Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
"We've also launched an unprecedented effort to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient. We've announced loan guarantees to break ground on America's first new nuclear plant in nearly three decades. We're supporting three of the largest solar plants in the world. And I've said that we're willing to make tough decisions about opening up new offshore areas for oil and gas development. So what we're looking at is a comprehensive strategy, not an either/or strategy but a both/and strategy when it comes to energy. But to truly transition to a clean energy economy, I've also said that we need to put a price on carbon pollution. Many businesses have embraced this approach -- including some who are represented here today. Still, I am sympathetic to those companies that face significant potential transition costs, and I want to work with this organization and others like this to help with those costs and to get our policies right.
"What we can't do is stand still. The only certainty of the status quo is that the price and supply of oil will become increasingly volatile; that the use of fossil fuels will wreak havoc on weather patterns and air quality. But if we decide now that we're putting a price on this pollution in a few years, it will give businesses the certainty of knowing they have the time to plan for the transition. This country has to move towards a clean energy economy. That's where the world is going. And that's how America will remain competitive and strong in the 21st century. . ."
Access a White House blog post summarizing the President's speech (click here). Access the President's complete speech (click here).
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Senator Rockefeller was joined by Senate Democrats Mark Begich (AK), Sherrod Brown (OH), Carl Levin (MI), Bob Casey Jr. (PA), Robert Byrd (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), and Max Baucus (MT) in sending the letter, demanding a response to their concerns for the workers and industries affected in their states. Senator Rockefeller said, "At a time when so many people are hurting, we need to put the decisions about our energy future in to the hands of the people and their elected representatives -- especially on issues impacting clean coal. EPA actions in this area would have enormous implications and these issues need to be handled carefully and appropriately dealt with by the Congress, not in isolation by a federal environmental agency." Senator Rockefeller indicated that he is drafting legislation to suspend EPA's regulatory authority to allow sufficient time for Congressional consideration of the nation's larger energy policy and economic needs.
The letter begins, "We write with serious economic and energy concerns relating to the potential regulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act. Ill-time or imprudent regulation of GHGs may squander critical opportunities for our nation, impeding the investment necessary to create jobs and position our nation to develop and produce its own clean energy. We need a clear understanding of how you view your agency's responsibilities and the processes by which you intend to carry them out in order to represent the workers, industries, taxpayers, and economic interests or our states. . ."
"(3) EPA is also considering a modification to the rule announced in September requiring large facilities emitting more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year to obtain permits demonstrating they are using the best practices and technologies to minimize GHG emissions. EPA is considering raising that threshold substantially to reflect input provided during the public comment process. (4) EPA does not intend to subject smaller facilities to Clean Air Act permitting for greenhouse gas emissions any sooner than 2016."
Monday, February 22, 2010
UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP said, "This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting up of large, efficient facilities in China. China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector. In addition to curbing health problems, boosting developing country e-waste recycling rates can have the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium [transparent conductive layers in LCD glass], -- by acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity."
According to the report, a variety of sources to illustrate growth of the e-waste problem: Global e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tons a year; Manufacturing mobile phones and personal computers consumes 3 per cent of the gold and silver mined worldwide each year; 13 per cent of the palladium and 15 per cent of cobalt; Modern electronics contain up to 60 different elements -- many valuable, some hazardous, and some both.
Additionally, carbon dioxide emissions from the mining and production of copper and precious and rare metals used in electrical and electronic equipment are estimated at over 23 million tonnes -- 0.1 percent of global emissions (not including emissions linked to steel, nickel or aluminum, nor those linked to manufacturing the devices); In the US, more than 150 million mobiles and pagers were sold in 2008, up from 90 million five years before; Globally, more than 1 billion mobile phones were sold in 2007, up from 896 million in 2006; Countries like Senegal and Uganda can expect e-waste flows from PCs alone to increase 4 to 8-fold by 2020.
