Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Final Report On Industrial Farm Animal Production

Apr 29: The Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP), convened in 2005, to study the impacts of dramatic changes in animal agriculture in America over the past 40 years, has issued its final report -- Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America [See WIMS 3/4/08]. The PCIFAP is funded by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

John Carlin, Former Governor of Kansas and family farmer, who served as Chair of the PCIFAP said it, "sought to develop recommendations that protect what is best about American agriculture and to help to ensure its sustainability for the future. Our work focuses on four areas of concern that we believe are key to that future: public health, environment, animal welfare, and the vitality of rural communities; specifically, we focus on how these areas have been impacted by industrial farm animal production.

Robert Martin, Executive Director, of the project said, "There have been some serious obstacles to the Commission completing its review and approving consensus recommendations. The agriculture industry is not monolithic, and the formation of this Commission was greeted by industrial agriculture with responses ranging from open hostility to wary cooperation. In fact, while some industrial agriculture representatives were recommending potential authors for the technical reports to Commission staff, other industrial agriculture representatives were discouraging those same authors from assisting us by threatening to withhold research funding for their college or university. We found significant influence by the industry at every turn: in academic research, agriculture policy development, government regulation, and enforcement. . . The present system of producing food animals in the United States is not sustainable and presents an unacceptable level of risk to public health and damage to the environment, as well as unnecessary harm to the animals we raise for food."

The 124-page report contains sections on How the Current System Developed; Public Health; Environmental Risks; Animal Welfare; Rural America; and includes Conclusion: Toward Sustainable Animal Agriculture and The Recommendations of the Commission, followed by various References. The PCIFAP concludes: "Among the many changes likely in the next 50 years, we believe the following three will be especially challenging to the US industrial food and agriculture system: the depletion of stored energy and water resources, and changing climate. These changes will be especially challenging because America’s successful industrial economy of the past century was based on the availability of cheap energy, a relatively stable climate, and abundant fresh water, and current methods have assumed the continued availability of these resources." [Emphasis in original]

The report indicates that "as industrial farm animal production (IFAP) systems have increased cost-efficient agricultural food production, they have also given rise to problems that are beginning to require attention by policymakers and the industry. Given the relatively rapid emergence of the technologies for industrial farm animal production, and the dependence on chemical inputs, energy, and water, many IFAP systems are not sustainable environmentally or economically."

The report makes detailed and documented recommendations within five issue areas: Public Health (12 recommendations); Environment (4 recommendations); Animal Welfare (5 recommendations); Community Impacts (2 recommendations); and a general recommendation for "Increase funding for, expand, and reform animal agriculture research." Each recommendation includes a background discussion and extensive details of the specific recommendations. Focusing here on the environmental and community impacts recommendations, the PCIFAP recommends:

  • Improve enforcement of existing federal, state, and local IFAP facility regulations to improve the siting of IFAP facilities and protect the health of those who live near and downstream from them;
  • Develop and implement a new system to deal with farm waste (that will replace the inflexible and broken system that exists today) to protect Americans from the adverse environmental and human health hazards of improperly handled IFAP waste;
    Increase and improve monitoring and research of farm waste to hasten the development of new and innovative systems to deal with IFAP waste and to better our understanding of what is happening with IFAP today;
  • Increase funding for research into improving waste handling systems and standardize measurements to allow better comparisons between systems;
  • States, counties, and local governments should implement zoning and siting guidance governing new IFAP operations that fairly and effectively evaluate the suitability of a site for these types of facilities; and
  • Implement policies to allow for a competitive marketplace in animal agriculture to reduce the environmental and public health impacts of IFAP.

Access the complete final report (click here). Access the PCIFAP website for extensive information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort CAFO links for additional information (click here). [*Air, *Agriculture *Water]

Note: On April 24, 2008, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released another report entitled, CAFOs Uncovered: The Untold Costs of Confined Animal Feeding Operations, which is also critical of CAFO operations. Access a release from UCS (click here). Access links to the complete 94-page report and an executive summary (click here).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Senate Hearing On EPA Toxic Chemical Policies

Apr 29: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), held an Oversight Hearing on EPA Toxic Chemical Policies. Witnesses testifying at the hearing include James Gulliford, EPA Assistant Administrator for Pesticides, Prevention, and Toxic Substances; the U.S. Government and Accountability Office (GAO); and representatives of the Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences Department, University of California, San Francisco; the WELL Network; Fanwood Chemical, Inc. on the behalf of the Synthetic Organic Chemicals Manufacturers Association; Integrative Biostrategies, LLC; and Occupational and Environmental Health, Johns Hopkins University. Senator Boxer and Ranking Member James Inhofe also delivered opening statements.

In her remarks, Senator Boxer said the hearing would reveal "some disturbing news about the White House and the Bush Administration’s efforts to corrupt EPA’s toxic chemical risk assessment process. By placing politics before science, the Bush Administration is putting the public in harms way. This according to the GAO and EPA scientists." Boxer said, EPA regulates toxic chemicals in the environment under several laws but the overall toxic chemicals law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, or “TSCA,” was adopted in 1976 and was supposed to help assure that toxic chemicals would be restricted or banned if they were hazardous. She said, "TSCA puts the burden on the government to prove a toxic chemical is a risk. That is unlike the European program, called REACH [Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH),
See WIMS 3/19/08, See EcoBizPort REACH]. REACH puts the burden on the chemical industry -- where it should be -- to show that their chemicals are safe."

On April 10, U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development, announced that the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database and process for developing chemical assessments would undergo several changes "to increase its transparency and efficiency." EPA said the changes include: an expanded process for recommending a substance be assessed; the earlier involvement of other agencies and the public; hosting “listening sessions” to allow for the broader participation and engagement of interested parties; and an even more rigorous scientific peer review of IRIS assessments [See WIMS 4/10/08]. EPA’s IRIS program is a chemical evaluation program that is a critical component of EPA’s capacity to support scientifically sound environmental regulations and policies. The IRIS database contains EPA’s scientific position on the potential human health effects of exposure to more than 540 chemicals.

