying more on renewable sources of electricity, and harnessing the potential of biofuels.

Getting our own house in order is only a first step. China will soon replace America as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Clean energy development must be a central focus in our relationships with major countries in Europe and Asia. I will invest in efficient and clean technologies at home while using our assistance policies and export promotions to help developing countries leapfrog the carbon-energy-intensive stage of development. We need a global response to climate change that includes binding and enforceable commitments to reducing emissions, especially for those that pollute the most: the United States, China, India, the European Union, and Russia. This challenge is massive, but rising to it will also bring new benefits to America. By 2050, global demand for low-carbon energy could create an annual market worth $500 billion. Meeting that demand would open new frontiers for American entrepreneurs and workers.

February 18, 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Candidates Compete for Green Title

After the Bush administration legacy, it is refreshing to see both Democratic and some Republican candidates competing for the title of Mr. or Ms. Green. See the comparison in Grist.

February 6, 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)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ruth Norton Smith (Nov 27, 1921 - Oct 14, 2007)

Ruth Norton Smith died peacefully in Boulder, Colorado  on Sunday, October 14, 2007 after enjoying her full measure of life. 

Ruth was born in Oklahoma on November 27, 1921 in a tent in Oklahoma.  She was raised during the Depression years, moving frequently as her family farmed and followed the tunneling, mining, and other work available to her father.  Ultimately, her family settled in southern California.  There Ruth met the love of her life, Herbert Frank Smith, a carpenter and union organizer, whom she married on June 4, 1941. 

In WW II, while her husband served in the Navy in the South Pacific, Ruth became a Rosie the Riveter, building bombers, and then joined the Women’s Army Corps, serving as a nurse.  After the war, they settled in the Los Angeles area, where she became a real estate broker and the mom of two children, Greg in 1948 and Susan in 1953.

In 1955, her family moved to Colorado where she worked side by side with her husband to build two of the largest home-building companies in Colorado, Happy Homes and Fireside Homes, and a prominent real estate firm.  When she left real estate and home-building in the late 1960s, Ruth became a political and market researcher for Research Services, Inc. and later became a researcher for the U.S. Census Bureau, from which she retired in 1989.

Ruth was a life-long Democratic political activist with a passion for peace, civil rights, and all aspects of social justice.  She served in every capacity: running political campaigns, serving as a precinct committee woman, county, congressional district, and state delegate, pollwatcher, and election judge.  She worked with Metro Denver Fair Housing center as a realtor, helping the first African-American families in Jefferson County to find housing.  She volunteered with youth mentoring programs in Four Points and with Metro Denver Urban Coalition, Another Mother for Peace, Meals on Wheels, and countless other organizations. 

Ruth was too busy with her family, volunteer work and career for many hobbies.  She thrived on the stimulating conversations born by inviting friends and guests from all over the world and from every walk of life to dinner.  She also found great pleasure in reading, traveling and attending theatre and opera performances.

Ruth was a warm, intelligent, extroverted vibrant woman who loved and was loved by virtually everyone she met.   Her loss will be sorely missed by the many friends and family she has left behind, including her sister Lorene, her brother Fred, her son Greg, her daughter Susan, and her grandchildren Clint Smith, Brent Smith, Nathanial Smith-Tripp and Sarah Smith-Tripp.  Her family and friends will gather at Mt. Vernon Country Club on Sunday, October 21, 2007 at 10:30 am for a celebration of her life.  The family requests that no flowers be sent and suggests donations to Meals on Wheel or a charity of your choice.

October 18, 2007 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)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thank you to Read/Write Web

Friday, July 6, 2007

Vote for Children's Safe Drinking Water

Welcome, SusanSmithDrinkWaterforLife
Our Money. Your Ideas. Your Decision.
My Current Vote
Children's Safe Drinking Water
Votes this round: 512  |  Send to a Friend

Project ID: 01250
Date Posted: 7/02

Supporting Organization
US Fund for UNICEF

Project Description:
For Two Cents We Can Change the World. Four thousand children die needlessly every day from drinking contaminated water. It's a tragedy that hundreds of millions of people obtain their drinking water from polluted sources such as muddy rivers, ponds, and streams. This public health crisis can be addressed today through an innovative and low-cost technology that effectively purifies and cleans water while removing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Right now millions of people in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are being reached by a not-for-profit project, but millions more are in need. Help us reach a goal of providing 2 billion liters of safe drinking water. For only two pennies a day a child can have safe drinking water. We'd love to hear your thoughts. In fact, Give Us Your Two Cents Worth. Thank you.

