Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Nuclear Energy Industry Gains PR Team

Link: Center for Media and Democracy - Publishers of PR Watch.

Source: The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), April 23, 2006

With help from the PR firm Hill & Knowlton, the industry group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) launched the "Clean and Safe Energy Coalition." NEI is fully funding the group and paying its spokespeople, former Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman (who now heads the lobbying firm Whitman Strategy Group) and Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore (who now heads the PR firm Greenspirit Strategies). NEI's Steve Kerekes said the new group will allow NEI to provide "a unifying platform that supporters of nuclear energy can add their voices to." The group was launched two days before the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Like NEI, the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition says that "nuclear power is clean, emitting none of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming," and "new nuclear plants could provide the 50 percent boost in energy supplies the government projects are needed by 2025 without cramping lifestyles."

See how effective this can be! Wash Post nuclear energy article

April 26, 2006 in Energy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Greening the American Lawn: Engine Manufacturer Blocks Catalytic Converters for Lawnmower Engines

Despite EPA's study documenting  that lawnmower emissions can be safely regulated  Non Road Engine Safety Study and the National Research Council study documenting the wisdom of California's regulation of mobile sources including its plan to regulate lawnmower emissions NRC Study, the engine manufacturer resists installing catalytic converters on its engines.  The manufacturer has already succeeded in having federal legislation delaying the California standards for these studies and eliminating the ability of other states to adopt those standards.  The news coverage given this issue by the NYTimes may help those of us who prefer not to inhale air pollution and create smog as they mow their lawns. NYTimes article

April 26, 2006 in Air Quality | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Latest Global Climate Forecast: 1.5 - 6.2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century

Link: Kerr 312 (5772): 351a -- Science.

Two new statistical studies that combine data sets cast doubt on soaring upper limits for projected climate change (of 9-11 degrees) during this century while eliminating any remaining doubt that there will be substantial warming. Climate modeler Gabriele Hegerl reports in this week's issue of Nature a 5% probability that climate change will be is less than 1.5 C and a 95% chance that it is less than 6.2 C. A similar study published by Annan and Hargreaves in Geophysical Research Letters found the same lower limit of 1.5 C and a 95% upper limit of 4.5 C.  This matches the long-standing estimate of 1.5-4.5 C.

These studies should not be misinterpreted.  They match the long-standing  IPCC estimates of projected increase in mean global temperature.  The studies also do not address another issue -- recent studies suggest that global ecosystems are reacting more abruptly to a given amount of climate change than we had anticipated. 

April 26, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Lags World Public Opinion in Recognizing Global Warming as Problem

Link: World Public Opinion.

On average 92% of the people in 30 countries believe climate change or global warming is a serious problem and 65% believe it is a very serious problem.  Only three countries have less than 80% who consider it serious (the US 76%, South Africa 72%, and Kenya 65%).

In no country, other than the US, do more than one in five say that climate change is not a serious problem.

In 23 countries a majority says that global warming is a “very serious” problem. On average, 65 percent say that it is a very serious problem. The only countries where this is not a majority position are six developing countries (China 39%, Indonesia 44%, Kenya 44%, South Africa 44%, Philippines 46%, Nigeria 47%,) and the US (49%).

Of 16 countries polled in 2003 as well as 2005, the percentage saying the problem is very serious increased from 49% to 61%.   In four countries it was relatively unchanged: China (with 39% very serious), India (65%), Mexico (67%), and Brazil (78%). China and India, interestingly, are two countries where the government has opposed committing to take action to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

April 26, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 7, 2006

Are Aesthetics Part of Ecological Sustainability?

The NYTimes reported today on the fate of the offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound:

A Senate-House conference committee has approved a measure that would effectively kill a proposal for the first large offshore wind farm in the United States, in Nantucket Sound south of Cape Cod, Mass. The measure, an amendment to a Coast Guard budget bill, gives the governor of "the adjacent state," Massachusetts, veto power over any wind farm in the sound. Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, opposes the wind farm, and most of the candidates running to replace him in the election for governor this fall have also come out against it, as have most of the state's prominent politicians.  The budget bill now goes to the full Congress, and members are expected to consider it after their recess.Wind Farm

A decade ago, a student of mine Averill Rothrock wrote an article on whether Oregon's land use laws adequately reflected ecological sustainability.  Obviously her task started with defining ecological sustainability and she chose to include aesthetic values as part of her definition of ecological sustainability.  Then and now I disagree.   And the battle in Massachusetts over the Nantucket offshore wind farm may be the perfect example of the danger of a policy that gives primacy to aesthetics. 

I understand that the objections of Massachusetts politicians dooming this project are not based on adverse ecological impacts -- but rather they are based on the impact of the project on aesthetics and tourism (and, of course, the state's elite for whom the Sound is a playground). 

To meet the challenge of moderating climate change, we will need extraordinary efforts harnessing carbon-neutral energy sources.  Allowing aesthetic factors, rather than ecological impact or necessity, to determine whether such projects are built is a fatal error.

April 7, 2006 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Clear Water Act: 1st Circuit Eliminates Evidentiary Hearing for NPDES Applicant

Dominion Energy Brayton Point, LLC v. Johnson, --- F.3d ----, 2006 WL 820405
(1st Cir. Mar. 30, 2006)

April 6, 2006 in Cases, Governance/Management, Law, US, Water Quality | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NEPA Caselaw: Soda Mountain

An illustration that hard look lives.  The Eastern District of California held that BLM's decision to amend a resource management plan and withdraw its commitment to acquire private lands for wildlife violated FLPMA and NEPA because BLM inadequately analyzed the cumulative impact of the amendment and reasonable alternatives.  Significantly, the court held that the decision was reviewable under the APA and that the plaintiffs had standing even though they lacked access to the private lands in question.  Soda Mountain Wilderness Council v. Norton, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2006 WL 769080(E.D.Cal.,2006.
Mar 24, 2006)

April 6, 2006 in Cases, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, Law, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Environmental Law Prof Blog

Just checking in.  I've learned more about sphenoid wing meningiomas en plaque during the past three weeks than I ever wanted to.  No, despite the obvious signs, I'm not the one with a brain tumor.  It's the other mother of my children and my (ex) partner of twenty two years.  So, I've been somewhat absent from the blogosphere.  I ve even missed the release of the Science study suggesting a 20 foot increase in sea level by the end of the century. But on one of our plane trips, I did read the Time special report.  There is no argument about the problem.  The question is what are we going to do about it!  Especially when we have to wait two more years for an end to Bush league policy. 

Link: Environmental Law Prof Blog.

April 5, 2006 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)