Senator Boxer released a GAO report entitled, Chemical Assessments: Low Productivity and New Interagency Review Process Limit the Usefulness and Credibility of EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (GAO-08-440, March 7, 2008). She said the report "criticizes the Bush Administration changes to the risk assessment process and makes clear the danger faced by the public when political interference and the influence of polluters affects EPA’s ability to address the risks of toxic chemicals. Under EPA’s new approach politics can be -- and already has been -- injected into multiple stages in the process. Even worse, the new procedure effectively requires the White House the Department of Defense (DOD) -- which contracts out much of its weapons programs -- to agree with EPA on any risk assessment before it goes forward and is made public. The entire process of White House and interagency debate is kept secret, which GAO and EPA scientists say undermines the credibility of EPA’s scientific assessments. That is because EPA scientists are being pushed aside by White House operatives and polluters."

In its review GAO found, among other items, that the IRIS database is at serious risk of becoming obsolete because EPA has not been able to routinely complete timely, credible assessments or decrease its backlog of 70 ongoing assessments -- a total of 4 were completed in fiscal years 2006 and 2007. In its testimony GAO said that EPA’s new process is largely the same as the draft GAO evaluated [prior to the April 10 release], and some key changes also are likely to further exacerbate the productivity and credibility concerns GAO identified. GAO testified, "GAO continues to believe it is critical that input from all parties—particularly agencies that may be affected by the outcome of IRIS assessments—be publicly available. As recommended in GAO’s March 2008 report, to effectively maintain IRIS, EPA must, among other things, streamline its lengthy assessment process and adopt transparency practices that provide assurance that IRIS assessments are appropriately based on the best available science and that they are not inappropriately biased by policy considerations. Since EPA’s new process is not responsive to GAO’s recommendations, the viability of this critical database has been further jeopardized."

Access the hearing website with links to all testimony, opening statements, the full 89-page GAO report, related letters & documents and a webcast of the hearing (
click here). Access an EPA release on it new IRIS process (click here). Access the IRIS website (click here). Access links to contacts, a 9-page EPA description of the process revisions, and a 5-page FAQ document (click here). [*Toxics]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bush Warming Proposal Gets Mixed Reviews

Apr 16: President Bush laid out the Administration's latest strategy on controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its relationship to domestic proposals being advanced in Congress and international proposals being developed in the aftermath of the so-called "Bali Roadmap." The President's plan was announced in advance of the Administration-led, third "Major Economies" meeting being held in Paris France, April 17-18, 2008. The meeting of major economies on energy and climate brought together Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Britain, Russia and South Africa, as well as the UN, the European Union (EU) and the IEA.

The essence of the President's proposal was to set a new national goal to stop the growth of U.S. GHG emissions by 2025; pursue an economy-wide strategy that builds on existing programs (i.e. clean coal, carbon sequestration, nuclear power, energy efficiency, and alternative fuels) and adopts policies that spur investment in the new technologies. The goal and efforts would constitute the "America's national plan" and the U.S. would include its plan in a binding international agreement, so long as other major economies include their plans in such an agreement. Each nations' plan would recognize different strategies, goals and polices reflective of individual unique energy resources and economic circumstances.

In announcing the strategy, President Bush said, "I believe that Congressional debate should be guided by certain core principles and a clear appreciation that there is a wrong way and a right way to approach reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Bad legislation would impose tremendous costs on our economy and on American families without accomplishing the important climate change goals we share."

He said, "The wrong way is to raise taxes, duplicate mandates, or demand sudden and drastic emissions cuts that have no chance of being realized and every chance of hurting our economy. The right way is to set realistic goals for reducing emissions consistent with advances in technology, while increasing our energy security and ensuring our economy can continue to prosper and grow.

"The wrong way is to sharply increase gasoline prices, home heating bills for American families and the cost of energy for American businesses. The right way is to adopt policies that spur investment in the new technologies needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more cost-effectively in the longer term without placing unreasonable burdens on American consumers and workers in the short term.

"The wrong way is to jeopardize our energy and economic security by abandoning nuclear power and our nation's huge reserves of coal. The right way is to promote more emission-free nuclear power and encourage the investments necessary to produce electricity from coal without releasing carbon into the air.

"The wrong way is to unilaterally impose regulatory costs that put American businesses at a disadvantage with their competitors abroad -- which would simply drive American jobs overseas and increase emissions there. The right way is to ensure that all major economies are bound to take action and to work cooperatively with our partners for a fair and effective international climate agreement.

"The wrong way is to threaten punitive tariffs and protectionist barriers, start a carbon-based global trade war, and to stifle the diffusion of new technologies. The right way is to work to make advanced technology affordable and available in the developing world -- by lowering trade barriers, creating a global free market for clean energy technologies, and enhancing international cooperation and technology investment."

President Bush reminded that "When I took office seven years ago, we faced a problem. A number of nations around the world were preparing to implement the flawed approach of Kyoto Protocol. In 1997, the United States Senate took a look at the Kyoto approach and passed a resolution opposing this approach by a 95 to nothing vote. . . So the United States has launched -- and the G8 has embraced -- a new process that brings together the countries responsible for most of the world's emissions. We're working toward a climate agreement that includes the meaningful participation of every major economy -- and gives none a free ride."

Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), the authors of the major Senate initiative on climate change, the Climate Security Act (S. 2191), issued a joint release on the President's proposal. Senator Lieberman said, "I share the President's preference of a market-based approach over carbon taxes. I remain encouraged by EPA's finding last month that the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act will achieve strong results in curbing global warming without imposing economic hardship on Americans [
See WIMS 3/17/08]. I don't think that the President's statement will have any negative impact on our efforts to attract votes to the Climate Security Act on the Senate floor this June. I remain confident about the prospects of this critical legislation." Senator Warner said, "The President's announcement today that he supports measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. is welcome news as the Senate prepares to consider climate change legislation this summer. This personally delivered message is recognition that a growing problem faces America -- and the world -- caused by erratic fluctuations in climate, particularly temperature variations and rainfall patterns. I am pleased the President is prepared to engage on this vital issue, both on Capitol Hill and on the international stage."

