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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

EPA Proposes Best Technology Regs To Reduce GHGs

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced at the California Governor’s Global Climate Summit that the Agency has taken a significant step to address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Administrator announced a proposal requiring large industrial facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of GHGs a year to obtain construction and operating permits covering these emissions. These permits must demonstrate the use of best available control technologies and energy efficiency measures to minimize GHG emissions when facilities are constructed or significantly modified.

The rule is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources – those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources. These large facilities would include power plants, refineries, and factories. Small businesses such as farms, restaurants and many other types of small facilities would not be included in these requirements. If the proposed fuel-economy rule to regulate GHGs from cars and trucks is finalized and takes effect in the spring of 2010, Clean Air Act permits would automatically be required for stationary sources emitting GHGs.

This proposed rule focuses these permitting programs on the largest facilities, responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. stationary source greenhouse gas emissions. With the proposed emissions thresholds, EPA estimates that 400 new sources and modifications to existing sources would be subject to review each year for GHG emissions. In total, approximately 14,000 large sources would need to obtain operating permits that include GHG emissions. Most of these sources are already subject to clean air permitting requirements because they emit other pollutants. The proposed tailoring rule addresses a group of six greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

In addition, EPA is requesting public comment on its previous interpretation of when certain pollutants, including CO2 and other GHGs,would be covered under the permitting provisions of the Clean Air Act. A different interpretation could mean that large facilities would need to obtain permits prior to the finalization of a rule regulating greenhouse gas emissions. EPA will accept comment on these proposals for 60 days after publicationin the Federal Register. The proposed rules and more information.

Critics complain that the Clean Air Act specifically states that any facility emitting more than 250 tons per year of a regulated pollutant is a "major source." This would cover more than a million buildings, including schools, churches, and hospitals that emit more than 250 tons of CO2 every year. The question is can EPA modify the regulation by changing the 250 ton number to 25,000 tons without an act of Congress?

The Ozone Hole Has Gotten Worse, But Should Get Better

Image of Antarctic ozone hole (September 2006): Courtesy of NASA

The hole in ozone layer is even bigger than it was at the height of the ozone panic in the 1980s, but is better today than it would have been had the world not taken decisive action 22 years ago. It's just that the damage from chlorofluorocarbons, which deplete ozone, is going to take several decades for the Antarctic hole to close up for good. That's because the ozone-depleting gases we emitted before the Montreal Protocol are still floating around the stratosphere or making their way in that direction. Some of these gases can circulate for a century before their molecules break apart or air currents remove them from the sky.

By 1987, 24 nations had ratified the Montreal Protocol, a landmark agreement that calls for a ban on producing and using nearly 100 of the most important ozone-depleting chemicals. As of this month, with the addition of East Timor, the protocol has been ratified by every member of the United Nations.

Ozone gas (made from triplets of oxygen atoms) helps shield us from the sun's harmful UV rays. Ninety-seven percent of the substances regulated under the Montreal Protocol have now been phased out and replaced in manufacturing with more ozone-friendly alternatives, like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The remaining gases will be phased out globally by 2040. According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, enactment of the protocol has prevented some 20 million cases of skin cancer and 130 million cases of eye cataracts. (Slate.com, 9/29/09)

Solar Electricity Power Towers Face Water Use Constraints

A solar power tower, left, is a solar thermal plant that uses different technology than the photovoltaic solar panels that produce electricity directly from the sun. In such plants, mirrors heat a liquid (liquid sodium) to heat water to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine. As in a fossil fuel power plant, that steam must be condensed back to water and cooled for reuse.

The conventional method is called wet cooling. Hot water flows through a cooling tower where the excess heat evaporates along with some of the water, which must be replenished constantly. An alternative, dry cooling, uses fans and heat exchangers, much like a car’s radiator. Far less water is consumed, but dry cooling adds costs and reduces efficiency — and profits.

In California alone, plans are under way for 35 large-scale solar projects that could generate 12,000 megawatts of electricity, equal to the output of about 10 nuclear power plants.

When Solar Millennium announced plans to build two large solar farms in Nevada, the project experienced difficulties when they revealed that its method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water. It has created conflicts between some people who hope to make money selling water rights to the company and others concerned about the project’s impact on the community and the environment, particularly the effects that industrialization will have on wildlife, their desert solitude and, most of all, their water. Some neighborhood residents are also worried about having water from their wells. Solar power tower projects can demand a huge amount of water and certain areas of Nevada are being inundated with requests from renewable energy developers that far exceed the amount of available water.

Water disputes forced Solar Millennium to abandon wet cooling for a proposed solar power plant in Ridgecrest, California after the water district refused to supply the 815 million gallons of water a year the project would need. The company subsequently proposed to dry cool two other massive Southern California solar farms it wants to build in the Mojave Desert.

BrightSource Energy’s dry-cooled Ivanpah project in Southern California would consume an estimated 25 million gallons a year, mainly to wash mirrors. But a wet-cooled solar trough power plant barely half Ivanpah’s size proposed by the Spanish developer Abengoa Solar would draw 705 million gallons of water in an area of the Mojave Desert that receives little rainfall.

NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of the utility giant FPL Group, plans to build a wet-cooled plant in a dry area east of Bakersfield, California. NextEra wants to tap freshwater wells to supply the 521 million gallons of cooling water the plant, the Beacon Solar Energy Project, would consume in a year, despite a state policy against the use of drinking-quality water for power plant cooling.

