Tuesday, July 31, 2007

First-Ever UN General Assembly Exclusive Meeting On Climate Change

Jul 31: In New York, the United Nations General Assembly is considering how to translate the growing scientific consensus on climate change into a broad political consensus for action during a two-day thematic debate that began today (July 31, 2007). The debate, which features prominent scientists, business leaders and United Nations officials, is expected to raise awareness and momentum for action on climate change, in preparation for the Secretary-General’s high-level event in September and for the climate change conference that will take place in Bali this December.

Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain, President of the General Assembly said, “This debate is a testimony to the political importance of addressing climate change. We will need political action if we are to protect our environment, secure our planet and safeguard our future, for our children and generations to come. This is one of the greatest challenges of our time.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported this year that the world’s temperature warmed by 0.74°C during the last century and that it is likely to rise 3°C in this century, unless measures are taken to reduce the rate of warming. The Panel found that the evidence that warming was occurring is unequivocal and that it is due to human activities.

The two-day meeting is featuring interactive panel discussions with climate change experts, a plenary debate with statements on national strategies and international commitments by Member States, as well as addresses by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and two of his Special Envoys on Climate Change, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and former Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo. The debate marks the first time the General Assembly has ever devoted a session exclusively to a discussion of climate change in plenary.

The debate is being made carbon neutral by offsetting emissions from the air travel to bring experts to the debate and the entire carbon-dioxide emissions of the United Nations Headquarters, by making investments in a biomass fuel project in Kenya. The fuel switch project in Kenya supports the use of agricultural waste instead of traditional fossil fuels to power a crude palm oil refinery, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating new economic opportunities for local farmers.

Access a UN release (click here). Access the UN website for the Informal Thematic Debate Climate Change as a Global Challenge (click here). Access links to news and live and archived webcasts of the meeting (click here). Access various media reports of the meeting (click here). [*Climate]

Monday, July 30, 2007

Hotly Contested Farm Bill Passes House 231-191

Jul 27: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) by a largely party-line vote of 231-191, which House Democrats say makes "historic investments in fruit and vegetable production, conservation, nutrition and renewable energy while maintaining a strong safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers." Agricultural Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said, “This Farm Bill is about much more than farms. It is about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and increasingly the fuel we will use. It assures that we will have a safe, strong food supply now and for years to come. I am proud of the balanced and forward-looking Farm Bill that we have passed supporting conservation, nutrition, rural, renewable energy, labor, and farm country.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. The 2002 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2007. Highlights of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) include: Investing more than $1.6 billion in priorities to strengthen and support the fruit and vegetable industry in the United States. A new section for Horticulture and Organic Agriculture includes nutrition, research, pest management and trade promotion programs. Implementing Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for fruit, vegetables and meat after years of delay. Key provisions that invest in rural communities nationwide, including economic development programs and access to broadband telecommunication services.

Also included are provisions: Providing farmers participating in commodity programs with a choice between traditional price protection and new market-oriented revenue coverage payments. Strengthening payment limits to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year (adjusted gross income) can’t collect conservation and farm program payments and closing loopholes that allow people to avoid payment limits by receiving money through multiple business units. Extending and making significant new investments in popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and many others.

And additionally: Making important new investments in renewable energy research, development and production in rural America. Rebalancing loan rates and target prices among commodities, achieving greater regional equity. Establishing a new National Agriculture Research Program Office to coordinate the programs and activities of USDA’s research agencies to minimize duplication and maximize coordination at all levels and creates a competitive grants program. Protecting and sustaining our nation’s forest resources.

The bill also includes legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) known as the Pollinator Protection Act, to provide $86.5 million in Federal funding for research and grant programs at the USDA over five years for work related to maintaining and protecting bee and native pollinator populations.

An amendment known as The Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment to the Farm Bill Extension Act, offered by a bipartisan group of legislators, and supported by environmental and conservation groups did not pass. The Amendment was designed to reduce and restructure farm subsidies and to increase spending on USDA nutrition, conservation and rural development programs. Scott Faber, Farm Policy Campaign Director for Environmental Defense issued a statement saying, "The pressure created by House reformers like Ron Kind [D-WI] and Jeff Flake [R-AZ] has forced House leaders to improve the bill, including new funding for conservation and nutrition. Nevertheless, many legislators missed an opportunity to do considerably more for their farmers and the environment by voting against the Fairness in Farm and Food Policy Amendment. Farmers are eager to share the cost of clean water and wildlife habitat and our farm policies should do more to reward -- not reject -- farmers when they volunteer to meet our environmental challenges."

Representative Kind issued a statement saying, "...by changing this Farm Bill debate, our reform coalition was able to push the Agriculture Committee to make additional investments in conservation and nutrition, and make some modest inroads on limiting subsidies to the largest and wealthiest farmers."

House Agriculture Committee Republicans were outraged and said they learned that the funding promised to the Committee to offset nutrition spending would be paid for by a tax increase, despite prior promises by the Democratic Leadership to the contrary. They said while the Committee approved bipartisan farm bill language last week, the tax provisions were added to the bill after Committee action without consideration or input from Republicans. Committee Republicans said they felt deceived by the Democratic Leadership.

In a release from Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), “After the Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan bill, the bill was hijacked by forces outside of our control and the tax increase proposals were introduced without any input from the Republican members of the Committee. Despite repeated assurances that the $4 billion in offsets would not come from tax increases, here we are looking at tax increases as the “funding mechanism” of choice employed by the Democratic Leadership. The House Agriculture Committee Republicans are united in our outrage at the inclusion of these tax provisions in what should be a bipartisan bill and the underhanded tactics employed by the Democratic Leadership to bypass this Committee and include these provisions in the bill. Earlier this week, my Republican colleagues were prepared to support the farm bill because we understand it needs bipartisan support; however, today, the farm bill has taken a very different form and is no longer about American agriculture but something far more political. Due to the inclusion of the tax increases, we are prepared to vote against this bill.”

In extensive comments from USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, he said, "The ranking member of the House Ag Committee last night spoke of betrayal and described a well that had been poisoned. Thankfully, many House members refused to drink from that poisoned well. They stood on their principles. They said, "no" to a provision crafted under a cloak of secrecy and then presented in the 11th hour. These members rejected the effort to paint another bull's eye on the back of the American farmer in the form of a $7 billion tax hike..."

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement concerning provisions included in the Farm Bill regarding outer continental shelf deepwater leases negotiated in 1998 and 1999. Domenici said the Farm Bill "is not the right place to decide this issue." Additionally he indicated, "while I agree that it is unfortunate that an error made by the Clinton Administration has cost the Federal Treasury revenues, a punitive provision such as the one in the House farm bill will not solve the problem." Finally, he said, "...imposing fees on domestic oil and gas production would only serve to raise the price of gasoline, and could cause a delay in leasing."