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee said, ""The President's plan to have America stand by while greenhouse gases reach dangerous levels and threaten America and the world is worse than doing nothing - it is the height of irresponsibility. I strongly believe that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee bill will not only make our nation a leader in the global warming challenge, but it will trigger an American economic renaissance."

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), Chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, was highly critical of the President and said, "By the time President Bush’s plan finally starts to cut global warming emissions, the planet will already be cooked. The President’s short-term goal is to do nothing, his medium-term goal is to do nothing much, and his long-term goal is to do nothing close to what’s needed to save the planet from global warming.

"He claims we must cooperate with other countries on climate-friendly technology, but his administration didn’t even send a participant to a major 60-country renewable energy meeting in Berlin last week. How can the American people have faith in this President’s climate goals when he doesn’t even show faith in his own rhetoric? According to the head of the Nobel-winning IPCC, global emissions need to peak by 2015, and reduce after that. Waiting until 2025 just to stop the increases in U.S. emissions spells disaster for the planet. . ."

Major environmental organizations including Environmental Defense, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and Earthjustice all issued statements denouncing the President's proposal (See links below). As a representative example, NRDC said, "In his eighth year, the president has just proposed a path on global warming weaker than the campaign pledge he made in September of 2000 and broke three months into office. Not content with blocking action over the last eight years, this president is trying to lock in pollution growth for the next 15.

“His approach would extend his dangerous legacy on global warming far beyond his time in office. His statement seems a thinly disguised attempt to derail global warming solutions currently moving in Congress. The Lieberman-Warner bill is set to be voted on in June and it should be strengthened and passed, not attacked by this do-nothing president. While the Lieberman-Warner bill would reduce emissions 25-32 percent from 2005 levels by 2025, in line with what scientists say is needed, the president’s new goal would allow continued emissions growth of as much as 10 percent or more. . ."

In response to a question at a press briefing from France on the Major Economies meeting James Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality and key Administration spokesperson on climate change said, "What the President did was try to squarely describe where we understand the peak point to be, and it's going to be in that 2025 period -- and for two very straightforward reasons: One is to get emissions to peak in the power generation sector, you need nuclear plants, you need carbon captured storage, and you need renewable power on the gigawatt scale. It will take us 10 to 15 years to get to the point where that's going to be possible, and it's -- that's just straight up math and permitting and getting plants built and financed.

"On the transportation side, to get us into a absolute decline mode, which will occur sometime around 2025, to get us there we have to shift to second-generation cellulosic fuels, because those have the lower carbon profile that displaces the CO emissions associated from gasoline use; and we have to use more electricity in our vehicle mix, and that's going to require the very same low-carbon power plants that I just described.

"We cannot as a country magically put all that out there in the next five to 10 years, but what the President's strategy has done is ensure that that's going to occur at the time that we've determined. If somebody has other views on making that come faster, we welcome that debate. . ."

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee issued a statement saying the President's speech rejected the Lieberman -Warner S. 2191 bill. Senator Inhofe said, "I applaud the President for outlining a bold alternative climate initiative that rejects the concept that the United States must adopt economically ruinous cap-and-trade legislation such as the Lieberman-Warner bill that would significantly drive up the already skyrocketing cost of energy on the American public. Today, as American families and American workers are faced with an economic downturn, the slumping housing market, and rising gas prices, they are unlikely to tolerate a ‘de-stimulus’ climate bill that will not have the sponsors’ purported impact on temperatures but will further exacerbate economic pain. Rather, the President outlined the only politically and economically sustainable path forward, one that embraces and develops new technologies."

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) agreed with the President's proposal and said, "“President Bush has laid out a constructive and balanced set of principles to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Manufacturers seek climate change solutions that offer significant environmental benefits without undue risk to jobs and the economy. Technology should play a leading role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

"U.S.-based manufacturers are dedicated to greater environmental sustainability. But as President Bush noted, America can’t do it alone. Every major economy must establish a national goal for cutting the emissions believed responsible for climate change. China recently surpassed the U.S. as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. But China is not engaged in emission reduction efforts, nor is India or other fast-growing developing economies. The net effect is that any sacrifice made by Americans will be overwhelmed by emissions increases in other countries.

"Manufacturers agree that all responsible climate change approaches depend on accelerating the development and deployment of new technologies. Enacting new greenhouse gas regulations and mandates in the absence of commercially available carbon-reduction technology would spell disaster for the U.S. economy. In lieu of regulations, lawmakers should focus on encouraging the development of new technologies. . ."

A report on the meeting from China View news service said, "The third Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change (MEM) closed here on Friday with no substantial progress and no agreement reached on specific greenhouse gas reduction goals. . . representatives agreed to hold two more rounds of meetings in May and June. . ." It reported the Bush, "reduction plan won little applause. Instead, it drew criticism from many representatives at the meeting, who voiced their disappointment at the U.S. proposal, saying there was little new in it. According to estimates by Chief Economist for the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol, even if all of Bush's reduction measures were able to be implemented, carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States is likely to increase 23 percent by 2025 compared with the 1990 level."

A report from the London-based "BusinessGreen" indicated, "Paris climate talks end in deadlock… again." The news report said, "negotiators were again at loggerheads over proposals for a binding target to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. The EU, Japan and Canada have all been lobbying hard for such a target to be set, but representatives of developing economies at the talks said they would not sign up to such a goal until they see more action from the US to cut emissions. . ."

Access the President's speech and link to a fact sheet on the proposal and related information (
click here). Access the transcript of the press briefing on the Major Economies meeting (click here). Access the State Department website on the Major Economies meetings (click here). Access a release from Senators Lieberman and Warner (click here). Access a release from Senator Boxer (click here). Access a release from Representative Markey (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from National Wildlife Federation (click here). Access a release from Earthjustice (click here). Access a release from Senator Inhofe (click here). Access a release from NAM (click here). Access the China View account (click here). Access the BusinessGreen account (click here). Access various other media reports on the meeting (click here). [*Climate]

Friday, April 11, 2008

Senate Approves Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Amendment

Subscribers & Readers Notice:
We are beginning our Spring publication break next week,
We will resume publication on Monday, April 28, 2008.

