Friday, January 31, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 1/31/14

<> Broad Coalition of Stakeholders Announce Effort to Ensure Affordable and Reliable Energy- The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which comprises groups representing consumers and businesses from sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, refining and mining, will serve as the leading voice in support of a unified strategy and message in response to the Obama Administration's GHG regulatory agenda.

<> EPA Commits to Deadline for Final Action on Coal Ash Rule - EPA will take final action on coal ash standards by the end of the year, according to a settlement reached by EPA and groups involved in a lawsuit against the agency. The consent decree, filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, requires EPA to publish notice of a final action by Dec. 19, 2014.

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders responded today to the consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that establishes a deadline of December 19, 2014, for the Environmental Protection Agency to take a final action on the coal ash rule that was proposed in June 2010. The committee leaders called on the Senate to. . . 

<> EPA Releases Climate Assessment Update To National Stormwater Calculator (HQ) - EPA released phase II of the National Stormwater Calculator and Climate Assessment Tool package. The updated calculator includes future climate vulnerability scenarios. The calculator is a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of stormwater . .

<> EPA and Freddie Mac to Cut Carbon Pollution and Increase Affordability of Multifamily Buildings (HQ) - WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Energy Star program and Freddie Mac have signed an agreement that will help to cut carbon pollution while increasing the affordability of multifamily housing properties. The agreement outlines strategies to save water, energy and money for multifamily property owners and residents. . .

<> White House Releases Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region- Today the White House released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The Administration solicited input from Alaska Natives, the State of Alaska, Congress, academia, industry and others to develop an Implementation Plan that sets forth the guidelines for Federal Departments and Agencies to execute the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.

<> Ground-breaking new study reports double-digit growth in market performance of "eco-labels"- GENEVA—January 31, 2014—Private sector sourcing commitments are driving major market growth for sustainable commodities, according to the State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) Review 2014 published today by an alliance of international organisations.   The SSI Review 2014 provides a bird's eye view of market and performance trends of the 16 most prevalent. . .

Cardin, Collins Lead Senate Effort To Protect Advanced Biofuel Incentives That Move Beyond Corn-Based Ethanol - Writing in support of advanced biofuel incentives that move beyond corn-based ethanol, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) and eight of their senate colleagues have urged Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to reconsider proposed reductions to the volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

<> Ban Ki-moon selects Bloomberg as cities and climate change envoy - Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg will be announced as the UN's special envoy for cities and climate change in the next 24 hours.

<> Rep. Henry A. Waxman Announces Plans to Retire from Congress - Rep. Henry A. Waxman, a senior Democrat from California, who has played a leading role in the enactment of major health, consumer protection, environmental, telecommunications, and good government laws, released the following statement announcing his decision not to seek reelection to the House this fall.

·          Statement from the President on the Retirement of Representative Henry Waxman - Early in the 20th Century, Henry Waxman's grandparents came to America, the land of opportunity, and found a place where they could build a better life for themselves and their families.  Over the course of 40 years in Congress, their grandson has fought to give every American family that same chance.  Thanks to Henry's leadership, Americans breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water. . .

<> Human cause of global warming is near certainty, UN reports - 30 January – Global warming is unequivocal, human influence has been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, already at levels not seen in at least 800,000 years, will persist for many centuries, the final version of the latest United Nations report on climate change warned today.

<> Securing crop biodiversity is key to feeding world's growing population– UN study - 30 January – Seeking to ensure that the world can feed a fast growing population, expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, the United Nations today published voluntary international standards to improve conservation of the crops that are crucial to food security by preserving biodiversity in gene banks and in the field.

<> Launching scientific advisory board, Ban urges bridging gap between science, policy - 30 January – The United Nations must use science and technology to strengthen its policy-making on sustainable development, reducing inequality and eradicating extreme poverty, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said launching his advisory board of scientists.

<> Next up for Keystone XL: the question of national interest will show that the tar sands pipeline must be rejected – NRDC's Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, Director International Program, Washington, D.C. As the assessment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline enters the final stages with the release of the final environmental review, there are a lot of questions about what we can expect. Bottom line: the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a project that brings risk with no reward.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, sources said late Thursday, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision.

<> China sets new world record for solar installations - Source: Guardian - China installed a record 12GW of solar power in 2013, doubling its rate of solar installations, according to preliminary figures. This is more than has ever been installed by any country in a single year and means that China installed three times more solar energy in 2013 than the total UK solar capacity.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 1/30/14

<> FULL COMMITTEE HEARING: U.S. Crude Oil Exports: Opportunities and Challenges- Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. The purpose of this oversight hearing is to explore opportunities and challenges associated with lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports

<> Farm Bill Conference Report Passes House - David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, "Given up for dead just months ago, a new five-year farm bill easily cleared the House Wednesday morning, raising hopes that Congress can send it to President Barack Obama next week. "The strength of the House's 251-166 vote makes this easier, and it's now expected that when the bill papers arrive in the Senate Thursday, cloture. . .

