Friday, February 28, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/28/14

<> All-of-the-Above is Making a Difference Across America - A cross-post from During his recent State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated the importance of American energy: "One of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago 

<> Rep. Shimkus Unveils Discussion Draft of Chemicals in Commerce Act - draft legislation to modernize the regulation of chemicals in commerce.

<> Updated legislation will save energy, protect the environment, save consumers money, create jobs - U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today renewed their push for a national energy efficiency strategy by reintroducing an updated version of the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). 

<> CATF Releases Plan to Achieve Significant Reductions in Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants at Affordable Cost - displacement of power generation from the highest-emitting coal-fired power plants by generation from under-utilized, efficient natural gas plants, at minimal cost.

<> Congressman Holding Applauds Passage of Bill to Reduce Regulatory Burdens - House passage of H.R. 2804, the "ALERRT Act" (236 – 179) which cuts back unnecessary regulations, and ensures that where regulations are necessary, they are achieved in an efficient, less costly way. 

  • House Approves Reckless Package of Anti-Regulatory Bills - Legislation would hobble agencies charged with protecting public health Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a package of anti-regulatory bills that would impede the work of agencies charged with protecting the public's health, safety, and welfare. Under the legislation—called the "Achieving Less Excess in Regulation and Requiring Transparency Act" (H.R. 2804)
  • H.R.2804 Bill Summary & Status

<> GAO-14-365T, Critical Infrastructure Protection: Observations on DHS Efforts to Identify, Prioritize, Assess, and Inspect Chemical Facilities - What GAO Found In managing its Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a number of efforts underway to identify facilities that are covered by the program, assess risk and prioritize facilities, review and approve facility security plans, and inspect facilities to ensure compliance with security regulations.

<> House Hearing On Staffing To Manage & Oversee Oil & Natural Gas Activities - GAO Report says Continued Attention to Interior's Human Capital Challenges Is Needed

<> BOEM Environmental Review for Geological and Geophysical Survey Of Atlantic Coast Offshore Energy Resources - The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a final environmental review of geological and geophysical (G&G) survey activities off the Mid- and South Atlantic coast that establishes multiple mitigation measures designed to minimize the impacts to marine life while setting a path forward for survey activities that will update nearly four-decade-old data on offshore energy resources in the region.

<> USDA Report Cites Concerns with GE Crops as the Agency Approves New Uses - (Beyond Pesticides) A report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers the trends of genetically engineered (GE) crops over the past 15 years, since they were first introduced. Responding to increasing GE use, USDA also points to major concerns such as increasing herbicide resistance and higher levels of. . .

<> Subcommittee Examines Access to Affordable and Reliable Electricity - The Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) today began its hearing series on the "Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century" with a focus on electricity. The subcommittee examined the benefits of access to affordable and reliable electricity as well current challenges to expanding electricity access.

<> DOE Announces Webinars on Adding Solar to Your Building Portfolio, How to Use DOE's Newest Facilities, and More - February 27, 2014DOE Announces Webinars on Adding Solar to Your Building Portfolio, How to Use DOE's Newest Facilities, 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.

<> U.S. Drought Monitor Update for February 25, 2014 - According to the February 25 U.S. Drought Monitor, moderate to exceptional drought covers 36.1% of the contiguous U.S. 

<> Sierra Club, et al action to stop pollution coming from three valley fills at two former mountaintop removal sites - Litigation argues that landowning companies are responsible for ensuring that inactive mountaintop removal sites still meet Clean Water Act protections

<> Ohio Moves Closer to Banning LEED's Green Building Standards - Ohio is one step closer to banning the nation's premier green building evaluation process from rating its properties. The Ohio Senate on Wednesday passed  Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR 25), which would prohibit the use of the LEED v4 green building rating system on public buildings in the state if it gets approval from the state's House of. . . 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/27/14

<> Climate Change: Evidence & Causes - The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, with their similar missions to promote the use of science to benefit society and to inform critical policy debates, offer this new publication as a key reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and other individuals seeking authoritative answers about the current state of climate change science.