Access a release and summary from House Democrats (
click here). Access the House Farm Bill homepage for extensive information including the complete Committee bill and section by section details (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access a release from Representative Kind (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). Access a release from Representative Goodlatte (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a lengthy transcript of July 27, remarks from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and links to additional USDA information including extensive USDA Farm Bill comments (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 2419 (click here). [*All, *Agriculture]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

U-M Study Says Big 3 Would Benefit Under New CAFE Standards

Jul 24: A new study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI)indicates that Detroit automakers would gain market share and increase profits under proposed new fuel economy standards. Under the highest proposed fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon, General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Corp. stand to make $14.4 billion by 2017 -- at least $6 billion more than the competition. The study, The Impact of Attribute-Based Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards on the Automotive Industry, is the first rigorous analysis of the economic impacts of current legislative proposals to raise CAFE under the reformed "attribute-based" structure, according to Walter McManus, director of UMTRI's Automotive Analysis Division.

McManus' preliminary analysis evaluates three scenarios that represent alternatives under consideration in Congress. Whereas historic CAFE standards set one benchmark for every automaker, the reformed system fundamentally alters the impact of the standards on individual companies by setting standards based on a vehicle's attributes, such as size. McManus said, "The new, attribute-based CAFE is not one-size-fits-all. It takes into account the differences between vehicles and light trucks, which will have lower targets than cars. The new system doesn't penalize the Big Three for making large cars and trucks, but it does require that they improve the fuel economy of those vehicles. In so doing, they will gain market share and boost profits."

Among the study's findings: (1) An attribute-based CAFE would mean lower standards for Detroit's automakers. Under a size-based standard of 35 mpg, the Big Three could be required to meet a 33-mpg standard, while the rest of the industry would have to meet a 38-mpg standard. (2) An attribute-based CAFE yields greater gains in market share and profits for the Big Three than for the rest of the industry. Detroit automakers stand to receive more of the profit gains from higher CAFE because they will be making improvements that have higher market value and higher profit margins. (3) Higher CAFE standards yield higher profits. The strongest CAFE proposal currently under consideration in Congress (Markey-Platts) provides the greatest profit for Detroit automakers. GM, Ford and Chrysler have projected profits of $14.4 billion by 2017-- more than twice as much than the weaker proposal under consideration (Hill-Terry).

McManus said, "Many in Washington are discussing the old form of CAFE and are not directly dealing with the new reformed, attribute-based CAFE that legislative proposals would actually create. As the House of Representatives considers CAFE legislation, members should be aware of this important distinction and the impacts on costs and profits it will create."

Access a U-M release on the study (
click here). Access the complete 20-page report (click here). Access various media reports on the study (click here). [*Energy]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Group Releases Report & Map On "Factory Farms"

Jul 24: Food & Water Watch America (FWWA) issued a release saying that "rural communities from coast to coast are living with the human health and environmental costs of factory farms that cram together hundreds of thousands of animals in filthy conditions." The organization released a first-ever national map charting factory farms to illustrate how the facilities are concentrated in some regions of the country. FWWA Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said, "People working in these animal factories or those living nearby often suffer intensely from the odors and experience a range of negative physical effects. People thousands of miles away from factory farms are not immune to their impacts. Consumers eating the dairy, egg, and meat products produced there are faced with the consequences of antibiotic and artificial hormone use and other food safety problems."

Bob Lawrence, Johns Hopkins University professor and director of the Center for a Livable Future said, "Factory farms create serious human health and environmental risks [to] the communities where they locate. The millions of gallons of manure with the toxic chemicals they emit harm human health and cause hazardous air and water pollution.”

The FWWA factory farm map illustrates that confined animal feeding operations, the dominant form of livestock production in the United States, also known as CAFOs or factory farms, are found throughout the country. But some regions host a comparatively large share of intensive animal production – Iowa and North Carolina for hogs, California and Idaho for dairy cows, Texas and Kansas for cattle feedlots, Georgia and Alabama for broiler chickens, and Iowa and Ohio for egg production.

FWWA released a companion report, Turning Farms into Factories, that explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production. FWWA Assistant Director Patty Lovera said, "As industrial animal operations spread, they drive more family farmers out of business. Factory farming must end, and Congress and regulatory agencies need to make certain that food is produced in a sustainable way that does not harm people and the environment."

Access a lengthy release with recommendations and with links to additional information (click here). Access the interactive factory farm map website (click here). Access the 15-page report (click here). [*Agriculture]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

U.S. Chamber Launches Global Regulatory Cooperation Project

Jul 17: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched the Global Regulatory Cooperation Project (GRC) to combat what they say is the growing problem of in-country barriers (ICBs), or protectionist and divergent regulations that distort markets and undermine U.S. competitiveness. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said, "The growing interdependence of the world's economies requires a systematic approach to reducing adverse impacts on trade. The U.S. and its major trading partners must work to open markets and improve the flow of trade and investment through a vigorous agenda of enhanced regulatory reform and cooperation. The stakes are simply too high not to undertake this effort and succeed."

The Chamber said, a concerted effort over the last 50 years to eliminate tariffs and quotas around the world has helped generate prosperity. Despite this progress, "market-distorting regulations remain. Protectionist and divergent regulations have consequences every bit as costly as high tariffs." To reach its goal, the Chamber said it will pursue many avenues. These include advocating for the creation of a new White House coordinating office, prioritizing and monetizing the impact of ICBs, educating policymakers about the impact of regulations in global markets, creating new regulatory agreements, and strengthening existing trade agreements to successfully secure open and competitive markets. Donohue said, "Through this new initiative, the Chamber will bring together the business community, the U.S. government, and governments worldwide to urge that specific steps be taken to eliminate in-country barriers to trade. The goal is to ensure market access and a competitive marketplace for businesses and consumers."

Additional information on the GRC indicates, "This threat is urgent and growing. Increasingly burdensome and interventionist policies in the areas of intellectual property (IP) law, standards, (e.g. technology, environment, health, and safety), state owned enterprises, subsidies, competition policy, and investment regulations are hindering the operation of efficient markets and preventing some of the most successful and innovative companies from commercializing their technologies in foreign markets. Not only will companies be disadvantaged, but consumers are likely to face fewer choices and higher prices."

As part of the GRC launch, the Chamber and BUSINESSEUROPE, the largest European business organization, also announced a new strategic partnership to monitor the progress of the recently created U.S. and EU Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC). The council was established to address regulatory barriers between the transatlantic markets.

Access a release from the U.S. Chamber (
click here). Access more detailed information on the GRC including a webcast of the launch event and a powerpoint presentation (click here). Access a release on the BUSINESSEUROPE partnership and link to additional information (click here). [*All]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Disposal Options For Greater Than Class C Radioactive Waste

Jul 23: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it will evaluate disposal options for Greater Than Class C (GTCC) low-level radioactive waste (LLW) generated from the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, medical activities and nuclear research. DOE published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which will evaluate how and where to safely dispose of GTCC LLW that is currently stored at commercial nuclear power plants and other generator sites across the country [72 FR 40135-40139]. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires DOE to report to Congress on its evaluation of safe disposal options for this commercial waste.

The NOI includes a list of the preliminary disposal options for analysis in the EIS, describes the inventory of waste to be analyzed, identifies dates and locations of public meetings, and invites public comments on the proposed scope of the EIS.