Member: gsallgood


About Me:
My mission is to prevent the sickness and death that occur in the developing world from drinking unsafe water. I'm lucky to spend much of my life building partnerships to provide a low-cost technology to purify water. I never get tired of seeing filthy and highly contaminated water miraculously turn into clear and safe water. And, what's most satisfying is to provide children with their first drink of truly clean and purified water. Now we've developed a way for everyone to get involved. We can make, transport, and deliver the technology on a sustainable basis for only pennies per person. In fact, for just two cents we can provide purified drinking water for a person for a day. Two Cents to Change a Life. Please consider joining our project: "Give Your Two Cents Worth.


Hear From The Fulfilling Organization

1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to clean water. As a result, 5,000 children die needlessly every day. In poor, rural communities, the only source of water is often miles away and the grueling task of collecting it often falls to young girls.

In the mountain village of La Horca, Nicaragua, Rosibel Gonzalez, 12, traveled 7.5 miles each day to fetch water for her parents and five siblings. Waking up before dawn, she walked to the creek before school and carried back a bucket of water on her head. She repeated the task after school and again before bed. But because the water she fetched came from the same source used by village livestock, it was dangerous to drink. When Rosibel's little brother, Wilber, was only eight months old, he and other villagers contracted cholera. That's where UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, came in. UNICEF provided a new solar-powered water pump and filtration system to bring clean water directly into La Horca's 35 homes. Now, Rosibel and her entire village have safe water to drink and Rosibel is left with plenty of time to study and play with her little brother.

With a presence in 156 countries, UNICEF is striving to duplicate this success worldwide. By voting for this project, you can help UNICEF save millions of children's lives. We know what needs to be done, we just need your help to do it. Only 2 cents will purchase one water purification tablet to clean 5 liters of water, $48 can purchase a portable latrine and $5,000 can buy a solar water pump, like the one installed in Rosibel's village. UNICEF partners with communities to provide these and other innovative, low-cost and life-saving solutions for the world's most vulnerable children and their families.

July 6, 2007 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)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Zoellick becomes World Bank president

The Executive Directors of the World Bank yesterday unanimously selected Robert Zoellick as the 11th President of the bank for a five-year term.

The President of the bank is ex-officio President of the International Development Association (IDA) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Administrative Council of the International Centre of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

This announcement affects every aspect of environmental, energy, and resources law, of course, due to the Bank's pivotal role in financing development -- and thereby setting development policy throughout the world.  So, who is this masked man?

Here's the Bank's bio:

Professional History of Mr. Robert B. Zoellick

Mr. Zoellick, a U.S. national, is currently Vice Chairman, International, of Goldman Sachs Group, and a Managing Director and Chairman of Goldman Sach’s Board of International Advisors. He has served in a number of senior positions in successive US administrations, including as Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of State, and as U.S. Trade Representative (2001-05). He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy, US Department of Treasury, and Undersecretary for Economic and Agricultural Affairs and Counselor in the U.S. State Department. He was Executive Vice President of Fannie Mae (1993-1997), the large U.S. mortgage finance corporation, as well as Vice President and Assistant to the Chairman and CEO. In addition, he served as Olin Visiting Professor, U.S. Naval Academy, as Senior Advisor, Goldman Sachs, as Research Scholar, Belfer Center, Harvard University, and previously on three corporate boards, as well as numerous research and non-profit boards.

Mr. Zoellick has a J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, and a M.P.P. (in public management and international issues) from the Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Mr. Zoellick has received numerous distinguished service awards.

Read between the lines: Zoellick is a Bush loyalist and true believer in globalization for the benefit of corporate interests and the wealthy.  Wouldn't it be refreshing sometime for the World Bank to be led by someone who is committed to reducing international poverty and who has on the ground development experience -- rather than ideological theorizing and strategizing experience.

