Thursday, January 29, 2009

House Democrats Pass Economic Stimulus Bill

Jan 28: House Democrats passed their version of an $819 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) by a vote of 244 to 188 (all Republicans & 11 Democrats voted against the bill) [See WIMS 1/15/09]. The debate over the bill between Democrats and Republicans repeated the intense partisan differences common in the 110th Congress. The House version is definitely a Democratic bill and a substitute amendment by Republicans was rejected. Observers are predicting more compromise between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate; however, there are still substantial differences in philosophical approaches to the stimulus. Many are saying the bill is short on infrastructure funding, particularly in light of the ASCE report calling for $2.2 trillion in needed investment over a five year period [See WIMS 1/28/09].

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement following the House vote saying, “Today’s vote is a victory for the American people. As the President urged us to do in his Inaugural Address just eight days ago, the House is taking action, ‘bold and swift,’ by passing a bill to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs. This is a bill about the future and about how we create jobs for today’s workers and for the next generation. It provides tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, invests in science and innovation, in energy, in health care, in education -- all with strict accountability and fiscal responsibility. I look forward to swift Senate passage and for President Obama to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law before the Presidents’ Day recess."

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement on the House floor opposing what he called, "Democrats’ $1 trillion 'stimulus' package" and supporting the Republican proposal crafted by House Ways & Means Committee ranking member Dave Camp (R-MI) and Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA). Republicans said their bill would provide "fast-acting tax relief that will create jobs in America -- a plan that would create 6.2 million new jobs by the end of 2010." Boehner said, “The bill that we have on the floor, the underlying bill, has as an example 32 new, brand new, government programs that spend $136 billion. Now, we all know how long it takes to get a new program up, the bureaucracy that has to be hired before we can ever get that money out into the economy."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), issued a statement saying, “The economic recovery package funds vital programs to improve the efficiency of our homes, buildings and federal offices. It also includes urgently needed grants for companies to invest in renewable energy technologies. The funding to repair our nation’s crumbling water and transportation systems will immediately create jobs and strengthen our nation’s roads, bridges, and pipes."

NRDC indicated in a brief summary that the House bill would provide: 3.4 billion for states for clean energy projects; A grants program for renewable energy technologies covered by the renewable energy tax incentives; $6.2 billion for weatherization of low income homes; $3.5 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (supports clean energy projects primarily at the city and county levels); $2 billion for clean energy research & development; $6 billion for increasing energy efficiency in federal buildings; $12 billion for transit (an amendment by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) increased transit funding from $9 to $12 billion); $2 billion for ready-to-go drinking water infrastructure projects; $6 billion for ready-to-go sanitation infrastructure projects.

Access the breakdown of the roll call vote (
click here). Access a statement from the Speaker (click here). Access a release from Representative Boehner (click here); and his Floor statement (click here). Access extensive coverage, links and video summaries of the debate posted on the Speakers blog site (click here); and including the Republican substitute here (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 1 (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). [*All]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

ASCE Releases Timely Infrastructure Report Card; $2.2 Trillion Needed

Jan 28: With President Obama and Congress considering a massive economic stimulus in the range of $800 billion to over a trillion dollars [See WIMS 1/15/09], the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its sobering 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. The timely assessment assigns a cumulative grade of D to the nation’s infrastructure and notes that a five-year investment need of $2.2 trillion from all levels of government and the private sector. According to an announcement, decades of underfunding and inattention have jeopardized the ability of our nation’s infrastructure to support our economy and facilitate our way of life. Since ASCE’s last assessment in 2005 there has been little change in the condition of the nation’s roads, bridges, drinking water systems and other public works, and the cost of improvement has increased by more than half a trillion dollars.

ASCE President D. Wayne Klotz, P.E., F.ASCE said, “Crumbling infrastructure has a direct impact on our personal and economic health, and the nation’s infrastructure crisis is endangering our future prosperity. Our leaders are looking for solutions to the nation’s current economic crisis. Not only could investment in these critical foundations have a positive impact, but if done responsibly, it would also provide tangible benefits to the American people, such as reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, clean and abundant water supplies and protection against natural hazards.”

As the nation’s infrastructure receives focused attention from the White House, Congress and the public, ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure provides an assessment of the condition and need for investment of 15 infrastructure categories, including, for the first time, levees. While there has been some improvement in energy since 2005, overall conditions have remained the same for bridges, dams, drinking water, hazardous waste, inland waterways, public parks and recreation, rail, schools, solid waste and wastewater, and have worsened in aviation, roads and transit. Security, a category that was added to the Report Card in 2005, and which received an incomplete grade, has been removed from the list of assessed categories and added into the methodology used to assess each individual category. Grades ranged from a high of C+ for solid waste to a low of D- for drinking water, inland waterways, levees, roads and wastewater.

The Report Card also presents five key solutions for raising the nation’s infrastructure GPA. These include: Increasing federal leadership in infrastructure; Promoting sustainability and resilience; Developing federal, state and regional infrastructure plans; Addressing life-cycle costs and ongoing maintenance; and, Increasing and improving infrastructure investment from all stakeholders.

The report indicates that redevelopment of brownfields sites over the past five years generated an estimated 191,338 new jobs and $408 million annually in extra revenues for localities, but federal funding for “Superfund” cleanup of the nation's worst toxic waste sites continues to decline steadily. Scoring a grade of D-, the nation’s drinking water and wastewater systems and inland waterways face difficult problems. Leaking pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water a day, and there is an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful life and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations.
Aging systems discharge billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into U.S. surface waters each year, and an estimated $390 billion must be invested over the next 20 years to update or replace existing systems and build new ones to meet increasing demand. Finally, while the average tow barge can carry the equivalent of 870 tractor trailer loads, 30 of the 257 locks still in use on the nation’s inland waterways were built in the 1800s and another 92 are more than 60 years old. The cost to replace the present system of locks is estimated at more than $125 billion.

The 2009 Report Card was developed by an advisory council of 28 civil engineers representing each of the infrastructure categories, as well as a broad spectrum of civil engineering disciplines. Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety and resilience. A detailed report, which accompanies the grades released, will be released on March 25, 2009.

On January 21, ASCE released their recommended ‘Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus Investment’ designed to help guide lawmakers and the Obama administration when allocating economic stimulus funding for infrastructure projects poised to aid in rebuilding the nation’s economy. ASCE is encouraged by last week’s introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which highlights a shared focus on accountability and infrastructure investment. This investment is expected to create and sustain jobs, and begin to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure if appropriately applied to areas that most require federal support.