GTCC waste is commercial LLW generated from activities conducted by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licensees and stored at sites where it is generated throughout the United States. DOE estimates the total stored and projected quantity nationwide of the GTCC LLW to be 2,600 cubic meters. GTCC LLW is grouped into three general waste types: (1) activated metals, which come from the maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plants; (2) radioactive sealed sources that are no longer used, including irradiation of food and medical purposes; and (3) miscellaneous waste, such as contaminated equipment from industrial research and development.

In addition to the GTCC LLW, DOE intends to include in the EIS evaluation certain LLW and transuranic waste that is generated from DOE activities, which may not have an identified disposal path, and has characteristics similar to GTCC LLW. This DOE waste is estimated to be 3,000 cubic meters.

Regulations require that GTCC waste be disposed of in a geologic repository unless alternate proposals for its safe disposal in a NRC licensed facility are approved by the NRC. DOE will evaluate a range of disposal alternatives in preparing the EIS to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition, DOE will submit a Report to Congress after the final EIS is complete and await Congressional action before making a decision on the disposal alternative or alternatives to be implemented by DOE as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The EIS will evaluate a range of disposal methods and locations that include: (1) geologic disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository; (2) enhanced near-surface disposal at the Hanford Site, Idaho National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Nevada Test Site, Oak Ridge Reservation, Savannah River Site, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant vicinity, or a generic commercial location; and (3) intermediate depth borehole disposal at the same locations identified in (2). The EIS will consider these alternatives individually and in combination.

DOE is inviting public review and comment on the proposed scope of the EIS and other information presented in the NOI during a 60-day comment period, which ends on September 21, 2007. All comments received during the public scoping period will be considered in preparing the GTCC EIS.

Access a release from DOE (
click here). Access the Greater than Class C EIS Information Center for complete information (click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). [*Haz/Nuclear]

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Rush To Ethanol: Not All BioFuels Are Equal

Jul 18: The future of biofuels is not in corn, says a new report released by Food & Water Watch, the Network for New Energy Choices, and the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment. The corn ethanol refinery industry, the beneficiary of new renewable fuel targets in the proposed energy legislation as well as proposed loan guarantee subsidies in the 2007 Farm Bill, will not significantly offset U.S. fossil fuel consumption without unacceptable environmental and economic consequences.

Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said, "Rural communities won't benefit from the Farm Bill becoming a fuel bill. In the long run, family farmers and the environment will be losers, while agribusiness, whose political contributions are fueling the ethanol frenzy, will become the winners.”

Scott Cullen, Senior Policy Advisor for the Network for New Energy Choices said, "Rising oil prices, energy security, and global warming concerns have led to today's 'go yellow' hype over corn ethanol. But all biofuels are not equal. Expansion of the corn ethanol industry will lead to more water and air pollution and soil erosion of America's farm belt, while failing to significantly offset fossil fuel use or combat global warming."

The report entitled, The Rush to Ethanol: Not all BioFuels are Equal, is a comprehensive review of the literature on the environmental and economic implications of pinning our hopes on corn ethanol to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Among other findings the report concludes that corn is the least sustainable biofuel feedstock of all raw materials commonly used. The report indicates, "The capacity of corn ethanol to offset U.S. fossil fuel use is extremely limited. Dedicating the entire U.S. corn crop to ethanol production would only offset 15 percent of gasoline demand. Conversely, modest increases in auto fuel efficiency standards of even one mile per gallon for all cars and light trucks, such as those passed by the Senate last month could cut petroleum consumption by more than all alternative fuels and replacement fuels combined."

The report also finds that, "Corn ethanol is the wrong biofuel for combating global warming. The most favorable estimates show that corn ethanol could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent to 28 percent, while cellulosic ethanol is estimated to offer a reduction of 87 percent compared to gasoline."

The groups indicate that both the farm and energy legislation being debated in Congress contain provisions that will set biofuels policy for years to come. They said, "While the politicians promise that America will be driving on switchgrass-based ethanol instead of gasoline in the next decade, the majority of the subsidies will go to corn-based ethanol refiners in the near term." They made recommendations on U.S. biofuels policy including proposed reforms to ethanol provisions of the 2007 Farm Bill.

For example, they say biofuels promotion policies should be tied to a sustainable fuel standard; ethanol funding should focus on research and development of cellulosic ethanol; no coal-fired ethanol refineries should be eligible for federal subsidies; and loan guarantees for refineries should be directed to locally owned facilities that benefit farmers and rural communities.

The report also cautions that there are concerns even with the large scale development of cellulosic ethanol. It is indicated, for example, that removing agricultural residues beyond what is needed to maintain and replenish soil organic matter (SOM) will exacerbate erosion; converting protected lands, such as those enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, to energy crops will significantly compromise the ecological benefits of land conservation; planting switchgrass has conservation value relative to corn row cropping, but is not a substitute for (in terms of wildlife protection and soil conservation) diverse, native habitats on protected lands; and technical processes for breaking down cellulose for ethanol refining likely would place increasing pressure on water resources.

The report concludes, "Ethanol is not the silver bullet that will solve the problems of rising oil prices, dependency on foreign oil, or greenhouse gas emissions. Biofuels, if produced sustainably, should instead be considered in the context of a comprehensive transportation model transformation based on energy efficiency and conservation, and focused on reducing fuel demand."

Access a release and link to the complete 78-page report and a report summary (click here). Access the Food & Water Watch website for additional information (click here). Access various eNewsUSA Blog posts regarding corn and ethanol issues (click here). [*Energy, *Biofuels, *Agriculture]

Thursday, July 19, 2007

NPC Report: Facing The Hard Truths About Energy

Jul 18: A major new report by the National Petroleum Council (NPC) says that, “Accumulating risks to the supply of reliable, affordable energy” require an integrated national strategy. The 422-page report entitled, Facing the Hard Truths about Energy: A Comprehensive View to 2030 of Global Oil and Natural Gas, delivered to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman indicates that, “Over the next 25 years, the United States and the world face hard truths about the global energy future,” that will require “all economic, environmentally responsible energy sources to assure adequate, reliable supply.”

Unique in its scope, the 18-month study of global energy to 2030 involved more than 350 experts from diverse backgrounds and organizations -- the majority of them from outside the oil and gas industry. Bodman said the report “is different from other studies. It usefully identifies strategies for consideration by policy and decision makers at all levels of government and industry." The report says, “The world is not running out of energy resources, but many complex challenges could keep the world’s diverse energy resources from becoming the sufficient, reliable, and economic energy supplies upon which people depend. These challenges are compounded by emerging uncertainties: geopolitical influences on energy development, trade, and security; and increasing constraints on carbon dioxide emissions that could impose changes in future energy use. While risks have always typified the
energy business, they are now accumulating and converging in new ways.”

