Friday, November 30, 2007

12 States Sue EPA Over Toxics Release Inventory Regs

Nov 28: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that New York and eleven other states are suing the U.S. EPA over new regulations which they say deny the public access to information about toxic chemicals in their communities. The other states include: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont. According to a release the suit seeks to overturn the weakened reporting requirements and provide the public with the access they had in the past. The states indicated that EPA rules will allow thousands of companies to avoid disclosing information to the public about the toxic chemicals they use, store, and release into the environment by rolling back chemical reporting requirements. The suite was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Case No. 07 CV 10632).

Attorney General Cuomo said, "The EPA’s new regulations rob New Yorkers -- and people across the country -- of their right to know about toxic dangers in their own backyards. Along with eleven other states throughout the nation, we will restore the public’s right to information about chemical hazards, despite the Bush administration’s best attempts to hide it.” The changes to the reporting requirements affect the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program. The TRI is the only comprehensive, publicly-available database of toxic chemical use, storage, and release in the United States. Under the TRI, companies are required to provide the EPA and the states in which the company’s facilities are located with information critical to public health and safety, and the environment. The information includes the types and amounts of toxic chemicals stored at the company’s facilities and the quantities they release into the environment.

In December 2006 [See WIMS 1/2/07], EPA issued revised regulations that the states say significantly weakened the TRI by reducing the amount of information companies must report for most of the toxic chemicals covered by the program. They said that for most toxic chemicals, the EPA’s new regulations increased by 10-fold the quantity of chemical waste a facility can generate without providing detailed TRI reports. They also said EPA also weakened TRI reporting requirements for the vast majority of the most dangerous toxic chemicals -- those that are persistent and bioaccumulative -- including chemicals such as lead and mercury. As a result, "thousands of companies can now avoid filing a complete report on harmful chemicals."

According to the release, under the former regulations, TRI information became a powerful tool used by communities to protect public health and safety, and the environment: Citizen groups used TRI data to monitor companies in their communities; State and local government entities used TRI data to track toxic chemicals; Labor organizations used TRI data to ensure the safety of their workers; Companies used the TRI program to learn of the toxic pollution they had created; this resulted in companies voluntarily reducing their toxic chemical releases by billions of pounds nationwide. "The EPA’s rollback of TRI regulations now limits the ability of labor organizations, environmental and public health advocates, community groups, and individuals to effectively monitor and respond to the presence of toxins in their communities. The EPA’s rollback particularly impacts low-income communities and communities of color, many of which are burdened with the siting of industrial facilities."

On February 6, 2007, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a hearing on, Oversight of Recent EPA Decisions, which included the weakening the Community’s Right to Know, Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). 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. GAO released its testimony entitled, Environmental Information: EPA Actions Could Reduce the Availability of Environmental Information to the Public (GAO-07-464T, February 6, 2007). [See the link to the eNewsUSA Blog posting below to link to the hearing website, GAO report and related information]

Access a lengthy release from Attorney General Cuomo with numerous quotes from various groups and organizations supporting the lawsuit (click here). Access the 99-page complaint filed by the 12 states (click here). Access the eNewsUSA Blog post on the Senate hearing (click here). Access EPA's TRI final "burden reduction rule" website for related background documents (click here). [*Toxics]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Major Multi-Interest Report On GHG Reduction Options

Nov 29: McKinsey & Company and The Conference Board released a major study on the options for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the United States. Published on the eve of the thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-13), December 3-14, 2007, in Bali, Indonesia, the report is based on in-depth analysis of more than 250 abatement options covering the main greenhouse gas emitting sectors of the economy.

McKinsey indicates that for the first time, the report gives business leaders and policy makers a comprehensive framework for assessing the costs and benefits associated with alternate paths towards greenhouse gas abatement. The analysis suggests that the United States can make substantial progress towards lowering emissions at manageable costs to the economy, if early action is taken. The report was produced in association with DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PG&E, and Shell.

The Conference Board, the world's preeminent business membership and research organization, best known for the Consumer Confidence Index and the Leading Economic Indicators, said it hopes the report will "stimulate an important national dialogue, one that is based on facts, analysis and quantitative metrics. And we will need to be prepared for an enduring dialogue fueled by continuing research, because the issues and choices we face are complex."

McKinsey & Company notes in the Executive Summary, "the costs and benefits of greenhouse gas abatement will for some period of time be shared unequally among stakeholders, and this will likely cause a great deal of contention." The Conference Board said it does not advocate any particular policy direction, nor does it suggest ways in which these contentious choices can be resolved. But, they said, "we do argue -- forcefully -- that creating a common base of facts and a clear analytical framework will help better inform the business community, policy makers and the public at large to make better choices. We look forward to helping achieve this goal."

McKinsey & Company indicates that over the past 2 years, it has worked with leading institutions and experts to develop a framework and fact base to understand the costs and potentials of different options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – first at a global level, then through country-specific analyses for major GHG-emitting nations. In February 2007, we launched the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Abatement Mapping Initiative (US GHG AMI) in collaboration with leading U.S.-based companies and environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Our effort examined opportunities to reduce GHG emissions from human activity within U.S. borders using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies. This report is the product of that work.

Among the main findings of the report, Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?, are:

  • Opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are highly fragmented and widely spread across the economy. The largest single option -- carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power plants -- offers less than 11 percent of total potential identified. The largest sector, power generation, accounts for less than one third of the total.
  • Reducing emissions by 3 gigatons of CO2e in 2030 would require $1.1 trillion of additional capital spending, or roughly 1.5 percent of the $77 trillion in real investment the U.S. economy is expected to make over this period.
  • Investment would need to be higher in the early years, in order to capture energy efficiency gains at lowest overall costs and accelerate the development of key technologies, and would be highly concentrated in the power and transportation sectors.
  • If pursued, such investment would likely put upward pressure on electricity prices and vehicle costs. Policymakers would need to weigh these added costs against the energy efficiency savings, opportunities for technological advances, and other societal benefits.

The report identifies what it calls the "Central Conclusion Of This Report" as: "The United States could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by 3.0 to 4.5 gigatons of CO2e using tested approaches and high-potential emerging technologies. These reductions would involve pursuing a wide array of abatement options available at marginal costs less than $50 per ton, with the average net cost to the economy being far lower if the nation can capture sizable gains from energy efficiency. Achieving these reductions at the lowest cost to the economy, however, will require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action that begins in the near future."

NRDC issued a release saying the report offers the most comprehensive assessment to date of the options and opportunities for cutting U.S. global warming emissions to levels that experts say are needed to avert costly and dangerous environmental damages. Using detailed pricing and technological analyses for more than 250 different measures, the study concludes that the needed results are achievable at little or no net cost to the economy, provided we act now. NRDC said the report strongly emphasizes that policy, rather than technology itself, is the key to moving cleaner, more efficient solutions off the shelves, out of the labs, and into the marketplace.

Environmental Defense issued a statement saying, "The independent analysis drew on actual industrial experience, assumed that consumer behavior and preferences would remain in line with current trends, and did not assume major technological breakthroughs... [and] found that emissions reductions along the lines of climate change legislation pending in Congress can be achieved by 2030 with proven and emerging technologies, and that nearly 40 percent of 250 potential emissions reductions opportunities would more than pay for themselves and create net savings for the economy."

