Wednesday, December 20, 2006

U.S. Chamber Wants EPA International Air Program

Dec 13: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on U.S. EPA to implement a comprehensive regulatory program to address the impact of air emissions emanating from outside the United States on domestic compliance with clean air rules. Bill Kovacs, Chamber vice president for Environment, Technology and Regulatory Affairs said, "As economies in China and India continue to grow, so will emissions resulting from this economic growth. Governments and businesses seeking to comply in good faith with clean air rules shouldn't be penalized because emissions migrate from overseas."

According to the Chamber, the Clean Air Act provides an answer to this dilemma. Under section 179B of the Clean Air Act [See link below], EPA must approve a state implementation plan (SIP) if the state establishes that it would be in compliance with EPA's air quality rules but for emissions emanating from outside the United States. Despite the existence of this provision for more than a decade, EPA has failed to develop a regulatory program to implement it.

In order to bring relief to states and businesses, the Chamber has filed a petition for rulemaking with the EPA, calling on the Agency to implement section 179B of the Clean Air Act and develop a comprehensive regulatory program that fully addresses the influence of air emissions emanating from outside the United States on domestic air quality and air quality compliance requirements. The program should also provide states with access to the data needed to make this demonstration.

Kovacs said, "Now is the time for EPA to set forth a process that states can use to demonstrate compliance with air quality standards without being penalized for emissions over which neither the states, nor localities, have control. The Chamber urges EPA to promptly implement this longstanding Clean Air Act provision today."

Access a release (
click here). Access the Chamber's 10-page petition (click here). Access the full text of the 1990 Amdendments to the Clean Air Act (click here, then search for "SEC. 179B." [*Air]

Note: During the holidays while we are on our annual break, we will be posting some articles from recent issues of our daily newsletters. We will return with timely daily posts each day on January 2, 2006.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NRDC Says Methyl Bromide Exemptions Are Unnecessary

Dec 13: Commenting on U.S. EPA's announced exemptions allowing the production and importation of 9.48 million pounds of the ozone-depleting chemical methyl bromide in 2007 [See WIMS 12/14/06, 12/12/06, & 11/14/06], David Doniger, policy director for the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "There is enough methyl bromide sitting in railroad tankers and other storage depots to take care of every farmer with a real need for it. With the ozone layer in such serious trouble, the EPA shouldn't allow chemical companies to make even more."

Methyl bromide was supposed to be banned after 2004 under the ozone the Montreal Protocol, and the Clean Air Act. The Montreal treaty and the Clean Air Act allow exemptions only for "critical uses" -- where there are no alternatives. NRDC said EPA continues to allow farmers and agribusinesses who were not given critical exemptions to continue drawing millions of pounds of the chemical from the stockpiles, totaling as much as 6 million pounds in 2005.

The group said, two chemical companies stand to gain the most from what they called the government's "treaty violations" - a chemical maker called Chemtura (formerly called Great Lakes Chemicals), and an importer, Ameribrom (importing methyl bromide from Israel). NRDC said they will earn between $60 million and $80 million from the approximately 20 million pounds of bonus production over the next two years. Methyl bromide currently sells for $3-$4 per pound, but has sold for much more in the past few years, when unnecessary production was occurring.

NRDC said Dow Agrosciences and other companies currently produce viable alternatives to methyl bromide. Doniger said, "EPA is allowing a kind of 'black market' where those who are not supposed to be using this ozone-destroying chemical anymore can still get as much as they want from the stockpiles. There are alternatives, and farmers have been switching to them for years. It's time to stop coddling the laggards and support the leaders."

Access an NRDC release (click here). Access an EPA 11/13/06 release (click here). Access an EPA 12/12/06 release (click here). Access EPA's 12/14/06 FR announcement [71 FR 75385-75406] (click here). Access EPA's MeBr Phaseout website for further details (click here). Access the Montreal Protocol website for additional information (click here). [*Climate, *Toxics]

Note: During the holidays while we are on our annual break, we will be posting some articles from recent issues of our daily newsletters. We will return with timely daily posts each day on January 2, 2006.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Forest Service Exempts Forest Plans From NEPA Review

Dec 15: In a final directive published in the Federal Register [71 FR 75481-75495], the U.S. Forest Service announced that effective December 15, 2006, it was revising procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations. The final directive amends Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 1909.15, chapter 30 that describes categorical exclusions; that is, categories of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment, and therefore, normally do not require further analysis and documentation in either an environmental assessment (EA) or an environmental impact statement (EIS). The amendment adds one such category of actions to the Agency's NEPA procedures for final decisions on proposals to develop, amend, or revise land management plans.

Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso issued a statement on the action saying, "Today's new rule is part and parcel of the Bush Administration's long-running agenda to take the 'public' out of public lands, and hand our national forests over to big energy and timber interests. For the first time since modern forest planning began more than 25 years ago, the Forest Service is seeking to exclude the long-term management plans that govern each national forest from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This new rule is an attempt to hide the administration's plans for our forests from the public scrutiny required under NEPA... In recent years, the Forest Service has created and widely used a number of categorical exclusions that prevent NEPA review for individual timber sales. Excluding the forest plans themselves from NEPA review means that a great many of the agency's actions will never receive a hard look at all, at any level of forest management, much less involve the public in a meaningful way. Americans have a right to expect more from the agency that oversees our common trust, America's national forests."

In announcing the final directive, the Forest Service said, "The environmental review has documented that writing management plans has no effect on the environment, which qualifies the individual plans of each National Forest for categorical exclusion from individual study under the National Environmental Policy Act... The new rule improves the planning process by actively involving the public at every step. The Forest Service first collaborates with communities to identify how forests should improve in the future. The public participates throughout the process as plans are refined and finalized... forest plan revisions will now take 2-3 years instead of over 5 years with the previous rule. Under the 2005 planning rule, full environmental analysis will continue at the project level where public involvement and the best available science can inform on the ground decision-making."

Access the FR announcement (click here). Access the Forest Service release (click here). Access the Forest Service website for the directive (click here). Access the National Forest Management Act Planning website for additional information (click here). Access an Earthjustice announcement (click here). [*Land]

Note: During the holidays while we are on our annual break, we will be posting some articles from recent issues of our daily newsletters. We will return with timely daily posts each day on January 2, 2006.

Friday, December 15, 2006

DOJ Guidance On Federal Prosecution Of Business Organizations

Dec 12: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announced during a speech at a meeting of the Lawyers for Civil Justice in New York that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is revising its corporate charging guidelines for federal prosecutors throughout the country. The new guidance revises the Thompson Memorandum, which was issued in January 2003 by then-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and titled the “Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations.” The memo provides useful guidance to prosecutors in the field through nine factors to use when deciding whether to charge a corporation with criminal offenses.

The guidance continues to require consideration of the factors from the Thompson memo but adds new restrictions for prosecutors seeking privileged information from companies. Specifically, it creates new approval requirements that Federal prosecutors must comply with before they can request waivers of attorney-client privilege and work product protections from corporations in criminal investigations. McNulty said, “Our efforts to investigate and prosecute corporate fraud in the past five years through the President’s corporate initiative have been tremendously successful. With this new guidance, we want to encourage corporations to prevent corruption through self-policing and continue to punish wrongdoers through cooperation with law enforcement.”