Apr 10: By an overwhelming vote of 88-8 the Senate passed the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus amendment, which was added to H.R.3221, The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. The amendment, which contains the same text as stand-alone legislation (S.2821) introduced April 3, by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) [
See WIMS 4/4/08], will extend the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and the solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit for eight years. U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Republican leader on energy issues, joined the Senate to approve the bipartisan amendment.

Senator Cantwell said, “The renewable and efficiency industries have been soaring, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our energy supply. . . By extending these tax incentives, we are not only providing certainty to these industries, infusing money into our economy, but creating high-paying, long-term jobs to help Americans get through these tough economic times.”

Senator Domenici said, “Today’s action by the Senate sends a strong signal that clean energy tax credits must be kept in place to help us meet our energy challenges. By extending these credits, we will ensure that vital work on clean energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass will continue. While I would prefer a longer term extension of the production tax credit, I am nevertheless pleased that the Senate was able to come together and craft this bipartisan measure."

In his release Domenici indicated that while some have advocating paying for the tax credit extensions with specific offsets [i.e. the House-passed Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax of 2008 (H.R. 5351)], he said it his belief that it was unnecessary due to the stimulative effect of the tax credits. On February 27, the U.S. House passed H.R. 5351 by a vote of 236 - 182 [See WIMS 2/28/08,
3/5/08]. That bill, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), contained controversial revenue provisions were expected to raise approximately $18 billion over 10 years, by freezing tax benefits for certain major integrated oil companies.

Regarding the lack of offsetting revenues in the current legislation, Domenici said, “As former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I have been committed to fiscal discipline for my entire career. But when one takes a larger view of these energy tax credits, it becomes obvious that they stimulate the economy, create jobs, and help America become less dependent on foreign sources of oil, which in my judgment is currently the biggest strain on our economy. The evidence of this can be seen in the stimulative effect of the tax incentives passed in EPACT 2005 when I was chairman. It is therefore unnecessary to offset the tax credits, since the end result will be a benefit to our economy and energy security.”

In addition to extending production and solar tax credits, the amendment authorizes $400 million for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, and extends tax credits for those who modify or build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. The amendment also extends credits for energy efficient appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators. Among the technologies that benefit from the renewable energy tax credit are wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash combustion and hydropower facilities.

Access a release from Senator Cantwell (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 3221 (click here). Access legislative details for S. 2821 (click here). Access details of the roll call vote (click here). [*Energy]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Global CO2 Emissions Already Exceed Worst-Case Projections

Apr 9: An Eco-Economy Update from Lester Brown and the Earth Policy Institute reports on the rapid rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The brief update is an excellent and concise summary of the global baseline upon which CO2 control strategies will be measured.

"Global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels stood at a record 8.38 gigatons of carbon (GtC) in 2006, 20 percent above the level in 2000. Emissions grew 3.1 percent a year between 2000 and 2006, more than twice the rate of growth during the 1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions have been growing steadily for 200 years, since fossil fuel burning began on a large scale at the start of the Industrial Revolution." But the growth in emissions is now accelerating despite what Brown calls "unambiguous evidence" that carbon dioxide is warming the planet and disrupting ecosystems around the globe.

"In 2000, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid out projections of how greenhouse gas emissions were likely to evolve during the twenty-first century due to economic, demographic, and technological changes. The high-end scenario combined rapid economic growth and globalization with intensive fossil fuel use and was used as the IPCC’s upper limit for estimates of future climate change in its recent 2007 report. Yet this upper-limit projection predicted annual emissions growth of only 2.3 percent between 2000 and 2010 -- far less than the 3.1 percent annual increase observed so far this century. With CO2 emissions currently exceeding the worst-case scenario, we can expect that temperature and sea level rise will likely do the same.

"Five countries are responsible for over half of fossil-fuel-related CO2 emissions, and the United States and China alone account for more than a third. The United States has been the world’s largest emitter for over a century, releasing 1.66 GtC in 2006, or 19.8 percent of global emissions. It is now closely followed by China, where growth in emissions has been driven by a rapid increase in coal consumption -- China is currently opening an average of two coal-fired power plants a week. Emissions in China have more than doubled since 1990, reaching 1.48 GtC in 2006, or 17.7 percent of the world total. Analysts expect that China will overtake the United States to become the world’s largest emitter before 2009.

"The other countries in the top five are Russia, India, and Japan, respectively accounting for 5.2, 4.7, and 4.1 percent of global CO2 emissions. . . Of these, India has had the fastest growth in emissions, which have tripled since 1981. The increase in emissions from India and China reflects the rapid industrialization and economic growth currently happening throughout Asia. Since 2000, carbon dioxide emissions in Asia have grown five times faster than emissions in the rest of the world. The region, which produced less then 10 percent of global emissions in 1970, now accounts for almost a third of the world total.

"These national and regional numbers mask huge differences in per capita CO2 emissions. After the tiny nations of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Singapore, the United States has the largest per capita emissions in the world. . . At 5.5 tons of carbon, per person U.S. emissions are almost five times greater than those in China, and almost 200 times greater than those in the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations calculates that an average air-conditioner in Florida is responsible for more CO2 every year than a person in Cambodia is in a lifetime, and that a dishwashing machine in Europe annually emits as much as three Ethiopians. .

. "Carbon dioxide from both fossil fuel burning and deforestation is accumulating in the atmosphere. Ice core records indicate that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere now than at any point in the last 650,000 years. In 2007, the atmospheric CO2 concentration was 384 parts per million (ppm), up from 280 ppm at the start of the Industrial Revolution. Between 2000 and 2007, atmospheric CO2 concentration grew by an average of 2 ppm per year, the fastest seven-year increase since continuous monitoring began in 1959. . . Only about half of the CO2 released into the atmosphere every year actually remains there, as at least 45 percent is rapidly removed by carbon sinks such as plants and the ocean. . .

"The IPCC projects that without policy measures to address global warming, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning could more than double between 2000 and 2030, a trajectory that would make it almost impossible to avoid a temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Increasing evidence suggests that even a warming of less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures would constitute “dangerous” climate change, something nations have already committed to avoid under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. . ."

