Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Among the measures recommended in the new scientific report on coping with climate change are improved transportation systems, tighter building codes and financing for energy-efficiency investments. The report notes that the technology exists to “seize significant opportunities around the globe” to reduce emissions and provide other economic, environmental and social benefits. It calls on policy makers to improve efficiency in the area of transportation through measures such as vehicle efficiency standards, fuel taxes, and registration fees or rebates that favor purchase of efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.
The report also calls for improved design and efficiency of commercial and residential buildings through building codes, standards for equipment and appliances, incentives for property developers and landlords to build and manage properties efficiently, and financing for energy-efficiency investments, the report states. It also recommends expanding the use of biofuels through energy portfolio standards and incentives to growers and consumers. The report outlines a role for the international community, through the UN and related multilateral institutions, including helping countries in need to finance and deploy energy efficient and new energy technologies while accelerating negotiations to develop a new international framework for addressing climate change and sustainable development.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in its role as Secretariat to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), sought to facilitate contributions by the scientific community to the work of the Commission. and invited Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, to convene an international panel of scientific experts to prepare the report outlining the best measures for mitigating and adapting to global warming. To carry out this task, the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development (SEG) was formed and asked to consider innovative approaches for mitigating and/or adapting to projected climate changes, and to anticipate the effectiveness, cost, and implementation of possible response measures. The members of SEG and the reviewers served as individuals and not as representatives of their governments or institutions.
The SEG concludes, "We believe that these recommendations are consistent with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and will be broadly endorsed by the expert community, which agrees that both near- and long-term efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change need to be intensified, while at the same time strengthening efforts to promote equitable and sustainable economic development... We include in the Executive Summary the steps needed to build a practical and workable path to a healthier planet, and we, and the scientific community, stand ready to help in the design of an effective and workable set of policies and programs."
Access a release from the UN (click here). Access an expanded release from the UN Foundation (click here). Access the 12-page executive summary (click here). Access the 166-page full report (click here). Access the Scientific Research Society, an international honor society for research scientists and engineers, with more than 500 chapters and 60,000 members in North America and around the world (click here). Access the UN Foundation website (click here). Access the UN DESA website (click here). [*Climate]
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The intent of the framework is to define a systematic and disciplined process that can be used to identify, manage and reduce potential environmental, health and safety risks of nano-scale materials across all lifecycle stages to help ensure that nanotechnology’s benefits are maximized while the potential risks are effectively assessed and managed. According to an announcement, one of the main goals in the development of the framework has been "to do so in an open, transparent manner with other groups, companies and institutions who are also working to assess the potential risks and benefits of nano-materials." They said feedback will enable them to refine the framework to ensure that the final version - scheduled to be released this summer - is a user-friendly, comprehensive tool for businesses, governments, non- profits, university interests and others.
The partnership to develop the Framework began on September 1, 2005. A multidisciplinary team was assembled, drawing from both organizations, with expertise in biochemistry, toxicology, environmental sciences and engineering, medicine, occupational safety and health, environmental law and regulations, product development, and business development. During the development the organizations have solicited and incorporated feedback on the overall approach from a wide and international range of stakeholders (large and small companies, government agencies, universities, and public-interest groups). Pilot-testing of the Framework is now underway on several materials and applications, at various stages of development, to ensure that our approach is flexible, practical, affordable, and effective.
Access the release announcement (click here). Access the 87-page Nano Risk Framework website to access the draft Framework and submit feedback (click here). [*All]
Monday, February 26, 2007
Environmental Defense said, "Today is a truly historic day in the fight against global warming." As part of the sale agreement, among other things the new company would: terminate plans for the construction of 8 of 11 coal-fired power plants TXU had hoped to build; stop TXU's plans to expand coal operations in other states; endorse the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) platform, including the call for a mandatory Federal cap on carbon emissions; and reduce the company's carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 [See WIMS 1/22/07 & WIMS 2/13/07].
Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense issued a statement saying, "The story behind today's announcement began last April when TXU announced alarming plans to build 11 dirty coal-fired power plants in Texas. From the start, most business and political experts considered it a done deal. Texas Governor Rick Perry got personally involved, fast-tracking the permits and declaring "we're not going to let these bureaucrats jerk us around." Even our own experts in our Texas office considered the odds of stopping the plants as remote, at best.
"But the size of the proposal left us no choice but to aggressively oppose the plants. The 11 coal-fired plants would spew 78 million tons of global warming pollution per year, more than twice the expected carbon reductions from the historic California Clean Cars legislation. So, Environmental Defense mobilized an all-out grassroots campaign targeting TXU and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Nearly 50,000 Environmental Defense members and activists took action, sending emails, attending public hearings across Texas and submitting public comments against the plants. More than 50 community and environmental groups signed on to our letter urging TXU to change its course.