The new guidance requires that prosecutors must first establish a legitimate need for privileged information, and that they must then seek approval before they can request it. When Federal prosecutors seek privileged attorney-client communications or legal advice from a company, the U.S. Attorney must obtain written approval from the Deputy Attorney General. When prosecutors seek privileged factual information from a company, such as facts uncovered in a company’s internal investigation of corporate misconduct, prosecutors must seek the approval of their U.S. Attorney. The U.S. Attorney must then consult with the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division before approving these requests.

The guidance cautions prosecutors that attorney-client communications should be sought only in rare circumstances. If a corporation chooses not to provide attorney-client communications after the government makes the request, prosecutors are directed not to consider that declination against the corporation in their charging decisions. Prosecutors are told to request factual information first and make sure they can establish a legitimate need to go further before requesting a waiver of privilege to obtain attorney-client communication or legal advice.

On September 12, 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chaired by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) held a hearing on, The Thompson Memorandum’s Effect on the Right to Counsel in Corporate Investigations. The hearing dealt with what some are called policies of Federal agencies that prevent executives and employees from freely, candidly, and confidentially consulting with their attorneys [See WIMS 9/18/06 and links below].

On the latest guidance, Stanton Anderson, Senior Counsel to the President of the United States Chamber of Commerce, issued a statement on the so-called "McNulty memorandum" that revises DOJ's policies on attorney-client privilege and said, "While containing some improvements, this new policy does not adequately protect the right to attorney-client privilege, and unwisely ignores many of the recommendations of former senior Justice Department officials, the American Bar Association, and a massive coalition of some of the nation's most prominent business, legal, and civil rights groups."

In a related attorney-client privilege matter, on August 17, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit issued an important ruling in Regional Airport v. LFG,LLC (Case No. 05-5754) involving the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act litigation [See WIMS 8/18/06]. On the important first impression issue of disclosure of attorneys "work product," the Appeals Court says, "While the attorney-client privilege protects only confidential communications, the work product doctrine generally protects from disclosure documents prepared by or for an attorney in anticipation of litigation... Prior to 1993, there was general agreement that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 excluded categorically the discovery of attorney opinion work product, even when provided to testifying experts." In 1993, however, Rule 26 was amended to require parties to submit expert reports for all testifying experts." The district court held that the Authority "must disclose all information given to its testifying experts, including attorney opinion work product." The Appeals Court said, "We agree with the district court and the majority view that Rule 26 now requires disclosure of all information provided to testifying experts."

Access a 12/12/06 release from the DOJ (click here). Access the full text of the McNulty 12/12/06 speech (click here). Access the 21-page McNulty Memo (click here). Access the Senate hearing website and links to all testimony (click here). Access the complete U.S. Chamber 12/12/06 statement (click here). Access the Sixth Circuit opinion cited above (click here). [*All]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

EPA Announces Final & Proposed Oil SPCC Regulations

Dec 14: U.S. EPA announced that it is amending certain requirements for facilities subject to EPA's Oil Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations. Originally proposed in December 2005, the final rule amendments streamline the requirements for the owners/operators of qualified facilities with aboveground oil storage capacities of 10,000 gallons or less and certain containers and equipment regulated under the rule. The SPCC regulations require covered facilities to prevent, prepare for and respond to oil discharges. The final rule will provide alternative compliance options for certain regulated facilities. The final rule provides streamlined options for specifically qualified facilities and exemptions from the SPCC regulations for certain vehicle fuel tanks and other on-board bulk oil storage containers.

EPA is also exempting mobile refuelers from the sized secondary containment requirements for bulk storage containers, and removing requirements for animal fats and vegetable oils that pertain to onshore and offshore oil production facilities, oil drilling and workover facilities. In the final rule, EPA is also extending the compliance date for farms to either prepare and implement new SPCC plans or amend existing (maintained) SPCC plans and implement the amended plans until EPA publishes a future rule specifically addressing how farms should be regulated under the SPCC rule.

To provide the regulated community time to implement these modifications, as well as anticipated additional modifications, EPA is also issuing a proposed rule to extend the compliance dates to July 1, 2009 for owners and operators of facilities (with the exception of farms) to amend and implement an existing SPCC plan or in the case of new facilities, time to prepare and implement a new SPCC plan.

Nothing in the final rule and the proposed rule removes any regulatory requirement for owners or operators of facilities in operation before August 16, 2002 to have developed, implemented and maintained a SPCC plan in accordance with the SPCC regulations then in effect. Such facilities continue to be required to maintain their plans during the interim until the applicable date for amending their existing plans and implementing their amended plans. EPA also indicated that it will be revising the 2005 SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors, as appropriate, to reflect the 2006 amendments to the rule and will post any changes on the website.

Access an EPA release (click here). Access a prepublication copy of the 97-page final rule (click here). Access extensive summary information on the final rule (click here). Access the prepublication copy of the 14-page proposed rule to extend compliance dates (click here). Access the Inspectors Guidance website (click here). Access EPA's Oil Program website for additional information (click here). [*Haz, *Water]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

European Parliament Adopts REACH Compromise

Dec 13: The European Parliament (EP) adopted the compromise it negotiated with Council on the new regulation for chemicals -- the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of CHemicals (REACH) [See WIMS 12/1/06] -- which will require producers to register all chemical substances produced or imported above a total quantity of 1 tonne per year. Registration will affect about 30,000 substances. For more hazardous substances, producers will have to submit a substitution plan to replace them with safer alternatives. When no alternative exists, producers will have to present a research plan aimed at finding one. The compromise package agreed with the Council and tabled by 4 political groups was approved with 529 in favor, 98 against and 24 abstentions.

The regulation will enter into force progressively from June 2007, and the registration process will take 11 years to be completed. The calendar for registration depends on the risk of the substance and the quantity produced. All covered substances will have to be registered by 2018. REACH also creates a new Chemicals Agency, to be based in Helsinki, which will be responsible for the authorization process.

European Parliament President Josep Borrell commenting on the EP adoption of REACH said, "This vote, on one of the most complex texts in the history of the EU, sets up an essential piece of legislation to protect public health and the environment from the risks of chemical substances, without threatening European competitiveness. It offers EU citizens true protection against the multitude of toxic substances in everyday life in Europe."

The authorization process will cover about 3 000 substances considered more dangerous. The Helsinki Chemicals Agency will be responsible to authorize them and the producers will have to present either replacement proposals or research plans to develop alternatives. The authorization will be for a limited time period. The regulation transfers the burden of proof regarding testing and evaluation of the risks of chemicals from the authorities to industry. It also includes obligations of duty of care for the industry and of communication to the public about dangerous substances in products. It also includes safeguards for confidential information and provisions to avoid duplication of animal testing.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said, “I welcome the end to a long period of uncertainty which has hung over these negotiations. This compromise is good for health and environment, while keeping European businesses competitive and encouraging innovation. It is very important that the final agreement also takes into account the special situation of the SMEs. In addition, replacing over 40 legislative instruments with a one single regulation is yet another practical example of Better Regulation and cutting red tape in Europe. Another positive aspect is that every effort has been made under REACH to reduce animal testing to the absolute minimum.”

Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for environmental policy said, “REACH is an extremely important piece of legislation, which will significantly improve the protection of human health and the environment. It will increase our knowledge about chemicals, enhance safety, and spur innovation while encouraging substitution of highly dangerous substances by safer ones."

European Environmental organizations issued a release saying, "Major loopholes in REACH will still allow many chemicals that can cause serious health problems, including cancer, birth defects and reproductive illnesses, to continue being used in manufacturing and consumer goods. Further concessions exempt companies which import and manufacture chemicals in volumes below 10 tonnes a year - 60% of chemicals covered by REACH - from the requirement to provide any meaningful safety data."

American Chemistry Council (ACC) President and CEO Jack Gerard issued a statement saying, “Today’s vote by the European Parliament has unfortunately failed to produce workable chemical legislation. The compromise package approved by the Parliament has not addressed many of the key concerns repeatedly expressed by industry and major EU trading partners. A more focused and flexible approach to registration, and a truly risk-based approach to authorization, could have brought our economies and regulatory systems closer together. Strong and effective chemical regulation should not have to come at the expense of global trade and competitiveness."

Access a lengthy EP release (click here). Access a release from the European Commission with links to additional information (click here). Access the EurActive website for the latest reports and links to background and documents (click here). Access the European Commission REACH website for additional information (click here). Access the European Chemical Industry Council's REACH website (click here). Access a release from European environmental groups (click here). Access a release from ACC (click here). Access the Greenpeace European Unit REACH website (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort REACH links for additional information (click here). [*Toxics]

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

10,600 Scientists Call For Integrity In Federal Policy Making

Dec 11: The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) announced that a statement by Nobel laureates and other leading scientists calling for the restoration of scientific integrity to Federal policy making has been signed by 10,600 scientists from all 50 states. The announcement came as UCS released an "A to Z" guide that documents dozens of recent allegations involving censorship and political interference in Federal science.

Dr. Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of UCS's Scientific Integrity Program said, "From airborne bacteria to Ground Zero, science continues to be misrepresented for political gain. The new Congress should enact meaningful reforms so decisions within federal scientific agencies and advisory committees are based on objective and unbiased science. The scientist statement makes clear that while science is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should be objective and impartial. Sustained protest from scientists, individual Republicans and Democrats in Congress, and the nation's leading editorial pages has not been enough to make the abuse of science stop."

According to a release, the "integrity of science statement" has grown steadily since it was first released in February 2004. Signatories now include 52 Nobel Laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients, and almost 200 members of the National Academies of Science. Meanwhile, the new UCS compendium details censorship and political interference in federal science on issues as diverse as air quality, childhood lead poisoning, and prescription drug safety.

For example, in late October UCS released documents tying high-level political appointees at the Department of Interior to the manipulation and distortion of numerous scientific documents to prevent the protection of six different species under the Endangered Species Act. UCS also cites: "For example, in support of the president’s decision to avoid regulating emissions that cause climate change, the administration has consistently misrepresented the findings of the National Academy of Sciences, government scientists, and the expert community at large. Thus in June 2003, the White House demanded extensive changes in the treatment of climate change in a major report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To avoid issuing a scientifically indefensible report, EPA officials eviscerated the discussion of climate change and its consequences."

Additionally, UCS cites: "The administration also suppressed a study by the EPA that found that a bipartisan Senate clean air proposal would yield greater health benefits than the administration’s proposed Clear Skies Act, which the administration is portraying as an improvement of the existing Clean Air Act. “Clear Skies” would, however, be less effective in cleaning up the nation’s air and reducing mercury contamination of fish than proper enforcement of the existing Clean Air Act."

Access a release (
click here). Access the A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science (click here). Access extensive information on the project (click here). Access a list and database of signers by state and name (click here). [*All]

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gulf Of Mexico Energy Bill Passes

Dec 8: In last minute actions of the Republican-controlled Congress, S. 3711, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act [aka OCS legislation, See WIMS 12/6/06], was added to H.R. 6111, an unrelated vehicle bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The bill pass the House by a vote of 367-45. Later, at 1:49 AM Saturday, the Senate approved the measure by a vote of 79-9.

The bill would open two areas of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for oil and gas development. The bill passed the Senate on August 1, 2006 by a bipartisan vote of 71-25. S. 3711 would open 8.3 million acres in Lease Sale 181 and Lease Sale 181 South for oil and gas exploration. The government estimates that the region contains 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas -- enough to heat six million homes for 15 years. The bill would also share production revenues with Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist characterized the legislation as “one of the most significant accomplishments of the 109th Congress which will have a lasting impact on American consumers and our economy.” Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and one of the chief sponsors of the bill said, “The OCS legislation is very important and should be something that everybody in this chamber is proud of. It is particularly fitting that the Senate pass the bill just as the cold winter was setting in and as families start seeing a sharp rise in their natural gas bills. The price of natural gas has more than doubled since October. We aim to ease the gas price volatility by increasing supply.”

Also, referring to the fact that the legislation was part of a larger package that included several energy tax provisions to encourage more renewable energy, more clean energy and the increased conservation of energy, Domenici said, “I think it’s fitting that we passed legislation that develops more oil and gas in tandem with a tax package that will increase the production of electricity from wind and solar power and help government, businesses and homeowners conserve energy and use it more efficiently.”

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who crafted a compromise bill with Domenici said, "Today the Senate confirmed its strong support for Louisiana and the entire Gulf Coast by passing the Domenici-Landrieu fair-share bill, which after nearly 60 years, provides for Louisiana a significant share of oil and gas revenues produced off our shores. In August, 71 Senators agreed to the bill because they recognized that a dedicated stream of revenue is necessary for Louisiana to protect itself from future storms. Katrina and Rita showed us what devastation can ensue if our communities remain vulnerable."

Under the legislation, 37.5 percent of offshore revenues will go to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The funds are specifically dedicated to coastal wetlands restoration, hurricane protection, levee and flood control projects in the four energy-producing states. An additional 12.5 percent is dedicated to the state side of the Land and Conservation Fund, which funds the acquisition of parks and green spaces across the country.

Senator Landrieu thanked many interest groups who helped in the passage of the bill including: America's WETLAND Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana; Parishes Against Coastal Erosion; Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana; Women of the Storm;; Coast Guardians; National Association of Manufacturers (NAM); the American Chemistry Council (acc); the Consumer Alliance for Energy Security; the Agriculture Energy Alliance and "countless others."

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a statement saying that the lame-duck Congress was sneaking "in a measure endangering this fragile coast by opening up 8.3 million previously protected acres to oil and gas drilling." They said, "Rather than permanently redirecting oil royalties from off-shore drilling to the coffers of just four states, Congress should commit the necessary funds for restoration but should also make oil and gas companies pay their fair share for repairing wetlands and pay their full share of royalties to the American people for drilling both on- and off-shore. And Congress should now turn its attention to ending our addiction to oil." Sierra Club also opposed the bill.