The report identifies five core strategies for meeting future energy challenges: (1) Moderate the growing demand for energy by increasing efficiency of transportation, residential, commercial, and industrial uses. (2) Expand and diversify production from clean coal, nuclear, biomass, other renewables, and unconventional oil and natural gas; moderate the decline of conventional domestic oil and gas production; and increase access for development of new resources. (3) Integrate energy policy into trade, economic, environmental, security, and foreign policies; strengthen global energy trade and investment; and broaden dialogue with both producing and consuming nations to improve global energy security. (4) Enhance science and engineering capabilities and create long-term opportunities for research and development in all phases of the energy supply and demand system. (5) Develop the legal and regulatory framework to enable carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). In addition, as policymakers consider options to reduce CO2 emissions, provide an effective, global framework for carbon management, including establishment of a transparent, predictable, economy-wide cost for CO2 emissions.

One of the important, so-called "hard truths" about the global energy future over the next 25 years relates to the concept of "energy independence. The report says, "'Energy Independence' should not be confused with strengthening energy security. The concept of energy independence is not realistic in the foreseeable future, whereas U.S. energy security can be enhanced by moderating demand, expanding and diversifying domestic energy supplies, and strengthening global energy trade and investment. There can be no U.S. energy security without global energy security." Among five other "hard truths" identified are that "coal, oil, and natural gas will remain indispensable to meeting total projected energy demand growth;" and "Policies aimed at curbing CO2 emissions will alter the energy mix, increase energy-related costs, and require reductions in demand growth."

Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) commented on the report and said, "“This report underscores the urgency for America to move faster and go farther to secure its energy future. I agree with its conclusion that greater energy efficiency is required throughout all sectors of our economy. I also am pleased that the study recognizes the need to boost science and engineering and create long-term opportunities for R&D in all phases of the global energy system. The Senate faced and addressed those ‘hard truths’ in the energy bill (HR.6) [
See WIMS 6/22/07] it passed last month, and in the America COMPETES Act (S.761) that currently is being conferenced. Building a cleaner and more energy self-reliant future is a grand challenge for our country and I hope this study energizes us to keep making progress toward that important goal.”

The NPC is a Federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy. The sole purpose of the Council is to advise, inform, and make recommendations to the Secretary on matters relating to oil and natural gas or to the oil and natural gas industries. The Council membership of approximately 175 persons is selected and appointed by the Secretary of Energy. Individual members serve without compensation as representatives of their industry or associated interests as a whole, not as representatives of their particular companies or affiliations. In selecting the membership, special attention is given by the Secretary to assure a well-balanced representation from all segments of the oil and gas industries, all sections of the country, and from large and small companies. The Council also has members with interests outside of oil or gas operations, including representatives from academic, financial, research, Native American, and public interest organizations and institutions.

Access a release from NPC (
click here). Access report materials as distributed at July 18 Council meeting (click here). Access an Executive Summary (click here). Access the complete report (click here). Access a webcast archive of meeting and press conference (click here). Access the NPC website for additional information (click here). Access the complete remarks of Secretary Bodman (click here). Access a release from Senator Bingaman (click here). [*Energy]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Split Appeals Court Upholds EPA Agreement With Animal Feeding Operations

Jul 17: In the case of Association of Irritated Residents v. EPA, in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, Case No. No. 05-1177 (Consolidated with 05-1336, 05-1337, 06-1053, 06-1209, 06-1320, 07-1038). Community and environmental groups petition for review of agreements between EPA and animal feeding operations (AFOs). The agreements are designed to bring the facilities into compliance with the permitting and reporting requirements of three environmental statutes. Petitioners argue that the agreements are rules disguised as enforcement actions, that EPA did not follow proper procedures for rulemaking, and that EPA exceeded its statutory authority by entering into the agreements. In a split decision, the Appeals Court held that "the agreements do not constitute rules, but rather enforcement actions within EPA’s statutory authority." The majority dismissed the petitions for review because "exercises of EPA’s enforcement discretion are not reviewable by this court."

In a dissenting argument, Justice Judith Rogers says, "...by imposing a civil penalty on AFOs in the absence of individualized determinations of statutory violations, EPA has attempted to secure the benefits of legislative rulemaking without the burdens of its statutory duties. Our precedent does not permit the boundless stretching of Chaney [Heckler v. Chaney, 470 U.S. 821, 832-33 (1985)] to undercut the purposes of notice-and-comment rulemaking..."

In the majority opinion the Appeals Court defined the pollutants and the issue saying the pollutants – ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds – emanate from animal housing structures and areas used to store and treat manure... An AFO that releases these pollutants in sufficient quantities may be required to report them under CERCLA and EPCRA, and may be subject to various requirements under the Clean Air Act... An AFO emitting these pollutants in quantities below the statutory thresholds, however, has no obligation under the Acts to obtain permits or report its emissions.

Petitioners, a number of community and environmental groups, some of whose members live near AFOs argued that the AFOs emit particulate pollution and terrible odors, and that they attract hordes of flies that leave their droppings on everything from cars to outdoor furniture. As a result, petitioners claim that their members suffer effects ranging from reduced enjoyment of the outdoor portion of their property to adverse health effects such as respiratory and heart problems. Additionally, as long as the AFOs’ emissions are not definitively determined to be above or below the statutory thresholds, petitioners’ members suffer from the uncertainty of not knowing whether the AFOs’ emissions exceed legal limits, and not knowing how their long-term health may be affected. Because the Acts apply only to emissions above specified levels, EPA cannot enforce the statutory and regulatory requirements without determining an AFO’s emissions.

The present uncertainty hampers EPA’s ability to enforce the requirements of the Clean Air Act, EPCRA, and CERCLA against AFOs. To resolve the dilemma, EPA’s solution was to invite AFOs to sign a consent agreement under which each AFO will assist in developing an emissions estimating methodology. In exchange, EPA will not pursue administrative actions and lawsuits against the AFOs for a defined period of time. In the agency’s judgment, this is the “quickest and most effective way” to achieve compliance. To date, several thousand AFOs have signed Agreements. As data from the study is received, EPA will use it along with existing emissions data to develop scientifically sound tables or models for AFOs to estimate their emissions. Id. at 4960. In consideration for the AFOs’ assistance, EPA agrees not to sue participating AFOs for certain potential past and ongoing violations of the Acts for the duration of the study. Within 120 days after EPA publishes the new methodologies, however, the AFO must initiate compliance efforts such as applying for a permit. EPA predicts that this schedule will result in compliance by participating AFOs within about four years from the start of the study.

The Petitioners, however, believe that the AFOs should be forced to comply more quickly with the statutory requirements. They also argue that the procedures by which EPA entered into the Agreement did not afford them the meaningful opportunity for comment required by the Administrative Procedure Act. Petitioners challenged the Agreement before the agency while it was being developed, and now identify ten agency actions that they contend should be vacated.