"We took out television, billboard and online ads. We reached out to allies in the Texas state legislature and we worked the legal and financial angles to keep the pressure on TXU. Our efforts were designed to achieve three goals: Stop as many of the plants as possible; Prevent TXU from exporting its coal plant build-out to other states; and Send a national message to other utility companies that the TXU plan is one they should reject."
According to a detailed account of the negotiations published in the New York Times, the deal was brokered through William K. Reilly, the former administrator for U.S. EPA under President George H. W. Bush, who works for Texas Pacific Group. TXU announced this morning that its board had approved the buyout bid for about $45 billion -- the largest in history.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who was also involved in the negotiations issued a on Saturday, February 24. David Hawkins, a former top EPA official with more than 35 years experience in utility environmental issues, who heads NRDC’s Climate Center said, “What we’re witnessing is the beginning of the end of investments in old-fashioned coal plants. These are very big investors coming to the energy table with very big ideas about where the competitive market is heading. Strategies to fight global warming and save energy are crucial for anyone hoping to succeed in today’s electricity industry.”
Access a release from Environmental Defense that links to a breaking news story in the New York Times (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access the StopTXU website (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]
Friday, February 23, 2007
According to the report, assessments convey scientific information to decision makers. Global change assessments are a deliberative process through which experts come to consensus, based on available scientific information, on specific questions related to the environment. Assessments can have a significant impact on public policies, technology development, and future research directions. The report presents a comparative analysis of eight past global change assessments, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. The report indicates that common components of effective assessments include superior leadership, extensive and well designed engagement with interested and affected parties, a transparent and effective science-policy interface, and well articulated communication strategies.
The eight assessments analyzed in the report include: the international Stratospheric Ozone Assessments; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); Global Biodiversity Assessment (GBA); National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts; Arctic Climate Impact Assessment; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; German Enquete Kommission on “Preventive Measures to Protect the Earth’s Atmosphere”; and A set of 21 U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Products.
The report concludes that assessment reports can go only so far to support decision making. To become even more valuable to society, assessments should develop decision support tools. These tools should make use of scientific analysis at the regional and local level where decisions are made. Assessments should provide tools that enable decision makers to link the information provided with their specific needs. For example, the report says, the impacts of climate change on individual watersheds could be assessed by using global-scale projections of future changes in temperature and precipitation as input to regional-scale hydrological models. Using such an approach, those areas or sectors that are highly vulnerable could be selected for a more focused assessment that also take into account pertinent local information such as projected changes in population and land use.
Access a 4-page report in brief (click here). Access a 22-page Executive Summary report (click here). Access links to the complete 206-page report in full or by sections (click here). [*All, *Climate]
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Calling climate change "an urgent problem," the statement lays out a proactive framework for global action to mitigate risks and impacts while also meeting the global need for energy, economic growth and sustainable development. It outlines cost-effective technologies that exist today and others that could be developed and deployed to improve energy efficiency and help reduce CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases in major sectors of the global economy. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Chair of the Global Roundtable on Climate Change and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University said, "Leaders from key economic sectors and regions of the world have reached a consensus on the path forward to reduce human-made climate change. This initiative points the way to an urgently needed global framework for action. I congratulate the Roundtable signatories, and thank them for their bold leadership and contribution to global progress on this critical issue."
According to a release, the Climate Change Statement released has received endorsements from critical stakeholders and independent experts including leading corporations from all economic sectors; smaller firms with very different perspectives and concerns; an array of civil, religious, environmental, research and educational institutions; and a distinguished list of world-leading experts from the fields of climate science, engineering, economics and policy studies.
One key signatory, U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), plans to present the Joint Statement to Congress as a possible point of action on curbing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Snowe said, “The Global Roundtable on Climate Change Statement is a vital tool to help all nations shape sound public climate change policy, and, as a participant in the Roundtable, I am acting as a conduit for getting the Joint Statement before the U.S. Congress to assist it in coalescing around and adopting scientifically informed and cost effective targets to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. must engage with a significant level of commitment so that the world’s largest emerging economies will participate in adopting a global strategy."
Some of the signatories include Air France, Alcoa, Allianz, American Electric Power, Bayer, China Renewable Energy Industry Association, Citigroup, DuPont, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, ENDESA, Eni, Eskom, FPL Group, General Electric, Iberdrola, ING, Interface, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Munich Re, NRG Energy, Patagonia, Ricoh, Rolls Royce, Stora Enso North America, Suntech Power, Swiss Re, Vattenfall, Volvo, World Council of Churches, World Petroleum Council, and many others.