Access a release on the Report Card (
click here). Access more information on the Report Card and links to a webcast (click here). Access a release on the Principles for Infrastructure Stimulus (click here). [*All]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reactions To President's Directives On Energy & Climate Change

Jan 27: There was significant reaction from many sectors to President Obama's direction to U.S. EPA to review the previous denial of a waiver request by California to set its own standards for the regulation of vehicle emissions and his directive for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for carmakers' 2011 model year. [See WIMS 1/26/09]. In his speech, announcing the directives, the President also delivered his strongest statements to date on climate change and global warming. He said, ". . . the long-term threat of climate change, which, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe. . ."

On the California waiver it is important to emphasize precisely what the President said as there has been considerable misleading reports and statements on his statement. The President said, "California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to forge 21st-century standards, and over a dozen states have followed its lead. But instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. This refusal to lead risks the creation of a confusing and patchwork set of standards that hurts the environment and the auto industry. . . And that's why I'm directing the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review the denial of the California waiver request and determine the best way forward. This will help us create incentives to develop new energy that will make us less dependent on the oil that endangers our security, our economy and our planet." [emphasis added]. It appears the President is proposing a national standard and would like to discourage individual states from adopting the California standard.

There has also been confusing reporting on the number of other states interested in adopting the California standard. The State of California reports that thirteen other states, as of January 21, 2009, have adopted California's standards including: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. In various reports and statements, it has also been implied that there would be many different regulations in the various states if the California waiver were granted. It should also be emphasized that if the California waiver were approved and other states were to adopt the California standard as permitted under the Clean Air Act, there would only be two different standards -- not 16-18 different standards in various states.

The following is a sampling of various reactions from different sectors to the President's announcements. Access the complete statements by clicking on the active links.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) - "This morning, President Obama signaled that our country can no longer afford to wait to combat the climate crisis and our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. He is setting our country on a path led by science and innovation, in a dramatic departure from the past eight years. Granting the request of California and other states to move forward with reducing greenhouse gases emissions from vehicles will steer American automakers to retool their fleets. Only through innovation will automakers be able to create the greener cars of the future and regain their global competitiveness. President Obama has also sent a clear message on CAFE standards. Restarting the implementation of new fuel efficiency standards will allow the Obama Administration to bring fresh thinking to the process and ensure the standards achieve the goals set by Congress in the landmark 2007 energy bill."

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) - “The President’s action today is disappointing. The effect of this policy will be to destroy American jobs at the very time government leaders should be working together to protect and create them. Millions of American jobs will be placed in further jeopardy if automakers are forced to spend billions to comply with potentially dozens of different emissions standards in dozens of different states. . . Reversing the decision could open the door to states setting their own standards, forcing struggling American automakers -- which recently received billions in taxpayer funds -- to comply with potentially dozens of different and costly standards across the country."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) - "I have long said that granting California the waiver so that California and 18 other states can address tailpipe emissions from cars is the best first step the President can take to combat global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is so refreshing to see that the President understands that science must lead the way. We know that the scientists and professionals at EPA have made it clear that science and the law demand that the waiver be granted. As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will be working with the new EPA Administrator to ensure that the California waiver moves forward as quickly as possible. The President's comments about the importance of American leadership on clean energy and global warming were also music to my ears."

U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) - It’s unfortunate that the administration believes a patchwork of state regulations is better than a single national fuel economy standard. This is a crippling mandate for the ailing auto industry. Why attempt to bail out the auto industry on one hand and on the other mandate regulations that will further raise costs and result in more job losses in the industry? The potential granting of this waiver could authorize an untested, state-by-state regulatory program that could undermine the national CAFE standard, thus creating a patchwork of regulatory compliance obligations that would provide marginal, if any, benefit from a greenhouse gas reduction standpoint, but would tremendously increase costs and burdens on interstate commerce and on the automobile industry. It is a political exercise that attempts to address a global issue with a statewide solution that undermines a carefully crafted and newly revised national fuel economy standard.”

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA) - This is an energy triple play that will cut global warming pollution, increase innovation, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It shows what a visionary president is capable of doing, and the faith he has in the economic revival that America's automotive and energy industries can produce. . . President Obama is right to reconsider the way these fuel economy standards are implemented, and will undoubtedly use sound science and realistic analysis to achieve the strongest results that benefit consumers. Granting the waiver to California, Massachusetts and other states to go forward with reducing global warming emissions from vehicle tailpipes is what even the Bush Administration’s own experts concluded must be done, and I’m delighted that the era of politics trumping science and the law is over.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - "With this announcement from President Obama less than a week into his administration, it is clear that California and the environment now have a strong ally in the White House. Allowing California and other states to aggressively reduce their own harmful vehicle tailpipe emissions would be a historic win for clean air and for millions of Americans who want more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars. My administration has been fighting for this waiver since 2005 and we will not give up until it is granted because we owe it to our children and to our grandchildren to do more than just protect our natural resources, we must also work to improve them so that we leave behind an environment for future generations that is better than it is today.” [See also a California chronology on the waiver issue]

National Association of Clean Air Agencies - "Federal legislation must not preempt state or local governments from taking additional and more stringent actions to reduce GHG emissions. . . EPA should propose and promulgate a finding that GHG emissions endanger public health and welfare and use the authorities under the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions. . . The Bush Administration’s denial of California's waiver request left California and over a dozen states with limited means to reduce motor vehicles' contributions to climate change. The Administration should immediately overturn the decision denying California's waiver application. . ." [Excerpted from a comprehensive set of recommendations for the Obama Administration, dated 12/16/08]

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers - "The Alliance supports a nationwide program that bridges state and federal concerns and moves all stakeholders forward, and we are ready to work with the Administration on developing a national approach. Since CA sought federal permission to set its own fuel economy/CO2 standards, there have been many developments. The U.S. Supreme Court directed EPA to reconsider greenhouse gas regulations for autos, the Congress passed stringent new fuel economy standards requiring CO2 reductions of at least 30%, automakers are offering more than 25 models of hybrids for sale in 2009, President Obama and a Democratic Senate and House are considering a comprehensive, economy-wide approach to CO2 reductions, and the credit crunch is producing the toughest marketplace since World War II. Today in the U.S. there are three voices on fuel economy/CO2 -- NHTSA, EPA and CA -- and each has different standards, different structures and different timelines. Automakers seek a federal-state solution that provides us with compliance clarity and one national standard. The Alliance also urges the Obama Administration to issue fuel economy standards for MY2011, because automakers are working on their product plans now and need the certainty of final standards."