Access legislative details for the vehicle bill, H.R. 6111 (
click here). Access the legislative details for the original S. 3711 (click here). Access a lengthy statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a statement from Senator Landrieu (click here). Access a statement from ACC (click here). Access a statement from NAM (click here). Access a release from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access the latest media reporting on the voting activity (click here). [*Energy]

Friday, December 08, 2006

EPA Announces Revised NAAQS Review Process

Dec 7: U.S. EPA officially announced its updated process for reviewing and setting the Agency's National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). EPA said the updates will help improve the efficiency of the NAAQS review process and ensure that the best available science is used in making air quality decisions. The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review each standard on a five year schedule. EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock said, "EPA is bringing air rule making into the 21st Century. EPA is committed to a timely and transparent process that uses the most up-to-date science available."

EPA has been examining the NAAQS process for the past year to determine how it can be improved. On June 26, 2006, EPA held a public workshop to receive comments on an April 2006 Agency report on ways to improve the NAAQS review process [The so-called "Top-To-Bottom" NAAQS Review Report, See WIMS 4/4/06]. EPA also met with the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to get input on recommendations for revising the process. At the time, CASAC's called the proposed process more costly and time consuming [See WIMS 5/18/06 & 6/13/06].

After considering comments, EPA said it will move forward with the following structure for reviewing the NAAQS:

Planning: After completion of each NAAQS review, EPA will prepare a science and policy plan that outlines the schedule, process and expectations for the next review. EPA will consult with the CASAC on the draft integrated plan.

Integrated Science Assessment: EPA will develop a more concise evaluation, integration and synthesis of the most policy-relevant science, including key science judgments that will be used in conducting the risk and exposure assessments. CASAC and the public will have an opportunity to evaluate and comment on drafts of the Integrated Science Assessment.

Risk/Exposure Assessment: EPA will more clearly link the Integrated Science Assessment and the Risk/Exposure Assessment to ensure that the characterization of risk and exposure are based on the clearest possible understanding of the available scientific information.

Policy Assessment/Rulemaking: The staff paper will be replaced with a more narrowly focused policy assessment that will connect the agency's scientific assessment and the judgments the administrator must make in determining whether it is appropriate to retain or revise the standards. This policy assessment will reflect the agency's views and will be published in the Federal Register as an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). The ANPRM will provide both CASAC and the public the opportunity to review the policy options under consideration.

In a December 7, 2006, Memo from Peacock to Dr. George Gray, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development and Bill Wehrum, Acting Assistant Administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation he says, "Based on your advice to me following these public meetings and additional discussions with the internal working group, I have decided to institute a number of changes to the NAAQS review process. These changes reflect many of the recommendations contained in the working group's April report . Specifically, I direct your offices to proceed with the general structure recommended in your April 3, 2006 memo, as discussed below, which involves four major components: planning, science assessment, risk/exposure assessment, and policy assessment/rulemaking" [as summarized above and detailed further in the Memo].

The Memo continues, "In moving forward, I urge you to apply these revisions to the NAAQS review process to all upcoming NAAQS reviews and to any ongoing reviews . As to the latter, I would like these revisions to apply to the review of lead, which is currently underway. The last formal draft Staff Paper for lead, adhering to the previous standard setting process, has been transmitted to CASAC, and therefore the relevant changes noted above should apply to the remainder of the lead review."

Consistent with that request, EPA announced on December 5, that to date, the lead NAAQS review has followed its "historic approach" to reviewing NAAQS, including issuance of a criteria document and a first draft staff paper. The Agency said, however, that it is now moving forward to implement a "new, more efficient process for conducting NAAQS reviews." EPA said it intends to transition to the new process during the course of the lead NAAQS review [See WIMS 12/5/06].

Access an announcement of the new process (click here). Access the December 7, 3-page Memo which contains further details on the process (click here). Access the NAAQS website for background information including CASAC correspondence and other key documents (click here, scroll down). [*Air]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Getting A Handle On The Scrap Tire Problem

Dec 5: A detailed report by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) says that nearly 87 percent of disposed tires each year are put to a new use. RMA’s report -- Scrap Tire Markets In The United States -- which is based upon a comprehensive survey of state scrap tire and solid waste officials and industry participants, indicates that 259 million of 299 million scrap tires generated in 2005 went to an end use market. By comparison, in 1990, only 11 percent of scrap tires was consumed by a market. State cleanup laws and growing markets are helping to alleviate serious environmental issue. Additionally, the number of tires sitting in stockpiles has been reduced to 188 million -- down from 275 million in 2003; and more than 1 billion scrap tires were stockpiled in 1990. RMA, which represents tire manufacturers, ranked states by their overall performance in dealing with scrap tire issues and how states improved since the previous scrap tire report in 2003.

According to the report, South Carolina, North Carolina and Maine lead the nation in a performance ranking of dealing with scrap tires. Rankings are based on percent of tires going to end use markets, number of stockpiled tires, stockpiled tires per capita, number of tires land-disposed and the percent of the number of tires/per capita land-disposed in 2005. Texas, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio were tops in improving the scrap tire situation in 2005 as compared to 2003. Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director said, “Tire manufacturers have been working hard for 16 years to promote environmentally and economically sound solutions to reduce scrap tire waste. Additionally, states’ scrap tire cleanup laws and regulations and market development efforts have substantially reduced the nation’s scrap tire piles.”

The largest market for scrap tires is tire-derived-fuel (TDF) -- especially as a supplemental fuel for cement kilns, electric utilities and pulp and paper mills. TDF accounted for some 155 million scrap tires in 2005; an increase of 20% since 2003. Other major uses are ground rubber and construction applications. Ground rubber use, e.g athletic and recreational surfaces, rubber-modified asphalt, carpet underlay, flooring material, dock bumpers and railroad crossing blocks; accounted for more than 30 million tires in 2005. Road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications consumed nearly 50 million tires in 2005.

The report also indicates that since 1990, the number of scrap tires in stockpiles has been reduced by 81 percent. Of the remaining stockpiles, 85 percent are concentrated in 7 states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Access a release from RMA (
click here). Access the complete 93-page report (click here). Access RMA's Scrap Tire Management website for extensive information (click here). Access U.S. EPA's Scrap Tire Management website for additional information (click here). [*Solid]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Can A Lake Be Filled & Fish Killed Under CWA?

Dec 4: Environmental lawyers at Earthjustice are challenging a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that lets Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation dump toxic waste into a lake, killing all fish for at least the 10-year life of the permit. According to a release, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit after "redefining language in the law so that toxic wastewater could be considered legally permitted fill." If allowed to go forward, the Kensington gold mine would be the first mine to kill a U.S. lake using the new, weakened dumping standard. Earthjustice expressed concern that if allowed to proceed, this mining operation would set a precedent, potentially spurring growth of such operations elsewhere in Alaska or the lower-48 states.

The Army Corps' new interpretation contradicts what the law actually says, argued Earthjustice attorney Tom Waldo, assisted by Eric Jorgensen, managing attorney in Juneau for Earthjustice. Waldo said, "The plain language of the Clean Water Act simply prohibits the discharge authorized by the Corps of Engineers." The argument revolves around a gold extraction process that creates 210,000 gallons per day of a toxic waste slurry. Kensington chose lake dumping despite the availability of disposal methods less damaging to the environment. Attorneys representing mine developers and the federal government said the slurry is legal fill in their view of the law. On August 24, 2006, the Ninth Circuit issued a temporary injunction halting activities and the dumping of "fill" into Lower Slate Lake at the site of the proposed Kensington Gold Mine (Southeast Alaska Conservation Council v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Coeur Alaska, Case No. 06-35679).