The report recommends countries establish e-waste management centers of excellence, building on existing organizations working in the area of recycling and waste management. Existing bodies include those supported by the United Nations including the more than 40 National Cleaner Production Centers established by the UN Industrial and Development Organization and the regional centers established under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
Access a lengthy release from UNEP with numerous links to additional information (click here). Access the complete 120-page report (click here). Access complete information on the three conventions' conference including meeting documents (click here).
Friday, February 19, 2010
Enacted in 1970, NEPA is a cornerstone of the Nation's efforts to protect the environment and a fundamental tool to harmonize economic and environmental aspirations. It recognizes that many Federal activities affect the environment and mandates that Federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions before acting. NEPA emphasizes public involvement in government actions affecting the environment by requiring that the benefits and the risks associated with proposed actions be assessed and publicly disclosed.
To modernize NEPA, CEQ has issued draft guidance for public comment on: (1) when and how Federal agencies must consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in their proposed actions; (2) clarifying appropriateness of "Findings of No Significant Impact" and specifying when there is a need to monitor environmental mitigation commitments; (3) clarifying use of categorical exclusions; and (4) enhanced public tools for reporting on NEPA activities. The following is a brief summary of the four issues.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a new high-level advisory group, headed by the leaders of the United Kingdom and Ethiopia, intended to mobilize financing swiftly to help developing countries combat climate change [See WIMS 2/12/10]. The Advisory Group is charged with creating practical proposals to boost both short- and long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries. The Group is expected to produce a final report containing recommendations before the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico.
Access a release from the UN (click here). Access a second release from UNFCCC (click here). Access the UNFCCC website for additional information (click here).
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
At a press conference In New York, Ban announced the new Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, to be chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying, "There will be an even balance between developing and developed countries." According to a release, the body's other members, who will be appointed for 10 months and whose names will be announced soon, include heads of State and Government, senior ministers and officials from central banks and experts on finance and development. The Advisory Group will be charged with creating practical proposals to boost both short- and long-term financing for mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries. The Group is expected to produce a final report containing recommendations before the next Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Mexico this December.
Last week, the UNFCCC announced that by the January 31 deadline specified in the Copenhagen Accord, some of the world's biggest emitters of carbon dioxide -- including the United States and China -- have formally submitted their national targets to cut and limit greenhouse gases by 2020. It said that it had received specific pledges from 55 countries that together account for 78 per cent of global emissions from energy use. The pledges to the Accord are purely voluntary and there are no enforcement provisions for the signing countries. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC issued a statement saying, "This represents an important invigoration of the UN climate change talks [however,] Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge. But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion."
On February 2, the World Resources Institute (WRI) issued a working paper entitled, "Comparability of Annex I Emission Reduction Pledges." [See WIMS 2/3/10]. As negotiated in the Copenhagen Accord provides a mandate for Annex I Parties that choose to associate themselves with the Accord to register their emission reduction pledges by January 31, 2010 [See WIMS 2/1/10]. The WRI analysis indicated that emission reduction pledges "will not be enough to meet even the lower range of emission reductions required for stabilizing concentrations of CO2e at 450 ppm and certainly fall very short of goals to reduce concentrations below that level." WRI has developed an Interactive Chart: Analyzing Comparability of Annex I Emission Reduction Pledges.
Access a release from the UN (click here). Access a statement released by the UN on the Advisory Group (click here). Access a release from the UK Prime Minister (click here). Access the WRI Interactive Chart (click here).
Thursday, February 11, 2010
NRDC said it is joining with BAN to call on all electronics recyclers to become e-Steward Certified recyclers, and at the same time is asking all businesses to become designated "e-Steward Enterprises" by agreeing to give priority to e-Steward recyclers for their old electronic assets. The e-Stewards recyclers are a group of leading North American electronics recyclers and asset managers who have been qualified as upholding the highest standard of environmental and social responsibility. Environmental and social justice advocates urge you to make use of these recyclers for all of your e-waste disposal/recycling/asset management.