Since 2004, the diverse members of the GROCC, an initiative of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, has convened more than 100 high-level stakeholders and experts twice a year to explore areas of potential consensus regarding core scientific, technological, and economic issues critical to shaping public policies on climate change. The Joint Statement is an outcome of these dialogues, and was built on careful discussion over the past three years.
The statement specifically calls on governments to set scientifically informed targets for global GHG concentrations, including ambitious but achievable interim goals for CO2, and to take immediate action in pursuit of those targets; to develop mechanisms that place a price on carbon emissions that is reasonably consistent internationally and across sectors in order to reward efficiency and emission avoidance and encourage innovation; establish policy initiatives to address energy efficiency and de-carbonization in all sectors; encourage the development and rapid deployment of low-emitting and zero-emitting energy and transportation technologies; and provide incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and harmful land management practices; as well as other related actions.
Access a lengthy release (click here). Access an Executive Summary of the Statement (click here). Access the complete 26-page statement which includes the complete list of signers from industry, institutions, and individual leaders from Business, Civil Society, Government, and Research Institutions (click here). Access the NextGenerationEarth website where individuals can sign the Climate Statement of Principles (click here). Access the GROCC website (click here). Access the Earth Institute website (click here). [*Climate]
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
John Hocevar, Greenpeace Oceans Specialist said, "Consumers have a right to know that the products they buy to supposedly improve their health could actually be putting them at risk. Omega Protein’s products should either be cleaned-up or pulled off the market. In the meantime, consumers seeking the benefits of Omega-3 oils should consider safer sources such as flaxseed oil or algae-derived sources of Omega-3s.” The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) laboratories -- an executive agency and research body within the government of the United Kingdom -- performed the analysis for the Greenpeace Research Laboratories located at the University of Exeter.
Hocevar said, “We first became concerned about Omega Protein after watching them do everything they could to avoid regulation of their fisheries. Not only does the company lack concern for the impacts of their fishing practices on the environment but there is a similar lack of concern for the contents of the supplements they sell.”
Bruce Silverglade, legal director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) said, "These newest findings point to the need for the White House to let the Food and Drug Administration finalize regulations setting manufacturing standards for dietary supplements. The White House Office of Management and Budget has effectively prevented the FDA from finalizing these rules, known as ‘Good Manufacturing Practices,’ for more than five years."
According to the more detailed laboratory analysis report, "Within the USA, the FDA does apply an overall tolerance limit of 2 ppm for PCBs in fish and shellfish for consumption. On this basis, PCB concentrations recorded for the fish oil dietary supplement analyzed in the current study fall significantly (10 to 20 times) below that level (at between 0.092 and 0.195 ppm, depending on the summation method employed). However, a far lower ‘screening value’ of 20 ppb (0.02 ppm, determined against Aroclor standard mixtures of PCBs) is set by the US EPA for fish consumption by recreational fishers, based on an assumed average daily intake of 12g of material and an ‘acceptable’ cancer risk level of 10-5. Against this screening value, the potential dietary intake from even a single menhaden oil capsule taken each day can be seen to be quite significant. Intake from consumption of more than one capsule each day would exceed the EPA guideline, even before consideration of contributions from other sources." Omega recommends a dose of “1-2 capsules with a meal up to 3 times daily or as directed by a healthcare professional".
Access a release from Greenpeace (click here). Access the detailed laboratory results and a video of Omega Protein, Inc. operations (click here). [*Toxics]
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
According to the statement, "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.
"The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. The average temperature of the Earth is heading for levels not experienced for millions of years. Scientific predictions of the impacts of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies. These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.
"Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive the task will be.
"History provides many examples of society confronting grave threats by mobilizing knowledge and promoting innovation. We need an aggressive research, development and deployment effort to transform the existing and future energy systems of the world away from technologies that emit greenhouse gases. Developing clean energy technologies will provide economic opportunities and ensure future energy supplies.
"In addition to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential that we develop strategies to adapt to ongoing changes and make communities more resilient to future changes.
"The growing torrent of information presents a clear message: we are already experiencing global climate change. It is time to muster the political will for concerted action. Stronger leadership at all levels is needed. The time is now. We must rise to the challenge. We owe this to future generations."
A footnote to the statement indicates, "The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the joint National Academies' statement."
Access the statement (click here). Access the AAAS Climate Change Resources website for additional information (click here). Access the AAAS website (click here). [*Climate]
Friday, February 16, 2007
Water is an integral element of energy resource development and utilization. It is used in energy-resource extraction, refining and processing, and transportation. Water is also an integral part of electric-power generation. It is used directly in hydroelectric
generation and is also used extensively for cooling and emissions scrubbing in thermoelectric generation.