Unfortunately, and I say this as an alumna of both, Zoellick's Kennedy School and HLS credentials just mean he's smart, not moral or committed to the public he is supposed to serve.

June 26, 2007 in 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)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Spirit of the Eagle

This blog is devoted principally to the professional or academic aspects of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.  But like any blogger, I do have a life.  Anyone interested in the slightly less academic side of me is welcome to visit Spirit of the Eagle, my personal blog.

February 26, 2007 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)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Ecological Restoration

Trying to keep on top of developments in ecological restoration.
Consider:

2nd National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration
April 23-27, 2007
Kansas City, Missouri

NCER features more than 250 speakers and 200 poster presentations covering the latest in ecosystem restoration issues we're facing across the country. The conference also entails several special sessions, including Restoration Coffee Houses to promote dialogue amongst attendees, as well as plenary presentations on the 2007 Farm Bill as a Potential Tool for Ecosystem Restoration, Mississippi River Basin Restoration, Partnering for Sustainable Success, and Priorities and Measures for Restoration plus sessions on ecosystem design & implementation, restorations efforts in San Francisco area, and a panel session on balancing economic development & environmental quality
Conference Registration and Information

February 8, 2007 in Biodiversity, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 22, 2007

ABA SEER Teleconference: Forest Service Categorical Exclusion from EISs for Land Planning

American Bar Association
Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources
Forest Resources, Environmental Impact Assessment
and Public Land and Resources Committees

“Quick Teleconference” program Register

Excluding Forest Plans Under NEPA – A New Forest Service Directive Adds a Categorical Exclusion (CE) for Forest-Planning Decisions

Tuesday, February 6, 2007
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET/ 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PT

Program Overview:

The Forest Service has revised its procedures for complying with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. Pursuant to a final directive published in the Federal Register, 71 Fed. Reg. 75481 (Dec. 15, 2006), the Forest Service has added, for forest-planning decisions, a new categorical exclusion (CE) – a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment and, therefore, do not normally require further analysis and documentation in either an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement. The new CE applies to agency decisions to develop, amend, or revise land management plans for national forests.

Faculty:
Moderator:
James Ustasiewski, Senior Counsel, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel, Juneau, AK
Panelists:
Jim Angell, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice, Denver, CO
Daniel Mandelker, Professor, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, MO
William R. “Chip” Murray, Natural Resources Counsel, American Forest & Paper Association, Washington, DC
David Tenny, Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

January 22, 2007 in Biodiversity, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

GAO Says Conservation Programs Need Tune-up

AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION
USDA Should Improve Its Management of Key Conservation Programs to Ensure Payments Promote Environmental Goals
Highlights of  GAO-07-370T, testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, U.S. Senate  full GAO report

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Security Program (CSP), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), are designed to promote conservation goals. In recently issued reports on these programs, GAO assessed (1) NRCS’s process for allocating EQIP funds to the states to optimize environmental benefits, (2) NRCS’s measures to monitor EQIP’s performance, and (3) the legislative and regulatory measures available to prevent duplication between CSP and other conservation programs, such as EQIP.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommended that NRCS (1) ensure that the factors and weights used in EQIP’s general financial assistance formula are documented and linked to program priorities, and data sources are accurate and current, (2) continue to analyze and use information from its performance measures to revise the financial assistance formula, and (3) develop a comprehensive process to preclude and identify duplicate payments between CSP and other conservation programs. USDA agreed that the EQIP financial assistance formula needed review and said it has improved oversight to cross-check payments to determine if duplicate payments have been made. USDA did not agree that the EQIP funding process lacked a clear link to the program’s purpose.