<> President Obama Lays Out New Plan for Upgrading Our Transportation Infrastructure - The President traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to unveil a new plan to upgrade America's transportation infrastructure and put people back to work.

·        Remarks by the President on Jobs in American Infrastructure

<> Completion of Compliance Follow-up Review for the Selection of Third-Party Contractor To Assist in Environmental Impact Statement Preparation for the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline – The State Department Office of Inspector General released its Compliance Follow-up Review of the Department's choice of a third-party contractor and found ound that its processes not only avoided conflicts of interest, but were more rigorous than required.

<> Secy Kerry continues to emphasize climate change is increasingly a national security threat - In an interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC he said, "It is increasingly going to provide major challenges to food security, to water security, to refugee populations which it's going to create, to the stability and instability of countries, to economies. This is growing in its urgency for us to respond to it. And so I will continue down that path." On the Keystone XL project he said, "With respect to Keystone, I am prohibited under the process of – to discuss it publicly. . ."

<> Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) Call For KXL Health Risks Study - Senators are calling on Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama Administration to analyze the public health risks to communities from the proposed Keystone pipeline.

·  Boxer's Statement: The Keystone Pipeline and the Threat to Human Health

<> Advocacy Report Outlines Removal of Regulatory Burdens on Small Business - the Office of Advocacy, an independent office within the Small Business Administration, released its annual report entitled, Report on the Regulatory Flexibility Act 

<> EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy To Travel To North Dakota To Discuss Energy Opportunities And The Environment - to discuss energy opportunities and EPA's ongoing work in the state and across the country to carry out President Obama's Climate Action plan.

<> USDA Pollinator Protection Initiative Leaves out CSP - The funds will be available to farmers and ranchers located in the Midwest states of Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin for both technical and financial assistance to improve the health of honey bees, one of our most critical pollinators.

<> Americans Broadly Support Energy Efficiency - Washington, D.C., February 27, 2014 – Efforts to promote energy efficiency enjoy overwhelming support among key political demographics, according to a poll released by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

<> Senators Question OIG Investigation into EPA's Failed Attempt to Shutdown Hydraulic Fracturing in Texas - The letter outlines the Senators' concerns with the quality and integrity of the OIG report, which investigated the EPA Region VI's issuance and withdrawal of an emergency order aimed at Range Resources, an oil and gas company operating in Parker County, Texas.

·  OIG report - Response to Congressional Inquiry Regarding the EPA's Emergency Order to the Range Resources Gas Drilling Company (12/20/13)

<> Cool Planet Starts Construction on First Commercial Facility - the company's first commercial facility in Alexandria, LA, designed to produce 10 million gallons per year of high-octane, renewable gasoline blendstocks, as well as biochar, all made from sustainable wood residues.

<> Dollar value of U.S. net coal exports has increased more than three-fold since 2005 – EIA: (Thu, 27 Feb 2014) Although coal trade only accounts for about 5% of trade flows in energy fuels, the volume of U.S. coal exports has steadily increased, from 50 million short tons (MMst) in 2005 to a record 126 MMst in 2012. Export volumes set a monthly record in March 2013, before declining in the second half of the year. Coal exports are an increasingly important source of revenue for U.S. coal. . .

<> Minnesota pollution officials expected to announce their recommendation for a "sulfate standard"

<> ACORE Releases Industry-Authored Review, Renewable Energy for Military Installations, Presenting Insight and Guidance for Renewable Energy Projects on Bases - February 27, 2014 – The American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) today released the Renewable Energy for Military Installations: 2014 Industry Review.  The Review provides insight about present business opportunities for third-party-owned renewable electricity projects at military installations. The articles were authored by group of prominent renewable energy developers. . .

<> Fifth edition of Moving Towards a Climate Neutral UN - released today, details the emissions from 64 United Nations organizations, covering nearly 225,000 staff around the world.