The report points out that as the U.S. seeks to replace imported petroleum and natural gas with fuels from domestic sources, such as biofuels, synfuel from coal, hydrogen, and possibly oil shale, the demand for water to produce energy fuels could grow significantly.
Freshwater resources and overall freshwater availability become strained from limitations on supply and increasing domestic, agricultural, and environmental demands. Few new reservoirs have been built since 1980, and fresh surface-water withdrawals have leveled off at about 260 billion gallons per day. Many regions depend on groundwater to meet increasing water demands, but declining groundwater tables could severely limit future water availability. Some regions have seen groundwater levels drop as much as 300 to 900 feet over the past 50 years because of the pumping of water from aquifers faster than the natural rate of recharge.
If new power plants continue to be built with evaporative cooling, consumption of water for electrical energy production could more than double by 2030 from 3.3 billion gallons per day in 1995 to 7.3 billion gallons per day. Consumption by the electric sector alone could equal the entire country’s 1995 domestic water consumption. Consumption of water for extraction and production of transportation fuels from domestic sources also has the potential to grow substantially. Meanwhile, climate concerns and declines in groundwater levels suggest that less freshwater, not more, may be available in the future.
Access the complete 80-page report (click here). Access the Sandia National Laboratories, Energy-Water Nexus website for additional information (click here). [*Energy, *Water]
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The event is generally regarded as an informal forum by policy makers from G8 nations, and major developing nations like China and India, to develop ideas on a global-warming pact to follow the Kyoto treaty after 2012. At the meeting, European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas called for the international community to begin negotiations urgently on a comprehensive global climate change treaty that would succeed Kyoto when its targets expire in 2012. Dimas said, ”It is crucial that the United States and all other major emitters participate in these efforts. The very grave threat that climate change poses is global, and only a global solution can avert it. I am very encouraged that interest is rapidly increasing in the United States for using emissions trading as a key tool to limit greenhouse gas emissions, as we are doing in Europe."
The forum brings together delegates from the G8 (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United States, Canada and Japan) plus 5 countries (China, India, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa), which together produce 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. A release from the World Bank says, "The debate at the Legislators Forum on Climate Change isn’t about whether climate change is real -- the forum follows on the heels of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which concluded there was a 90 percent chance human actions have been a major contributor to global warming [See WIMS 2/2/07]. It’s about how best to reduce the world’s risk of severe impacts from a changing climate and get countries to work together to stop the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."
Among the featured speakers were U.S. Senators Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Craig, Lieberman, McCain, and Snowe. Other keynote speakers participating in the Forum included: Angela Merkel, German Chancellor (by video); Sir Nicholas Stern, Head of Economic Service, UK Treasury; Paul Wolfowitz, President of the World Bank; Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group; Stavros Dimas, European Environment Commissioner; Rt Hon David Miliband MP, UK Secretary of State for Environment; Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary For Democracy & Global Affairs US State Department; Jim Rogers, President and CEO of Duke Energy; Valli Moosa, President of the World Conservation Union (IUCN); Ms Yuriko Koike, National Security Advisor to the Japanese Prime Minister; and Congressman Mr. Ye Rutang, former Chinese Minister for Environment Protection and current Vice Chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress Committee on Environment & Resources Protection.
Access a media advisory and meeting agenda (click here). Access the COM+ website for additional information (click here). Access the GLOBE website for additional information (click here). Access a release from the World Bank (click here). Access a release from the European Commission (click here). Access various media report on the forum (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). [*Climate]
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
The NAM energy strategy proposal provides "a blueprint of action items for the Congress" that: Set goals for U.S. energy efficiency; Raises energy intelligence of the American public; Strengthens research and development projects; Streamlines existing statutes and regulations; Increases our nation's electricity generation; and, Diversifies and increases domestic energy supply.
NAM said that according to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. energy production will increase by 27 percent over the next 25 years. However, they said energy consumption is forecast to grow by 34 percent during that time -- leaving the United States more dependent on energy imports and vulnerable to higher energy prices. Engler said, "Higher energy prices hurt manufacturing especially hard because manufacturing is heavily dependent on energy. But it also hurts those with the most to lose -- senior citizens, small businesses, and families. No one can escape the resounding effects of high energy costs -- from the cost of filling up the family vehicle, to rising prices at your local grocery store, to the loss of good paying American jobs, or the rising cost squeeze in family budgets."
Engler said a critical component of increasing energy security is raising the "energy intelligence" of Americans through education, internships, and research programs. The NAM strategy also calls for more research and development into new energy programs and efficiencies.