National Grid, the company that delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority issued a release saying, "We are pleased to have sponsored this important and thorough analysis. It is vital that corporations and policymakers immediately start working together to tackle the challenge of global warming. Doing nothing is no longer an option - greenhouse gas emissions will continue to rise, resulting in more damage to the environment and even greater costs when we inevitably come to address the problem. We believe energy efficiency programs are the best way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. The report gives business leaders and policy makers the first comprehensive framework for prioritizing the most cost effective options to cut greenhouse gas emissions. By covering the main GHG emitting sectors, this report gives decision makers the information they need to craft cost effective policy initiatives. The analysis suggests that the U.S. can substantially cut emissions at a manageable cost to the economy and that energy efficiency has an important part to play. Many efficiency options will pay for themselves, significantly reducing CO2 emissions at no cost to the economy."

Access an announcement from The Conference Board (
click here). Access a link to the complete 107-page report (click here), registration requested). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access the release from the National Grid (click here). Access The Conference Board Center for Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability for additional information (click here). [Note: Other companies including: DTE Energy, Honeywell, PG&E, and Shell has not issued press statements or releases at press time.] [*Climate]

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Representatives Object To EPA Proposed Comparable Fuel Exclusion

Nov 26: Twenty-five members of Congress, led by Representatives Mark Kirk (R-IL), Hilda L. Solis (D-CA), have sent a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson expressing "serious concerns" over EPA's proposed rule of June 15, 2007, that would expand the RCRA "Comparable Fuel Exclusion [72 FR 33284, 6/15/07]. The Members said, "This rule seeks to expand by more than eight times the current amount of hazardous waste reclassified as Comparable Fuel and excluded from all hazardous waste regulations. With an expansion of this magnitude, it is imperative that all relevant information be made available to the public so that potentially affected communities are afforded the right to comment on such a serious proposal..."

The Members indicate that in issuing the proposed rule, EPA never made available the exact facilities expected to handle and dispose of the deregulated waste. They said, "This information was released only after the comment period ended. The communities surrounding these eighty-six facilities were unaware that the rule would directly affect them and should be allowed to comment in light of this new information."

A release by the public interest law firm, Earthjustice states that EPA plan would "reclassify over 100,000 tons of hazardous waste, allowing many companies to use this waste as fuel rather than handle it as dangerous hazardous waste. The result is that many companies will burn this waste onsite, instead of sending it to a strictly controlled hazardous waste incinerator." They said that 90% of the companies that would be able to burn this hazardous waste onsite have been identified by EPA as needing "corrective action" for not fully complying with existing federal hazardous waste management regulations.

Congressman Kirk said, "The communities that would see increases in toxic pollutants were not notified until after the EPA comment period ended. This is particularly alarming, given that the EPA's own best-case estimates indicate the waste could release more pollutants than the combustion of fossil fuels. The 86 communities affected nationwide have a right to voice their concerns to this plan." Congresswoman Solis said, "By failing to reveal information about the location of facilities likely to burn hazardous waste, the EPA knowingly denied communities the chance to comment. Communities such as those in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley deserve an opportunity to participate in the process, particularly when their health and their environment are at risk. I urge the EPA to re-open this comment period and hope they will listen closely to the concerns of environmental justice communities across this country."

Earthjustice attorneys filed a Freedom of Information Act request that ultimately forced EPA to finally divulged the data. Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans said, "The gamble that EPA is taking with people's lives to make it easier for companies to burn more hazardous waste is simply wrong. EPA itself freely admits that they cannot guarantee burning this waste will have little or no adverse impact." Earthjustice said the so-called "emission-comparable fuels" rule is another EPA discretionary rulemaking in a "long line of free passes for polluters." They cite a 2006, the U.S. District Court of Appeals decision finding saying that EPA routinely neglects its duty to protect public health and the environment, and instead, "devotes substantial resources to discretionary rulemakings, many of which make existing regulations more congenial to industry." Earthjustice said, "In 2005, the Office of Management and Budget gave EPA its marching orders by publishing a list of regulatory rollbacks sought by industry. The Association of Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council had put this relaxed hazardous waste burning regulation at the top of their wish list."

Earthjustice identifies some of the major facilities and notes: the Clean Harbors Baltimore facility in Baltimore, MD, will store and transport 2,077 tons of hazardous waste; the Systech Environmental Corporation in Paulding, OH, will store and transport 10,450 tons of hazardous waste; and the Safety Kleen Systems facility in Dolton, IL, just south of Chicago, will burn 1,786 tons of additional hazardous waste annually in boilers not permitted to burn hazardous waste. Information on the other facilities is available from the link below.

Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). Access the letter from Congressional members and the list of members (click here). Access more information about the other 83 facilities (click here). Access a map of the United States indicating the where the facilities are located and additional information (click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). Access the EPA Docket for this proposed rulemaking (click here). [*Haz]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pelosi Says Energy Package Deal May Be Next Week

Nov 26: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the statement following a White House ceremony honoring former Vice President Al Gore and other American winners of the Nobel Prize. Pelosi said, “Vice President Al Gore, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has awakened the world, and particularly young people, to the enormous and looming threat of the climate crisis and the need for immediate action." With only a couple of weeks left in this year's legislative session, the Speaker made a major prediction.

She said, “Congress is now moving forward with historic energy legislation that will reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and promote energy efficiency. We have made significant progress toward completing this package and hope to have a final agreement next week. This energy package will lay the groundwork for the Congress to move forward next year with comprehensive action to address climate change. It is also incumbent on the Bush Administration, after years of resistance, to become a leader in the global effort to reduce climate change. We owe it to our children and to the future to act now.

“I again congratulate Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on their winning the Nobel Peace Prize, which is a culmination of decades of dedication and perseverance. Just as Al Gore tirelessly fought to change the global warming debate, Congress must now act to change America’s energy policy and begin to halt climate change.”

Just prior to the Thanksgiving Day break, Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi indicating possible compromises on Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards; as well as Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) [See WIMS 11/21/07]. The Senate passed H.R. 6 on June 21 [See WIMS 6/22/07] and on August 4, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3221 [See WIMS 8/4/07]. The bills have been stalled by the inability to appoint a Conference Committee [See WIMS 10/22/07].

Access a statement from Speaker Pelosi (click here). Access Chairman Dingell's 3-page letter (click here). Access links to various media reports on the latest activity including a lengthy article in the Detroit Free Press (click here). [*Energy]

Monday, November 26, 2007

European Commission Outlines Bali Roadmap Building Blocks

Nov 26: Stavros Dimas, the European Commissioner for the Environment, delivered a speech to the Lisbon Council on November 26, entitled, The Road to Bali. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be holding the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP), third Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (formerly known as MOP3, now CMP3), in Bali, Indonesia from December 3-13, 2007.

Dimas said, "Three years ago climate change was still seen as a 'green issue'. It was important -- but nowhere near the top of the political agenda. Corporate interest in cutting emissions was limited to a few sectors such as renewable energy. Many companies worried about a potential loss of competitiveness. And a number of influential companies were actively lobbying against legislation to reduce emissions. Some were even funding campaigns to discredit the scientific evidence. We are now on the final miles of the Road to Bali and it seems that the world has been turned upside down. Prime ministers who oppose Kyoto are being voted out of office -- and I would like to publicly congratulate Kevin Rudd on his decision to sign and ratify the Kyoto protocol.