In the dissent, Justice Rogers summarizes her opinion of the results of the agreement saying, "For a minimum penalty plus $2,500, an AFO can, under the enforcement protocol, avoid liability for any potential and ongoing violations of three statutes for at least a two-year period while EPA gathers and studies emissions data and for an indeterminate period thereafter while EPA develops and publishes new estimation methodologies... at no point are there repercussions beyond a possible future enforcement action if an AFO opts out of the agreement to be bound by the methodology regulations that EPA develops. Assuming no glitches, EPA’s endeavor to develop reliable methodologies could, according to the recommendations it has followed, take five, twenty, or even thirty, years. This is not an enforcement scheme at all, and is not a decision that Congress committed to agency discretion."

Access the complete opinion and dissent (
click here). Access EPA's website for the AFO Consent Agreement and Final Order for complete background documents (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort CAFO links for additional information (click here). [*Air, *Agriculture]

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Canadians Recycling More; But, Less Than U.S.

Jul 13: Access to recycling programs, and their use, have improved substantially in Canada since the mid-1990s, and Canadian households are recycling more waste than ever before, according to a report in the new online inaugural edition of EnviroStats, Statistics Canada's new quarterly bulletin on environmental and sustainable development statistics. According to the report, the vast majority of Canadian households that had access to recycling programs made use of them in 2006, regardless of household income, the occupants' education levels, or the type of dwelling. Among households that had access to recycling programs, about 97% of those in single-detached homes recycled waste, as did 95% of those in low-rise apartments.

In 2004, households produced 13.4 million tonnes of waste, according to the Waste Management Industry Survey. Of this amount, nearly 3.6 million tonnes went to recycling, a 65% increase from 2000. During this four-year period, the proportion of household waste that was diverted to recycling increased from 19% to 27%. In 2004, the average Canadian recycled 112 kilograms of material, compared with 71 kilograms in 2000. Recycling rates in 2004 ranged from a high of 157 kilograms per capita in Nova Scotia to a low of 54 kilograms in Saskatchewan. By comparison, an October 23, 2006, report from U.S. EPA, indicated Americans are recycling more and throwing away less and recycled 32 percent of its waste in 2005 -- a 2 percent increase from 2004 and a huge jump from 16 percent in 1990.

Access the Canadian summary analysis and link to the EnviroStats article (click here). Access complete details on the U.S. EPA report on an eNewsUSA Blog post (click here). [*Solid, *P2]

Monday, July 16, 2007

USDA Releases Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Research Plan

Jul 13: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan announced that USDA researchers have finalized an action plan for dealing with colony collapse disorder (CCD) of honey bees. The CCD is characterized by the sudden and mysterious die-off of honey bee colonies [See WIMS 4/4/07]. Buchanan said, "There were enough honey bees to provide pollination for U.S. agriculture this year, but beekeepers could face a serious problem next year and beyond. This action plan provides a coordinated framework to ensure that all of the research that needs to be done is covered in order to get to the bottom of the CCD problem."

The action plan coordinates the Federal strategy in response to CCD. It addresses four main components: (1) survey and data collection needs; (2) analysis of samples to determine the prevalence of various pests and pathogens, exposure to pesticides, or other unusual factors; (3) controlled experiments to carefully analyze the potential causes of CCD; and (4) developing new methods to improve the general health of bees to reduce their susceptibility to CCD and other disorders.

According to USDA, four possible causes for CCD are identified in the plan: (1) new or reemerging pathogens, (2) new bee pests or parasites, (3) environmental and/or nutritional stress, or (4) pesticides. Research will focus on determining which of these factors are contributing causes of CCD, either individually or in combination.

CCD became apparent as a problem beginning in the winter of 2006-2007 when some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. While colony losses are not unexpected during winter weather, the magnitude of loss suffered by some beekeepers was highly unusual. There is currently no recognizable underlying cause for CCD. The main symptom is finding no or a low number of adult honey bees present with no dead honey bees in the hive. Often there is still honey in the hive and immature bees (brood) are present. Pollination is a critical element in agriculture, as honey bees pollinate more than 130 crops in the United States and add $15 billion in crop value annually.

Access a release from USDA (click here). Access the 28-page action plan (click here). [*Wildlife]

Friday, July 13, 2007

EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Peer Review Process & Listserv

Jul 13: U.S. EPA provided formal notice in the Federal Register [72 FR 38577-38580] of the approach it intends to take for conducting peer reviews of the Tier 1 screening assays and Tier 2 testing assays that are being validated by the Agency's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), as well as EPA's approach for conducting the peer review of the Tier 1 battery. EPA also announced the availability of a listserver (Listserv) that will allow interested parties to sign up to receive e-mail notifications of EDSP peer review updates, including information on the availability of peer review materials to be posted on the EDSP website. The materials may include the documents to be peer reviewed, background documents, the charge to the peer reviewers, and reports that summarize the results of peer reviews.

In recent years, some scientists have proposed that certain chemicals might be disrupting the endocrine system of humans and wildlife. A variety of chemicals have been found to disrupt the endocrine systems of animals in laboratory studies, and compelling evidence shows that endocrine systems of certain fish and wildlife have been affected by chemical contaminants, resulting in developmental and reproductive problems. Based on this and other evidence, Congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, requiring that EPA initiate EDSP to screen pesticide chemicals and environmental contaminants for their potential to affect the endocrine systems of humans and wildlife.

Endocrine disruptor screening is currently proceeding on three fronts: 1) Performing scientific and technical testing needed to validate the endocrine disruptor screens and tests; 2) Setting priorities for selecting chemicals for initial screening and testing; and 3) Developing the policies and procedures the Agency will use to require testing. In June 2007 [See WIMS 6/11/07], EPA published a Pre-Publication Federal Register Notice announcing the draft list of initial pesticide active ingredients and pesticide inerts to be considered for screening under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The list includes 73 chemicals to be screened under Tier 1 of the program. Comments are due to EPA by September 17, 2007.

Access the FR announcement (
click here). Access information on the Listserv (click here). Access information on the peer review process (click here). Access the FR announcement of the list of 73 chemical (click here). Access EPA's EDSP website for further information (click here). [*Toxics]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Senate Hearing On Proposed Revision to the Ozone NAAQS

Jul 11: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, Chaired by Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), held a hearing entitled, Review of EPA’s Proposed Revision to the Ozone NAAQS. Witnesses testifying at the hearing included EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson; and representatives of Yale University, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Environmental Defense; City of St. Gabriel, Louisiana; and an Advisor on Toxicology and Human Health Risk Analysis.

On June 21, 2007, U.S. EPA announced its proposal to strengthen the nation's air quality standards for ground-level ozone, revising the standards for the first time since 1997 [See WIMS 6/21/07]. The proposal recommends an ozone standard within a range of 0.070 to 0.075 parts per million (ppm). EPA also is taking comments on alternative standards within a range from 0.060 ppm up to the level of the current 8-hour ozone standard, which is 0.08 ppm.

In opening remarks, Senator Carper said, "as the federal government strengthens national ozone standards, Congress must also act to strengthen national pollution-control strategies. Setting more stringent national air standards must be coupled with a national strategy to help states achieve cleaner air. The Clean Air Planning Act (CAPA, S. 1177) that I introduced this year provides a national solution by ensuring power plants reduce NOx emissions, which contribute to many states’ current ozone problems.” He said the 2007 version of CAPA would require power plants to drastically reduce their emissions of mercury, as well as the pollutants (nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide) that produce smog and acid rain. Carper’s CAPA bill also would set up a mandatory cap-and-trade program for utilities to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide, which causes global warming.