<> Shell To Stop Alaska Exploration Program In 2014 - New Shell CEO Ben van Beurden updated on the company's priorities and indicated that the recent Ninth Circuit Court decision against the Department of the Interior raises substantial obstacles to Shell's plans for drilling in offshore Alaska. As a result, Shell has decided to stop its exploration programme for Alaska in 2014.

<> Mayors from 10 major US cities unite to boost energy efficiency in buildings - The mayors from 10 major U.S. cities and Natural Resources Defense Council announced they will undertake a united effort -- new City Energy Project -- to significantly boost energy efficiency in their buildings, a move that combined could cut as much climate change pollution as generated by 1 million to 1.5 million passenger vehicles every year, and lower energy bills by nearly $1 billion annually.

<> New Energy Efficiency Standards for Metal Halide Lamp Fixtures to Save on Energy Bills and Reduce Carbon Pollution - Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the Department has finalized new energy efficiency standards for metal halide lamp fixtures

<> Divest-Invest: Philanthropy initiative launched - A group of like-minded foundations have come together in a new initiative to divest our assets from fossil fuels and to invest in climate solutions in the new energy economy.

<> Oversight Hearing: NRC's Implementation of the Fukushima Near-Term Task Force Recommendations and other Actions to Enhance and Maintain Nuclear Safety - Senate Environment & Public Works Full and Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing

<> Press Conference: Labor, Environmentalists, Elected Leaders to Oppose Secret Trade Agreement, Trans-Pacific Partnership – Friday groups will host a press conference in solidarity with the International Day of Action surrounding the highly secretive global trade agreement, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

<> California Facing Worst Drought on Record - The most populated state in the country is facing what may be the worst drought in a century of record-keeping. The last week of January is the midway point of the winter wet season, and accumulated precipitation since July is the lowest on record.

<> Negotiating a Post-2020 Climate Agreement in a Mosaic World - As we approach the end game of serious negotiations for a post-2020 international climate regime, Brian Flannery a scientist at Resources for the Future describes the difficult road ahead.

<> United States joins push for transparency in Extractive Industries - The United States is now preparing to participate in the EITI, Clare Short and panelists representing implementing countries, mining companies, and civil society will discuss this and other high profile changes to the transparency regime.

<> Emmett Center Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court GHG Case on Behalf of South Coast Air District - UCLA's Emmett Center filed an amicus curiae brief yesterday  in Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG)  v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine whether EPA's greenhouse gas emissions rules under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration section of the Clean Air Act are valid.   Arguing on behalf of the South Coast Air Quality. . .

<> Coral or coal decision looms for Australia's Great Barrier Reef - MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's Great Barrier Reef watchdog is to decide by Friday whether to allow millions of cubic meters of dredged mud to be dumped near the fragile reef to create the world's biggest coal port and possibly unlock $28 billion in coal projects.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 1/29/14

<> President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address - Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans: Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America's graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades. An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our. . .

·  President Obama's 2014 State of the Union Address - President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy) Tonight, President Obama delivered the 2014 State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. If you missed it, be sure to watch the enhanced broadcast of his address, featuring charts, 

·  The State of the Union Fact Sheet: Opportunity for All - The State of the Union Fact Sheet: Opportunity for All can be found here and below. Opportunity for All: Key Executive Actions the President Will Take in 2014 The President's top priority remains ensuring middle class 

<> Upton Responds to State of the Union Address - WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) issued the following statement this evening following President Obama's State of the Union address: "We face great challenges. . .

<> McConnell Comments on State of the Union Address - "If the President really wants a 'Year of Action,' there are plenty of good ideas that the two parties can agree on: passing House-approved jobs bills in the Senate designed to get Americans back to work, revenue-neutral tax reform, trade promotion legislation, and the Keystone pipeline. "The President also tried to put a positive spin on the disaster that is Obamacare, but the American. . .

<> Boehner Statement on the State of the Union Address - WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement in response to the president's State of the Union Address and the Republican Address to the Nation. "In one of the great traditions of our. . .

<> Earthjustice Statement on President Obama's State of the Union Address - "We are encouraged that President Obama made climate change a centerpiece of his speech tonight. We applaud his commitment to facing this challenge, for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. . . While the President touted natural gas, we shouldn't be committing ourselves to a future fueled by gas. . .

<> Manufacturers: A Year for Action Must Translate to a Year for Growth -

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued this statement in response to President Obama's State of the Union address. . .

<> ACC Comments on the President's 2014 State of the Union Address -

As President Obama embarks on his 'year of action,' we hope he will remember that promoting innovation is one of the most effective ways to grow our economy, create opportunity and transform society.