"Business is now realizing that there are huge competitive opportunities from being at the head of the inevitable shift to the low carbon economy. Instead of skepticism, company leaders are now competing to demonstrate their green credentials. It is against this context that I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to set out the EU's position in view of the crucial UN conference on climate change opening in Bali on 3 December...

"The end of 2012 is just five years away, so time is not on our side. That is why it is essential that the Bali conference reach a consensus to launch negotiations on this future agreement. Bali must also set a clear deadline for completing the negotiations by the end of 2009 so there will be enough time to ratify the new agreement and bring it into force by the end of 2012. To guide the negotiations there needs to be a 'shared vision' of what the new agreement is seeking to achieve. For the EU it is clear the objective must be to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Centigrade above the pre-industrial temperature. This goal is fully supported by the IPCC's projections of far more dangerous impacts beyond this level. Keeping within the 2 degrees limit means that global emissions must peak within the next 10 to 15 years and then be cut by at least 50% of 1990 levels by 2050...

"...we need consensus at Bali on what a post-2012 agreement should cover. The EU is proposing seven key building blocks that should constitute the main elements of the agreement and which should therefore be reflected in the ‘Bali Roadmap’ that will set the agenda for the negotiations."

The seven "building blocks" outlined included: (1) binding and absolute emissions reduction commitments by the developed countries, who are responsible for the bulk of today's emissions. Developed countries must reduce their collective emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. (2) fair and effective contributions by developing countries, in particular the emerging economies. (3) extend the use of carbon markets as a key tool to foster development and deployment of low carbon investments and technologies. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) will also help to finance action in developing countries. (4) cooperation on research, development and deployment of clean technologies must be scaled up. (5) emissions from international aviation and maritime transport have to be addressed. (6) find performance-based incentives and other tools that can halt deforestation as soon as possible. (7) step up action on adaptation to climate change, in particular, increase assistance to the poorest developing countries.

Dimas’ remarks served as a keynote for the Lisbon Council’s Climate Change Action Group, which convened in Brussels. The Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal is a think tank and policy network committed to defining and articulating a mature strategy for managing current and future challenges.

Access the European Commission Bali position speech (
click here). Access further information on the upcoming COP13 meeting in Bali (click here). Access the Lisbon Council website for additional information (click here). [*Climate]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Third Circuit Reverses DuPont Due To Atlantic Research Decision

WIMS will not be publishing Thursday and Friday,
November 22 and 23, 2007,
in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
We hope you have an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving.

Nov 20: In the case of E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. U.S., the U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, Case No. 04-2096, has reversed its previous decision in the case in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Atlantic Research Corp. [See WIMS 6/12/07]. In its opening discussion the Third Circuit indicates that the case is being reviewed on the order of the Supreme Court of the United States dated June 18, 2007, which granted the petition for a writ of certiorari filed by DuPont, vacated the previous judgment of Third Circuit and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its opinion in Atlantic Research Corp., 551 U.S. , 127 S. Ct. 2331 (2007). In their earlier opinion the Third Circuit majority held that DuPont could not pursue an action under CERCLA to recover from the United States a portion of its cleanup costs. The dissenting opinion would have held that DuPont could maintain an action for cost recovery under § 107 of CERCLA.

In its Atlantic Research Corp decision, the High Court succinctly summarizes its opinion saying, "Two provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) -- §§107(a) and 113(f) -- allow private parties to recover expenses associated with cleaning up contaminated sites. 42 U. S. C. §§9607(a), 9613(f). In this case, we must decide a question left open in Cooper Industries, Inc. v. Aviall Services, Inc., 543 U. S. 157, 161 (2004): whether §107(a) provides so-called potentially responsible parties (PRPs), 42 U. S. C. §§9607(a)(1)–(4), with a cause of action to recover costs from other PRPs. We hold that it does." The Third Circuit Appeals Court said, "In light of the Supreme Court’s order, we return to the issue presented."

In the DuPont case before the Third Circuit, DuPont admits that its industrial facilities throughout the U.S. are contaminated with hazardous waste and it contaminated those sites, but alleges that the United States also contaminated parts of the sites. After DuPont voluntarily cleaned up a site jointly polluted by both DuPont and the government, DuPont filed this suit under CERCLA seeking an order requiring the government to reimburse it for a share of the cleanup costs.

On its review, the Third Circuit says, "The Supreme Court decision thereafter in Atlantic Research Corp... is dispositive of the issue before us. Atlantic Research, a PRP, had contaminated the soil and groundwater at an ammunition facility with burned fuel, but the United States had also polluted the site... Atlantic Research voluntarily cleaned up the site, even though it had not been the subject of a suit under §106 or § 107... It then sued the United States under both §§ 107(a) and 113(f) to recover a share of its voluntary cleanup expenses... The Court, in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Thomas, held that, although Atlantic Research could not sue the United States under § 113(f) in that case because no §106 or § 107 action was pending or had been brought against Atlantic Research, it could bring a cost recovery claim under §107(a)..."

The Appeals Court states further that, "Voluntary cleanups are vital to fulfilling CERCLA’s purpose. During deliberations on the SARA Amendments, Congress emphasized the importance of voluntary action... Although supervised cleanups are to be encouraged wherever possible, they need not be encouraged at the expense of unsupervised cleanups. Under § 107(a)(4)(B), a party is liable for costs incurred in a cleanup (voluntary or otherwise) only insofar as those costs are 'costs of response incurred by any other person consistent with the national contingency plan...' By the plain text of the statute, a party that seeks recovery for costs incurred in a cleanup that does not comport with the national contingency plan is without recourse. Because there has been no suggestion that DuPont’s cleanup is in that position, it has stated a viable cause of action for cost recovery under § 107(a).

"For the reasons set forth, we will reverse the decision of the District Court with respect to any claim made by DuPont for costs incurred while undertaking voluntary cleanup efforts and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion."

Access the complete 17-page opinion (
click here). [*Remed]

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Furnace & Boiler Energy Standards Called "Extraordinarily Weak"

Nov 19: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced it has increased the energy efficiency standards for residential furnaces and boilers, underscoring the Department’s commitment to meet its aggressive, five-year appliance standard rulemaking schedule, as established in its January 31, 2006, Report to Congress. The Department said it estimates that these amended standards, which become effective in 2015, will save the equivalent of the total amount of energy consumed by 2.5 million American households in one year, or approximately 0.25 quadrillion (10x15) British thermal units (Btus) of energy, over a period of 24 years [from 2015–2038].

DOE Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said, “As a nation, we must find better and more ways to both conserve energy and use it more efficiently and productively. These amended standards will not only cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, but they also allow consumers to make smarter energy choices that will save energy and money. Improving appliance standards is a top priority of the Department of Energy, and in the coming years, we intend to maintain and, where possible, accelerate the extraordinary progress we have made over the last two years.”

DOE has determined that energy efficiency standards for residential non-weatherized and weatherized gas furnaces, mobile home gas furnaces, oil-fired furnaces, and gas- and oil-fired boilers are technologically feasible, economically justified, and will result in significant conservation of energy as a result of increased efficiency. The total energy savings are estimated to result in cumulative greenhouse gas emission reductions of approximately 7.8 million tons (Mt) of carbon dioxide -- an amount equal to the emissions produced by 2.6 percent of all light truck vehicles on U.S. roads in one year.