Access an Earthjustice release with links to additional information (click here). Access a background document with further details (click here). Access the 8/24/06 injunction (click here). Access the original 8/4/06 Federal District Court decision (click here). Access additional background from the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council website (click here). [*Water]

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ecosystem Challenges And Business Implications

Nov 21: A new publication -- Ecosystem Challenges and Business Implications -- produced by Earthwatch Institute (Europe), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Resources Institute (WRI), is based on global scientific facts and projections from the UN's multi-year Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and interviews with a range of business leaders to assess the implications and strategies needed to respond to environmental challenges. The publication warns that companies must transform business models and operations if they are to avoid major economic losses caused by the current degradation of ecosystems and the vital services they provide.

The research indicates that many companies recognize the risks associated with degrading ecosystems and are trying to adapt accordingly, but most fail to associate healthy ecosystems with their business interests. According to a release from WBCSD a collective business response is therefore needed to address the scale of environmental change currently taking place. WBCSD President Björn Stigson says, “Business simply cannot function if ecosystems and the services they deliver -- like water, biodiversity, food, fiber and climate regulation -- are degraded or out of balance. There must be a value attached to natural resources, and businesses need to start understanding this value.”

The publication offers a detailed examination of the implications that water scarcity, climate change, nutrient overloading, biodiversity loss, habitat change and the overexploitation of oceans will have for the future of business. These include scarcity of raw materials, higher operating costs, government restrictions and reduced flexibility. It further cautions companies to prepare for these risks by measuring their impact and dependence on ecosystem services, taking advantage of emerging business opportunities and reducing their operational footprints.

The publication partners urge companies to pursue solutions that will help to conserve ecosystems, such as new energy efficient technologies and products, new businesses to undertake habitat restoration, and new markets, such as nutrient trading. The publication is the first of three to be produced by the four partners. The second will focus upon how new business models, markets and entrepreneurs can profit from responding to ecosystem challenges and the third will help business executives identify their dependences on ecosystem services and ways to retain them for the long term.

Access the WBCSD release (
click here). Access the 20-page document (click here). Access information from Earthwatch Institute (click here). Access information from IUCN (click here). Access information from WRI (click here). [*Sustainability]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Backyard Burn Barrels Are Largest Source Of Dioxin Emissions

Dec 1: U.S. EPA announced in the Federal Register [71 FR 69564-69565] an Inventory of Sources and Environmental Releases of Dioxin-Like Compounds in the United States for the Years 1987, 1995, and 2000 (EPA/600/P-03/002F, November 2006). The document is a peer-reviewed and final report representing EPA’s assessment of dioxin sources and their emissions to the environment. To the extent practical, the inventory is a comprehensive analysis of dioxin sources. Over 800 references were reviewed and cited in the preparation of the report. The citations generally reflect publications up to and including the year 2003. The final document reflects a consideration of all comments received on an External Review Draft dated March 2005 (EPA600/P-03/002A) provided by an expert panel at a peer-review workshop held September 13–15, 2005, and comments received during a 60-day public review and comment period (May 6–July 5, 2005).

The major identified sources of environmental releases of dioxin-like compounds are grouped into six broad categories: combustion sources, metals smelting, refining and process sources, chemical manufacturing sources, natural sources, and environmental reservoirs. Estimates of annual releases to land, air, and water are presented for each source category and summarized for reference years 1987, 1995, and 2000. The quantitative results are expressed in terms of the toxicity equivalent (TEQ) of the mixture of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin (CDD) and polychlorinated dibenzofuran (CDF) compounds present in environmental releases using a procedure sanctioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1998. Using this WHO procedure, the annual releases of TEQDF-WHO98 to the U.S. environment over the three reference years are 13,965 g in 1987, 3,444 g in 1995, and 1,422 g in 2000.

The analysis indicates that between reference years 1987 and 2000, there was approximately a 90% reduction in the releases of dioxin-like compounds to the circulating environment of the United States from all known sources combined. In 1987 and 1995, the leading source of dioxin emissions to the U.S. environment was municipal waste combustion; however, because of reductions in dioxin emissions from municipal waste combustors, it dropped to the 4th ranked source in 2000. The inventory also identifies bleached chlorine pulp and paper mills as a significant source of dioxin to the aquatic environment in 1987, but a minor source in 1995 and 2000. Burning of domestic refuse in backyard burn barrels remained fairly constant over the years, but in 2000, it emerged as the largest source of dioxin emissions to the U.S. environment.

Access an overview and links to the complete 677-page report and related information (
click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). [*Toxics]

Friday, December 01, 2006

European Parliament & Council Seal Deal On REACH

Dec 1: Delegations from the European Parliament and the Council hammered out a deal on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of CHemicals (REACH), the draft regulation on chemical products, at their sixth set of informal negotiations, which ended at around 11:00 PM on Thursday (November 30) [See WIMS 10/12/06 & 11/30/06]. The compromise will be put to the vote by the full Parliament at the plenary session scheduled for December 13 – if approved, the proposal would become law at this, second reading, stage. Parliament’s rapporteur, Guido Sacconi (PES, IT) confirmed at a press conference on Friday that agreement had been reached with the Finnish Presidency on the whole of the REACH package. The agreement must now be confirmed by the Member States’ representatives and by the full Parliament during the next plenary session in Strasbourg. Sacconi said, “I call on all the Parliament’s political groups to support me at the plenary.” If approved the deal would mark the end of a three-year long battle that has pitted industry and environmentalists debating the costs and benefits of the new chemicals control regime.

According to a release, the main points of the package agreed are as follows: (1) Agency: Parliament will appoint two members of the Helsinki-based European Chemicals Agency and the Executive Director will take part in a hearing with MEPs before his/her appointment is confirmed. (2) Authorization: for dangerous substances, there will be an obligation to submit a substitution plan to replace them with safer alternatives. Where no alternative exists, producers will have to present a research and development plan. (3) Endocrine disrupters: a clause was agreed, to review after six years, on the basis of the latest scientific data, the inclusion of substances with endocrine disrupter properties among those which can only be authorized if the socio-economic benefits of their use is higher than the risk to human health or the environment, and if no safer alternative exists. (4) Intellectual property provisions have been strengthened with data protection extended from 3 to 6 years. (5) Duty of Care: this principle is enshrined in the regulation in a recital which recalls that the manufacturing, importing or placing on the market of substances should, under reasonable foreseeable circumstances, not adversely affect human health or the environment. (6) Animal welfare: changes have been agreed with the aim of avoiding duplication of animal testing and at promoting alternative test methods.

A coalition of European environmental organizations reacted immediately to what they said was a "deal struck behind closed doors" saying, "If adopted at the plenary vote, the deal will allow many chemicals of very high concern - including many that cause cancer, birth defects and other serious illnesses - to stay on the market and be used in consumer products even when safer alternatives are available. The groups call on Parliamentarians to strengthen REACH when they vote on the proposal in mid-December." They said negotiators accepted the deal based on "cosmetic changes" to the Council’s "flawed approach of ‘adequate control’" which they said is being championed by the chemicals industry and is founded on the claim that exposure to hazardous chemicals can be controlled so as to pose no danger to human health and the environment.