Some details of the plan call for: establishing a national voluntary goal of decreasing the "energy intensity" of the US economy by 2.5 percent per year – an increase of more than 30% over recent historical averages; expanded use of carbon sequestration technology; promoting the use of FutureGen power plant technology, which removes all pollutants from the burning of coal and captures CO2, allowing for its injection into the sea or ground; a national Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan program providing at least $1.5 billion per year for 4 years split between residential, commercial and industrial activities; promoting Combined Heat and Power (CHP), Distributed Generation (DG) technologies; and enhancing nuclear’s role in our energy future with several program including dealing with the impasses over a permanent nuclear waste repository by authorizing interim storage of spent fuel at existing DOE facilities and other sites.
The Plan also calls for expanding legally accessible production areas into the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and offshore, especially onto the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS); promotion of biofuels and other renewable energy sources including waste-to-energy products to increase domestic supplies and fuel diversity; and incorporating the Clear Skies Act of 2005 (S. 131) as introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) on January 23, 2005 and include an opt-in for manufacturers in a market-oriented, cap-and-trade program.
Engler said, "A healthy economy and a healthy energy policy go hand in hand. When we talk energy, we talk about our economy. We have to be smarter about the choices we make, think beyond the near-term, and invest in our energy future. As Congress struggles with these issues, the NAM provides a clear checklist of what must be done to ensure affordable supplies, future development and greater efficiency. Our nation's energy security will be a deciding factor in the elections of 2008."
Access a release from NAM (click here). Access a 14-page white paper on the plan (click here). Access a fact sheet on the plan (click here). Access links to additional information on the plan (click here). [*Energy]
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Witnesses testifying at the hearing included representatives from: Dupont; Competitive Enterprise Institute; World Resources Institute; Friedman Billings Ramsey & Company, Inc; PG&E Corporation; Continental Resources, Inc.; and BP America.
Senator Boxer said, “I want to thank these companies for agreeing to a roadmap to address the global warming challenge. This is one of those moments in history when all sides are coming together for the common good. Now the political will needs to coalesce as well. These leading corporations have said that dealing with climate change will create economic opportunities, new markets and new technologies. As business leaders that successfully compete in national and worldwide markets, they should know. I continue to believe we should approach this problem with hope and not fear. I am an optimist, and I believe we can solve this problem, and that in doing so, we will be better for it in every way.”
Ranking Member, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) issued a statement saying, "...the subject of the day is mandatory carbon cap and trade. More and more, companies that wish to profit on the backs of consumers are coming out of the woodwork to endorse climate proposals in the hope of forcing customers to buy their unnecessary products or to penalize their competitors. Some companies are coming together in an attempt to profit from government intervention where they have failed in the marketplace... These companies will gain market-share against their competitors while the economy flattens and jobs are sent to China... These proposals [cap and trade] will do little and cost much. Moreover, as White House spokesman Tony Snow stated last week, 'there is a carbon cap system in place in Europe, we are doing a better job of reducing emissions here.'"
Access the hearing website for links to the testimony and a webcast (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). [*Climate]
Monday, February 12, 2007
At the country level, results are extremely skewed, with severe impacts limited to a relatively small number of countries. For these countries (such as Vietnam, A. R. of Egypt, and The Bahamas), however, the consequences of SLR are potentially catastrophic. For many others, including some of the largest (such as China), the absolute magnitudes of potential impacts are very large. At the other extreme, many developing countries experience limited impacts. Among regions, East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa exhibit the greatest relative impacts. To date, there is little evidence that the international community has seriously considered the implications of SLR for population location and infrastructure planning in developing countries. The authors hope that the information provided in this paper will encourage immediate planning for adaptation.
Access an abstract and links to the 51-page paper (click here). [*Climate]
Friday, February 09, 2007
Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene. EPA estimates annual health benefits from the particulate matter reductions of the vehicle standards to total $6 billion in 2030. The estimated annual cost for the entire rule is about $400 million in 2030. The new MSAT standards will take effect in 2011 for gasoline, 2010 for cars, and 2009 for fuel containers.
Under the fuel program, EPA is requiring that, beginning in 2011, refiners must meet an annual average gasoline benzene content standard of 0.62 percent by volume (vol%) on all their gasoline, both reformulated and conventional, nationwide. The national benzene content of gasoline today is about 1.0 vol%. Under the vehicle program EPA is adopting new standards to reduce non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) exhaust emissions from new gasoline-fueled passenger vehicles. Under the fuel container program EPA is establishing standards that will limit hydrocarbon emissions that evaporate from or permeate through portable fuel containers such as gas cans. Starting with containers manufactured in 2009, the standard limits evaporation and permeation emissions from these containers to 0.3 grams of hydrocarbons per gallon per day.