<> U.S. Chamber's Donohue Comments on State of the Union - U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue issued the following statement ahead of President Obama's State of the Union Address

<> T. Boone Pickens' Statement on President Obama's State of the Union Address and The Call for Expanded Use of Natural Gas in U.S. Transportation

<> Pathways to Near-Zero-Emission Natural Gas Heavy Duty Vehicles - report examining the critical role that ultra-low-emission heavy-duty (HD) natural gas engines can play in helping California achieve its air quality, climate protection and petroleum-displacement goals.

<> Obama on Energy and Climate Policy in 2014 State of the Union -

(InsideClimate News) Here are the parts of President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address that were about energy and climate change issues, taken from the delivered text. In his remarks, Obama defended his "all-of-the above" energy strategy—pursuing all power sources, fossil and clean fuels—crediting the policy with bringing the nation closer to energy independence. 

<> New Video on Abrupt Climate Change - Watch a new 4+ minute video on the findings of the recent National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council report Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises.

·  The Report

<> New Farm Bill Contains Massive Taxpayer Handouts To Big Ag, Last Minute Deal Removed Even Modest Taxpayer Savings - this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusinesses.

·  Final Farm Bill: A mixed bag - Eleventh-hour changes — behind closed doors — stripped the bill of some real reforms that had already been agreed upon by both the House and Senate. 

·  Farm Bill To Amend Clean Water Act - a rider in the compromise Farm Bill that significantly weakens the Clean Water Act by exempting certain silvicultural activities from permitting under the Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. 

<> Is the Senate Energy Committee being handed to Big Oil? - A game of political musical chairs has set off a transition that will hand Big Oil the keys to the influential Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. What's worse, the whole thing is being orchestrated by democratic leadership in an attempt to help Senator Landrieu (D-LA) with her upcoming re-election campaign. As with most things these days, it all comes down to. . .

<> Development of Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources in the Appalachian Basin: Workshop Summary – A summary of a workshop convened by the National Research Council to examine the geology and unconventional hydrocarbon resources of the Appalachian Basin; technical methods for producing unconventional hydrocarbons and disposing of wastewater; the potential effects of production on the environment; relevant policies and regulations; and priorities for future scientific and engineering research.

<> Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change - Journalist McKenzie Funk looks into how some entrepreneurs and even some nations stand to benefit from a changing climate.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 1/28/14

<> Energy Choices 2014 – The Choices We Face for a Strong & Secure America- the report developed three critical policy considerations surrounding the United States' energy choices.  Energy Security, Economic Stability, and Environmental Sustainability are all examined in light of three primary energy sources: fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable power.

<> Boehner Statement on Farm Bill Agreement - WASHINGTON, DC - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued the following statement on the House-Senate agreement on the Farm Bill: "The House-Senate agreement announced this evening is a positive step in the right direction.  The measure will not only save taxpayers approximately $23 billion, it also includes important reforms to both farm and food stamp programs. 

  • Chairwoman Stabenow Announces Bipartisan Agreement on Final Farm Bill- U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a five-year Farm Bill that will reform farm programs, reduce the deficit, and help farmers and businesses create jobs in agriculture, our state's second-largest industry. The bill includes major reforms like eliminating the. . .

<> Newly Disclosed Documents Show FDA Allows Livestock Antibiotics Use Despite "High Risk" to Humans - WASHINGTON (January 27, 2014) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly allowed 30 potentially harmful antibiotics, including 18 rated as "high risk," to remain on the market as additives in farm animal feed and water – despite an internal review that raised significant red flags, according to agency records obtained by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

<> Groundbreaking Legal Agreement to End Use of Toxic Flame Retardant in Foam Furniture and Children's Products - The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced groundbreaking legal agreements that for the first time aim for an end to the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in foam furniture and children's foam products from major companies. The agreement with Playtex (Energizer Personal Care), West Elm (Williams Sonoma), Britax and 11 other companies 

<> Market Efficiency and the U.S. Market for Sulfur Dioxide Allowances: Working Paper 2014-01 – From the Congressional Budget Office; Focusing on the U.S. sulfur dioxide allowance market, this paper models allowance prices to determine the influence of market fundamentals and administrative announcements on allowance price level and volatility.

<> Statement by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on 2013 Solar Jobs Census - Statement by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on 2013 Solar Jobs Census Secretary Moniz issued a statement on the 2013 Solar Jobs Census. The U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans as of November 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar workers over the previous year. . .

<> Air Resources Board issues nearly $1 million in fines for failures to report greenhouse gas emissions - The California Air Resources Board has announced nearly $1 million in penalties against three companies for late or inaccurate reporting of their greenhouse gas emissions for 2011. This action marks the second time the Air Resources Board has issued fines for violations of California's Mandatory Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting regulation.