<> Great Britain's smart grid to revolutionize energy sector - The Smart Grid Forum's Vision and Routemap sets out how smart technologies will deliver cost-saving efficiencies, give consumers greater control over their energy use, support jobs and growth, increase energy security and enable integration of low carbon technologies. The Smart Grid Forum has previously shown how combining smart grid and conventional technologies have the potential. . .

<> Offshore Wind Farms Could Knock Down Hurricanes - A forest of 78,000 turbines would have drastically reduced the winds and storm surges from hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. . .

<> NCDC's Snow Cover Products - NCDC produces several products that can be used to monitor snowfall and snow cover throughout the winter.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/26/14

<> EPA OIG Responds to Open Letter from Sen. Vitter, February 24, 2014 - EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has recently posted a News Release responding to a letter signed and released to the public February 18 by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Ranking Member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, with questions about an investigation and ongoing audits involving former EPA employee John Beale.

<> DOT Issues Emergency Order Requiring Stricter Standards to Transport Crude Oil by Rail- the 4th emergency order or safety advisory on crude oil in the last seven months

<> EPA Honors Corporate Leadership in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - U.S. EPA's Center for Corporate Climate Leadership announced the third annual Climate Leadership Award winners in partnership with the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO), the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) and The Climate Registry (TCR).

<> State CO2 Emissions – EIA. These estimates of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) are based on the States Energy Data System. The state data include a summary table with total energy-related CO2 by state beginning in 1990, a table with emissions by fuel in 2010 and a table with emissions by sector in 2011. Detailed tables for individual states provide emissions by fuel and sector for. . .

<> Coal Data Browser - The U.S. coal data is collected and prepared for release by the Office of Oil, Gas, and Coal Supply Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. Department of Energy.

<> Remarks at the Economist World Ocean Summit - Remarks at the Economist World Ocean Summit Remarks; John Kerry, Secretary of State Via Video Teleconference February 25, 2014

<> Agriculture Secretary Announces $3 Million for a New Program to Improve Pollinator Health - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide close to $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to help improve the health of bees, which play an important role in crop production. The funding is a focused investment to improve pollinator health and will be. . .

<> Accounting for scientific uncertainty in a dangerously warming world - Most people at some point develop a "Plan B" – in case their first choice of college doesn't accept them, or it rains on the day of their planned outdoor party, or the deal for the house they wanted falls apart. The same principle applies for more dire situations, such as a city having plans in hand for an orderly evacuation in case of a large-scale disaster. We hope such an event will never. . . 

<> Senate EPW Subcommittee on Oversight hearing entitled, "Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting Ecosystems and Economies" - Webcast, witness testimony and statements. . .

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/25/14

<> Transcript of oral argument in Supreme Court Greenhouse Gas Case

<> ARPA-E Projects Attract More Than $625 Million in Private Funding - February 25, 2014ARPA-E Projects Attract More Than $625 Million in Private Funding At the 5th ARPA-E Summit, Private-sector Funding, Start-up Companies, and Public Partnerships Highlighted

<> USDA Announces New Grants to Help Communities Meet Water Challenges in Coming Years - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will make $6 million in grants available this year, and up to $30 million total over the next five years as part of a new initiative to provide solutions to agricultural water challenges. The grants will be used to develop management practices. . .

<> Energy Department Announces $10 Million to Speed Enhanced Geothermal Systems into the Market - Energy Department Announces $10 Million to Speed Enhanced Geothermal Systems into the Market In support President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy, the Energy Department today announced $10 million to improve subsurface characterization for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) by developing state-of-the-art methods that quantify critical underground. . . 

<> Coalition Launches Global Initiative to Empower Local Communities to Restore Their Coastal Fisheries and "Fish Forever"

<> Center for Food Safety Files Groundbreaking Legal Action to Protect National Wildlife Refuges - CFS and Allies Seek Nationwide Refuge Ban of Genetically Engineered Crops and Neonicotinoid Pesticides Latest Step in CFS Campaign to Protect Wildlife Refuges Washington D.C. (February 25, 2014) -- Center for Food Safety (CFS) today filed a formal legal challenge demanding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) protect our wildlife and their habitat by prohibiting the use. . .