Environmental groups including Earthjustice, U.S. PIRG and Sierra Club reacted to the rule with concerns about a controversial credit trading provision. Emily Figdor of U.S. PIRG said, "The good news is that today's rule is expected to limit benzene levels nationwide, which should make the air safer in many places. The bad news is that EPA will allow benzene trading. That means some refineries won't reduce the benzene content of their gasoline, and may even increase it. Having benzene levels go down in Newark, New Jersey won't do much for the health of people in Portland, Oregon." Marti Sinclair of Sierra Club said, "We're happy that EPA has addressed this important public health issue at last. Even if it did take a federal court case to make the agency act. But it is disappointing that EPA would undermine its own program by adopting this dangerous trading scheme." Earthjustice attorney Jim Pew said, "Refineries have the know-how to reduce benzene emissions to RFG levels throughout the country. We know that the cancer risk from benzene is unacceptable in virtually every American city. Given that we can reduce the risk levels for all Americans, you have to wonder why EPA would choose not to do it."
Access an EPA release (click here). Access links to a pre-publication copy of the final rule, a fact sheet, a Summary and Analysis of Comments and the entire Regulatory Impact Analysis (click here). Access the EPA Docket ID -- EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0036 -- using the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) (click here). To access the docket, which contains supporting and related information, or for viewing comments, click on "Advanced Search"; then "Docket Search" and paste in the Docket ID and click on Submit. Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). [*Air]
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Senator Stevens indicated, “I am concerned about the human impacts on our climate. This is why I introduced S. 183, the Improved Passenger Automobile Fuel Economy Act of 2007 (CAFE). Some think that’s a strange thing coming from me. But I believe that it’s essential to raise the question about how much of these effects are being caused by man and how much of it is really a natural phenomenon. This bill requires a fuel economy standard of 40 miles per gallon for passenger automobiles manufactured in the model year 2017. I believe we do have the technology base to do that."
Senator Inouye said, "...before we can even begin debate on climate change, we much investigate the numerous allegations that our federal scientists are being constrained from conveying their research findings and conclusions. Such allegations are serious. To deny federal scientists the right to speak, to change the findings of their work, or to deny the release of their work, basically creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear, is a great disservice to the public."
Senator Kerry said, "It is crucial that the best available science on climate change be disseminated to the public. Under the Bush Administration, however, this science has been increasingly tailored to reflect political goals rather than scientific fact. The examples of interference are stunning -- from deleting key words including, global warming, warming climate, and climate change from press releases to changing agency mission statements to de-emphasize climate research and denying media access to prominent climate scientists. The abuse must stop."
Testimony was received by representatives of Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Acting Chairman, Climate Change Science Program; University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Climate Dynamics and Prediction Group, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; an Environmental Consultant; Climate Science Watch, Government Accountability Project; and Chemistry and Earth System, School of Physical Sciences, University of California.
Access the hearing website with links to all testimony, the majority opening statements and a webcast of the hearing (click here). Access the statement of Senator Stevens posted separately (click here). [*Climate]
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said, "This strategy is the most ambitious approach ever and the most ambitious approach worldwide towards the development of a low-carbon economy -- which is vital for averting climate change. It is the concrete proof of EU leadership in the field. This will require efforts from all sectors, but also open up enormous opportunities for the EU car industries. I call on the EU's car industries to preserve their long term competitiveness by taking the innovative lead, in the interest of consumers and workers alike."
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented saying, "Cleaner, more efficient and affordable cars will help reduce carbon dioxide in the EU, enable us to achieve our Kyoto targets, save energy and encourage innovation. All Member States will need to pull their weight in implementing the measures necessary and have a major responsibility to encourage the purchase of fuel-efficient cars as well as discourage fuel-inefficiency."
The Commission also agreed upon a comprehensive strategy for the European car industry, to keep the manufacturing of motorcars viable on a long term basis, at prices affordable to consumers. The strategy encompasses a variety of areas, such as reduction of administrative burdens, environmental sustainability, road safety, trade and overseas markets and research. The automotive industry is a major pillar of the European economy, representing 3% of the European GDP and 7% of employment in the manufacturing sector. The Commission said, “Today we have put forward our strategy to create favorable conditions for an innovative and thriving European car industry and to keep jobs in Europe. We have hit the right balance between the need for global competitiveness and progress in safety and environmental performance. We put the emphasis also on research and development to carry the industry well into the 21st century."