U.S. Chamber of Commerce - “At a time when we need to jump start our economy, regulating CO2 in this manner would stop most of President Obama’s stimulus proposal cold in its tracks and create a regulatory train wreck. California should not set national standards for environmental regulation. The President already has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Allowing the California waiver would create a patchwork of regulations, be inefficient, and not achieve the desired outcome. As Congress tries to bail out the auto industry, California wants to punch more holes in the bottom of the boat. In addition, such a move would put the EPA one step closer to making carbon dioxide ‘subject to regulation’ under the Act."

National Association of Manufacturers - "The NAM understands the fundamental importance of protecting the environment. Our member companies are committed to greater environmental sustainability, including energy efficiency and conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with global climate change. We know we cannot solve the climate change issue alone. . . A separate waiver for California would lead to a patchwork of greenhouse gas reduction laws when climate change is a global issue and should be addressed on a national level."

American Petroleum Institute - API supports President Obama’s desire to fortify the nation’s energy security with a comprehensive energy policy. The oil and natural gas industry, which supports 6 million workers, stands ready to advance those national goals and we urge policymakers to proceed with plans to extend new leases on non-park federal lands and waters to develop energy resources that belong to the American people. However, the President’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its denial of California’s request for a waiver that stopped California and 13 other states from implementing their own limits on auto emissions is not the way to go on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Creating a patchwork regulatory structure across multiple states would most likely impose higher costs on consumers, slow economic growth and kill U.S. jobs.

Earthjustice - "President Obama's directive is a much welcome move toward an energy efficient economy, with cleaner air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We're very pleased the President took this immediate step toward allowing California and other states to set stronger standards. We're on our way to producing more jobs and a cleaner environment, during a time where restoring both the economy and the environment are crucial to this country."

Natural Resources Defense Council - “What a thrilling moment to have our new president put his vision into action for a cleaner and safer environment. President Obama’s announcement is a big step in fulfilling his campaign promises for a clean energy economy that will move America beyond oil, create new jobs and reduce global warming pollution. This is a strong signal to the world that America is ready to quickly step forward as a leader in the fight against global warming.”

Environmental Defense Fund - President Barack Obama signed two executive orders that could be remembered as the critical turning point toward achieving real energy independence and stopping global warming. . . The President's powerful statement affirming his commitment to moving aggressively to cut global warming emissions and unleash America's clean energy future laid out clear goals for action in the coming weeks and months.

National Wildlife Federation - "Today’s decision provides the kind of sound direction the auto industry needs to once again lead and build the kind of cars not only America needs, but the world needs. Our energy policies will no longer be based on denial and delay but instead on sound science that tells us we don’t have to choose among efficient vehicles, jobs and a healthy environment. With these new standards and President Obama’s proposed new green investments, we can advance cutting-edge technology that will restore America’s place as a world leader in the auto industry, save consumers money, and reduce our global warming pollution. President Obama has sent a clear message that America is leaving behind our failed fossil fuel policies that leave consumers at the mercy of wild swings in prices at the pump."

Union of Concerned Scientists - "This is a clean break from the previous administration's do-nothing approaches on global warming and U.S. oil dependence. Reconsidering the waiver denial is a clear indication that the new administration is ready to lead on energy and global warming. With this announcement, President Obama is beginning to make good on his campaign pledge to restore science to its rightful place in federal policymaking. I'm confident the administration will heed the advice of EPA staff scientists, grant the waiver, and take necessary steps to implement nationwide greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. If EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson follows through with her promise to keep the process transparent, we'll know the role science played in this decision."

GreenpeaceUSA - “For eight years, President Bush blocked the country’s progress on global warming solutions. At long last, the era of obstruction and denial is over. . . Detroit itself has indicated that this action is not only possible but also good for business. In its ‘modernization plans’ submitted to Congress as part of its request for a taxpayer bailout last fall, General Motors pledged fuel efficiency improvements that would allow the company to meet a national clean cars standard consistent with California’s, according to an analysis by Natural Resources Defense Council."

United Nations Environment Programme - "Just days after taking office, US President Barack Obama has appointed a climate envoy and cleared the way for new rules to force automakers to produce cleaner cars. The President signed papers aimed to prod the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles. His Administration is also considering whether to allow California to regulate car emissions, which are blamed for contributing to global warming. The move could prompt 18 states to put in place tougher emission limits than federal standards over coming months."

Access the complete statements above by clicking on the active links. Access the "The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" Presidential Memo (click here). Access the "State of California Request for Waiver" Presidential Memo (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on the California waiver issue (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Monday, January 26, 2009

President Obama Addresses Climate Change & Energy Independence

Jan 26: In an early morning statement and signing event, President Obama said, "This moment of peril must be turned to one of progress," and signed his first two Presidential Memoranda aimed at defining a path to energy independence. In what he called, "a down payment on a broader and sustained effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," he directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for carmakers' 2011 model year. In his second memo he directed U.S. EPA to review the California waiver request, previously denied by the Bush administration, that would pave the way for California and some 16 other states to raise emissions standards above and beyond the national standard. President Obama said, "Instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. The days of Washington dragging its heels are over."

In his opening remarks the President said, "These are extraordinary times, and it calls for swift and extraordinary action. At a time of such great challenge for America, no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy. America's dependence on oil is one of the most serious threats that our nation has faced. It bankrolls dictators, pays for nuclear proliferation and funds both sides of our struggle against terrorism. It puts the American people at the mercy of shifting gas prices, stifles innovation, and sets back our ability to compete. These urgent dangers to our national and economic security are compounded by the long-term threat of climate change, which, if left unchecked, could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe. . .

"Year after year, decade after decade, we've chosen delay over decisive action. Rigid ideology has overruled sound science. Special interests have overshadowed common sense. Rhetoric has not led to the hard work needed to achieve results and our leaders raise their voices each time there's a spike on gas prices, only to grow quiet when the price falls at the pump. Now America has arrived at a crossroads. Embedded in American soil, in the wind and the sun, we have the resources to change. Our scientists, businesses and workers have the capacity to move us forward. It falls on us to choose whether to risk the peril that comes with our current course or to seize the promise of energy independence. And for the sake of our security, our economy and our planet, we must have the courage and commitment to change. . .

"Today I'm announcing the first steps on our journey toward energy independence, as we develop new energy, set new fuel efficiency standards and address greenhouse gas emissions. . . First we must take bold action to create a new American energy economy that creates millions of jobs for our people. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan before Congress places a downpayment on this economy. . . Second, we must ensure that the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow are built right here in the United States of America. . . Third, the federal government must work with, not against, states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

On the California waiver question the President said, "California has shown bold and bipartisan leadership through its effort to forge 21st-century standards, and over a dozen states have followed its lead. But instead of serving as a partner, Washington stood in their way. This refusal to lead risks the creation of a confusing and patchwork set of standards that hurts the environment and the auto industry. . . And that's why I'm directing the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately review the denial of the California waiver request and determine the best way forward. This will help us create incentives to develop new energy that will make us less dependent on the oil that endangers our security, our economy and our planet."