Access a release from the European Parliament (click here). Access the EurActive website for the latest reports and links to background and documents (click here). Access the European Commission REACH website for additional information (click here). Access the European Chemical Industry Council's REACH website (click here). Access a release from European environmental groups (click here). Access the Greenpeace European Unit REACH website (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort REACH links for additional information (click here). [*Toxics]

Thursday, November 30, 2006

"Appalling" Results Of Great Lakes Sewage Report Card

Nov 29: The Canadian-based, Sierra Legal Defense Fund released its first Great Lakes Sewage Report Card -- an investigative report that analyzes twenty cities in the Great Lakes basin and grades them based on how well they manage their sewage. In a release the organization said, "The results are appalling." Although many cities have made efforts to clean up their act, waters surrounding urban areas throughout the Great Lakes are still commonly unsafe for recreational use and many parts of the vast freshwater ecosystem are in peril. Report author Dr. Elaine MacDonald said, “The Great Lakes basin is one of the most important freshwater ecosystems on the planet -- holding one fifth of the world's freshwater. Yet, the twenty cities we evaluated are dumping the equivalent of more than 100 Olympic swimming pools full of raw sewage directly into the Great Lakes every single day.”

The Great Lakes Sewage Report Card represents the first-ever ecosystem-based survey and analysis of municipal sewage treatment and sewage discharges in the Great Lakes basin. The report grades cities on issues such as collection, treatment and disposal of sewage based on information provided by each municipality. The report documents that many cities in the region have antiquated systems for collecting and treating sewage and regularly release untreated sewage into local waterways. It is estimated that the 20 cities evaluated, representing a third of the region’s 35 million people, dump more than 90 billion liters [approximately 24 billion gallons] of untreated sewage into the Great Lakes each year.

According to a release, the results are disappointing, with cities like Toronto, Syracuse and Hamilton getting below average grades. Detroit (ranked worst), Cleveland and Windsor performed "abysmally and are at the bottom of the class." The cities that fared poorly typically have serious problems related to their combined sewers; antiquated systems that combine storm water and sanitary sewers into a single pipe and are prone to releasing raw sewage during wet weather. Green Bay, Peel Region and Duluth are at the top of the class. All three generally have more sophisticated treatment processes and permit very little sewage to escape into the environment through combined sewer overflows, spills or bypasses.

The 20 cities evaluated in the report include: Cleveland (Ohio), Detroit (Michigan), Duluth (Minnesota), Erie (Pennsylvania), Grand Rapids (Michigan), Green Bay (Wisconsin), Hamilton (Ontario), Kingston (Ontario), London (Ontario), Milwaukee (Wisconsin), Niagara Region (Ontario), Peel Region (Ontario), Rochester (New York), Sarnia (Ontario), Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario), Sudbury, (Ontario) Syracuse (New York), Thunder Bay (Ontario), Toronto (Ontario), Windsor (Ontario).

In addition to grading the cities, the report provides an analysis of the region’s patchwork of sewage treatment laws and policies, and offers several recommendations to ensure the protection of water quality in the Great Lakes for future generations.

Sierra Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, charitable organization funded by public donations and foundations grants consisting of more than 40 lawyers, scientists and support staff at offices in Vancouver and Toronto. The organization has over 30,000 individual supporters across Canada.

Access a release (
click here). Access background information (click here). Access the complete 57-page report (click here). Access the Sierra Legal website for additional information (click here). [*GLakes]

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Historic Global Warming Case

Nov 29: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in what is being called an historic case about global warming (Massachusetts, et al. v. EPA, et al., No. 05-1120). The questions presented in the case include: (1.) Whether the EPA Administrator may decline to issue emission standards for motor vehicles based on policy considerations not enumerated in section 202(a)(1); and (2.) Whether the EPA Administrator has authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other air pollutants associated with climate change under section 202(a)(1).

On September 8, 2003, EPA denied a group of organizations that petitioned the Agency to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act [68 FR 52922-52933]. In July 2005 [See WIMS 7/15/06], the D.C. Circuit by a 2-1 vote let EPA's ruling stand. Massachusetts and several other parties requested the full D.C. Circuit to rehear the case which the Court denied in December 2005 [See WIMS 12/5/05].

Arguments were heard from James Milkey, Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General for Petitioners and Gregory Garr, Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, on behalf of Respondents. Petitioners opened their argument at 10 AM saying, "EPA made a decision based on two grounds, both of which constitute plain errors of law reviewable under any standard... We are not asking the Court to pass judgment on the science of climate change or to order EPA to set emission standards. We simply want EPA to visit the rulemaking petition based upon permissible considerations." Petitioners attempted to establish their basis for "standing" before the Court claiming global warming and sea rise around the world including Massachusetts. Justice Scalia immediately responded saying, "I thought that the standing requires imminent harm. If you haven't been harmed already, you have to show the harm is imminent. Is this harm imminent?... when is the predicted cataclysm?" Other Justices immediately entered the discussion and Milkey's argument was reduced to answering questions (first 25 pages of transcript).

Respondents opened their argument saying, "After carefully considering the issue the nation's expert agency in environmental matters concluded that Congress has not authorized it to embark on the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions to address global climate change. And that even if it has, now is not the time to exercise such authority, in light of the substantial scientific uncertainty surrounding global climate change and the ongoing studies designed to address those uncertainties. Plaintiffs have provide no reason to override that quintessential administrative judgment." Justice Ginsburg immediately responded asking, "...doesn't the EPA's decision on the first, 'we don't have any authority,' doesn't that infect its subsequent decision, 'well, even if we did, we wouldn't exercise it.' But they've already decided they don't have authority." Questions were then raised by Justice Breyer and followed by Justice Stevens who asked, "I find it interesting that the scientists whose worked on that report said there were a good many omissions that would have indicated that there wasn't nearly the uncertainty that the agency described." Respondents also simply responded to questions of the Justices (second 25 pages of transcript).

Petitioners had a three minute rebuttal and there was considerable back and forth over the idea that EPA "looked at what we don't know without ever looking at what we do know" [about climate change]. Petitioners said, "...they [EPA] did not say there is too much uncertainty for them to form a judgment, which is the key issue. They said they preferred more certainty, but because of the nature of the endangerment standard, which emphasizes the important of regulating in the face of uncertainty, they have to at least explain why the uncertainty matters." At 11:02 AM argument was concluded and the case was submitted.

Access links to the 68-page transcript of oral arguments (
click here). Access a preview commentary on the oral arguments posted on the SCOTUS blog (click here). Access the WIMS Special Report on the case for document links and background information (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can American Farmers Feed The Growing Biofuel Industry?

Nov 21: The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) released a report entitled, Achieving Sustainable Production of Agricultural Biomass for Biorefinery Feedstock, that addresses the question, “Can American farmers feed the growing biofuel industry?” The report details the potential of cellulosic biomass as an energy resource and the promise of no-till cropping for greater residue collection. It also proposes guidelines and incentives to encourage farmers to produce, harvest and deliver sufficient feedstock to the growing biorefinery and biofuels industry in an economically and environmentally sustainable way. Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO said, "...Americans should feel confident that U.S. farmers can produce both abundant supplies of food for people and animals and environmentally responsible biofuels for transportation."