The Final Rule for residential furnaces and boilers was issued under a consent decree schedule entered in State of New York v. Bodman. DOE sought to modify the schedule in order to more fully review comments received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Comments indicated the feasibility and desirability of addressing natural gas price impacts as a result of the standards at issue in this rulemaking. DOE wished to more fully consider such potential impacts, prior to finalizing this Rule, and preliminarily believed that, if confirmed, would have merited consideration in evaluating higher efficiency standards for the products covered by this rulemaking. DOE’s motion to modify the consent decree was denied and therefore, DOE issued the Final Rule on November 19, 2007, The amended standards were published in the Federal Register [72 FR 65135-65170].

A coalition of consumer, energy, and environmental organizations sharply criticized the new standards calling them "extraordinarily weak" [
See WIMS 10/6/06]. They said not only are the standards little changed from the original levels set by Congress twenty years ago, but also 99% of natural gas furnaces currently sold already meet the new minimum efficiency level. Andrew deLaski, Executive Director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) said, "DOE has delivered a 'turkey' of an efficiency rule. This Thanksgiving, that's bitter news for Americans who care about global warming, high energy prices, and our dependence on overseas energy."

The groups said the standard just increases the minimum gas furnace efficiency level to 80% from the current level of 78%. The rule also modestly increases the standards for oil furnaces and oil and gas boilers, which, on a national basis, are far less common than gas furnaces. David B. Goldstein, Energy Program Co-Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "This standard is grossly inadequate -- a 90% natural gas furnace efficiency standard would provide more than seventeen times the carbon savings. Today's decision makes it all too clear that the Energy Department attaches zero value to cutting global warming emissions." Goldstein noted that recently both the head of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, James Connaughton, and Secretary of State Rice have highlighted appliance standards as one of best ways to cut global warming emissions.

The groups also point out that four states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maryland); frustrated with the pace and direction of the Federal standards, have already set their own furnace and boiler standards. Other states such as New Hampshire and New Jersey are considering following suit. Susan Coakley, Executive Director of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) said, "In the Northeast, consumer energy bills and global warming rank as top concerns and efficiency ranks as the top solution. We urge northeast states to move forward immediately to implement their legislation to establish higher, more cost-effective state standards. Such state leadership is crucial to protect consumers and reduce carbon emissions in light of this federal failure to lead." The final rule provides guidance to states for how they can seek a waiver from Federal preemption, which is necessary for them to enforce their own standards. However, such an approach likely will lead to a patchwork of standards among the various states. Other major groups objecting to the standards include the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Access a release from DOE (
click here). Access the final rules (click here). Access DOE's residential furnaces and boilers website for additional information (click here). Access a lengthy release from ACEEE (click here). [*Energy]

Monday, November 19, 2007

Markey Introduces Bottle Deposit Recycling Climate Protection Act

Nov 15: Representative. Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, introduced the Bottle Recycling Climate Protection Act (H.R. 4238), which would decrease global warming pollution and cut down on energy use by encouraging large-scale recycling of cans, bottles and other beverage containers throughout America. The introduction of the bill coincided with America Recycles Day. The bill has 11 cosponsors. A December 2006 GAO report cited a nationwide deposit law as an effective policy option to increase municipal recycling [See WIMS 1/29/07].

The bill would establish a national 5 cent deposit on beverage containers, including plastic water bottles and other containers that have become more prevalent in recent years after many state programs were established. According to Markey, the bottles and other containers pour into landfills and use energy to produce, thereby creating global warming pollution and other environmental issues. In 2006, more than half of the 200 billion beverage containers that could have been recycled in the United States were incinerated or littered.

Markey said, “Congress can send the nation a global warming message in a bottle. We can still quench our thirst while reducing our thirst for energy. And we can have carbon dioxide in our fizzy drinks, while cutting down on heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” Currently, 11 states have deposit programs that encourage consumers to return containers to claim the refund on the deposit. In the states that have passed bottle bills, recycling rates are twice that of states without deposit laws. The new National Bottle Bill recognizes the leadership of the states on this issue, and exempts states that have high recycling rates or existing state legislation from the national standard for 3 years, or as long as they maintain high recycling rates.

Plastic water and juice bottles have become increasingly prevalent since many state bottle bills were initially adopted. Including plastic bottles in a national bottle bill would lead to significant savings in energy and oil consumption. One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity and 685 gallons of oil. Aluminum cans also account for an increasing amount of waste. 58 billion cans are thrown away every year in the United States, enough to fill the Empire State Building six times. If all these cans were recycled, it would cut the emissions of heat-trapping carbon pollution by nearly 6 million tons, or the equivalent of the pollution from more than one million cars. Cans made from recycled aluminum use 95 percent less energy than cans manufactured with new materials.

Markey said, “Recycling is an everyday action that we can all take to cut global warming emissions and be good environmental stewards. Our national goal should be to one day recycle every single bottle we use, and this bill will get us closer to that goal and that day.” The National Bottle Bill has already gained support from leading environmental and recycling organizations, including the Container Recycling Institute (CRI), the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Public Interest Research Group.

The CRI's has issued a report and presentation on the problems with increasing numbers of plastic bottle from bottled water. The report, Water, Water Everywhere:The Growth of Non-Carbonated Beverages in the U.S., chronicles the dramatic increase in sales of bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages in recent years and looks at the projected growth of the non-carbonated market. A separate presentation addresses the rapid growth of bottled water and other non-carbonated beverages and how state legislatures are considering updating deposit laws to include these beverages that did not exist 25 years ago.

Access a release from Representative Markey (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 4238 (click here). Access the CRI website for links to their reports and information (click here). [*Solid, *P2]

Friday, November 16, 2007

2007 CBO Director's Conference On Climate Change

Nov 16: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Peter Orszag hosted the 2007 Director's Conference on Climate Change in Washington, DC. The conference is held each year to bring outside experts together with CBO analysts in a collaborative effort that helps further the agency's research agenda. This year's conference featured leading researchers addressing key questions in the debate on climate change. In opening the Conference, Director Orszag delivered a 17-page statement entitled, Issues In Climate Change, to the Conference. The document provides an excellent summary of the policy debate that is now beginning to crystallize in legislation currently being considered in Congress and which will be intently scrutinized next month (December 3-14) in Bali, Indonesia when 180 countries meet at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP13) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Orszag indicates, global climate change is one of the nation’s most significant long-term policy challenges. Human activities are producing increasingly large quantities of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2). The accumulation of those gases in the atmosphere is expected to have potentially serious and costly effects on regional climates throughout the world. The magnitude of such damage remains highly uncertain. But there is growing recognition that some degree of risk exists for the damage to be large and perhaps even catastrophic.

Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions would be beneficial in limiting the degree of damage associated with climate change. However, decreasing those emissions would also impose costs on the economy -- in the case of CO2, because much economic activity is based on fossil fuels, which release carbon in the form of carbon dioxide when they are burned. Most analyses suggest that a carefully designed program to begin lowering CO2 emissions would produce greater benefits than costs.