On global climate change, he said, "Finally, we will make it clear to the world that America is ready to lead. To protect our climate and our collective security, we must call together a truly global coalition. I've made it clear that we will act, but so too must the world. That's how we will deny leverage to dictators and dollars to terrorists, and that's how we will ensure that nations like China and India are doing their part, just as we are now willing to do ours. It is time for America to lead because this moment of peril must be turned into one of progress. . . We will not be put off from action because action is hard. Now is the time to make the tough choices. Now is the time to meet the challenge at this crossroad of history by choosing a future that is safer for our country, prosperous for our planet, and sustainable. . ."

Lisa Jackson, the new EPA Administrator also signaled possible actions related to the California waiver in her memo to EPA staff on Friday (January 23) [
See WIMS 1/23/09] when she said, "EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying."

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee immediately announced that she would hold a press conference at approximately 6 PM today (January 26) to discuss President Obama's announcement asking EPA to review the Bush Administration's denial of California's request for a Clean Air Act waiver to address global warming emissions from motor vehicles. She said, "When it is granted, the waiver will allow California and 18 other states - representing more than half the U.S. population - to regulate tailpipe emissions of global warming pollution from motor vehicles."

Access a White House posting on the President's announcement (
click here). Access the complete transcript of the opening address (click here). Access links to a video of the speech (click here). Access links to the Presidential Memos which should be posted soon (click here). Access a statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on the California waiver issue (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]

Friday, January 23, 2009

Senate Confirms Lisa Jackson As EPA Administrator

Jan 22: Lisa P. Jackson has been confirmed as the next administrator of the U.S. EPA. Jackson, the former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, was in line to be New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine's next chief of staff starting December 1, 2008, just prior to her nomination by President Obama on December 11, 2008 [See WIMS 12/3/08]. Prior to going to New Jersey, Jackson worked for 16 years with U.S. EPA initially at the headquarters in Washington and more recently at its regional office in New York City.

The Senate also confirmed Nancy Sutley as Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality [See WIMS 12/11/08]. Sutley, was the Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment for the City of Los Angeles, and the Mayor's representative to the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Governor Corzine issued a statement on the confirmation saying, "The American people have gained a tireless public servant and a tenacious guardian of the environment with the confirmation of Lisa Jackson as our nation's EPA administrator. During her tenure as commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, Lisa set the highest professional standards in tackling issues both local and global in scope. Her record of implementing strong floodplain and land-use rules; sewer infrastructure reform and planning; as well as swift response when contaminated sites were discovered will have a positive impact on the quality of life of New Jerseyans for generations. Her work on the reduction of greenhouse gasses and combating global warming will serve as a national model. Lisa's counsel and expertise will be missed in New Jersey, but we are proud to share with the nation her vision for a cleaner, sustainable environment."

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued a statement saying, "I am really pleased that the Senate has taken the first steps toward restoring the EPA and CEQ to their proper role as organizations that fight to protect the health of our families and the safety of our air, our water and our planet. Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley are well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Council on Environmental Quality, and they respect and understand that their organizations' mission is to protect public health and the environment."

In her first statement posted on the U.S. EPA website, Jackson said, “I am honored by the confidence and faith President Obama and the Senate have reposed in me to lead the EPA in confronting the environmental challenges currently before us. As Administrator, I will ensure EPA’s efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and programs, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency. By keeping faith with these values and unleashing innovative, forward-thinking approaches -- we can further protect neighborhoods and communities throughout the country.”

In a lengthy memo to EPA staff, Jackson said, "EPA can meet the nation’s environmental challenges only if our employees are fully engaged partners in our shared mission. That’s why I will make respect for the EPA workforce a bedrock principle of my tenure. I will look to you every day for ideas, advice and expertise. EPA should once again be the workplace of choice for veteran public servants and also talented young people beginning careers in environmental protection -- just as it was for me when I first joined EPA shortly after graduate school."

Signaling possible actions related to the California waiver and other controversial issues which she has inherited, Jackson said, "EPA must follow the rule of law. The President recognizes that respect for Congressional mandates and judicial decisions is the hallmark of a principled regulatory agency. Under our environmental laws, EPA has room to exercise discretion, and Congress has often looked to EPA to fill in the details of general policies. However, EPA needs to exercise policy discretion in good faith and in keeping with the directives of Congress and the courts. When Congress has been explicit, EPA cannot misinterpret or ignore the language Congress has used. When a court has determined EPA’s responsibilities under our governing statutes, EPA cannot turn a blind eye to the court’s decision or procrastinate in complying."

Access a statement from Governor Corzine (click here). Access the statement from Senator Boxer (click here). Access the statement from Jackson and link to the Memo to EPA Employees (click here). [*All]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change: Open Government; Transparency; FOIA; Executive Privilege

Jan 21: Acting quickly, to set the tone of the Obama Administration, President Obama issued two Executive Orders and two Presidential Memos that are designed to make the government more open and transparent. Additionally, in a symbolic move, recognizing the severe economic crisis facing the country, the President issued a Memo calling for a freeze in the salaries of senior members of the White House staff. The President said, "Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

The first Executive Order deals with "Presidential Records" and establishes policies and procedures governing the assertion of executive privilege by incumbent and former Presidents in connection with the release of Presidential records by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) pursuant to the Presidential Records Act of 1978. The Order revokes Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, and establishes new, more open procedures that make it more difficult to withhold information based on a claim of Executive Privilege.

The second Executive Order deals with "Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel." The order requires every appointee in every executive agency appointed on or after January 20, 2009, to sign, and be contractually committed to an Ethics Pledge. The pledge includes a ban on gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations; a "Revolving Door Ban" for "appointees," requiring that for a period of 2 years from the date of an appointment an employee will not participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related former employment; and, a "Revolving Door Ban" for "Lobbyists Entering Government," prohibiting various actions for a period of 2 years after the date of appointment. The order includes a similar ban on activities for appointees and lobbyists "leaving government."

The 2-page Memo on the Freedom of Information Act indicates, "In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike. The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. . . In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public. . . All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. . . I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency, and to publish such guidelines in the Federal Register. . ."

The 2-page Memo on Transparency and Open Government indicates, "My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government." It contains paragraphs on: Government should be transparent; and Government should be participatory; Government should be collaborative. It calls for the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days.