By March 1, 2010, accredited certifying bodies will independently assure conformity to the revised e-Stewards Standard, thus providing the highest level of assurance that they meet the world's most responsible environmental and social justice criteria for electronics recyclers. The criteria include no toxic e-waste dumped in landfills or incinerators, exported to developing countries, or sent to prison labor operations and accountability for the entire recycling chain of toxic materials.
NRDC Senior Scientist Dr. Allen Hershkowitz said, "This initiative is sorely needed. Many e-waste recyclers claim to be green, but in reality they rely on unsafe and ecologically damaging methods like dumping millions of tons of toxic waste each year in China, India and Africa. E-Stewards provide businesses and consumers with a first-of-a-kind seal to identify the truly responsible recyclers." In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report roundly criticizing the US EPA for not doing more to promulgate and enforce rules to control the e-waste trade. Unfortunately, to date little has changed and a market-based solution is seen as more necessary than ever." [See WIMS 10/28/09].
Businesses that agree to make best efforts to use e-Steward recyclers will be rewarded as designated e-Stewards Enterprises. The first global companies to receive these e-Steward Enterprise designations as well as the first Certified e-Steward recyclers will be announced in March. Already there are about 50 North American recyclers that are considered "Pledged e-Stewards" which have been vetted by BAN and are licensed and committed to becoming certified in the next 18 months. These companies include some of the largest electronics recyclers in North America. Due to the widespread fraudulent or unscrupulous exportation and irresponsible practices now plaguing the electronics recycling industry, consumers are urged to use only these Pledged e-Steward recyclers.
Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access the complete list of Pledged e-Stewards (click here). Access the e-Stewards website for complete information on certification and related information (click here). Access the BAN website for more information (click here).
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Both cleaner vehicles and cleaner fuels will contribute to further improvement, he explained, with "annual emission reductions from the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel with cleaner technology engines equivalent to removing the pollution from more than 90% of today's trucks and buses by 2030." Steichen said moving forward with the proposed new standards could "impact citizens while they are still suffering from a severe recession, in the very communities where we need to be creating jobs."
On January 7, U.S. EPA proposed the strictest health standards to date for ground-level ozone or smog -- proposing a rule to set the "primary" standard, which protects public health, at a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours. The current primary 8-hour standard is 0.075 ppm [See WIMS 1/7/10]. EPA is also proposing to set a separate "secondary" standard to protect the environment, especially plants and trees -- proposing to set the level of the secondary standard within the range of 7-15 ppm-hours. The current secondary standard is the same as the primary standard -- 0.075 ppm.
Despite contrary testimony from EDF and others and information from EPA, Dr. Robyn Prueitt testified on behalf of API indicating that "controlled human exposure studies do not support an association between ozone exposure and adverse respiratory effects below 0.08 ppm. . . The epidemiological evidence for short-term health effects of ozone is weak and does not support causality at levels below 0.08 ppm. . . Health effects are attributed to ozone exposure when PM-related associations are not accounted for. . . [and] There are many issues with EPA's scientific method."
Access a release from API with links to Steichen's complete testimony and Dr. Robyn Prueitt's testimony on behalf of API analyzing the scientific research on the impacts of ozone on health (click here). Access a release on the EDF testimony and link to related information (click here). Access links to extensive background information including a fact sheet, hearing recordings, and the proposed rule from EPA's website (click here). Access the EPA docket for background and to review & submit comments (click here).
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
On July 14, 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Record of Decision (ROD) to move forward on FutureGen toward the first commercial scale, fully integrated, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project in the country. At the time, DOE said its decision was "based on careful consideration of the proposed project's potential environmental impacts, as well as the program goals and objectives." The ROD and a cooperative agreement signed by DOE and the FutureGen Alliance allowed the Alliance to proceed with site-specific activities for the project. The Department and the Alliance will decide very soon whether to continue the project through construction and operation.