Access the complete update and links to data resources (
click here). [*Climate]

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Senate Hearing On Clean Water Restoration Act

Apr 9: The Senate Environment and Pubic Works Committee, Chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), held a hearing entitled, “Legislative Hearing on S. 1870, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007 [See WIMS 5/22/07]." Witnesses testifying at the hearing included Carol Browner, former U.S. EPA Administrator and now a principal with The Albright Group, LLC; and representatives of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Arizona Department of Environmental Quality; Madison County, State of Ohio; and Smith 6-S Livestock.

The original House bill, introduced by Representative Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee along with 175 cosponsors (companion bill Senate bill S.1870), is regarded by proponents as a "fix" designed to restore the authority of the Clean Water Act so it has the same effect it had prior to the Supreme Court’s rulings in 2001 and 2006 that question the ability of U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enforce the Clean Water Act on wetlands, streams and ponds that are not part of a major “navigable” waterway [Access various posts on WIMS-eNewsUSA Blog and the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on the Rapanos Supreme Court Decision & Related Activities]. The first sentence of the act reads, “The Purpose of this act is as follows: To reaffirm the original intent of Congress in enacting the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 (86 Stat. 816) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the United States.” CWRA would also reaffirm exemptions for farming, mining, logging and other activities that are not regulated by the Clean Water Act.

Senator Boxer's opening statement was not readily available but she indicated that the CWA authorities should be increased -- not decreased. She said the current problems with the CWA are the result of "activist Justices" and their interpretation of the Act. In his opening statement, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) said, "This bill, as currently written, will expand federal jurisdiction authority in a way that pushes the outer limits of Congress’s constitutional role. If Congress is to amend the Clean Water Act, any changes must provide clarity and reduce lawsuits. This bill does neither. It will not curtail litigation, but rather increase it, as stakeholders seek legal clarity on what exactly are the outer limits of Congressional authority. We should not propose and pass legislative language that increases uncertainty and increases an already litigious environment."

A number of major environmental and conservations organizations are supporting the act including: American Rivers; Clean Water Network; Earthjustice; Environment America; Izaak Walton League of America; League of Conservation Voters; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; Sierra Club; Southern Environmental Law Center; Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership; and Trout Unlimited. The groups issued a joint release saying, “The Supreme Court and the Bush Administration have placed vital Clean Water Act protections in doubt for many important waters, making it easier to pollute and destroy these waters. Corporations and developers are spending millions to defeat this bill, because taking responsibility for safeguarding clean water cuts into company profits."

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and a webcast (
click here). Access a release from environmental/conservation groups (click here). Access legislative details for S. 1870 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 2421 (click here). [*Water]

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Representatives Dingell Speaks On Energy & Climate Legislation

Apr 8: U.S. Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, who is and will continue to be a major actor on the issue of climate change legislation delivered a speech at the Energy Information Administration (EIA) 2008 Energy Conference on April 8, 2008. Dingell and his Committee have issued a series of White Papers [See WIMS 2/25/08] on issues involved in the House-side climate change legislation. The Senate legislation, Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191) [See WIMS 3/17/08], is expected to be voted on in the Senate sometime in June.

The following are few excerpts from the speech with the full text available from the link below. With 52 years of experience in Congress, Dingell said, "this is one of the most critical periods in our nation’s history for energy policy." Chairman Dingell said:

-- "EIA has projected that the amount of energy saved from the energy bill Congress passed and the President signed in December will be only half of what others have projected."

-- "By now, it’s clear that Congress is moving forward in developing comprehensive climate change legislation. This process, like major portions of last year’s energy independence bill, is being driven by the Committee on Energy and Commerce. As I see it, the Committee has begun the third phase of our work on climate change. . . The third phase of our climate change work is now underway: preparing legislation that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050. We are moving closer to crafting this comprehensive legislation. Though we’re working to complete this process as quickly as possible, we’re most concerned with doing it well. I would note, that as we move forward, we are receiving little help from this Administration. Ultimately, whether the Administration chooses to engage in this process or not, the end result must be, and will be, a bill that protects our environment without putting the American economy at a disadvantage. . ."

-- "Despite its availability and importance, coal faces obvious challenges as we search for ways to reduce its carbon emissions. That’s why I am working to ensure that the climate legislation we draft recognizes the need to use this fuel more efficiently and cleanly. The development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies is fundamental to continued coal use in an increasingly carbon constrained world."

-- I recognize that nuclear power remains controversial in some quarters. However, this energy source continues to enjoy substantial Congressional support, as reflected in the loan guarantee provisions of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Perhaps the biggest near-term challenge for nuclear power’s prospects is the question of waste disposal. I have long been a strong supporter of securing funding for the Department of Energy’s Yucca Mountain repository project."

-- "New source review, which requires plant-specific, case-by-case permitting of new and modified sources seems to be a far less efficient way of limiting greenhouse gas emissions than would an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. Requiring each individual state to prepare a state implementation plan on greenhouse gases might not be the best use of governmental resources."

-- "In all my years in Congress, taking on the challenge of climate change is the most difficult undertaking of my career. But, I am up to the challenge. I am excited about the opportunity it presents. I believe that comprehensive climate change legislation presents us with an opportunity not only to produce a bill, but a major legislative accomplishment."

Access the complete speech (
click here). Access the agenda and speakers for the EIA conference (click here). Access links to all Committee White Papers, letters, hearings, etc regarding the Committee activity on climate change (click here). [*Climate, *Energy]

Monday, April 07, 2008

Paper Or Plastic? Seattle Officials Say Neither!

Apr 4: On April 2, Seattle, Washington's Mayor Greg Nickels and City Council President Richard Conlin proposed a 20-cent “green fee” on all disposable shopping bags at the city’s grocery, drug and convenience stores. They said a recent city-sponsored report determined that both paper and plastic are harmful to the environment. The proposal also calls for a ban on foam containers in the food service industry. If adopted by the City Council, the waste prevention measures would take effect Jan. 1, 2009. Nickels and Conlin said the bag fee and foam ban will cut down on waste, reduce the use of environmentally harmful plastics and cut the production of greenhouse gases.