Access the EO on Presidential Records (
click here). Access the EO on Ethics (click here). Access the Memo on FOIA (click here). Access the Memo on Open Government (click here). Access the Memo on Pay Freeze (click here). [*All]

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

$1-2.5 Trillion/Year To Avoid Climate Tipping Point

Jan 13: The latest State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World, released by the Worldwatch Institute warns that the world will have to reduce emissions more drastically than has been widely predicted, essentially ending the emission of carbon dioxide by 2050 to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world's climate. The book's 47 authors state, however, that "opportunities abound in renewable energy and efficiency improvements, agriculture and forestry, and the resilience of societies for slowing and managing climate change." Worldwatch VP for Programs Robert Engelman, project co-director for State of the World 2009 said,"We're privileged to live at a moment in history when we can still avert a climate catastrophe that would leave the planet hostile to human development and well-being. But there's not much time left. Sealing the deal to save the global climate will require mass public support and worldwide political will to shift to renewable energy, new ways of living, and a human scale that matches the atmosphere's limits."

The report, the 26th edition of the State of the World series, addresses the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as prepare to adapt to climate change. The Earth's average temperature has already risen by more than 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century, with much of that increase attributed to human activities. Nearly 1 degree Celsius of additional warming may already be in store, based on past emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that have not yet made their influence felt on surface temperatures.

A chapter by climate scientist W. L. Hare concludes that in order to avoid a catastrophic climate tipping point, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak before 2020 and drop 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, with further reductions beyond that date. Emissions of carbon dioxide would actually need to ‘go negative'-with more being absorbed than emitted-during the second half of this century. Hare's research finds that even a warming of 2 degrees Celsius poses unacceptable risks to key natural and human systems, including significant loss of species, major reductions in food-production capacity in developing countries, severe water stress for hundreds of millions of people, and significant sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

According to a release from Worldwatch, economists have estimated the cost of avoiding dangerous climate change at around $1-2.5 trillion a year for decades to come; yet the costs of not doing so are expected to be far higher. At the center of this framework, the book's opening chapter notes ten key challenges that must be adopted as part of any successful path to mitigation and climate change adaptation and resilience. Worldwatch indicates, "addressing these interlinked and challenging issues could lay the groundwork for a world that will not merely bounce back from both the economic and climate crises, but surge forward. A new U.S. administration and impending climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009 could finally break the gridlock that has long plagued climate policy. Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin said, "We can't afford to let the Copenhagen climate conference fail. The outcome of this meeting will be written in the history books-and in the lasting composition of the world's atmosphere."

On January 16, Worldwatch released an interview with Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, one of the world's most visible, outspoken voices on fighting climate change. Pachauri wrote the foreword to the Worldwatch 2009 report. In response to a question regarding what would you tell President Obama, Pachauri said, "I would tell him he has the unique opportunity of saving a large part of the human species and several others, because unless the U.S. takes the lead, I'm afraid we will not get an adequate global response. In absence of that, there will obviously be climate change that will go unmitigated. And we're pretty close to the stage where impacts start to turn very serious and very negative." Worldwatch reported that Pachauri also said, "President-elect Obama's goal of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 falls short of the response needed by world leaders to meet the challenge of reducing emissions to levels that will actually spare us the worst effects of climate change."

Access a release from Worldwatch on the State of the World report (
click here). Access the interview with Pachauri (click here). Access more information on the State of the World report and download individual chapters (click here). [*Climate]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama's Change Has Come To WhiteHouse.Gov

Jan 20: In the blink of an eye, the White House website changed from the now familiar layout of the George W. Bush administration to a totally reformatted new view of the President Barack H. Obama administration. First up on the front page is the White House Blog presented by Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House and one of the people who will be contributing to the blog. The first entry -- "Change has come to" Phillips comments that, "A short time ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States and his new administration officially came to life. One of the first changes is the White House's new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world." The video and the full text of President Obama’s Inaugural Address will be available soon on the website.

"Millions of Americans have powered President Obama's journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country's future. is just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement. Just like your new government, and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first."

Phillips indicates that the initial new media efforts will center around three priorities (the following is verbatim): "Communication -- Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.

"Transparency -- President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the President’s policy priorities.

"Participation -- President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.

"We'd also like to hear from you -- what sort of things would you find valuable from If you have an idea, use this form to let us know. Like the transition website and the campaign's before that, this online community will continue to be a work in progress as we develop new features and content for you. So thanks in advance for your patience and for your feedback."

Access the blog post for links to briefing room, RSS feed, sign up for e-mail updates, policy priorities and a form for submitting ideas or comments (click here). Access the White House website (click here). [*All]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Waxman Promises House Climate Change Bill By Memorial Day

Jan 15: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Chaired by Chaired by Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) held a held a major hearing focusing specifically on The U.S. Climate Action Partnership. The hearing presented the perspectives of members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) [See WIMS 11/19/08], a coalition of over 30 businesses and nongovernmental organizations that has called for Congress to pass legislation to address the climate change threat.

The diverse set of witnesses testifying at the hearing included: James Mulva, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ConocoPhillips; Jim Rogers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Duke Energy; Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund; John Rowe, President & Chief Executive Officer, Exelon Corporation; Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Electric; Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council; David Crane, President and Chief Executive Officer, NRG Energy; Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change; Peter Darbee, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, PG&E Corporation; Jeffry Sterba, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, PNM Resources; Preston Chiaro, Chief Executive - Energy and Minerals, Rio Tinto; George Nolen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Corporation; Mark Tercek, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Nature Conservancy; and Jonathan Lash, President, World Resources Institute.

Chairman Waxman opened the meeting with a statement, saying in part, "Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence. U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future. But uncertainty about whether, when, and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments. Companies are caught in a dilemma: they are reluctant to invest in old polluting technologies because they know that tougher regulations are inevitable, but they can't invest in new, cleaner technologies until they know what Congress is going to require.

"Our job is to end this regulatory limbo and set our nation on a responsible path for reducing climate change and achieving energy independence. Our Committee will be acting quickly and decisively to reduce global warming and end our dependence on foreign oil. My goal is to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation in the Committee before the Memorial Day recess. . . That is an ambitious schedule, but it is an achievable one. We cannot afford another year of delay. As today's hearing will show, a consensus is developing that our nation needs climate legislation. . . Climate change, energy independence, and health care are going to be the Committee's highest priorities."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) commented on the Waxman hearing saying, "Chairman Waxman has set an aggressive timetable for action to reduce global warming and our dependence on foreign oil. I share his sense of urgency and his belief that we cannot afford another year of delay. The House is fortunate to have the leadership of Chairman Waxman and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey on climate and energy issues; their knowledge of these issues and commitment to finding the right solutions is unmatched. They will build on the work of Chairman Emeritus John Dingell and former Subcommittee Chair Rick Boucher on energy independence. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House, our colleagues in the Senate, and President Obama to halt the grave threat of climate change."