Because farmers and ranchers own and manage about 940 million acres, or about half of the continental United States’ land area, they are among the most important stewards of our soil, water, and wildlife habitat. EQIP provides assistance to farmers and ranchers to take new actions aimed at addressing identified conservation problems, whereas CSP rewards farmers and ranchers who already meet very high standards of conservation and environmental management on their operations. In fiscal year 2006, EQIP and CSP provided about $1 billion and $260 million, respectively, in financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers. Efficient and effective management of these programs by NRCS is especially important in light of the nation’s current deficit and growing long-term fiscal challenges. GAO found the following weaknesses in the management of EQIP and CSP:
• NRCS’s process for providing EQIP funds to states is not clearly linked to the program’s purpose of optimizing environmental benefits; as such, NRCS may not be directing funds to states with the most significant environmental concerns arising from agricultural production. To allocate most EQIP funds, NRCS uses a general financial assistance formula that consists of 31 factors and weights. However, NRCS does not have a documented rationale for how each factor contributes to accomplishing the program’s purpose. In addition, some data that NRCS uses in applying the formula are questionable or outdated.
• NRCS has begun to develop long-term, outcome-oriented performance measures for EQIP. Such measures can provide information to better gauge program performance and also help NRCS refine its process for allocating funds to the states by directing funds to areas of the country that need the most improvement. However, NRCS did not have plans to link these measures to the EQIP funding allocation process.
• Despite legislative and regulatory provisions, it is still possible for producers to receive duplicate payments through CSP and other USDA conservation programs because of similarities in the conservation actions financed through these programs. However, NRCS did not have a comprehensive process to preclude or identify such duplicate payments. In reviewing NRCS’s payments data, GAO found a number of examples of duplicate payments.
Ensuring the integrity and equity of existing farm programs is a key area needing enhanced congressional oversight. Such oversight can help ensure that conservation programs, such as EQIP and CSP, benefit the agricultural sector as intended and protect rural areas from land degradation, diminished water and air quality, and loss of wildlife habitat.

January 22, 2007 in Agriculture, Biodiversity, Governance/Management, Land Use, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

The Great Warming and the Great Depression: Its More Than An Analogy

Drought In a replay of the beginning of the Great Depression, more than 60 percent of the United States now has abnormally dry or drought conditions.  The drought stretches from Georgia to Arizona and across the north through the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin.  Brad Rippey, a USDA meteorologist in Washington, said this year's drought is continuing one that started in the late 1990s. "The 1999 to 2006 drought ranks only behind the 1930s and the 1950s. It's the third-worst drought on record."   Mark Svoboda, a climatologist for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, was reluctant to say how bad the current drought might eventually be.  "We'll have to wait to see how it plays out - but it's definitely bad...and the drought seems to not be going anywhere soon."  See Seattle PI report

In addition to ranchers losing their herds and farmers losing their crops, farm ponds and other small bodies of water have dried out from the heat, leaving the residual alkali dust to be whipped up by the wind. The blowing, dirt-and-salt mixture is a phenomenon that hasn't been seen in south central North Dakota since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

August 2, 2006 in Agriculture, Climate Change, Energy, Land Use, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Movie Review: The Great Warming

Here's another entry in the world's best global warming films contest!  The current contestants are Brokaw's Global Warming, Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and now The Great Warming.  For my earlier review of the former two, see 7/2/06 Movie Review: Brokaw and Gore.  I reviewed Brokaw based on a screening copy: now everyone wants to know where to get one.

The Great Warming is a film documentary, produced by Stonehenge, sponsored by Swiss Re, narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, and aired this spring in Canada by the Discovery Channel.  It was screened in Salem today at First Congregational Church, U.C.C.

The Great Warming is a relatively comprehensive look at global warming science, with plenty of experts.  It documents the impacts of far more modest El Nino events on Peruvian fishing villages, the incredible difficulties facing nations like Bangladesh that lie 80% within the flood plain, the impact that adding another 4 billion people will have on energy use, and the pressing need for China, India, Brazil and other developing countries to adopt a better energy path than the disasterous fossil fuel path that developed countries have followed.  It provides plenty of scenic photography, discussion of innovative technologies, and practical solutions. 

The Great Warming also has a particularly interesting slant.  It highlights, in particular, the growing concern in the American Evangelical community about global warming.  It has received endorsements from Rev. Richard Cizik for the National Association of Evangelicals [Rev. Richard Cizik ], Paul de Vries, Dean, New York Divinity School [New York Divinity School], Fr. Jon-Stephen Hedges [St. Athanasius Orthodox Church], the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Environmental Network and the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life.