Mayor Nickels said, “The answer to the question ‘paper or plastic’ is neither -- both harm the environment. Every piece of plastic ever made is still with us. The best way to handle a ton of waste is not to create it. This proposal is all about forming new habits. Taking a reusable bag to grocery stores and pharmacies is a simple thing that has an enormous impact.”

On April 4, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the Seattle proposals would will have negative consequences on the local environment, the economy and the school system. ACC said plastic recycling is a superior alternative for the environment and for the community’s economic health. ACC encouraged the City of Seattle to join a growing number of cities and states by supporting plastic recycling programs for bags and food containers.

ACC indicated in a release that plastic bags are a good choice for the environment. It takes less than half of the energy to make them than typical alternatives, and likewise, they generate less than half the greenhouse gases of typical alternatives. Increased recycling is the answer. Sharon Kneiss, vice president of ACC’s Products Division said, “We are seeing a trend for municipalities nationwide to creatively employ existing resources to reduce waste, improve sustainability and achieve broader environmental goals. Across the nation, from California to New York City, progressive leaders are choosing plastic bag recycling because it makes sense for the environment and the economy.”

A release from Mayor Nickels indicated that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) estimates 360 million disposable bags are used in the city every year, most made of plastic. Almost 75 percent of these come from the city’s 575 grocery, drug and convenience stores (out of a total 3,600 retail and restaurant businesses). While Seattleites have a good record of recycling paper bags, most plastic ends up in landfills. But paper bags will also be subject to the fee because, taking into account the environmental costs of logging and shipping, they are actually worse for the planet.

According to the proposal the city will set aside $1 million to distribute these bags and promote their advantages. Retailers will keep 5-cents of every bag to cover administrative costs. Retailers grossing less than $1 million annually will keep the entire 20-cent fee. Charging a fee for disposable bags will cut the number of throw-away bags coming out of grocery, drug and convenience stores by an estimated 70 percent or more according to the city’s analysis and will reduce the use of disposable shopping bags in Seattle overall by more than 50 percent. By preventing the manufacture of 184 million bags a year, Seattle will cut greenhouse gas production by nearly 112,000 tons over a 30-year period. A similar fee in Ireland achieved a 90 percent reduction in use from 325 to 23 bags per person per year.

ACC points out, however, that the tax on plastic bags in Ireland reduced plastic grocery bag use by 90% but increased overall plastic use by 400% as residents purchased new plastic bags instead of reusing grocery bags. They also said that retailers in Ireland report the loss of 450 wire baskets and carts per month by retailer on average -- a loss of about 24 million euros (about $39 million USD) annually. And, the tax has led to a significant increase in ‘push outs’ (shoppers filling their carts and walking straight out without paying) at a cost to retailers of 10 million euros ($17.2 million USD) annually.

To smooth the transition in Seattle, the proposal calls for establishing business advisory committees representing the retail and restaurant sectors. In addition, the city will help food service businesses work together for lower prices on new compostable products. Seattle expects to collect about $10 million annually from the green fee. About $2 million will be spent to promote the switch to reusable bags, including the distribution of free bags to low income families and those on fixed incomes. The rest of the money, about $8 million, will go toward waste prevention and recycling programs and environmental education programs.

A study recently conducted by Herrera Environmental for Seattle indicates that all disposable paper and plastic bags have significant energy, climate change, wastewater, litter and water quality impacts on the region’s environment -- although plastic is especially damaging to marine animals and shore birds. The Herrera study examined the life cycle environmental impact of disposable shopping bags and found the overall impact of paper bags was four times worse than that of an equal number of plastic bags (for all categories weighted equally), and worse in every category except litter and marine litter. The Mayor indicated that banning plastic bags but not paper would push stores and shoppers to use more paper bags, resulting in significantly greater greenhouse gas generation.

Access a release from the Seattle Mayor with links to additional information including a fact sheet, report executive summary and a FAQ document (
click here). Access a release from ACC with links to more information on plastics and to the ACC plastic bag recycling website (click here). [*Solid, *Energy, *Climate]

Friday, April 04, 2008

Strong Support For Bipartisan Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act

Apr 3: With oil prices smashing records, and American families and businesses concerned about their monthly electricity bills and the general state of the economy, today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) addressed American’s concerns by introducing The Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008 (S. 2821) with Senator John Ensign (R-NV). The Act will provide the continuation of clean energy production incentives and incentives to improve energy efficiency that will create jobs, save people and businesses money, and over time reduce energy costs. This measure is also co-sponsored by 28 other senators including Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. The bill is also supported by Democrats like Boxer, Feinstein, Biden, and Stabenow; and Republicans like Hutchinson, Dole, Hatch, Stevens, Coleman and Sununu.

Senator Cantwell said, “The renewable and efficiency industries have been soaring, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our energy supply. Critical tax incentives are set to expire this year. If both houses of Congress don’t pass a bill, and the President doesn’t sign it into law within the next one to two months, we will start to see as much as $20 billion of anticipated investment in 2008 delayed or cancelled. This could result in more than 100,000 U.S. jobs lost at a time when the country is skidding into a recession, and energy prices keep getting higher.”

Senator Domenici said, “It is time to stop playing politics with our energy future and extend these important tax credits. In 2005, I was proud to help author the largest and most significant tax credits for clean energy technology in our nation’s history. The bill we’re introducing today will extend many of these tax credits to ensure that we can continue to develop alternatives to foreign sources of oil. I look forward to quick action so we can get this done.”

These critical incentives include extending: the Production Tax Credit for investments in wind energy, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal electricity facilities; and the 30 percent investment credit for businesses that install solar or fuel cell equipment. In addition, a set of effective energy efficiency programs were extended to give homeowners tax credits for installing energy efficient furnaces, windows and insulation to make their homes more efficient; offer tax deductions for builders to go the extra mile and build more energy efficient new homes; provide tax deductions for businesses that make energy efficient improvements to commercial buildings; and give tax credits to appliance manufacturers that help lower their production costs for making higher energy saving appliances.