Employing incentive-based policies to reduce CO2 emissions would be much more cost-effective than using more-restrictive command-and-control approaches (such as imposing technology standards on electricity generators). Incentive-based policies use the power of markets to identify the least costly sources of emission reductions. Thus, they can better reflect technological advances, differences between industries or companies in their ability to make low-cost emission reductions, and changes in market conditions. Policymakers can choose between two general forms of incentive-based policies -- those that limit the overall level of emissions (so-called quantity instruments) or those that reduce emissions by raising their price (so-called price instruments). The simplest price-based mechanism would be a tax on emissions. The simplest quantity-based mechanism would be a cap-and-trade program.

Designing policies to address climate change is complicated by uncertainty about the damage that might result from unchecked emissions and uncertainty about the cost of reducing those emissions. A pragmatic climate policy will probably involve a sequence of decisions based on the gradual accumulation of information and the resolution of uncertainties. For such an approach, policies that can be easily modified over time would offer advantages. A flexible approach to dealing with climate change could include three different policy strategies: Researching the problem and developing technologies to address it; Adapting to a warmer climate, and; Reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, a comprehensive climate policy would inevitably involve coordinating U.S. policies with those of other countries that are major emitters of greenhouse gases.

Other presentations at the Conference included CBO representatives discussing both micro and macro economics; researchers from Stanford, Northeastern, Tufts, and MIT universities; Resources for the Future; U.S. EPA and the DOE Energy Information Administration.

Access the CBO Director's statement and links to all other presentations at the Conference (
click here). [*Climate]

Thursday, November 15, 2007

9th Circuit CAFE Ruling: Center for Biological Diversity v. NHTSA

Nov 15: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case Nos. 06-71891, 06-72317, 06-72694, 06-73807, and 06-73826. As explained by the Appeals Court, eleven states, the District of Columbia, the City of New York, and four public interest organizations petition for review of a rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) entitled “Average Fuel Economy Standards for Light Trucks, Model Years 2008-2011,” 71 Fed. Reg. 17,566 (Apr. 6, 2006) (Final Rule) (codified at 49 C.F.R. pt. 533). Pursuant to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), 49 U.S.C. §§ 32901-32919 (2007), the Final Rule sets corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks, defined by NHTSA to include many Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), minivans, and pickup trucks, for Model Years (MYs) 2008-2011. For MYs 2008-2010, the Final Rule sets new CAFE standards using its traditional method, fleet-wide average (Unreformed CAFE). For MY 2011 and beyond, the Final Rule creates a new CAFE structure that sets varying fuel economy targets depending on vehicle size and requires manufacturers to meet different fuel economy levels depending on their vehicle fleet mix (Reformed CAFE).

Petitioners challenge the Final Rule under the EPCA and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). First, they argue that the Final Rule is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the EPCA because (a) the agency’s cost-benefit analysis does not set the CAFE standard at the “maximum feasible” level and fails to give due consideration to the need of the nation to conserve energy; (b) its calculation of the costs and benefits of alternative fuel economy standards assigns zero value to the benefit of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction; (c) its calculation of costs and benefits of alternative fuel economy standards fails to evaluate properly the benefit of vehicle weight reduction; (d) Reformed CAFE standards will depend on manufacturer fleet mix and not guarantee a minimum average fuel economy or “backstop”; (e) the transition period during which manufacturers may choose to comply with either Unreformed or Reformed CAFE is contrary to the “maximum feasible” requirement and unnecessary; (f) it perpetuates the “SUV loophole,” which allows SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks to satisfy a lower fuel economy standard than cars; and (g) it excludes most vehicles rated between 8,500 and 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (comprised mostly of large pickup trucks) from any fuel economy regulation, even though these vehicles satisfy the statutory criteria for regulation.

Second, Petitioners argue that NHTSA’s Environmental Assessment is inadequate under NEPA because it fails to take a “hard look” at the greenhouse gas implications of its rulemaking and fails to analyze a reasonable range of alternatives or examine the rule’s cumulative impact. Petitioners also argue that NEPA requires NHTSA to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.

NHTSA argues that the Final Rule is not arbitrary and capricious or contrary to the EPCA, the Environmental Assessment’s evaluation of the environmental consequences of its action is adequate, and an Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that it has jurisdiction to review the Final Rule issued by NHTSA and said, "the Final Rule is arbitrary and capricious, contrary to the EPCA in its failure to monetize the value of carbon emissions, failure to set a backstop, failure to close the SUV loophole, and failure to set fuel economy standards for all vehicles in the 8,500 to 10,000 gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) class. We also hold that the Environmental Assessment was inadequate and that Petitioners have raised a substantial question as to whether the Final Rule may have a significant impact on the environment. Therefore, we remand to NHTSA to promulgate new standards as expeditiously as possible and to prepare a full Environmental Impact Statement."

Sierra Club, one of the parties in the case issued a statement calling the decision, "a huge victory for the Sierra Club, several other environmental groups, and several states by voiding the Bush administration’s fuel economy standards for light trucks... This decision is a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration, its continued insistence on ignoring the law, and stubborn refusal to take meaningful steps to address global warming pollution from automobiles. NHTSA is free to use a cost-benefit analysis to set fuel economy standards, but today the court told them they cannot put a thumb on the scale by continuing to ignore the costs of failing to act on global warming."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) issued a statement saying, "Automakers support aggressive fuel economy increases that would raise the standards for all vehicles to as much as 35 miles per gallon by 2022. We share the goal of an energy bill and CAFE standard that is good for the consumer, environment and energy security. We continue to believe such a bill can be reached with industry support. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set national fuel economy standards at the ‘maximum feasible’ level taking into account key elements such as technological feasibility, affordability, safety, emissions controls, consumer choice, disparate impacts on manufacturers and effects on American jobs. A good balance of safety, higher fuel economy, and jobs benefits all Americans.

"Announced more than 19 months ago the MY 2008-2011 light truck fuel economy rule represented the largest fuel economy increase in the history of the CAFE program. It has become the basis for product planning through 2011. Any further changes to the program would only delay the progress that manufacturers have made towards increasing fleet wide fuel economy. Ongoing advancements by auto engineers are leading to even greater fuel economy gains. New models are increasingly available with highly fuel-efficient technologies like variable valve timing, continuously variable transmissions, cylinder deactivation and more. Advanced technology vehicles, including hybrid, fuel cell, hydrogen internal combustion engines and clean diesel vehicles, offer the promise of significant increases in fuel efficiency without sacrificing consumer needs for safety, performance, comfort and utility, but adequate lead time is necessary in order to fully integrate these technologies into the marketplace."

Access the complete opinion (
click here). Access a statement from Sierra Club (click here). Access the statement from AAM (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Despite Critics DOE Touts GNEP On European & Central Asia Tour

Nov 13: U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman delivered remarks at the 20th World Energy Congress Ministerial Forum, highlighting the importance of robust investments in a diversity of energy supplies and breakthrough technologies to meet growing global demand for energy. While in Rome, Secretary Bodman welcomed Italy to the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), an international framework that DOE says is "aimed at expanding nuclear power worldwide while responsibly managing nuclear waste and reducing proliferation risks." Italy is the most recent nation to sign the GNEP Statement of Principles, which 16 nations joined in September at the Partnership’s second Ministerial in Vienna, Austria.