The report examines considerations for sustainable harvesting of agricultural residues – such as corn stover and cereal straws -- expected to be the near-term feedstocks for biorefineries. It also discusses the expected economic benefits for individual farmers who invest in the practices and equipment needed for sustainable harvests of these feedstocks. It further points out the need for infrastructure to deliver feedstocks from farms to biorefineries.

James Hettenhaus of CEA Inc., author of the report stated, “For the biofuel industry to expand, biorefinery operators must be confident that the supply chain for cellulosic feedstocks is robust, and farmers must be assured that they will benefit by adopting sustainable harvesting practices. As the biorefinery industry creates markets for crop residues, farmers will be more motivated to adopt practices that allow them to collect these residues while maintaining soil quality and controlling erosion. Recent successes have spurred an increase in adoption of no-till cultivation, but improved information is needed to convince farmers of the benefits.”

According to the report, ethanol production has more than tripled since 2000, with annual U.S. production expected to exceed 7 billion gallons by 2007. Sales of biobased plastics are also expanding. In order to meet the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) goal of 60 million gallons of ethanol production and 30 percent displacement of petroleum by 2030, new feedstock sources will be required to supplement high-efficiency production from grain. A robust sustainable supply chain for cellulosic biomass from agricultural residues and dedicated energy crops will be needed within a few years.

Nearly 1 billion dry tons of cellulosic biomass could be supplied by U.S. agricultural lands in the form of crop residues and dedicated energy crops. A growing list of companies has announced intentions to begin construction of cellulosic biorefineries. One challenge for the emerging cellulosic biomass industry is how to produce, harvest and deliver this abundant feedstock to biorefineries in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

The report indicates that corn stover [the stalks that remain after the corn has been harvested] has the largest potential as a near-term biorefinery feedstock, given its high per-acre yields. Current cropping practices require that most or all stover remain on the field to maintain soil health. As biorefinery construction creates markets for crop residues, farmers will be more motivated to adopt practices that lead to economic and sustainable removal. An environmental and economic ‘optimum’ removal will balance sufficient retention of residues to avoid erosion losses and maintain soil quality while using excess residue as biorefinery feedstocks.

Ultimately, growing demand for crop residues will likely prove a strong additional driver for the transition to more widespread no-till cropping. The benefits of converting to no-till cropping may justify the time to learn new methods and the $50,000 to $100,000 investment in new planting equipment. For instance, a 1,000-acre farm could expect to recover the additional costs through revenue from residue sales in as little as two years. With no-till cropping, sustainable collection of 30 percent of current annual corn stover production would yield over 5 billion gallons of ethanol and reduce net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 90 million to 150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually if burned as E85 fuel. To realize these benefits, additional infrastructure in collection, storage and transportation is needed to supply biorefineries.

The report concludes with a number of recommendations and says Congress should consider adopting supportive policy measures in the 2007 Farm Bill, including: Funding for accelerated development and production of one-pass harvesting equipment; Development and distribution of simple-to-use soil carbon models to allow farmers to compute how much crop residue can be collected without degrading soil quality; Assistance to farmers to encourage the transition to no-till cropping for biomass production; Incentives for the development and expansion of short line and regional rail networks; Funding for demonstration projects to streamline collection, transport and storage of cellulosic crop residue feedstocks; Development of a system to monetize greenhouse gas credits generated by production of ethanol and other products from agricultural feedstocks; and Funding for programs to help farmers identify and grow the most suitable crops for both food production and cellulosic biomass production.

Access the complete 28-page report (click here). Access an Executive Summary (click here). Access a Fact Sheet (click here). Access a 48 minute press conference video (click here). Access the BIO website for additional information (click here). Access WIMS 8/25/06 article, A Critical Look At The Future Of Bio-fuels, for additional perspective (click here). [*Energy]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Basel Convention COP8 Meeting On e-Waste Begins In Nairobi

Nov 27: The eighth meeting of the Basel Convention, Conference of the Parties (COP8) begins at the United Nations Environmental Program's (UNEP’s) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The COP8 meeting will run from November 27 to December 1, 2006, and will be hosted by the Government of Kenya, and will be the first time the Convention COP takes place in Africa. Some 120 governments are expected to meet at the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal which was adopted in 1989. The theme of COP8 will be “Creating innovative solutions through the Basel Convention for the environmentally sound management of electronic wastes”. On Thursday, November 30, the Conference will convene a high-level “World Forum on E-Wastes.”

Electronic wastes include, in particular, end-of-life computers, including printers and accessories and television sets. The theme was suggested because individuals and corporations, in many parts of the world, are buying great quantities of computers and television sets, which are often replaced after a short lifespan with new models as technology advances. According to an announcement in the COP8 Bulletin, on the one hand, the problem is how to deal with large new waste streams containing lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous materials. On the other, the issue offers an important and focused opportunity for raising awareness about the environmentally sound management of wastes and the integrated life-cycle approach.

Executive Director Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said, “Like the climate change treaties, the Basel Convention promotes clean technologies and processes that minimize unwanted by-products. It provides the tools and incentives we need to both empower and motivate the producers and consumers of goods that generate hazardous wastes to pursue innovative solutions. In this way the Convention also advances sustainable development and the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.”

According to a UNEP release, some 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated worldwide every year, comprising more than 5% of all municipal solid waste. When the millions of computers purchased around the world every year (183 million in 2004) become obsolete they leave behind lead, cadmium, mercury and other hazardous wastes. In the US alone, some 14 to 20 million PCs are thrown out every year. In the EU the volume of e-waste is expected to increase by 3 to 5 per cent a year. Developing countries are expected to triple their output of e-waste by 2010. Similarly, the use and disposal of mobile phones – which like PCs barely existed 20 years ago – is increasing dramatically. By 2008 the number of cell phone users around the world is projected to reach some two billion. Leading cell phone manufacturers are collaborating through the Basel Convention’s Mobil Phone Partnership Initiative to find better ways to reduce and manage this growing waste stream.

Governments are working through the Basel Convention to develop partnerships with industry, the public sector and civil society aimed at reducing hazardous wastes at source and promoting recycling and re-use. They are also taking advantage of the Convention’s expanding series of technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of specific kinds of wastes. The Nairobi meeting will consider adopting three new sets of such guidelines for the environmentally sound management of certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Many of these pollutants are amongst the most hazardous substances known to humanity. Guidelines on POPs wastes and on PCBs were finalized in 2004. The new guidelines focus specifically on DDT, on other obsolete pesticides, and on dioxins and furans.

Another agenda item concerns the dismantling of obsolete ships. The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has launched negotiations on a legally binding agreement that would clarify the legal requirements for scrapping obsolete ships. However, governments recognize that the Basel Convention also has a clear role to play in this issue.

The meeting also comes at the same time the UNEP has called on international financial assistance to be swiftly mobilized to pay for the clean up and rehabilitation of contaminated sites in Côte D’Ivoire as a result of new information indicating that the final costs of a dumping incident in August could reach into the millions of dollars. The Côte D’Ivoire case resulted when a ship sailing from Europe dumped wastes in the West African country. UNEP officials said urgent assistance to meet Côte D’Ivoire’s costs which they said is in the spotlight but emphasized that this was by no means a unique case.