In addition to extending production and solar tax credits, the legislation introduced authorizes $400 million for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, and extends tax credits for those who modify or build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. The bill also extends credits for energy efficient appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators. Among the technologies that benefit from the renewable energy tax credit are wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash combustion and hydropower facilities.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a release saying, "This bipartisan bill has a great shot to become law. Study after study has shown that extending these credits is the quickest way to reduce the threat of global warming while creating jobs, saving consumers money and increasing our energy security. This legislation will put us on a path toward a clean energy economy. That's why a coalition of more than 100 business, trade and advocacy groups support extending these incentives. The package will strengthen the burgeoning renewable energy industry, reduce residential and commercial energy costs, generate new domestic jobs and boost a flagging economy."

Access a release from Senator Cantwell (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a release from UCS (click here). Access legislative details for S. 2821 (click here). [*Energy]

Thursday, April 03, 2008

VP Gore & His Climate Protection Org Launch "We" Campaign

Mar 31: Former Vice President and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, and The Alliance for Climate Protection, which he founded and funds heavily, launched a multi-year, multi-faceted campaign reportedly costing $300 million, that is designed to engage the American public and ignite a movement to address what they say is "one of the most important issues facing civilization: solving the climate crisis." Unprecedented in scale for a public policy issue, the Alliance’s “We” campaign draws from the best practices of successful commercial, social marketing and political campaigns. The Alliance’s campaign combines advertising, online organizing via its new website, and partnerships with a diverse and growing group of grassroots organizations, to educate the American public on the urgent need to solve the climate crisis and activate them to demand real solutions from elected officials.

VP Gore said, “We can solve the climate crisis, but it will require a major shift in public opinion and engagement. The technologies exist, but our elected leaders don’t yet have the political will to take the bold actions required. When politicians hear the American people calling loud and clear for change, they’ll listen.” Alliance CEO Cathy Zoi said, “There is no problem that can’t be solved when Americans unite behind a shared commitment. Solving the climate crisis is a moral question that transcends who we vote for, which house we worship in or who signs our paychecks. It is past time for us to come together on this issue.”

The Alliance’s three year, commercial-scale campaign will fund an aggressive and innovative online activation and mobilization program supported by nationwide television, print, radio and online advertising all geared towards engaging 10 million supporters to drive policy change. To date, the Alliance has already enlisted more than one million activists towards that goal.

The We campaign’s first television ad, titled “Anthem,” highlights the historic nature of the challenge and the need for a society-wide commitment to finding comprehensive solutions. The ad draws a dramatic parallel between the collective spirit of American leadership that helped us win the Second World War, overcome segregation and put a man on the moon to the spirit needed today to solve the climate crisis. The ad will run nationally on network and cable channels, including placements on shows such as American Idol, House and Law & Order.

The Alliance will also reach an unprecedented number of Americans across the political, ideological and socioeconomic spectrum through a series of partnerships with groups such as the Girl Scouts, the United Steelworkers union, and the National Audubon Society, among many others. The Alliance will support the organizations’ efforts to educate their members about playing an active role in solving the climate crisis. Alliance Board Member and former Republican Congressman Chairman of the House Science Committee Sherwood Boehlert highlighted the non-partisan nature of the effort. “The We campaign is a way to overcome the partisanship that has plagued efforts to confront the immensely important issue of climate change for too long. It doesn’t matter who you are -- Republican, Democrat or Independent -- the We campaign will enable individuals, some of whom have never considered the effects of climate change, to make a positive impact.”

Access a release from the Alliance (
click here). Access the new "We Can Solve It" website (click here). [*Climate]

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Court Petition & Subpoena Seek Warming Endangerment Findings

Apr 2: Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office along with Attorneys General from 17 states, the Corporation Counsel for the City of New York, the City Solicitor of Baltimore, and 13 environmental advocacy groups have asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to order U.S. EPA to respond to last year’s landmark ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA. That ruling, which the U.S. Supreme Court issued exactly one year ago today [See WIMS 4/2/07], required the EPA to make a decision on whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles under the federal Clean Air Act. A year later, the EPA has not issued a decision. The court filing, known as a Petition for Mandamus, requests an order requiring the EPA to act within 60 days.

Attorney General Coakley said, “Once again the EPA has forced our hand, which has resulted in our taking this extraordinary measure to fight the dangers of climate change. As the EPA itself has acknowledged, last year’s Supreme Court ruling requires it to determine whether greenhouse gases are endangering public health or welfare, and if so to begin regulating them. The EPA’s failure to act in the face of these incontestable dangers is a shameful dereliction of duty.”

In Massachusetts v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that -- contrary to the agency’s claim -- the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Court also declared that the agency could not refuse to exercise that authority based on the Agency’s policy preferences. Instead, the EPA would have to decide, based on scientific information, whether it believed that greenhouse gas emissions were posing dangers to public health or welfare. According to the petition, after last year’s ruling, the EPA publicly made clear its belief that greenhouse gases were in fact endangering public health or welfare. Once the EPA comes to that judgment, it must regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. On multiple occasions, the agency promised that it would respond to the Supreme Court’s opinion by issuing an endangerment determination and draft motor vehicle emission standards by the end of last year.

When it recently decided whether California could set its own standards for greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles [
See WIMS 2/29/08], EPA issued detailed findings about the widespread harms that greenhouse gases are causing. For example, the Administrator specifically found that “[s]evere heat waves are projected to intensify in magnitude and duration over portions of the U.S. where these events already occur, with likely increases in mortality and morbidity, especially among the elderly, young, and frail.” The EPA denied California’s request only on the grounds that the many severe harms that California faced would also afflict other states across the country.

The Mandamus petition further asserts that EPA has already prepared an endangerment determination. A Congressional investigation conducted by Congressman Henry Waxman confirmed that the EPA in fact sent its draft endangerment determination and proposed regulations to the Office of Management & Budget in December 2007. According to the petition, an investigation conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform established that consistent with its announced schedule, the EPA implemented its internal process of drafting an affirmative endangerment determination during the Fall of 2007.

The EPA has now declined to issue that proposed endangerment determination, and it last week said that it would delay responding to the Supreme Court’s opinion until after it conducts a lengthy public comment period [Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR)] later this year to examine policy issues raised by regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act [See WIMS 3/28/08].