<> FERC staff issues Energy Infrastructure Update for December 2013

<> Groups Sue Feds for Putting Whales and Dolphins in Crosshairs throughout Southern California and Hawaiian Waters - LOS ANGELES (January 27, 2014) –The federal government illegally granted the U.S. Navy permission to harm marine mammals nearly ten million times in Southern California and Hawaii over the next five years, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  The permitting agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), finalized rules last. . .

<> FEMA: Caught Between Climate Change and Congress - The agency has needed Congress to approve extra disaster relief funds every year over roughly the past decade to handle mounting climate-related damage. By Katherine Bagley Thanks to climate change, extreme weather disasters have hammered the United States with increasing frequency in recent years—from drought and wildfires to coastal storms and flooding.

<> Local Climate Solutions - What can an individual city or town do to fight climate change? A lot! View these slides from a presentation by ILSR's Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell to the Northfield Climate Summit on January 18, 2014, to see what one small Minnesota town has done, what other steps it can take as part of the state's GreenStep Cities program, and model local actions from around the 

<> State-sponsored Wolf Killing Ends in Idaho - Faced with a looming deadline to defend its actions before a federal appeals court, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) announced it is halting its wolf extermination program in the Middle Fork region of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.

<> Announcement: Request for Proposals for 2014 Pollution Prevention Grant Program– U.S. EPA has released a Request for Proposals for the 2014 Pollution Prevention (P2) grant competition.

Monday, January 27, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 1/27/14

<> Closer To Sealing the Farm Bill Deal? - As we head into the second half of January, House and Senate negotiators inch closer to finalizing the 2014 Farm Bill.  At least one of the lead negotiators has said that he expects the bill to be reported out of the Farm Bill Conference Committee during the final week of January.  However, it is not hard to imagine that negotiations might last into February. Dairy Dairy policy remains one of the. . .

·  Farm Bill Developments - David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that,  "House farm bill conferees are being alerted to a likely meeting Monday morning at which the Agriculture Committee leadership is hoping to finalize agreement on a conference report that can come to the floor next week.

<> Study: Statutory 2014 RFS Levels Can be Met Through Increased E85 & E15 Consumption, Carryover RINs - A new study by Informa Economics entitled "Analysis of the Potential Use of Biofuels toward the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014" shows the originally intended Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2014 blending requirements can be reached through expanded consumption of E85 and E15, as well as judicious use of carryover RIN credits. 

<> Farm Bureau Expresses Opposition to RFS Proposal - American Farm Bureau Federation this week stated its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard requirements, which would scale back the total amount of biofuels that must be blended into the nation's gasoline supply. AFBF responded to EPA's Federal Register notice for public comment.

<> NTSB calls for tougher standards on trains carrying crude oil- The National Transportation Safety Board today issued a series of recommendations (see Safety Recommendation Letters R-14-001-003 and R-14-004-006) to the Department of Transportation to address the safety risk of transporting crude oil by rail. In an unprecedented move, the NTSB is issuing these recommendations in coordination with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

<> DOE Announces Webinars on the National Geothermal Data System, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Benefits for Tribal Communities, and More - DOE Announces Webinars on the National Geothermal Data System, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Benefits for Tribal Communities, and More EERE offers webinars to the public on a range of subjects, from adopting the latest energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to training for the clean energy workforce.

<> National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC); Notice Of Open Meeting - National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC); Notice Of Open Meeting. This notice sets forth the schedule of a forthcoming meeting of the DoC NOAA National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC).Time and Date: The meeting will be held February 20, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time 

<> States closer to western mines have lower coal costs - In 2012, the top-five states for total expenditures on out-of-state coal delivered to the electric power sector each spent more than $1.5 billion. Texas spent the most for out-of-state coal, followed by Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan.

<> Davos 2014: Achim Steiner insider diary - Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, sees much progress, but Davos is but one moment on the long road to change

<> Growing demand for cropland threatens environment, UN agency reports - If demand for new land on which to grow food continues at the current rate, by 2050, high-end estimates are that area nearly the size of Brazil could be ruined, with vital forests, savannahs and grassland lost, the United Nations today warned in a new report.

<> Visuallizing Why US National and US State Governments' GHG Reductions Commitments Are Now Woefully Inadequate in Light Of Recent Science - The US commitment to reduce its ghg emissions made in Copenhagen in 2009 of 17% below 2005 by 2020 and commitments of even those US state governments who have shown some leadership on climate change are now woefully inadequate in light of the most recent climate change science. . .

<> UK Department of Energy & Climate Change - The Government is today publishing the Community Energy Strategy and I will be depositing copies of it in the Libraries of the House. This is the first ever Community Energy Strategy published by a UK Government.