Governor Quinn said, "I welcome Caterpillar's investment in FutureGen and in Illinois," said The company's support -- just over a week after another major Illinois-based company, Exelon, signed on to the project -- is a clear sign that momentum for this project is gaining. This shows that the private sector stands alongside my administration and our local partners to move quickly and effectively once we receive the final 'go' from DOE." FutureGen is designed to be the cleanest coal-fueled power plant in the world. The 275 megawatt facility will convert coal into hydrogen and electricity, while capturing and safely storing the carbon dioxide in sandstone formations a mile beneath the site. It will lay the groundwork for developing similar plants around the country and the world, pioneering the capture, rather than release of greenhouse gases.
FutureGen would also create jobs and economic growth. Initial estimates state that 1,300 construction jobs and 150 permanent jobs would be created through FutureGen. In addition, a study conducted by Southern Illinois University showed that during the four-year construction period, there would also be 1,225 indirect and induced spin-off jobs created and more than $1 billion in economic impact statewide as a result of FutureGen.
Senator Durbin said, "In just a little over a week, the FutureGen Alliance has added another strong partner with a deep connection to Illinois. U.S. Caterpillar will bring a great deal to the table as the FutureGen Alliance and the Department of Energy continue in the final stages of negotiations. I look forward to welcoming many new FutureGen Alliance members -- from Illinois and around the world." Last week, President Obama moved decisively to support the mission of FutureGen and clean coal projects to follow. Governor Quinn sent a letter to the President on Thursday praising his decision to establish an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) [See WIMS 2/4/10].
According to a release from the FutureGen Alliance, the final go-ahead depends on increasing Alliance membership and dollar contributions from the private-sector support, as well as reducing total project costs. At stake is $1.1 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to re-launch the FutureGen project. The State of Illinois has put together a comprehensive investment package that includes direct grants, financing incentives and tax-related savings, to help ensure that FutureGen comes to Illinois.
DOE's total anticipated financial contribution for the project is $1.073 billion, $1 billion of which would come from Recovery Act (ARRA) funds for CCS research. The FutureGen Alliance's total anticipated financial contribution is $400 million to $600 million. The total cost estimate of the project is $2.4 billion, consequently, the Alliance, with support from DOE, are pursuing options to raise the additional non-federal funds needed to build and operate the facility.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Leaders from numerous public and private sector entities support the creation of NOAA Climate Service. A NOAA release included supporting quotes from Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy; Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change; the Navy's Task Force Climate Change; and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Additionally, NOAA include a link to comments from other leaders from government, business, science and environment.
NOAA said that unifying its climate capabilities under a single climate office will integrate the Agency's climate science and services and make them more accessible to NOAA partners and other users. Planning has been, and continues to be, shaped by input from NOAA employees and stakeholders across the country, with close consideration given to the recommendations of the NOAA Science Advisory Board, National Academies and National Academy of Public Administration.
NOAA Climate Service will encompass a core set of longstanding NOAA capabilities with proven success. The climate research, observations, modeling, predictions and assessments generated by NOAA's top scientists -- including Nobel Peace Prize award-winners -- will continue to provide the scientific foundation for extensive on-the-ground climate services that respond to millions of requests annually for data and other critical information. Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, will serve as transitional director of NOAA Climate Service. New positions for six NOAA Regional Climate Services Directors will be announced soon and will provide regional leadership for integrating user engagement and on-the-ground service delivery within the Climate Service.
NOAA also unveiled its new website -- Climate.gov -- that will serves as a single point-of-entry for NOAA's extensive climate information, data, products and services. Known as the NOAA Climate Portal, the site addresses the needs of five broadly-defined user groups: decision makers and policy leaders, scientists and applications-oriented data users, educators, business users and the public. Highlights of the portal include an interactive "climate dashboard" that shows a range of constantly updating climate datasets (e.g., temperature, carbon dioxide concentration and sea level) over adjustable time scales; the new climate science magazine ClimateWatch, featuring videos and articles of scientists discussing recent climate research and findings; and an array of data products and educational resources.
Access a release from NOAA with links to various comments and related information on the new office (click here). Access the NOAA Climate Service office website (click here). Access the new NOAA Climate Portal (click here). Access a separate release on the Climate Portal (click here).