The GNEP program has recently come under scrutiny of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) that said the research and development component of the GNEP should not go forward at its current pace [
See WIMS 10/30/07]. Despite the NAS concerns, Secretary Bodman said, “By becoming a member of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, Italy is joining a growing group of nations committed to developing solutions to power a clean, safe and reliable energy future. To increase global energy security, producing and consuming nations alike must make robust investments in a diversity of energy sources, accelerate efforts to increase energy efficiency, and rapidly deploy advanced clean energy technologies to meet growing energy demand and sustain economic growth.”

In signing the GNEP Principles, Italy joins China, France, Japan, Russia and the United States, who are original GNEP partners, as well as Australia, Bulgaria, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Ukraine in efforts to address the prospects of expanding the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including enhanced safeguards, international fuel service frameworks, and advanced technologies. DOE indicates that GNEP seeks to develop worldwide consensus on enabling expanded use of clean, safe, and affordable nuclear energy to meet growing electricity demand. GNEP proposes a nuclear fuel cycle that enhances energy security, while promoting non-proliferation.

Italy is the first stop in Secretary Bodman’s five-nation visit to Europe and Central Asia. Later in the week, he will travel to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan to address the Turkmenistan Industrial Oil and Gas Exhibit (TIOGE) and meet with the President and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan. Following his visit to Turkmenistan, he will travel to Turkey to highlight the importance of expanding and securing oil and gas infrastructure and to Greece to celebrate the opening of the Turkey-Greece Inter-connector pipeline, which will be a critical link between the gas suppliers of central Asia and the consumers of Europe. He will conclude his trip in London, England where he is expected to hold bilateral meetings with senior English officials and deliver remarks to U.S. and British business leaders.

The GNEP program has also been criticized by others. On June 14, 2007, the Keystone Center released a report showing areas of agreement from a diverse group of 27 stakeholders associated with the nuclear industry, environmental groups, consumer advocates, government regulators, consultants, and academics. On the issue of the GNEP the report concluded, "that critical elements of the program are unlikely to succeed" [
See WIMS 6/18/07]. On November 2, 2007, more than 40 national and local environmental, science and national security organizations sent a letter to Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), urging them to eliminate funding for the GNEP plan for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. The program, they wrote, "undermines U.S. nonproliferation policy, would cost taxpayers $100 billion or more, and … [would] not solve the nuclear waste problem."

Simultaneously, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, Chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), held a hearing today (November 14, 2007), to receive testimony on GNEP as it relates to U.S. policy on nuclear fuel management. Those testifying at the hearing included: the Department of Energy; the Congressional Budget Office; Los Alamos National Laboratory; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Harvard University Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; and The Boston Consulting Group.

DOE testified that, "GNEP is crucial to developing an effective and durable waste management strategy in the United States, aswell as around the world. To that end, GNEP is completely compatible with our near-term effort to license and open the waste repository at Yucca Mountain."

CBO testified that, "The cost of directly disposing of spent nuclear fuel is less than the cost of reprocessing it..." CBO said that one study by the Boston Consulting Group estimates that reprocessing spent nuclear fuel would cost $585 per kilogram and another study, by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government indicates a cost about $1,300 per kilogram -- or more than twice as much as direct disposal. CBO concludes that for the roughly 2,200 metric tons of spent fuel produced each year in the United States, the reprocessing alternative would be likely to cost at least $5 billion more in present-value terms than the direct-disposal alternative over the life of a reprocessing plant.

Matthew Bunn of the Belfer Center testified that, "Some elements of GNEP could make important contributions to reducing proliferation risks. Unfortunately, GNEP’s heavy focus on building a commercial-scale reprocessing plant in the near term would, if accepted, increase proliferation risks rather than decreasing them...The recent National Academy of Sciences review has provided an excellent discussion of just how premature it would be to build commercial-scale facilities now, unanimously recommending against proceeding with a GNEP program focused on near-term large-scale construction." Neil Todreas of MIT testified, "I believe such an R&D program to evaluate the potential of nuclear energy systems operating in the closed fuel cycle is an important national undertaking."

Access a release from DOE (click here). Access the GNEP website for further details (click here). Access a release from the Union of Concerned Scientists on the letter to Senators (click here). Access the Senate hearing website for links to all testimony (click here). [*Energy, *Haz/Nuclear]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Think Tank To Look At Risks Of Biofuels & Metal Recycling

Nov 9: Assessing the environmental risks of biofuel production and metal recycling are two of the issues likely to top the agenda of a newly formed global think tank on resource efficiency. Launched at the World Science Forum being held in Budapest, Hungary, the new International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management (IPSRM) will provide scientific assessments and expert advice on the use intensity, the security of supplies and the environmental impacts of selected products and services on a global level.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which established the panel said, "Climate change rightly tops the environmental agenda at the moment, but the world faces more inconvenient truths that must be addressed. Economic growth in our modern times cannot be achieved with old consumption and production patterns -- a point brought into sharp relief by our new Global Environment Outlook-4 [See WIMS 10/26/07] which shows that collectively humans are over-utilizing the Earth's nature-based resources at a rate that is outstripping nature's ability to renew and replenish them. We need to provide a boost to resource-efficient growth and innovation. We need to break the links between economic growth and environmental degradation, and finding ways to achieve this 'decoupling' is what the new resource panel is all about."

Established by UNEP, with the support of a wide range of governments, the European Commission and representatives from civil society, the new scientific panel is part of an international partnership on resource management. It will look at the impacts on resources and materials used in all phases of their life cycle. The new IPSRM is expected to provide hard scientific and empirical assessments, written in a clear language about complex issues and reports which can be read by those who can take action. The Panel is expected to assess the situation at the global level and advise which priority issues to address, for instance metal recycling (should we 'mine or recycle', and what are the environmental risks); or the complex issue of bio-based products (are we tackling climate change, or are we 'burning our food' as some say).

The Panel is supported by a Secretariat, hosted by the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics. To date, interest has been received from some twenty countries and support has been pledged by the governments of Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Tanzania and the European Commission. Prominent scientists will be invited to join the Panel as members. Candidatures for Panel membership are currently open. Government representatives are invited to join the Board which will help shape the Panel's strategy.

Access a release from UNEP with links to additional information (click here). Access the IPSRM website for additional information (click here). [*All]

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

Note: WIMS will not be publishing today
Monday, November 12, 2007, in observance of the
Veterans Day Federal holiday.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hearing On Twenty-First Century Water Commission Act

Nov 8: The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, Chaired by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), held a hearing to receive testimony on H.R. 135, the Twenty-First Century Water Commission Act of 2007, sponsored by Representative John Linder (R-GA). Witnesses testifying at the hearing included: Representative Linder; Benjamin Grumbles, U.S. EPA's Assistant Administrator for Office of Water; the Deputy Executive Administrator for Planning for the Texas Water Development Board; the National Wildlife Federation; a water rights attorney from Phoenix, AZ; and a professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. Chairwoman Johnson also delivered an opening statement.

Representative Linder began his testimony by addressing the concerns of some on the Committee that his bill would somehow infringe upon states’ water rights. He said, “First, I want to hasten to assure my friends from Michigan [i.e. Representatives Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Candice S. Miller (R-MI)] that the only thing worse than a national water policy is a global water policy. This is not to establish a national policy for use of water, but to get people around the same table to bring all of the knowledge we have about water to the same place to advise the Congress and the President.”