<> US urges fishing ban in melting Arctic - Washington is urging countries that share the Arctic to ban commercial fishing in the offshore Arctic Ocean, something that will soon be possible for the first time in human history as the ice melts.

<> Secretary Kerry To Deliver Remarks at The Economist's World Ocean Summit 2014 - Secretary Kerry To Deliver Remarks at The Economist's World Ocean Summit 2014 via video teleconference at 12:15 p.m. on February 25, 2014. The World Ocean Summit 2014 is being held in Half Moon Bay, California

<> How to Save Water on Fracking - Among the environmental worries posed by hydraulic fracturing, including the release of methane into the air and contamination of groundwater, one has recently escalated: the concern that the enormous quantities of water used in fracking will leave parts of the country parched. In 2012, fracking consumed some 50 billion gallons of water -- water that many communities can ill afford to. . .

<> Large Scale Solar Energy Generation May Be Over As Soon As It Has Begun - The Ivanpah installation, in the Mojave Desert south of Las Vegas that went online on February 13, the world's largest solar thermal power plant, is a a zone of death for tortoises and raptors. . .

<> Launch of the first online Global Freshwater Biodiversity Atlas - A new online Atlas of freshwater biodiversity presenting spatial information and species distribution patterns will be launched today at the landmark Water Lives symposium, bringing together European Union policy makers and. . .

<> A 3-step sustainability action plan for business leaders - Sustainability imperative is particularly important for B2B supply chains.

<> U.S. Electricity Use is Declining and Energy Efficiency May be a Significant Factor - U.S. electricity sales peaked in 2007 and have been declining modestly since then. Sales in 2012 were 1.9% lower than 2007 sales, and sales in the first ten months of 2013 are below the same period in 2012. While the economic recession is an obvious explanation for the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to. . . 

Monday, February 24, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/24/14

<> The U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument today in a case addressing EPA's application of the Clean Air Act to greenhouse gases ("GHGs") -

<> Small Nebraska agency might further complicate Keystone fight - the Nebraska Public Service Commission could start its review once TransCanada submits an application, but the company will likely wait to see whether the lower court's ruling stands up against appeals.

<> Colorado adopts first rules in nation to directly reduce methane and VOCs from oil and gas - the first requirements anywhere in the U.S. to directly control emissions of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas known to intensify the rate of global warming. . .

<> Freight Railroads Join U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx in Announcing Industry Crude By Rail Safety Initiative - a rail operations safety initiative that will institute new voluntary operating practices for moving crude oil by rail.  

<> Energy trade is a key part of overall U.S. trade flows - (Mon, 24 Feb 2014) EIA says Energy trade has long been a key component of overall U.S. trade flows. Recent developments in U.S. energy production, notably the rapid growth of tight oil and shale gas output, are leading to significant changes in the nation's energy trade flows. Another important factor is consumption trends, which reflect both increased efficiency of vehicles and other energy-using. . . 

<> Recent Decisions Affecting EPA's Ability to Enforce PSD/NSR Violations - Recent decisions by the Court of Appeals for the Third, United States v. EME Homer City[1] and Seventh, United States v. Midwest Generation,[2] Circuits are the newest additions to the growing body of case law concerning the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) enforcement power under the Clean Air Act's Prevention of Significant Deterioration and. . .

<> Wonks in embattled regulatory office are mysterious — but 'not nefarious' - Robin Bravender and Emily Yehle, E&E reportersGreenwire: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 First of two stories about OIRA. On the 10th floor of a red brick building with a leaky roof not far from the White House are offices and cubicles filled with some of the most influential people in Washington. Most people have never heard of them. They're the cadre of wonky bureaucrats in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). . .

<> Seeking Consensus: A New Project on the Energy Collective - "Seeking Consensus" is a new column on TEC which aims to objectively quantify the relative attractiveness of the wide range of energy options available to us. Participation from the community is very important, and this first post therefore asks for community feedback on the structure of this project.