Access a release from UNEP (
click here). Access the Basel Convention November 2006 Bulletin (click here). Access the Basel Convention website (click here). Access the COP8 website (click here). Access the COP8 meeting documents (click here). Access daily coverage of the COP8 meeting from Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB), published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (click here). Access a release and links to further information on the Côte D’Ivoire case (click here). [*Haz, *Toxics]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Week In Review Nov. 20-24, 2006

It was a short Thanksgiving week but these are the other articles, in addition to our top-line blog posts, that we covered this week in our daily WIMS environment report. Unlike other environmental newsletters, we don't leave you hanging for more information -- All of our articles contain links directly to the sources information. Plus, each daily issue also includes a complete summary and links to environmental Federal Register announcements and a U.S. EPA Daily Docket report. For complete information, or to try it at no charge (click here).

  • Final Rule On Pesticides & Clean Water Act Exemptions - Nov 20: U.S. EPA signed a final rule clarifying two specific circumstances where a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit is not required to apply pesticides to or around water. [*Water, *Toxics]
  • House Republican Moderates Say Drop House OCS Drilling Bill - Nov 20: Eighteen Moderate Republican Members of Congress released a letter today to House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) arguing that no further efforts should be made to promote the House bill on off-shore oil drilling (H.R. 4761). [*Energy, *Water]
  • House Science Leaders Say Stop Dallying On Nanotechnology - On Nov 15: Retiring House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and incoming Chairman (now Ranking Democrat) Bart Gordon (D-TN) issued a joint statement in response to a paper published the journal Nature on November 16, laying out a research agenda to understand the environmental, health, and safety implications of nanotechnology. [*All]
  • North Carolina Adopts Mercury Emission Regs - Nov 9: North Carolina's power plants must cut their mercury emissions substantially over the next 12 years or face shutting them down, under rules the State Environmental Management Commission (EMC) adopted. [*Air, *Toxics]
  • Industry Groups Urge Supreme Court To Stop “Forum Shopping” - Nov 20: The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) joined several other organizations and businesses in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court urging review of a decision by the West Virginia Supreme Court that they say would undermine efforts to prevent the Mountain State from being a magnet for asbestos and other mass tort cases. [*All]
  • Spitzer's Environment Chief To Be NRDC Executive Director - Nov 20: After nearly eight years in charge of all New York State environmental enforcement for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (Governor-elect), Peter Lehner has accepted a top position at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). [*All]
  • Great Lakes Regional Water Body To Meet - Nov 22: The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Regional Body announced that its next meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 2:00 PM (EST) in the 21st Floor Conference Room at 35 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago Illinois. [*Glakes]
  • Canada Calls For "Truly Global Solution To Combat Climate Change" - Nov 17: Honorable Rona Ambrose, Canada's new Minister of the Environment, outlined Canada’s achievements at the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Nairobi, Kenya. [*Climate]
  • World Bank’s Annual Environment Matters Report - Nov 8: The World Bank’s annual publication, Environment Matters, indicates that many developing countries are losing 4 to 8 percent of GDP annually due to environmental degradation. [*All]
  • Papers On CAFO Health & Environment Issues - Nov 14: The Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), a monthly journal of peer-reviewed research and news on the impact of the environment on human health, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has recently posted articles relating to environmental and health issues associated with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). [*Water, Air]
  • Report Explores Microbial Energy Conversion Technologies - Nov 17: A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) explores the details of microbial energy conversion technologies. [*Energy]
  • Pew Center Nairobi Summary & Related Reports - Nov 20: The Pew Center on Global Climate Change has released a summary of the just-completed United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Nairobi, Kenya and related reports. [*Climate]
  • "Building" Solutions To Climate Change - Nov 16: According to a new "In-Brief" by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change entitled, Building Solutions to Climate Change released at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Denver, energy used in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings produces about 43 percent of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, and these emissions are growing as Americans build more buildings and bigger homes. [*Climate]
  • Report Calls For EPA & USDA Coordination On Chesapeake Bay Watershed - Nov 21: U.S. EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General (USDAOIG), has recently issued a new report entitled, Saving the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Requires Better Coordination of Environmental and Agricultural Resources (Report No. 2007-P-0000 11/20/06).[*Water]
  • 6th Annual Great Lakes Water Conference - Nov 17: The University of Toledo College of Law and its affiliated Legal Institute of the Great Lakes will hold their 6th Annual Great Lakes Water Conference on December 1, 2006 at the University of Toledo College of Law. [*GLakes]
  • International Trade Conference On Great Lakes Compact and Agreement - Nov 21: The Institute for Trade in the Americas at Michigan State University College of Law has announced The Great Lakes Water Basin: International Law and Policy Crossroads Conference. [*GLakes]
  • Senator Inhofe Vows To Lead Opposition To Climate Change Legislation - Nov 16: Outspoken critic of human-induced global warming, James Inhofe (R-OK), current Chairman of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a press conference to "debunk global warming alarmism" and offer comments on the COP12/MOP2 meeting in Kenya [See related article above]. [*Climate]
  • Senators Warner & Inhofe Spar Over Environment Committee Position - Nov 17: U.S. Senator John Warner (R-VA), announced that he will seek election as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) in the next Congress, which begins in January. [*All]
  • Groups Sue To Force Climate Change Report - Nov 14: A coalition of conservation groups filed suit today against the Bush administration for refusing to complete a National Assessment of the impact of global warming on the environment, economy, human health and human safety of the United States. [*Climate]
  • EPA Announces 1,000th Superfund Site Cleanup - Nov 20: U.S. EPA announced that it has reached a major milestone -- the completion of construction at the 1,000th site under Superfund, the Federal government program that cleans up abandoned hazardous waste sites. [*Remed]
  • New Brownfield Papers From Northeast-Midwest Institute - Nov 20: The Northeast-Midwest Institute has released three new papers on brownfield cleanup and redevelopment; State Brownfield Tax Incentives; Local Brownfield Financing Tools: Structures and Strategies for Spurring Cleanup and Redevelopment; and State and Local Non-Cash Tools and Strategies for Enhancing a Brownfield Project's Bottom Line. [*Remed]
  • Sierra Club Guide To America’s Best New Development - Nov 16: The Sierra Club released its second annual, Guide to America’s Best New Development, featuring ten ground-breaking projects which they say "help keep our drinking water clean." [*Water, *Land]
  • Climate Change Concerns Rank High In Large Poll - Nov 16: According to a large, national Zogby Interactive poll that surveyed 19,356 adults and contained a margin of error of less than a percentage point (+/- 0.7 percentage points), half of Americans who voted in the mid-term elections said concern about global warming made a difference in who they voted for on Election Day 2006. [*Climate]
  • NRDC & Rock Group Launch "Move America Beyond Oil" Campaign - Nov 17: The rock band Green Day and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced a major new campaign, Move America Beyond Oil, to mobilize and empower music fans to demand clean, renewable energy solutions that break the nation's dependence on oil which they say threatens both national security and the environment. [*Energy]