At the hearing, USCAP) unveiled a comprehensive and detailed set of integrated policy recommendations for developing legislation that would create an environmentally effective and economically sustainable national climate protection program. They said the "landmark document" -- titled A Blueprint for Legislative Action – echoes the sense of urgency that President-elect Obama has articulated regarding the need for a cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Developed through two years of intensive analysis and consensus-building among 26 corporations and five environmental organizations, the Blueprint offers policymakers "a clear path forward endorsed by a coalition representing a broad swath of the economy and diverse environmental interests."

Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE said, "In the past, the U.S. has proven that we have the will, the capabilities and the courage to invest in innovation -- even in difficult times. Today, cap-and-trade legislation is a crucial component in fueling the bold clean energy investments necessary to catapult the US again to preeminence in global energy and environmental policy, strengthen the country's international competitiveness, and create millions of rewarding new American jobs."

USCAP said it believes that strong climate legislation is a critical element of any effort to stimulate investment and innovation in low-carbon technologies. The Blueprint provides specific guidelines for the Administration and Congress to enact legislation that both protects the environment and facilitates the necessary transition to a vibrant, low-carbon economy. That includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 2005 levels by 2050 through an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. They said, "every year of delay in controlling emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper greenhouse gas reductions in the future, at substantially greater economic cost and social disruption."

USCAP indicated that their Blueprint details steps for creating a mandatory, economy-wide cap-and-trade program, coupled with cost containment measures and complementary policies addressing a federal technology research development and deployment program, coal technology, transportation, and building and energy efficiency. They said the Blueprint expands
significantly on their 2007 groundbreaking Call for Action, and includes an aggressive emission reduction schedule, further details on the scope of coverage for the cap-and-trade program, and recommendations for how to include as much of the U.S. economy
under the cap as administratively and politically feasible.

While President-elect Obama and many key Congressional leaders, as well as business and environmental interests are supporting the cap-and-trade approach to dealing with the climate change issue, another organization -- U.S. Climate Task Force (CTF) -- and some influential leaders are advocating a "carbon tax" approach. Dr. Robert Shapiro, a CTF co-founder and former economic advisor to President Bill Clinton, along with Dr. Elaine C. Kamarck, co-founder and former domestic policy advisor to Al Gore, issued their own statement, and held a press conference calling the USCAP Blueprint well intended, but "misguided."

CTF said, “The U.S. Climate Action Partnership’s endorsement of an aggressive cap-and-trade scheme represents a significant misstep on America’s path to mitigate carbon emissions. We share their commitment to address the risks of climate change. However, the policy they have chosen is one that has failed to lower emissions in Europe and one strongly opposed by China and other developing nations that have become major CO2 producers. Fortunately, other options exist [
See WIMS 12/22/08].

“A large and growing number of economists and others concerned about climate change support a carbon tax. Compared to other similar policies, a carbon tax has the advantage of being simple, transparent and easy to administer. Moreover, the revenues can be recycled in tax relief for American families. However, as today’s Energy and Commerce hearing shows, a number of influential legislators are still narrowly focused on implementing a cap-and-trade system -- a policy that would make energy prices even more volatile than today and discourage the investments we need to address climate change.

“We have a moral imperative to get climate policy right. And to do that, Congress must carefully weigh the risks and benefits of all potentially viable carbon policies. By soliciting the input of leaders in America’s academic, environmental, and business communities, Capitol Hill can finally engage in a long-overdue, serious debate over the most environmentally effective and economically-sound ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions."

Among those supporting a carbon tax, that WIMS has reported on in the past include: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Peter Orszag, former director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and incoming Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama Administration; James Hansen, PhD, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies; and Friends of the Earth (FOE) President Brent Blackwelder [See links below for further information].

Access the hearing website for links to all testimony and Chairman Waxman's opening statement (click here). Access Speaker Pelosi's brief statement (click here). Access a press release from USCAP (click here). Access a Blueprint summary from USCAP (click here). Access the complete Blueprint from USCAP (click here). Access the USCAP website for a list of members and more information (click here). Access a CTF release (click here). Access a release from CTF with links to a report on the Carbon Tax and more related information (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on the carbon tax issue (click here). [*Climate]

Thursday, January 15, 2009

House Dems Detail $825 Bln. American Recovery & Reinvestment Plan

Jan 15: According to information posted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), "In the next two weeks, the House will consider the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, which makes long-term investments that are worthy, needed, fully-screened, and based on merit, not politics. Developed with priorities shared by President-elect Obama, the plan will create or save 3 to 4 million American jobs, with an estimated 90 percent of the jobs created in the private sector -- getting the American economy moving in the short term and making investments for a stronger economy in the long term. The Chairman’s mark (draft legislation) will be circulated and posted online and next week the Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee, and Appropriations Committee will mark-up the legislation."

Overall the bill includes $550 billion in "strategically targeted to priority investments;" and $275 billion in targeted tax cuts to help spur economic recovery. The House Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees “Chairman’s Mark” contains targeted efforts in: Clean, Efficient, American Energy; Transforming our Economy with Science and Technology; Modernizing Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways; Education for the 21st Century; Tax Cuts to Make Work Pay and Create Jobs; Lowering Health Care Costs; Helping Workers Hurt by the Economy; and Saving Jobs of Teachers, Law Enforcement, and Health Workers and Protecting Vital Services.

The Clean, Efficient, American Energy portion of the bill includes: - $32 billion to transform the nation’s energy transmission, distribution, production and storage systems by allowing for a smarter and better grid to transmit renewable energy, and new advanced battery technology to power fuel-efficient, low-emissions vehicles. - More than $20 billion in tax cuts for clean, renewable energy including a new enhanced tax credit for research and development focusing on smart energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy, and a multi-year extension of the production tax credit for wind, hydro, geothermal, and bioenergy. - $16 billion to repair public housing and make key energy efficiency retrofits. - $6 billion to weatherize modest-income homes.

Under the Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways section, the bill includes: $32 billion in transportation, of which $30 billion is for highway construction (every dollar of highway investments creates more than 34,000 jobs); $31 billion to modernize federal and other public infrastructure with investments that lead to long term energy cost savings; $19 billion for clean water, flood control, and environmental restoration investments; and $10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption.

According to a summary, the draft includes "Unprecedented Accountability: An historic level of transparency, oversight and accountability will help guarantee taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and ensure that Americans can see the results of their investment. There are no earmarks or pet projects."

Access a release from the Speaker including links to a summary from the Appropriations Committee; a summary of the tax provisions from the Ways and Means Committee; a summary in the Current Legislation section; the draft legislation and the explanation
report (click here).