Full Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) also issued opening remarks highly critical of EPA. She said, "EPA Administrator Johnson has publicly stated that he agrees that the current smog standard is not protective. Unfortunately, as we will hear today, EPA’s ozone proposal allows for more pollution than the science supports, and it could even leave the current unsafe standard in place. The science overwhelmingly supports closing the door on the current standard once and for all. Instead of listening to science, the Administrator seems to be listening to the wish lists of polluting industries. The final ozone rule must protect clean air and public health, period. Anything less is unacceptable... EPA has failed to heed the unanimous scientific opinion of the expert review panel created under the Clean Air Act specifically to provide advice regarding these standards. EPA has said that it may set the standard at levels above those recommended by the review panel, and has agreed to take comments about retaining the existing standard. EPA did this even though we know now that ozone harms people at levels below the existing standard...

"...the independent review panel to say unanimously that 'there is no scientific justification for retaining the current [standard]…of 0.08 parts per million.' As a result, the panel 'unanimously recommends a range of 0.060-0.070 parts per million' as the ozone standard. Yet EPA proposed a standard in the range of 0.070-0.075 parts per million. EPA’s proposal is unacceptable."

Administrator Johnson testified that more than 1,700 studies examining the relationship between ozone exposure and human health and the environment have been published over the past decade since EPA last updated the ozone standards. He said, "I proposed that the current standard does not protect public health with an adequate margin of safety." He said the 1997 standard is 0.08 parts per million (ppm) -- effectively 0.084 ppm because of our rounding conventions.

He said, "After considering the advice from EPA’s scientists and our Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, I proposed to set a standard within the range of 0.070 to 0.075 ppm. This proposal marks the beginning of an open public comment process, during which EPA is inviting comment on a range of primary standard levels from as low as 0.060 parts per million up to the level of the current standard, 0.084 ppm... I fully welcome information from the public addressing whether there are other interpretations of the science or other public health policy judgments that would suggest different levels than those I put forward in the proposal."

Full Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) issued a statement saying, "If enacted, it [the proposed regulations] would have enormous consequences for our nation, with the disadvantaged among the hardest hit. Defenders of tightening the ozone standard will say that the law does not take into account the economic devastation, the loss of jobs, and ruined lives that will be left in its wake. But it should. And more to the point, we should... I find it odd that our government would force cities to comply with standards over which they have no control. As we regulate almost every city in America under this standard, even collectively they cannot control the outcome because you have included emissions from Mexico and Canada...

"Not a single county in Oklahoma is in violation of the ozone standards. Not a single one, Mr. Administrator. Yet your proposal will put virtually the entire State into non-attainment. How is it that EPA last year considered States like Oklahoma to have clean air that was healthy to breathe, yet next year it will consider the air unhealthy – even as their pollution levels continue to plummet?.. am asking you to see the enormous importance of this decision and to ensure that your decision does not go beyond what you are required to do -- that is, set the standard a level requisite to protect the public health. I also encourage you to focus more of your attention to where it should be -- getting areas with truly dirty air into compliance with the existing law.

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, member statements and a webcast (
click here). Access a release from Senator Carper (click here). Access legislative details for S. 1177 (click here). [*Air]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bingaman-Specter Cap & Trade Bill Introduced

Jul 11: Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced bipartisan legislation designed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while protecting the U.S. economy and interacting with key developing countries in their efforts to deal with the challenges of global warming. Original cosponsors include Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI).

The Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007 creates an economy-wide mandatory tradable-permits system that is modeled after the successful U.S. Acid Rain Program. By setting an annual target and allowing firms to buy, sell and trade credits to achieve that target, the program is designed to achieve what the sponsors say is "the most cost-effective carbon reductions across the economy." The target and technology incentives are designed to avoid harm to the economy while promoting a gradual but decisive transition to new, lower-carbon technologies.

Bingaman, Chair of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee said, “There is a great desire in our country to address the global warming crisis. I believe our legislation represents a strong and balanced approach. It will dramatically reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while also spurring new energy technologies, protecting the American economy and engaging developing nations in their efforts to address climate change. It’s a bipartisan approach that strikes the right balance and would return the U.S. to a position of global leadership.” Senator Specter said, “This legislation provides a deliberative and measured response to climate change. It brings together many interest groups in the fight against global warming, and I believe this is a bill that can be passed.”

The Low Carbon Economy Act is the product of a lengthy and open process. It reflects revisions of the Bingaman-Specter discussion draft on climate change, first circulated in January. That draft was the basis for hearings, analyses and extensive input from a broad range of stakeholders.

The environmental targets of the Act are to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) to 2006 levels by 2020 and 1990 levels by 2030. To limit economic uncertainty and price volatility, the government would allow firms to make a payment at a fixed price in lieu of submitting allowances. This “Technology Accelerator Payment” (TAP) price starts at $12 per metric ton of CO2-equivalent in the first year of the program and rises steadily each year thereafter at 5 percent above the rate of inflation. If technology improves rapidly and if additional policies such as fuel efficiency standards and a renewable electricity standard are adopted, the TAP option will never be engaged. Conversely, if technology improves less rapidly than expected and program costs exceed predictions, companies could make a payment into the “Energy Technology Deployment Fund” at the TAP price, to cover a portion or their entire allowance submission requirement.

Under the Act, GHG emissions from petroleum and natural gas are regulated “upstream” -- that is, at or close to the point of fuel production. For these fuels, regulated entities are required to submit tradable allowances equal to the carbon content of fuels produced or processed at their facilities. GHG emissions from coal are regulated “downstream” at the point of fuel consumption. Regulated entities that must submit allowances include petroleum refineries, natural gas processing plants, fossil fuel importers, large coal-consuming facilities and producers/importers of non-CO2 GHGs.

The proposal sets out a detailed methodology for distributing tradable emission allowances. At the beginning of the program, a majority of allowances are given out for free to the private sector. This amount is gradually reduced each year after the first five years of the program. In addition, 8 percent of allowances will be set aside annually to create incentives for carbon capture and storage and jump-start these critical technologies. Twenty-four percent of total allowances will be auctioned by the government to generate much-needed revenue for research, development and deployment of low- and no-carbon technologies, to provide for climate change adaptation measures and to provide assistance to low income households. Five percent of allowances are reserved to promote agricultural sequestration, and 1 percent of the allowances will reward companies that have undertaken “early actions” to reduce emissions before program implementation. Another 9 percent of the allowances are to be distributed directly to States, which can use associated revenues at their discretion to address regional impacts, promote technology or energy efficiency and enhance energy security.