<> British economy £200 billion roadmap for future of offshore oil and gas industry & world's first gas CCS plant planned - The British economy could receive a potential £200 billion boost over the next 20 years, through the recovery of an additional 3-4 billion. . .

<> Microgrids for Rural Electrification - A critical review of best practices based on seven case studies. Published by the United Nations Foundation, February 2014

<> Green Climate Fund Board takes key decisions on operations and makes progress on 'Essential Eight' - Bali, Indonesia, the Board of the Green Climate Fund met this week to deal with the eight essential requirements for its initial resource mobilization and take fundamental decisions to advance the institution's operations.


Friday, February 21, 2014

WIMS Environmental HotSheet 2/21/14

<> Global Forest Watch: Dynamic New Platform to Protect Forests Worldwide- World Resources Institute (WRI), Google, and a group of more than 40 partners launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system that empowers people everywhere to better manage forests.

<> A Discussion on Climate Change: Evidence and Causes - February 27th, 2014, 10:00-11:30 EST. Register to view webcast by The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society re: a new publication produced jointly by the two institutions.

<> EPA Proposes New Safety Measures to Protect Farm Workers from Pesticide Exposure (HQ) – U.S. EPA announced proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard in order to protect the nation's two million farm workers and their families from pesticide exposure.

<> Flurry of Coal Power Plant Shutdowns Expected by 2016 - Because of new standards, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that 90 percent of the power plants expected to shut down by 2020 will actually be shut down by 2016.

<> Natural Gas Prices Hit 5-Year High of $6/MMBtu - Natural gas prices are up more than 45% this year and have now hit their highest point since 2009, based on record demand and falling supply. "Americans are getting hit in the wallets by huge price spikes and supply shortages, but it will only get worse if we send more natural gas overseas to our global competitors. It's bad enough now, but this is an eerie foreshadowing of the crisis to. . .

<> Powering California with 50% Renewable Energy by 2030: New Analysis Shows It Can Be Done - The study was led by a private consulting firm — Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) — and commissioned by the state's five largest electric utilities.

<> Rep. Waxman and Sen. Whitehouse Criticize Republican Leaders for Climate Change Response- a letter to Sen. John McCain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich responding to their criticisms of Secretary of State John Kerry's recent speech in Indonesia on the dangers of climate change. 

<> Utilities Industry Members Applaud Sen. Murkowski's Electric Reliability White Paper - WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) last week warned attendees at the annual winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) that the reliability of the nation's electric grid could suffer unless federal policymakers pay greater attention to the impacts of a range of new factors and forces, including changes in the. . .

<> GAO Report: Plutonium Disposition Program - DOE Needs to Analyze the Root Causes of Cost Increases and Develop Better Cost Estimates, GAO-14-231

  • Nuclear Waste: Auditors find continuing mismanagement at nuclear fuel plant - The Energy Department has repeatedly and substantially underestimated the costs of building a South Carolina plant meant to turn surplus plutonium from nuclear weapons into fuel for power plants, federal auditors declared in a new report on Feb. 20. The Government Accountability Office said the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration moreover has never completed "root. . .

<> GAO Report On Oil and Gas - Interior Has Begun to Address Hiring and Retention Challenges but Needs to Do More, GAO-14-205. Challenges hiring and retaining staff with key skills needed to manage and oversee oil and gas operations on federal leases.

<> Federal Court Strikes Down Bush-Era Stream-Dumping Rule - Pro-mountaintop removal measure and threat to clean water gets the axe. A federal court struck down a controversial George W. Bush administration rule that opened up Appalachia's streams and waterways to toxic dumping from destructive mountaintop removal mining operations.

<> 100+ Scientists Urge Obama to Wait on New Science before Permitting the Use of Seismic Airguns in the Atlantic Ocean - days before the Department of the Interior is expected to release its final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)

<> New GMO Studies Demonstrate 'Substantial Non-Equivalence' - Studies document substantial differences of GM maize and GM soybean from their conventional non-GM counterparts, exposing a permissive regulatory regime that has failed miserably in protecting public health and biodiversity.