Linder explained that there are new ideas all across this country, and the world, that are making their way into the water discussion, and an effort needs to be made to bring them to the same table. The Water Commission will focus on storage, water conservation, and repairing the leaky pipes that contribute to so much unnecessary water loss. Linder noted that Philadelphia alone loses 85 million gallons of water a day through leaky pipes. He said, “We need to increase the revolving loan fund under the Clean Water Act so that more states can fix their problems. In Atlanta, we’re fixing a $3 billion problem with our sewage treatment. We ought to be able to borrow that money at low interest rates from the Federal government under the Clean Water Act.”

Linder finished his testimony by reiterating to the Committee that the intention of the Water Commission is not to establish a national water policy. Rather, he concluded, the Commission’s true intention is to establish exactly what we know about water and what we know works across the country, and then to bring that information to the President and Congress so it can be looked at, and then decide how to help improve our nation’s water needs.

Michigan Representative Miller issued a release stating, "Don't even consider using a seemingly harmless bill to study the nation's water usage as cover to begin a process aimed at taking Great Lakes water." She said, "I don't think I'm being too alarmist about this. Do not look to the Great Lakes to solve the nation's water problems." According to the release, Michigan colleague on the Subcommittee, Vern Ehlers, predicted what might happen if anyone attempted a water grab saying, "I would suspect we'd call up the militia and take up arms. We feel that serious about it." Miller noted that the witness panel, talking about the legislation, included speakers from Arizona, Georgia and Texas -- and none from the Great Lakes region. Miller asked the bill's supporters if they would be willing to add a provision specifically saying the commission wouldn't recommend diverting water from the Great Lakes. Some supporters were somewhat in agreement, though they generally were against taking any point of discussion off the table.

Miller noted that similar legislation was passed by the House in the last Congress, over her objections, but got bottled up in the Senate. This year, it was included in the House Transportation Energy Security and Climate Change Mitigation Act of 2007, approved by the House, though the Senate, again, hasn't taken it up. In a related matter, on October 10, a number of western Senators, including Senators Domenici (R) and Bingaman (D) from New Mexico, introduced S. 2156, the SECURE Water Act, which among other things requires an assessment of whether available surface and groundwater supplies will be available to meet the future needs of the United States [See WIMS 10/11/07].

EPA testified that the Office of Water is working closely with the Western Governors’ Association and the Western States Water Council to implement the recommendations in their June 2006 report, Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future. Contained within the Report are many recommendations that are consistent with EPA initiatives as well as recommendations contained in a report released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy titled, A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support Water Availability and Quality in the United States. The responsibility for water, both in terms of quality and quantity, is divided among many different federal agencies as well as each of our states, tribes, and territories. In light of this shared and diverse responsibility, it is imperative that we all work collectively to meet the growing needs and demands of our limited water resources.

David Conrad, Senior Water Resources Specialist with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) applauded Representative Linder and the 22 cosponsors and indicated that NWF believes there is a "strong need for a national water commission." He emphasized the language of Section 8207 regarding the Commission duties, included in the House-passed comprehensive energy bill, H.R. 3221, which creates a similar commission as that contemplated in H.R. 135. He suggested including the provisions of Section 8207 in Section 4 of H.R. 135. Although, the National Wildlife Federation along with the National Parks Conservation Association are major actors in the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, he did not specifically discuss the issue of Great Lakes water diversion.

Access the hearing website with links to background information and witness testimony (click here). Access a release from Representative Linder (click here). Access a release from Representative Miller (click here). Access the White House report, A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support Water Availability and Quality in the United States, dated September, 2007 (click here). Access links to various media reports of the meeting (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 135 (click here). Access legislative details for S. 2156 (click here). [*Water, *GLakes]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

California Sues EPA Over Vehicle GHG Emission Waiver Request

Nov 8: In a precedent setting lawsuit, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. sued the U.S. EPA, to force the agency to take action on California’s request to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from motor vehicles. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington DC, charges the EPA with an unreasonable delay in reaching a decision on California’s landmark law, known as the Pavley bill, which mandates a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle emissions by 2016. Fourteen other states were expected to support California as interveners in the lawsuit.

Attorney General Brown told a news conference at the State capitol with Governor Schwarzenegger and California Air Resources Board chair, Mary Nichols that, “Despite the mounting dangers of global warming, the EPA has delayed and ignored California’s right to impose stricter environmental standards. We have waited two years and the Supreme Court has ruled in our favor. What is the EPA waiting for?” EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has previously indicated that he will make a decision by the end of this calendar year. Under the Clean Air Act, passed in 1963, California can adopt environmental standards that are stricter than Federal rules, if the state obtains a waiver from the U.S. EPA. Congress allowed California to impose stricter laws in recognition of the state’s “compelling and extraordinary conditions.” After a California waiver request is granted, other states are permitted to adopt the same rules.

Sixteen other states -- Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington -- have adopted, or are in the process of adopting California’s emissions standards and are also awaiting the EPA decision. In the Act’s 40-year history, EPA has granted approximately 50 waivers for innovations like catalytic converters, exhaust emission standards, and leaded gasoline regulations. In the lawsuit, California asserts that EPA has failed to act in a reasonable length of time.

In 2002, California passed AB 1493 which require a 30 percent reduction in global warming emissions from vehicles by 2016, starting with model year 2009. In December 2005, the California Air Resources Board applied for a waiver to implement the law. Governor Schwarzenegger wrote to the EPA in April 2006 and in October 2006, requesting action on California’s application. The state asserts that EPA does not need any additional time to review the facts—the California Air Resources Board submitted a detailed 251-page assessment in 2005 and the U.S. Supreme Court already issued a decision that greenhouse gases are pollutants. In September, a Vermont District Court ruled in favor of the state regulations, rejecting a challenge from the automobile lobby.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) issued a statement saying, "It’s ridiculous that California should have to sue EPA to get permission to implement its clean car standards. California has the legal right under the Clean Air Act to set motor vehicle pollution rules that are tougher than the federal government’s. There’s an old saying: lead, follow or get out of the way. For forty years, California has been the nation’s leader in bringing us cleaner cars. The Bush administration has been blocking this road for two years. Now it’s time for them to move to the shoulder and let California pass. California and 16 other states that have adopted or are adopting the state’s rules are taking the lead in fighting global warming. The Bush EPA should just get out of their way.”

Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort issued a statement saying, "We applaud California on its continued leadership in tackling the issue of global warming. The state legislature, the Governor and the Attorney General recognize global warming is a problem that will not simply disappear without major changes in the way our cars, power plants, and other pollution sources operate. The state's tougher emission standards for cars and trucks will lead the way for the rest of the country. Automakers can no longer drag their feet when it comes to fighting global warming. Cars and trucks are major greenhouse gas emitters, and requiring manufacturers to build cleaner cars is good for California, good for the country, and good for the planet..."

Dave McCurdy, President and CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers issued a statement saying, "Alliance members share the concerns of our customers, the President, the Congress and the American public about fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions. It is the view of the Alliance that enhancing energy security and improving fuel economy are priorities to all Americans, but a patchwork quilt of regulations at the state level is not the answer. Automakers are currently supporting legislation in Congress that would increase fuel economy by as much as 40 percent in 2022. California’s lawsuit against the EPA is not helpful to the waiver process. EPA must deliberately and thoroughly approach the questions raised by the waiver application, especially when that application does not show that the standards address a problem unique to California. EPA can and should take the appropriate time needed to properly analyze and respond to the waiver request."