To effectively engage developing countries, the Low Carbon Economy Act would fund joint research and development partnerships and technology transfer programs similar to the Asia Pacific Partnership. The bill also calls for a Five-Year Review Process that requires a reassessment of domestic action in light of efforts by our major U.S. trade partners and relevant scientific and technological developments. If there is sufficient international progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the President could recommend changes in the U.S. program designed to achieve further reductions that are at least 60 percent below current levels by 2050. If other countries are deemed to be making inadequate efforts, starting in 2020 the President could require importers from such countries to submit special emission allowances (from a separate reserve pool) to cover the carbon content of certain products.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee commented on the bill saying, Kyoto’s spectacular global failure should give any advocates of mandatory CO2 cap-and-trade schemes serious reasons to reconsider their support... Senator Bingaman’s bill would needlessly increase energy costs to already overburdened Americans without any measurable climate benefits. CO2 cap-and-trade schemes were exposed by a recent CBO study as creating massive wealth redistribution from the poor and working class to wealthier Americans..."

Environmental Defense commented on the bill saying, "The safety valve is a dangerous kill switch that could turn off the whole program. There are much better ways of managing costs than giving up on the environmental goal altogether. The safety valve in Senator Bingaman’s bill would put a price ceiling of $12 per ton of carbon dioxide under an emissions cap and trade system. If emissions allowances traded by companies reached the price ceiling, companies could buy unlimited cut-rate emissions allowances from the government – effectively jettisoning the bill's mandatory emissions limits."

Access a release from Senator Bingaman (
click here). Access links to extensive documentation on the bill including full text, summary, FAQ, section-by-section, briefings, slide show, side-by-side comparison to other bills, etc (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jobs Plus Economic Dollars With Effective Hog Waste Management

Jul 10: Environmental Defense released an economic analysis which they say shows that "North Carolina can gain the equivalent of 7,000 jobs and add $10 billion to its economy if the hog industry moves from open-air lagoons to innovative systems for treating swine waste." They said the study confirms that public and private investment in innovative waste systems will bring economic benefits for both farmers and the communities that surround them. The study provides further evidence that incentives and cost-share programs can help make new systems that protect the environment and public health affordable for farmers.

Joe Rudek, senior scientist with the NC office of Environmental Defense said, "This study should end debate over the affordability of cleaner systems and refocus efforts to get these systems on the ground and develop markets for byproducts. Bottom line is that the hog industry will remain economically strong, and communities will become healthier places to live and work. Now policy makers have reliable data showing that incentives and cost-share programs can help make cleaner waste systems affordable for all farmers. Public investment in cost-share programs will deliver big benefits to North Carolina, especially to the eastern region of the state."

Tanja Vujic, an attorney with the NC office of Environmental Defense said, "This is good news for hog farmers and for communities. Economic progress and environmental progress go hand in hand. Lawmakers now have solid evidence to guide them in making North Carolina the cleanest hog-producing state in the country. It's time to sharpen the pencils and design meaningful programs to put innovative systems into farmers' hands."

The study was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates in collaboration with the NC office of Environmental Defense. Wilbur Smith Associates is a leading provider of economics and market analysis consulting services to various government agencies, including federal, state, local and regional agencies, as well as private sector clients.

The primary focus of this study is to examine the macroeconomic impacts on North Carolina and specific regions of the state. This includes not only the direct economic effects but also the indirect economic effects stimulated by the installation of the innovative technology and the marketing of its byproducts. According to the report, "As North Carolina's hog farms install innovative technologies, they will incur costs associated with construction, operating and maintenance. They will also benefit from the net income generated from producing and selling byproducts such as fertilizers and alternative fuel from hog wastes. In addition, farms can receive credits as a result of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The study also considers the results for two financial support options, one where producers pay 25 percent of construction costs and the federal government pays the remainder (for example through a Farm Bill cost share program), and the other where producers pay all construction costs. The economic impacts are evaluated over the twenty years from 2007 to 2026.

The report concludes, "If all farms produced and sold container mix in bags (a soilless media used by nurseries and other plant rearing industries) an estimated increase of more than 141,000 jobs-years over 20 years would result (i.e. the equivalent of more than 7000 jobs on average) and the net present value over 20 years of an increase in gross regional product of approximately $10 billion."

Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access the complete 45-page report (click here). [*Water, *Air, *Climate]


Monday, July 09, 2007

Six Major CEO's Launch “The CEO Water Mandate”

Jul 5: In an extraordinary call to action, a group of chief executive officers representing some of the world’s largest corporations urged their business peers everywhere to take immediate action to address the emerging global water crisis. The CEOs of six corporations -- The Coca-Cola Company, Levi Strauss & Co., Läckeby Water Group, Nestlé S.A., SABMiller, and Suez -- announced their call to action at the 2007 Global Compact Leaders Summit in Geneva, Switzerland [See WIMS 7/5/07]. The CEOs called the initiative “The CEO Water Mandate” and said it is a project designed to help companies better manage water use in their direct operations and throughout their supply chains.

E. Neville Isdell, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company said, "There is huge potential for the private sector to make a real, positive and lasting difference in protecting and preserving fresh-water resources. We are pleased to come together with other business leaders to endorse the UN Global Compact CEO Water Mandate as another indicator of our desire to establish a truly water-sustainable business on a global scale”. According to the Human Development Report 2006, a water crisis is deepening around the world. More than 1 billion people lack clean water for drinking, and 2.6 billion lack sanitation. Water experts predict that the situation will worsen in many parts of the world in the coming decades as a result of factors including urbanization and population growth, increasing food production, changing consumption patterns, industrialization, pollution, and climate change.

As the six business leaders state in The CEO Water Mandate: “It is increasingly clear that lack of access to clean water and sanitation in many parts of the world causes great suffering in humanitarian, social, environmental, and economic terms and seriously undermines development goals. The private sector has an important stake in helping to address the water challenge faced by the world today”. The CEO Water Mandate asks companies to make progress in six areas: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement, and transparency. More specifically, endorsers of The CEO Water Mandate pledge to set water-use targets, assist suppliers with water-efficiency practices and partner with governments, policy makers and community groups to address water shortages and sanitation.

The CEO Water Mandate was developed in partnership with the UN Global Compact and the Government of Sweden. The six endorsing CEOs are: E. Neville Isdell, The Coca-Cola Company; John Anderson, Levi Strauss & Co.; Martin Hagbyhn, Läckeby Water Group; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestlé S.A.; Graham Mackay, SABMiller; and Gérard Mestrallet, Suez.

Access a release on the CEO Water Mandate (
click here). Access an overview and link to the 11-page CEO Water Mandate and list of signers (click here). Access the UN Global Compact website for additional information (click here). [*Water]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Report Looks At Energy Efficiency & CO2 Emissions In Manufacturing

Jun 25: The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), released a new publication which it says contributes to the G8 “Plan of Action for Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable development” [See WIMS 6/7/07]. The report, Tracking Industrial Energy Efficiency and CO2 Emissions, shows that efficiencies differ widely between countries producing similar products and using similar processes, which is a clear indication of the potential for further efficiency gains. This finding is of global significance as manufacturing industry accounts for 36% of world CO2 emissions.