The film contains frank, hard-hitting comments from scientists, health providers, and other opinion-makers taking America’s  leadership to task for failing to address what is certainly the most critical environmental issue of the 21st century.  The film analogizes the current era of Great Warming to the era of the Great Depression.  And reminds us that our children and grandchildren will ask why we didn't do something about it.

This film does discuss the faith perspective, which may not be satisfactory for all students.  But, it is a great primer on global warming science, the impacts of climate change, and possible solutions.

THE GREAT WARMING
www.thegreatwarming.com

So, what is the bottom line.  Except for the evangelical angle, I'd chose the Great Warming over the other two.  But, given law student reaction to anything that smacks of spirituality or religion, I still think Gore did the best job with the science.

August 2, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, North America, Physical Science, South America, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Welcome to Environmental Law Prof Blog

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                        

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality!

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

August 2, 2006 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Comment Required

Lebanon_qana_rubble_3

The US blocks a UN resolution deploring the Qana attack, softening the language. The US opposes an immediate, unconditional cease-fire.  Lebanon says thanks, but no thanks to a visit by US Secr. of State Rice. Deadly Israeli Air StrikeDove_w_1

July 30, 2006 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

NPS takes heat for putting conservation first in National Parks

The NPS responded to the outcry about its draft policy (8/05 draft NPS policy post ) by restoring conservation as its fundamental mission.  But no good deed ever goes unpunished:

Latest NPS management policies draft examined
Serious questions remain over what NPS views as its fundamental mission

Washington - The House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks today held an oversight hearing on the final draft of the National Park Service Management Policies.

"I believe the development of these management policies are critical to the vitality of the National Park System," Subcommittee Chairman Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.) said. "I am very concerned that the final draft, while making some notable improvements, appears to retreat back to the 2001 management policies, which failed to provide an effective balance between enhancing visitor enjoyment and conservation.  Achieving such a balance remains a critical priority."

The primary purpose of the management policies is to help direct National Park Service (NPS) managers in their day-to-day operations. In October of 2005, the NPS released a new draft of the policies for public comment. The subcommittee held a hearing on that version in March 2006. Today's hearing was called in reaction to the changes made in the final version of the draft.

Chairman Pearce called attention to many of the sections and themes in the current version that differed from that of 2005, especially those that recognized the mission of the NPS to conserve and provide for enjoyment in the 2005 draft, but reverted to the 2001 language that focused only on conservation.

July 25, 2006 in Biodiversity, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 7, 2006

Environmental Case Law Summaries

U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals

Frazier v. Pioneer Ams. LLC (07/06/06 - No. 06-30434)
Plaintiffs have the burden to show the applicability of the Class Action Fairness Act's sections 1332(d)(3)–(5) exceptions when jurisdiction turns on their application. In a case involving alleged seepage of mercury from defendants' facility, denial of putative class plaintiffs' motion to remand to Louisiana state court is affirmed over plaintiffs' claim that the case was not removable under CAFA.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/5th/0630434cv0p.pdf

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals

Falk v. US (07/05/06 - No. 05-2566)
Judgment in favor of defendant-agency in a declaratory judgment action challenging decisions made by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service affecting the use of plaintiffs' land for goose hunting is affirmed where defendant's determinations were not arbitrary and capricious, and its interpretation of regulations was not plainly erroneous.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/8th/052566p.pdf

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd. (07/03/06 - No. 05-35153)
Denial of defendant's motion to dismiss is affirmed where: 1) because CERCLA liability is triggered by an actual or threatened release of hazardous substances, and because a release of hazardous substances took place within the U.S., the suit at hand involved a domestic application of CERCLA; and 2) defendant-Canadian company's contention that it was not liable under a particular CERCLA provision because it disposed of hazardous substances itself is rejected.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0535153p.pdf

Oregon Trollers Ass'n v. Gutierrez (07/06/06 - No. 05-35970)
In an action brought by fishermen and fishing-related businesses and organizations against the National Marine Fisheries Service and other governmental entities challenging certain management measures undertaken to protect a type of salmon, summary judgment for defendants is affirmed over claims that the measures conflicted with a number of substantive and procedural requirements set forth in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/9th/0535970p.pdf