Access a European Commission release on the CO2 reduction strategy with links to details (click here). Access a Q&A document on the CO2 strategy (click here). Access a release on the Commission's car industry strategy (click here). [*Climate]
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Senator Boxer identified a number of items to be discussed including: Weakening the Community’s Right to Know (Toxic Release Inventory, TRI); Closing EPA Libraries; Eliminating Perchlorate Testing; Cutting Scientists Out of the Process of Setting Air Quality Standards; The Lead Air Quality Standard; and Increasing Toxic Air Pollution. She said, "The pattern of these year-end actions is striking-the public interest is sacrificed and environmental protection compromised. Who gains from these rollbacks? Just look at who asked for them, like Big Oil and the battery industry. EPA’s actions and proposed actions make it clear who EPA is protecting. The purpose of these oversight hearings is to remind EPA who they are truly accountable to-the American people."
Ranking Member, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) made a series of comments on each of the six items addressed at the hearing. In brief summary, Inhofe said he thought the NAAQS process reforms announced by EPA were "a major step in the right direction." He said the NAAQS staff paper on lead is an example of a document written by mid-level EPA staff, without input from high-ranking officials. On the subject of perchlorate, he said, "...it is critical that EPA fully understand how much exposure comes from drinking water and how much comes from natural and other sources before we set out creating an unfunded mandate on our local drinking water systems..." He applauded EPA on recent efforts to reduce the compliance burden associated with the Toxic Release Inventory. On the library issue he said, "...all information held at these closed libraries and the other remaining libraries remains available to EPA employees and the public online."
Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Stephen Johnson, U.S. EPA Administrator; U.S. Government Accountability Office; Chief Counsel for Advocacy for the U.S. Small Business Association; Natural Resources Defense Council; Baltimore Glassware Decorators; American Library Association; Air Lawyer with Holland and Hart; and Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released testimony entitled, Environmental Information: EPA Actions Could Reduce the Availability of Environmental Information to the Public (GAO-07-464T, February 6, 2007). GAO testified on the TRI issue and said, "Although we have not yet completed our evaluation, our preliminary observations indicate that EPA did not adhere to its own rulemaking guidelines in all respects when developing the proposal to change TRI reporting requirements. We have identified several significant differences between the guidelines and the process EPA followed... We believe that the TRI reporting changes will likely have a significant impact on information available to the public about dozens of toxic chemicals from thousands of facilities in states and communities across the country."
Access the hearing website for links to testimony and webcast which should be available soon (click here). Access a opening statement from Senator Boxer (click here); and a separate release (click here). Access the opening statement from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access the 36-page GAO testimony document posted separately (click here). [*All]
Monday, February 05, 2007
The proposed 2008 spending plan includes $549.5 million for enforcement operations, the largest amount ever dedicated to that Agency responsibility. It is a $9.1 million increase over the fiscal year 2007 amount. This budget also features a major effort to restore, improve and protect four of the nation's most important water assets -- Chesapeake Bay ($28.8 million); Puget Sound ($1 million); Gulf of Mexico ($4.5 million); and the Great Lakes ($56.8 million).
The budget also requests an additional $687.5 million for clean water grants and $842.2 million for drinking water grants. The budget also includes: $117.9 million for EPA's climate change programs; $44 million for Energy Star programs; $5 million for the Asia Pacific Partnership; and $4.4 million for Methane to Markets to promote methane recovery and use at landfills, coal mines and natural gas facilities; $35 million for National Clean Diesel Campaign grants; $123.8 million for Clean Air and related research; and $10.2 million for Nanotechnology Research.
The budget requests a total of $1,245 million for Superfund and $162.2 million for the Brownfields program. Of the total funding requested for Superfund, $617 million and 1,080 workyears are for Superfund cleanups, including Federal facilities. In FY 2008, EPA and its partners anticipate completing 30 Superfund cleanups at NPL sites to achieve the overall goal of 1,060 total construction completions by the end of FY 2008. $72 million is requested for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program.
Access a release (click here). Access the detailed 61-page budget overview (click here). Access overall EPA budget information and previous year's reports (click here). Access the overall Federal government FY 2008 proposed budget information including details for various agencies and departments (click here). [*All]
Friday, February 02, 2007
The report was produced by some 600 authors from 40 countries. Over 620 expert reviewers and a large number of government reviewers also participated. Representatives from 113 governments reviewed and revised the Summary line-by-line during the course of this week before adopting it and accepting the underlying report. The report builds upon past IPCC assessments and incorporates new findings from the past six years of research. Scientific progress since the Third Assessment Report (TAR) is based upon large amounts of new and more comprehensive data, more sophisticated analyses of data, improvements in understanding of processes and their simulation in models, and more extensive exploration of uncertainty ranges. In summary, some of the major findings of the report indicate:
- Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years (see Figure SPM-1). The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land-use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture.
- The understanding of anthropogenic warming and cooling influences on climate has improved since the Third Assessment Report (TAR), leading to very high confidence that the globally averaged net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m-2.
- Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level.
- At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones.
- For the next two decades a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.