Claude Mandil, Executive Director of IEA said, “Manufacturing industries in OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries have made great progress in energy efficiency during the last 25 years, but important opportunities to reduce emissions remain. Good information and analyses of trends in energy and emissions -- or indicators -- are vital. This study elaborates a set of powerful new indicators that look at energy use per unit of physical product. This approach has been developed in close collaboration with industry experts."

Much of the efficiency differences that have been identified can be attributed to the age of plants. New plants tend to be more efficient than older ones. As a consequence, the most efficient industries can in some cases be found in emerging economies where production is expanding. For example, the most efficient aluminum smelters are in Africa, and Brazil is among the most efficient cement producers. Similarly, some of the most efficient steel plants can be found in China. Industrial energy efficiency is consistently high in certain IEA member countries such as Japan, which has had active efficiency policies for decades.

Another notable finding is that China accounts for four fifths of the growth in industrial production and CO2 emissions during the past 25 years. China is now the single largest industrial producer of a wide range of energy intensive industrial commodities such as aluminum, ammonia, cement and steel. The rapid growth of production in less efficient developing countries has limited the average efficiency gains worldwide.

Mandil said, “Improving industrial energy efficiency is an approach that can help developing countries in their economic growth and contribute to a significant global greenhouse gas reduction. We know a lot about the efficiency of specific industrial processes, but much less about the overall energy efficiency of conventional factory systems and product life cycles. This includes motor and steam systems, combined heat and power generation and the efficiency of materials and resource use. The analysis identifies even greater potential for energy savings in these areas. This offers important additional opportunities for decision makers to reduce the energy and CO2 footprint." The study suggests a technical efficiency improvement potential of 18-26% for the whole manufacturing industry, if process improvement options and systems options are taken into account. Because the estimate does not consider the potential role of new technologies, the impact could be much larger.

Access a release from IEA (click here). Access an 11-page Executive Summary (click here). Access ordering information for the complete 324-page report (click here). Access other related IEA reports, workshops and information related to the G8 Plan (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

UN & Business Meet At Global Compact Leaders Summit

Jul 5: The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged action on climate change and other shared international concerns in an address to the Global Compact Leaders Summit -- a gathering in Geneva of business leaders, government ministers, and heads of civil society groups committed to UN principles. The Summit is taking place from July 5-6. Ban told those assembled from over 90 countries, "This Summit is an important opportunity to take our partnership forward -- in learning as well as action. Over these two days, we must make an honest appraisal of what the Global Compact has achieved, renew our commitments, and chart a courageous course for the next three years."

The Secretary-General stressed the importance of joint actions to address climate change and announced the planned launch of a Business Leadership Platform on "Caring for Climate" -- a joint project with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). He recalled that since the Global Compact was launched in 2000 with 47 companies, it had grown to what is today the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative, consisting of 4,000 stakeholders in 116 countries.

Participants, who are split almost evenly between developed and developing economies, "have taken thousands of actions in support of the Global Compact's ten principles" which relate to the environment and anti-corruption as well as human and labor rights. Ban said, "business is still too often linked with exploitative practices, corruption, income equality and other barriers that discourage innovation and entrepreneurship." He called on representatives from business, trade unions, academia and governments to do their part to ensure the Compact's success, and pledged his full support in this endeavor "so that we fulfill the Global Compact's aspirations and vision."

The Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship by partnering the private sector with other social players to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. It is not a regulatory instrument but relies instead on what it terms "public accountability, transparency and the enlightened self-interest of companies, labor and civil society to initiate and share substantive action in pursuing the principles upon which the Global Compact is based." The official theme -- Facing Realities: Getting Down to Business -- will be addressed within the initiative's unique multi-stakeholder orientation.

At the Summit, the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), were unveiled to the UN Secretary-General and participants. PRME are a framework for academic institutions to advance the broader cause of corporate social responsibility and a call for the incorporation of universal values in curricula and research. The initiative was developed by an international task force of sixty deans, university presidents and official representatives of leading business schools. It was co-convened by the United Nations Global Compact, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), and Net Impact.

Also at the Summit, a report released by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks, showed that among six sectors covered – energy, mining, steel, food, beverages, and media – companies that are considered leaders in implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies to create sustained competitive advantage have outperformed the general stock market by 25 per cent since August 2005. In addition, 72 per cent of these companies have outperformed their peers over the same period.

In advance of the Summit the Global Compact launched the Global Business Leadership Platform on Climate Change and invited all business participants to join by becoming signatories to the statement, “Caring for Climate: The Business Leadership Platform.” A company’s decision to endorse the Statement requires CEO-level support and a significant number of business leaders have expressed their support. A list of company supporters is available (See link below). The statement is based on the principles that there is now a consensus that the climate change agenda will affect business and society in fundamental and transformative ways; the importance of early action is increasingly recognized; and as climate change has become a fundamental issue for society, the need for leadership and voluntary action is becoming ever more urgent.

Access a release from the UN (
click here). Access the Summit website (click here). Access the UN Global Compact website for additional information (click here). Access a release on the PRME (click here). Access a release on the Goldman Sachs report and other reports released at the Summit (click here). Access details on the Caring for Climate statement including the statement, background and list of supporters (click here). [*All, *Climate]

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

EU Hearing On CO2 Emission Controls On New Cars & Vans

Jul 3: The European Commission has scheduled a public hearing on July 11, 2007 on the implementation of its new strategy to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars and vans sold in the European Union (EU). The new strategy, proposed in February 2007 [See WIMS 2/7/07], aims to reach the EU objective of 120 g/km average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars by 2012 by means of an integrated approach. The public hearing seeks to gather views and ideas from all interested stakeholders on the possible options available for designing the various legislative components of the integrated approach.

In a release the Commission said that road transport generates about one fifth of the EU's CO2 emissions, with passenger cars responsible for around 12%. Although recent years have seen a significant improvement in vehicle technology -- particularly in fuel efficiency, which translates into lower CO2 emissions -- this has not been enough to neutralize the effect of increases in traffic and car size. While the EU-25 reduced overall emissions of greenhouse gases by almost 5% between 1990 and 2004, CO2 emissions from road transport rose by 26% despite an average new-car CO2 emissions reduction of 12.4% between 1995 and 2004.

The European Commission said it is committed to addressing these rising emissions. In this context, on February 7, 2007, it published two communications on the future strategy to reduce CO2 emission from cars and on the future regulatory framework in the car sector. As outlined in the communications, the Commission has decided to pursue an integrated approach with a view to reaching the EU objective of 120 g/km average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new cars by 2012. The public hearing is designed to bring together the key stakeholders to gather views on the implementation of the Commission’s proposed strategy and to receive input and ideas on the possible options available for designing the future legislative framework, including the economic, social and environmental aspects of these options. An internet based public consultation will continue until July 15, 2007.

A June 29, EurActiv article indicates that while the EU's 27 environment ministers agree on the need to reduce car emissions in order to tackle climate change, they remain divided on how the burden of these reductions should be spread out among the industry (See link below).

Access a release from the Commission with links to all pertinent documents (click here). Access the EurActiv article with links to additional information (click here). [*Climate]