New York Court of Appeals

In the Matter of Eadie v. Town Bd. of the Town of N. Greenbush (07/05/06 - No. 99)
In an action arising out of the rezoning of a large area of land to permit retail development: 1) the rezoning did not require a three-fourths majority vote of the Town Board under Town Law section 265; 2) the challenge to the rezoning under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) was timely brought; and 3) the Town complied with SEQRA.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/ny/cases/app/99opn06.pdf


July 7, 2006 in Biodiversity, Cases, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 3, 2006

WELCOME

WELCOME to Environmental Law Prof Blog.  Please feel free to use this post as an open thread to raise issues relevant to environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.                                                                           

The royalties from this blog and my other professional royalties are devoted to assuring that everyone in the world has clean safe drinking water.  This is my part helping meet the Millenium Development Goals.  Our children's children will thank you if you find a way to achieve the MDGs.  Even now, they are watching.... Eyes_hispanic_1

Find YOUR way to make the Millenium Development Goals reality.

Places to Start:
ONE: www.one.org
MILLENIUM PROMISE: www.millenniumpromise.org
MILLENIUM CAMPAIGN: www.millenniumcampaign.org

July 3, 2006 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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Environmental Case Law Summaries

U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

EnergyNorth Natural Gas, Inc. v. Century Indem. Co.
(06/28/06 - No. 05-2149)
Judgment as a matter of law for plaintiffs in a suit over excess liability coverage for plaintiff's potential liability for environmental contamination is affirmed where the district court did not err in refusing to allow the case to go to the jury, in excluding some evidence, and in ordering defendant to reimburse plaintiff for certain costs and fees.
http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/1st/052149.html

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Save Our Cumberland Mountains v. Kempthorne (06/29/06 - No. 05-5663)
In an action brought by environmental groups challenging an agency's environmental assessment and decision-making in connection with a coal mining permit, summary judgment for the agency is affirmed over claims that: 1) an environmental assessment was deficient in failing to consider sufficient alternatives to a proposal; 2) the agency acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing a finding of no significant impact; and 3) the agency should have made the environmental assessment available for public comment 30 days before its final decision.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/6th/055663p.pdf

U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

The Ecology Ctr., Inc. v. US Forest Serv. (06/29/06 - No. 05-4101)
Dismissal of a complaint, challenging a project which would allow logging in a certain area and claiming that the project's Record of Decision did not comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the National Forest Management Act, and the APA, is reversed in part as to the National Forest Management Act claim where defendant's "exclusive application of the 1982 Rules and the failure to consider or mention the 'best available science' standard amounted to conduct that is arbitrary and capricious."
http://laws.lp.findlaw.com/10th/054101.html

Supreme Court of California

Big Creek Lumber Co. v. County of Santa Cruz (06/29/06 - No. S123659)
County zoning ordinances relating to the permissible locations for timber operations are not preempted by state forestry statutes.
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/s123659.doc
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/s123659.pdf

California Appellate Districts

Turlock Irrigation Dist. v. Zanker (06/26/06 - No. F047094)
Judgment partially against a town in litigation concerning the scope of its right to receive treated water for domestic use and other needs of the town is affirmed where the trial court correctly found that the districts must continue to provide water to the town, but the reasonable cost of treating the water to make it suitable for domestic use may be passed through to the consumer.
http://login.findlaw.com/scripts/callaw?dest=ca/caapp4th/slip/2006/f047094.html
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/f047094.pdf

Save Our Neighborhood v. Lishman (06/28/06 - No. C049525)
In a dispute involving a city's approval of a project for the construction of a hotel, gas station, and convenience store complex, a judgment denying plaintiffs' petition for writ of mandate is reversed where a city's reliance on an addendum to a mitigated negative declaration for the project violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
http://login.findlaw.com/scripts/callaw?dest=ca/caapp4th/slip/2006/c049525.html
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/c049525.pdf

Schneider v. California Coastal Comm'n (06/28/06 - No. B186149)
The Legislature has not recognized an ocean boater's "right to a view" of the coastline as a factor in regulating development.
http://login.findlaw.com/scripts/callaw?dest=ca/caapp4th/slip/2006/b186149.html
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/b186149.pdf

July 2, 2006 in Cases, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Land Use, Law, Mining, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)