January 23: Senate Democrats Detail Their Version Of A Stimulus Package - Access the complete 7-page summary of the Senate Appropriations Committee piece of the stimulus package issued on January 23, (click here).


January 26: House To Formally Introduce Stimulus Bill, H.R. 1 - Access the full text of the House bill (click here). Access the Speakers links (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 1 (click here).

Jan 27: Senate Finance Committee Approves $522 Billion Piece Of Stimulus - Access a release and 10-page summary of the Senate Finance Committee markup (
click here). Access links to additional details on the Senate Finace Committee's markup (click here).


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Year Assessment Of Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program

Jan 12: One year following the launch of the U.S. EPA Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) [See WIMS 1/28/08], the Agency's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics has released the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program Interim Report. The program called on manufacturers, importers, processors, and users of engineered nanoscale materials to voluntarily report to EPA key information about these materials within six months. EPA did not request participants to develop additional data, only to submit existing data.

EPA says the purpose of the Interim Report is to summarize the information that has been submitted to the Agency under the NMSP. The findings and conclusions in the report should not be construed or interpreted to represent any Agency regulatory or statutory guidance or statement of official.

Under the "Basic Program," EPA invited participants to voluntarily report available information by July 29, 2008, on the engineered nanoscale materials they manufacture, import, process or use. By that date, the Agency received submissions from 16 companies and trade associations covering 91 different nanoscale materials. As of December 8, 2008, twenty-nine companies or associations submitted information to EPA covering 123 nanoscale materials and a further seven companies have outstanding commitments to the Basic Program. EPA also invited participants to submit new data that became available for nanoscale materials already reported or to identify additional nanoscale materials to report under the Basic Program. EPA said it is evaluating the information submitted under the Basic Program through a process similar to that of a new chemical review.

Under the "In-Depth Program," EPA invited participants to work with the Agency and others on a plan for the development of data on representative nanoscale materials over a longer time frame. By the 6-month mark, one company had agreed to participate in the In-Depth Program; by December 8, 2008, 4 companies have agreed to participate.

EPA said, "Based on the current interim results, the NMSP can be considered successful. However, a number of the environmental health and safety data gaps the Agency hoped to fill through the NMSP still exist. EPA is considering how to best use testing and information gathering authorities under the Toxic Substances Control Act to help address those gaps. The Agency said it welcomes comments on this interim report and will issue a more detailed final report and program evaluation at the conclusion of the NMSP in early 2010.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an active participant in the nanotechnology policy debate, issued a lengthy release saying that EPA "has acknowledged that its voluntary approach to reporting has yielded only limited information on a small fraction of the hundreds of potentially toxic nanomaterials already in commercial use or in development in the United States." EDF said, "EPA disclosed that it has received submissions addressing less than 10 percent of the more than 1,000 nanomaterials EPA identified as likely to be in commercial production. Moreover, the voluntary submissions contain scant environmental health and safety data, and much of the information they do contain is kept secret from the public because the companies submitting the data claim it is confidential business information (CBI)."

Dr. Richard Denison, a senior scientist at EDF, who advised EPA on its approach to nanomaterials as a member of the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee (NPPTAC) said, "EPA's voluntary approach has failed to provide both EPA and the public with critical data on the full range of nanomaterials in production and use in the United States. With hundreds of nano products already on the shelves, EPA has squandered precious time while it slowly developed and pursued a program that informed stakeholders cautioned would not yield what was needed."

He continued, "We welcome EPA's statement that it is finally 'considering how to best use testing and information gathering authorities under the Toxic Substances Control Act' to address the remaining gaps in information." More than three years ago, the National Pollution Prevention and Toxics Advisory Committee advised EPA immediately to begin developing such mandatory measures as a supplement to the voluntary program, recognizing it would not be sufficient. EPA now needs to refocus its energies on these critical tasks."

In related matters, on December 10, 2008, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) National Research Council (NRC) issued a new report, Review of the Federal Strategy For Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health and Safety Research, that found "serious weaknesses" and was highly critical of the government's plan for research on the potential health and environmental risks posed by nanomaterials [See WIMS 12/10/08].

Access the complete 38-page report which contains commenting instructions (
click here). Access EPA's NMSP website for more information (click here). Access a release from EDF (click here). Access various WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on nanotechnology (click here). Access WIMS-EcoBizPort nanotechnology links for additional information (click here). [*Toxics]

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EDF Launches Business Performance Innovation Exchange

Jan 12: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) launched the Innovation Exchange, a first-of-its-kind online resource that allows businesses to quickly identify and share ways to improve their environmental performance and reduce costs. Gwen Ruta, vice president corporate partnerships at EDF said, “In today’s tough business environment, no company can afford to miss out on proven strategies to cut costs and improve brand value. EDF Innovation Exchange provides the information and inspiration that companies need to achieve market leadership and meet essential environment demands worldwide. This new community will enable businesses leaders to learn from their peers, contribute ideas and success stories and leverage the power of collective innovation.”

The Exchange provides a no-cost, comprehensive set of recommendations, case studies, publications and tools for companies to improve their environmental performance. Lisa Manley, director of environmental communications, The Coca-Cola Company said, “Access to proven environmental strategies is more vital to business success than ever before. Collaborative innovation between companies will play a major role in helping us meet our sustainability goals." The site also includes a five-step "Getting Started" resource that includes recommendations for companies just beginning to understand their environmental performance who need guidance on everything from measuring impact to taking concrete action.

Many of the tools, best practices and case studies on the site are based on EDF's twenty years of experience creating environmental innovations through partnering with Fortune 500 companies including McDonalds, Wal-Mart and FedEx. The Exchange also includes links to numerous external resources that have been vetted by EDF experts. The site will continue to grow and evolve, fostering a dynamic community of users working together to create the next generation of environmental best practices for businesses. In the coming months, EDF will further develop the interactive aspects of the Exchange and develop offline initiatives such as webinars, training programs and fellowships.

Access a release from EDF (
click here). Access the Innovation Exchange website (click here). [Note: WIMS also invites readers to visit its -- the Homepage For Environmental Managers (click here).] [*All]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Debate Looms Re: Environmental Reviews In a Depressed Economy

Jan 7: California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has touched off a powder keg of a debate that only promises to get bigger in the coming year as the Federal and state governments struggle to respond quickly to a plummeting economy and rising unemployment with a massive new stimulus focused on major infrastructure and alternative energy projects. The projects, many of which will be large in scale, will have obvious environmental impacts. The burning question is: In the scramble to get projects underway and create jobs; should environmental reviews and regulations be accelerated, revised or eliminated in the name of the economy and jobs?