Joining Massachusetts in the Petition for Mandamus are: the states of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, the City of New York, and the Mayor and City Council for Baltimore, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Advocates, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, International Center for Technological Assessment, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. All of these parties were either petitioners in Massachusetts v. EPA, or joined amicus briefs in support of the petitioners.

In a separate action from the states and groups filing a court request for Petition for Mandamus, the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Chaired by Edward J. Markey (D-MA), voted to issue a subpoena for EPA documents showing the Agency's progress in making the "endangerment" finding and proposing national emissions standards under the Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court ruling.

A release from the Committee indicates that, "One year ago today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the landmark global warming case Massachusetts v. EPA, saying the Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency must address whether heat-trapping emissions from motor vehicles endanger public health or welfare. After a year of stalling and avoidance by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will vote to issue a subpoena for EPA documents showing the Agency's progress in making the "endangerment" finding and proposing national emissions standards."

Markey said, “Paper is the traditional one year anniversary gift. On this anniversary of Massachusetts v. EPA, we’re sending a piece of paper -- a subpoena -- to Stephen Johnson and the EPA. The modern one year anniversary gift is a clock, and we’re trying to make sure this administration doesn’t run out the clock on their term without taking action to protect the climate.”

The 12-0 vote (9 Democrats, 3 Republicans), preceded a Select Committee hearing on aviation’s role in the causes and solutions to global warming. A simple majority of the committee’s 15 members is required to approve the subpoena, and the committee expects to serve the subpoena on the EPA shortly. Markey indicated that if the EPA does not turn over the requested documents following the subpoena within 10 days, the committee will then work with the House leadership to enforce the subpoena. Johnson will not be in Washington, DC today to witness the committee vote, as he is currently traveling in Australia.

In conversations and in letters dating back to January, Chairman Markey and Johnson have discussed his agency turning over documents pertaining to EPA’s required ruling on whether or not heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution is a danger to human health or welfare; and draft regulations for controlling global warming emissions from vehicles. Johnson had personally committed to turning over the documents, but has since refused to do so, most recently when he testified before the Select Committee in a March 13, 2008 hearing [See WIMS 3/14/08].

In his release Markey explained, in April of 2007, the Supreme Court directed EPA to determine whether greenhouse gas emissions cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. If EPA makes this so-called "endangerment finding," the Supreme Court said, then it must regulate these emissions from motor vehicles. In its response to the Supreme Court decision, EPA spent about six months conducting intensive analysis and, according to EPA staff disclosures to Congress, Johnson signed off on his agency's positive endangerment finding as well as on a regulatory proposal to reduce these emissions from motor vehicles (to levels that correspond to a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2018). These documents were forwarded to other White House and federal agencies for review in December.

Access a release from the Massachusetts Attorney General (click here). Access the Petition for Mandamus (click here). Access information from Representative Waxman that includes links to EPA's ANPR letter to Congressional leaders and related documents (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club with links to background documents on the case (click here). Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access several WIMS articles on the Supreme Court ruling and requests for EPA's endangerment findings (click here). Access a release from Representative Markey including his opening statement on the subpoena (click here). Access more information on the exchanges between Markey and Johnson on the Select Committee website (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

UN Bangkok Climate Change Talks Underway

Mar 31: The UN Bangkok Climate Change talks got underway on Monday (March 31), the first major United Nations-sponsored meeting on climate change after the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year in December [See WIMS 1/2/08, 12/12/07]. At Bali, Parties agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to a long-term international agreement in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. The Bangkok meeting (March 31 to April 4) is designed to both map out a work program that will lead to that agreement and to advance work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met. Delegates from 163 countries are attending the Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008, which has so far attracted a total of around 1200 participants, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions.

The meeting opened with warnings that the clock is ticking down to prepare an agreement in time to enter into force when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2013. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) pointed out that three months had already elapsed since the Bali conference and that a draft of a future agreement would need to be ready well before Copenhagen. He said, "This leaves us with around one and a half years -- a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen. But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks."

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali last year, Parties to the UNFCCC decided on both the time-line and the main elements of a stronger climate change deal, including a shared long-term vision and enhanced action on mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. A new Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was mandated in Bali to lead the work and is meeting for the first time in Bangkok. Its main task is to spell out the next steps needed to come to the agreement that is envisioned.

The second working group that is meeting at Bangkok is the existing Ad Hoc Working Group on further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP). This group of rich countries will work on the analysis of possible tools available to these countries to reach emission reduction commitments. The tools that the working group will analyze in Bangkok include emissions trading and the “project based mechanisms”. For example, the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism already allows developed countries to meet part of their emission reduction commitments by investing in sustainable development projects in developing countries. Other tools are land use, land-use change and forestry; greenhouse gases, sectors and source categories to be covered, along with possible approaches targeting sectoral emissions, for example from the steel or cement sectors.

The next UN meeting involving negotiations under both working groups will take place in June in Bonn this year, followed by a third meeting in August and a fourth at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland in December.

In a related matter, the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund Board concluded its inaugural meeting in Bonn on March 28. The meeting is widely seen as a major step forward in delivering funding for developing countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. In opening remarks at the meeting, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary called the launch of the Adaptation Fund "a historic moment." He said, "This is a unique fund, with mitigation action .paying. for adaptation. It is not reliant on donor funding or overseas development assistance. This is the climate regime beginning to become self-financing."

Currently, the Adaptation Fund is filled by means of a 2% levy on projects from the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and is worth about 37 million euros. Considering the number of CDM projects in the pipeline, this figure will rapidly increase to an estimated 80-300 million USD in the period 2008-2012. The Adaptation Fund Board will ensure that the guidelines and procedures for accessing the Fund are established. Secretary de Boer said the comprehensive international climate change deal that will be reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 will need to generate billions of dollars in funding for adaptation, with the carbon market likely to play a key role.

Access a release from UNFCCC (
click here). Access the opening statement from Yvo de Boer (click here). Access the Bangkok Climate Change Talks website for complete information and documents (click here). Access a release on the Adaptation Fund Board meeting (click here). Access complete information on the Adaptation Fund and related documents (click here).[*Climate]