Two other reports, part of the overall 4th Assessment Report, will be forthcoming: The Working Group II report on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" will be released in April 2007; and The Working Group III "Mitigation of Climate Change" will be released in May 2007.
White House Agrees Human Activities Caused Most Warming
The U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy of the Executive Office of the President issued a fact sheet and related information on the IPCC Working Group I report. According to the fact sheet, "The United States joined 112 other nations in finalizing and approving a landmark climate change science report today in Paris, France... The Working Group I portion of the Assessment Report released today represents a comprehensive assessment of the most recent state of knowledge of the physical science of climate change."
Dr. Sharon Hays, the leader of the U.S. delegation at the meeting and Associate Director/Deputy Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said, “This Summary for Policymakers captures and summarizes the current state of climate science research and will serve as a valuable source of information for policymakers. It reflects the sizeable and robust body of knowledge regarding the physical science of climate change, including the finding that the Earth is warming and that human activities have very likely caused most of the warming of the last 50 years.”
The U.S. delegation to the Working Group I meeting included climate science experts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of State. The delegation's participation in the meeting followed significant U.S. involvement in the generation of the report, as numerous U.S. climate scientists were involved in its drafting and expert review. In addition, a NOAA climate expert, Dr. Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado served as co-chair of Working Group I.
Other key U.S. officials also reacted to the report. U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said, "The Administration welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was developed through thousands of hours of research by leading U.S. and international scientists and informed by significant U.S. investments in advancing climate science research. Climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions. Through President Bush's leadership, the U.S. government is taking action to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging the development and deployment of clean energy technologies here in the United States and across the globe."
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said, “I congratulate my colleagues at the IPCC for their years of research, and look forward to using their scientific findings as we continue America’s efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Through our commitment to sound science and innovation, the Bush Administration has built a solid foundation to address the environmental challenges of the 21st Century.”
Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said, “Without the diligent efforts by our scientists in the United States, these advances in knowledge of our planet’s climate would not have been possible. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program continues to set a high standard world-wide for the pertinent research it conducts. I would like to thank Dr. Susan Solomon and all of the scientists that contributed to the IPCC report.”
Access the complete Summary for Policymakers (click here). Access a webcast audio of the press conference presentation (click here). Access the IPCC website for additional information (click here). Access the Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the IPCC meeting including a summary that will be available on 2/4/07 (click here). Access a release from the United Nations (click here). Access the U.S. fact sheet on the IPCC report (click here). Access a second fact sheet on the U.S. role in studying climate change (click here). Access a third fact sheet outlining the Bush record on addressing climate change (click here). [*Climate]
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director said, "This report moves the discussion from whether we can achieve the necessary reductions in global warming pollution with energy efficiency and renewable energy in this country to exactly how we should do it. Fully three-quarters of the reductions in global warming pollution called for by Dr. Hansen and other scientists can be realized using energy efficiency, wind, and solar -- all technologies we have today. The rest can be made with geothermal, biofuels, biomass, and other renewables. We already have the best, cheapest, and cleanest solutions at our disposal; now we just need the market and our political leaders to put them to work."
The peer-reviewed report, Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.- Potential U.S. Carbon Emissions Reductions from Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency by 2030, is authored by scientists from ASES, many of whom are employed by the nation’s national research laboratories. It identifies the renewable energy resources available across the U.S. that can be used to transition away from the dirty, fossil fuel-based energy economy of yesterday toward the clean energy technologies that will fuel the economy of tomorrow. The report brings together detailed analyses of various smart energy solutions, including energy efficiency solar (both photovoltaic and concentrating), wind, biofuels, biomass, and geothermal.
To develop the report, ASES recruited a volunteer team of top energy experts. These experts produced a series of nine papers that examined how energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies can reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions -- the main cause of global warming. ASES collected the nine papers together and added an overview of the studies to create the report. It covers energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry, as well as six renewable energy technologies: concentrating solar power, photovoltaics, wind power, biomass, biofuels, and geothermal power. The results indicate that these technologies can displace approximately 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions annually by the year 2030 -- the magnitude of reduction that scientists believe is necessary to prevent the most dangerous consequences of climate change.
On January 24, 2007, Greenpeace USA and other climate and energy advocates and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), released a similar report showing that the United States could address global warming, without relying on nuclear power or so-called “clean coal” [See WIMS 1/25/07]. The Greenpeace report detailed an energy scenario in the United States where nearly 80% of electricity could be produced by renewable energy sources and carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced 50% globally and 72% in the U.S.
Access a Sierra Club release (click here). Access a release from ASES (click here). Access the ASES Climate Change website for additional information (click here). Access the complete 204-page report (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]