Access a release from the CA AG (click here). Access a release from Governor Schwarzenegger with links to video and additional information (click here). Access the complaint filed (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). Access a release from the Alliance (click here). Access previous WIMS articles and links on the California waiver from various eNewsUSA blog posts (click here). [*Climate, *Air]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Colorado Climate Action Plan Includes "Clean Car" Standards

Nov 5: Colorado's Democratic Governor Bill Ritter released the State's first Climate Action Plan, which according to a release is an ambitious call to action that establishes firm goals and clear strategies to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and also provides simple suggestions so everyone in Colorado can address global warming. Ritter said, "Climate change is our generation's greatest environmental challenge. It threatens our economy, our Western way of life and our future. It will change every facet of our existence, and unless we address it and adapt to it, the results will be catastrophic for generations to come. I strongly believe we can make a difference. In setting and achieving the goals in this Colorado Climate Action Plan, we will continue to expand the New Energy Economy, show leadership as a state, increase our energy security, and call on the federal government to take strong action."

Ritter indicated that greenhouse gas emissions from human activity have grown by 35% in Colorado from 1990 to 2005. The largest contributors are electricity consumption (36%) and transportation (23%). The Climate Action Plan, which includes an agricultural carbon sequestration and offset program, establishes two greenhouse-gas reduction goals: 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050. The agricultural program would enlist farmers and ranchers to participate in a regional consortium to sequester carbon and reduce emissions on agricultural lands, and sell the resulting carbon credits over a multi-state region.

Other strategies in the Climate Action Plan include: Move toward "clean car" standards to ensure automakers reduce emissions in new vehicles; Work collaboratively to reduce emissions from investor-owned utilities by 20% by 2020 and create reasonable goals for other utilities; Expand voluntary, and over time phase in mandatory, emission reporting requirements for major greenhouse gas producers; Adopt energy-efficiency programs to reduce the demand for electrical energy; Expand renewable energy opportunities; and Partner with research institutions and industry to develop clean-coal technologies, and urge the federal government to accelerate financial investments and incentives.

Environmental Defense issued a release pointing out that Colorado had become the 17th state to move forward with clean car standards that will lower global warming and smog pollution, reduce dependence on foreign oil and save consumers money at the pump. Colorado joins 16 other states, which collectively account for nearly 50% of the total U.S. population, in taking action to adopt the innovative standards including: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. Environmental Defense indicated that this week the State of California is expected to file its lawsuit pressing EPA to make a decision on California’s waiver request so that it and other states like Colorado can implement their clean cars laws. The California lawsuit has been delayed due to the wildfires in Southern California.

Access a release from Governor Ritter and link to the 35-page Colorado Climate Action Plan (
click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Bloomberg Tells Mayors Carbon Tax Provides More Certainty

Nov 2: On the final day of the 2007 Mayors Climate Protection Summit [See WIMS 11/2/07], hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the City of Seattle, over one hundred mayors convened to stress the importance of forming a federal partnership to boost energy independence. Due to recent geopolitical events and the dramatic rise in global energy prices, the mayors called on Congress to complete its work on major energy efficiency legislation by the end of the year and send it to the president for his signature. Mayors have been working closely with Congressional leaders to authorize an Energy Efficiency Block Grant to expand and accelerate community-based energy saving projects.

Among other items the Conference announced a new partnership with the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Initiative (CCI) which will allow 1,100 U.S. cities to gain access to volume discounts on energy-efficient and clean-energy products and technologies through CCI's purchasing consortium. Congressional leaders traveled to Seattle on November 2, specifically to get ideas from mayors about local energy strategies that could be used as national models. Conference leaders, President and Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, Miami Mayor Manuel Diaz and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, as well as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, provided that input.

In his keynote address Mayor Bloomberg had some interesting comments on climate change and the hot debate over a "cap and trade" approach versus a "carbon tax." He said, "On climate change, the duck-and-cover usually involves pointing the finger at others. It's China-this and India-that. But wait a second. This is the United States of America. When there's a major challenge, we don't wait for others to act. We lead. And we lead by example. That's what all of us here are doing... "Leadership is not waiting for others to act, or bowing to special interests, or making policy by polling or political calculus, and it's not hoping that technology will rescue us down the road or forcing our children to foot the bill. Leadership is about facing facts, making hard decisions, and having the independence and courage to do the right thing, even when it's not easy or popular. We've all heard people say, 'It's a great idea, but for the politics.' I hear it a lot..."

Bloomberg, who indicated he will be going to the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Bali next month, as part of an international delegation of mayors, said, “Climate change presents a national security imperative for us, because our dependence on foreign oil has entangled our interests with tyrants and increased our exposure to terrorism. It’s also an economic imperative, because clean energy is going to be the oil gusher of the 21st century.” Mayor Bloomberg called for increased research and development for climate protection, a pollution fee to discourage practices that generate greenhouse gas pollution and raising fuel efficiency standards.

On carbon dioxide emissions, Bloomberg said, "we have to stop ignoring the laws of economics. As long as greenhouse gas pollution is free, it will be abundant. If we want to reduce it, there has to be a cost for producing it. The voluntary targets suggested by President Bush would be like voluntary speed limits - doomed to fail. If we're serious about climate change, the question is not whether we should put a value on greenhouse gas pollution, but how we should do it."

Regarding a cap and trade system as opposed to a carbon tax, Bloomberg said, "Cap-and-trade is an easier political sell because the costs are hidden - but they're still there. And the payoff is more uncertain." However, he noted, "the price volatility for carbon credits can discourage investment since an investment that might make sense if carbon credits are trading at $50 a ton, may not make sense at $30 a ton." He said further, "A cap-and-trade system will only work if all the credits are distributed from the start - and all industries are covered. But this begs the question: If all industries are going to be affected, and the worst polluters are going to pay more, why not simplify matters for companies by charging a direct pollution fee? It's like making one right turn instead of three left turns. You end up going in the same direction, but without going around in a circle first.

"A direct charge would eliminate the uncertainty that companies would face in a cap-and-trade system. It would be easier to implement and enforce, it would prevent special interests from opening up loopholes, and, it would create an opportunity to cut taxes... Creating a direct charge for greenhouse gas pollution would also incentivize the kinds of innovation that a cap-and-trade system is designed to encourage - without creating market uncertainty. To do this, a portion of the revenue from the pollution charge would be used to create an innovation fund, which would finance tax credits for companies that reduce their greenhouse gas pollution. As a result, companies would have two big incentives to reduce their pollution: Minimizing the charges they would have to pay and maximizing their tax savings. And unlike a cap-and-trade system, the certainty of tax credits would be more likely to lead companies to make the long-term investments in clean technology that will allow us to substantially reduce greenhouse gas pollution."

In concluding, Bloomberg said, "Both cap-and-trade and pollution pricing present their own challenges -- but there is an important difference between the two. The primary flaw of cap-and-trade is economic - price uncertainty; while the primary flaw of a pollution fee is political - the difficulty of getting it through Congress. But I've never been one to let short-term politics get in the way of long-term success..."

Access a release from the Conference (
click here). Access the Mayors Climate Protection Center website for extensive information (click here). Access the complete text of Mayor Bloomberg's presentation (click here). Access links to all video presentations including Bloomberg, Clinton, Gore, etc. (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]