In a recent press conference on the California State budget, Governor Schwarzenegger said, "Our unemployment rate, as you all know, is 8.4 percent in November; we expect it to go up to 9 percent. So I think that creating jobs is one of the most important things. It’s about jobs, jobs, jobs. That’s why I’ve been adamant about easing environmental regulations and other red tape in order to get the infrastructure going, to get infrastructure projects moving as quickly as possible. For every billion dollars that we spend on infrastructure we create 18,000 to 20,000 new jobs. The federal government estimates actually 40,000 new jobs but we try to be conservative about those numbers. Those are jobs that the people in California need right now."

On January 5, Governor Schwarzenegger wrote to President-elect Obama in follow-up to a meeting they had had in Philadelphia last month. The Governor told the President-elect that his list of infrastructure projects had grown from $28 billion to $44 billion since their meeting. The Governor said that California would be able to generate nearly 800,000 jobs over the life of the projects.

In making suggestions to the President-elect regarding the economic stimulus proposal, the Governor said in part, "I urge you to take the following steps to speed delivery of even more projects: - Waive or greatly streamline National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements consistent with our statutory proposals to modify the California Environment Quality Act (CEQA) for transportation projects; - Increase funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Mitigation Assistance Program and modify the program’s rules to fund major levee evaluations, repairs and rehabilitation. Regulatory streamlining should accompany this funding to allow CEQA to satisfy NEPA requirements for all levee projects that receive federal funding; - and Shorten federal permitting turnaround times and allow negotiations with permitting agencies over mitigation to occur during construction. . ."

Governor Schwarzenegger, who has generally received praise from environmental and conservation groups for his progressive stance on climate change and alternative energy issues, drew immediate criticism for his suggestions to relax environmental reviews and regulatory requirements. Immediately, national and state environmental organizations reacted issuing a joint release and statements. The groups involved included: California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV); Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Environmental Defense Fund (EDF); the Planning and Conservation League (PCL); Environment California; and the Sierra Club California.

According to the release, the groups urged Governor Schwarzenegger "to uphold critical environmental safeguards affecting a dozen major transportation projects that could harm California’s air, water and wilderness." The groups called the Governor's letter to President-elect Obama, "alarming." They said, "This dangerous precedent would allow the state to build the transportation projects without environmental review. If such safeguards are removed at federal and state levels, billions of dollars of new, polluting projects could receive federal funding priority over approved clean projects that are designed to protect public health and natural resources. The governor has frozen roughly $16 billion in existing, state-approved, environmentally reviewed projects that could be started this month and would provide badly needed jobs."

NRDC California representative said, “All Californians care about the fiscal health of our state, but relaxing environmental law is not the way to do it. California’s dedication to our workforce and investment in developing clean energy technology has built our economy into the eighth largest economy in the world. These are tough times, but it’s times like this that we need to work toward what's best for California.” EDF's State representative indicated, “Dirty projects that circumvent environmental protections are more costly in both the short and long run than clean ones. California should only fund projects that deliver good jobs and clean air instead of ones that will make matters worse.”

Access a release on the Governor's budget press conference (
click here), Access the letter from Governor Schwarzenegger to the President-elect (click here). Access a release from the environmental organizations with statements from each group and links to additional information (click here). [*All]

Friday, January 09, 2009

EPA Issues Health Advisory For Perchlorate; Defers Regulation

Jan 8: U.S. EPA announced that it is seeking advice from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) before making a final determination on whether to issue a national regulation for perchlorate in drinking water. EPA's action follows a December 30, 2008, release of a major 213-page report from EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) entitled, General Scientific Analysis of Perchlorate [See WIMS 1/6/09].

EPA also issued an interim "health advisory" of 15 parts per billion (ppb) to assist state and local officials in addressing local contamination of perchlorate in drinking water and making a corresponding change to the factors it considers in cleaning up Superfund sites. States have the right to establish and enforce drinking water standards, and EPA encourages state-specific situations to be addressed at the local level. EPA said it expects to issue a final health advisory concurrent with the final regulatory determination for perchlorate. Benjamin Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water said, "This is a sensible step for protecting public health and preserving regulatory options as the science of perchlorate is reviewed."

On October 10, 2008, EPA issued a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment in the Federal Register. The Agency announced its intention on October 3, prior to the official Federal Register notice. The notice described the Agency’s decision that there is not a "meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction" through a national drinking water regulation for perchlorate. The agency received more than 32,000 comments on the notice. On October 3, environmental advocates [Earthjustice, representing the Environmental Working Group (EWG)] announced they planned to sue the Agency, saying, the decision would benefit weapons makers at the expense of millions of Americans' drinking water "spiked with rocket fuel." They said they would "fight in court to make sure this toxin is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act." [See WIMS 10/6/08].

EPA said that after considering public comments, as well as recommendations from EPA advisory groups and offices, it was asking the NAS to provide additional insight on various issues. Specifically, EPA is asking the NAS to evaluate its derivation of the Health Reference Level of 15 ppb, the use of modeling to evaluate impacts on infants and young children, and the implication of recent biomonitoring studies. The Agency is also asking NAS how it should consider the role of perchlorate relative to other iodide uptake inhibiting compounds and if there are other public health strategies to address this aspect of thyroid health.

EPA said it is replacing the existing preliminary remediation goal of 24.5 ppb with the interim health advisory value of 15 ppb. They said the goal will be used as a consideration when establishing cleanup levels for perchlorate at Superfund sites. The OIG reported that on February 18, 2005, EPA established a perchlorate reference dose (RfD) that corresponds to a drinking water equivalent level of 24.5 parts per billion (ppb). The OIG said that unlike EPA it used a cumulative risk assessment to analyze the risk from the multiple sodium iodide symporter (NIS) stressors and said that approach "is required to identify potential actions that will effectively lower the risk to public health."

OIG concluded that despite the fact that EPA did not use the proper cumulative risk assessment, "EPA’s perchlorate RfD is conservative and protective of human health, but limiting perchlorate exposure does not effectively address this public health issue. Potentially lowering the perchlorate drinking water limit from 24.5 ppb to 6 ppb does not provide a meaningful opportunity to lower the public’s risk."

EPA noted in its latest announcement that a "regulatory determination" is a formal decision by EPA as to whether it should initiate development of a national primary drinking water regulation for a specific contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A "health advisory" provides technical guidance to Federal, state, and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methods and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. Health advisories also contain guidance values that are concentrations of a contaminant in drinking water that are likely to be without adverse health effects.

Access a release from EPA (click here). Access more information on EPA's health advisory (click here). Access multiple WIMS-eNewsUSA blog posts on the perchlorate issue (click here). [*Drink, *Toxics]