Tessera Solar is planning a large project in the California desert that would use only 12 million gallons annually, mostly to wash mirrors. But because it would draw upon a severely depleted aquifer, Tessera may have to buy rights to 10 times that amount of water and then retire the pumping rights to the water it does not use. For a second big solar farm, Tessera has agreed to fund improvements to a local irrigation district in exchange for access to reclaimed water.

Opponents complain that allowing projects to use fresh water would remove any incentives that developers have to use technologies that minimize water use. (NYT, 9/29/09)

Boxer/Kerry Climate Change Legislation Introduced Today












Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA), left, and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-MA), right, introduced their climate change bill today, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act (S. 1733). This is the companion legislation to the bill passed by the House in June. Boxer/Kerry proposes cutting American carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.

The House legislation was sponsored by Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and calls for a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. (American Clean Energy and Security Act [ACES])

Congressional News Conference - C-SPAN

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

EPA Unveils Framework for Chemical Management Reform

EPA has announced core principles that outline the Obama Administration’s goals for legislative reform of this country’s chemical management law, the 1976 Toxic SubstancesControl Act, TSCA. In parallel with this legislative initiative, EPA also announced plans for a major effort to strengthen EPA’s current chemical management program and increase the pace of the agency’s efforts to address chemicals that pose a risk to the public.

EPA's oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act....over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate - it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects. Legislation strengthening TSCA is expected to be introduced shortly by Senators Barbara Boxer and Frank Lautenberg and Representatives Henry Waxman and Bobby Rush.

The Obama Administration’s “Essential Principles for Reform of Chemicals Management Legislation” are intended to aid Congress during the legislative process. The principles, listed below, present the administration’s goals for legislation that will give EPA the mechanisms and authorities to expeditiously target chemicals of concern and promptly assess and regulate new and existing chemicals in commerce:

Chemicals should be reviewed against risk-based safety standards based on sound science and protective of human health and the environment.

Manufacturers should provide EPA with the necessary information to conclude that new and existing chemicals are safe and do not endanger public health or the environment.

EPA should have clear authority to take risk management actions when chemicals do not meet the safety standard, with flexibility to take into account sensitive subpopulations, costs, social benefits, equity and other relevant considerations.

Manufacturers and EPA should assess and act on priority chemicals,both existing and new, in a timely manner.

Green Chemistry should be encouraged and provisions assuring Transparency and Public Access to Information should bestrengthened.

EPA should be given a sustained source of funding for implementation.


This enhanced plan includes the development of chemical action plans that will outline the agency’s risk management efforts on those chemicals of greatest concern. EPA has identified an initial list of chemicals for possible risk management action and anticipates completing and posting an initial set of four action plans in December. It will complete and post additional chemical action plans in four-month intervals thereafter.

An additional focus will be accelerating efforts to gather the critical information from industry that the agency needs to make chemical risk determinations. This will include filling the current gaps in health and safety data on high production volume chemicals; enhanced, transparent, and more current reporting of use and exposure information; and a number of requirements for increased reporting on nanoscale chemical materials. In addition, EPA is reviewing how nanoscale materials are managed under TSCA.

EPA is also reviewing ways to increase the public’s access to information about chemicals. Prioritizing chemicals for future risk management action is the final component of this effort and EPA intends to formally engage stakeholders and the public in this discussion in the coming months. Detailed information on EPA’s enhanced chemical management program, including information on specific components of this effort, an initial list of chemicals under consideration for Action Plan development, new hazard characterization for 100 chemicals, and risk management actions recently announced on lead and EPA’s plans for banning the use of mercury in certain products, can be found at the link.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee's Green Energy Forum

Washington, DC Convention Center, Saturday, September 26, 2009 11am – 1pm: Center President Norris McDonald spoke at The 2009 Congresional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference's Green Entrepreneurship Forum. The forum addressed putting the Eco in Economy: Green Entrepreneurship and Business Opportunities. Environmental protection and the need for proactive approaches to address climate change have become a leading priority of the Obama Administration.

McDonald presented a carbon dioxide offset certificate so that the session would be carbon neutral. The certificate was for one ton of carbon dioxide. The Center operates the Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) to generate carbon dioxide offsets.

The process of “going green” is revolutionizing the way we do businesses and has created opportunities for entrepreneurship and business expansion. This forum represent Part Three of the CBCF Entrepreneurship Series and covered the expanding green economy, how and where the stimulus funds will be allocated and provided insight from businesses that are revolutionizing their operations by greening their business products and services.

Speakers and organizations:

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus

Moderator: Van Ton-Quinlivan, Pacific Gas & Electric

Norris McDonald, President, Center for Environment, Commerce, Energy
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Green For All
Jerome Ringo, President, Apollo Allianc
Keni Washington, Managing Director, Earth-SOLAR

Center Powerpoint Presentation

Friday, September 25, 2009

G-20 Punts On Deadline To Phase Out Fossil Fuel Subsidies

The Group of 20 (G-20) nations agreed to phase out government subsidies for the production and consumption of fossil fuels but did not include a deadline. The phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies had been touted by Obama administration officials as the centerpiece of the environmental initiative.

The Center promotes the efficient use of natural resources, regardless of the type. Thus, if subsidies are going to be phased out for fossil fuels, then all subsidies for all fuels should be phased out. The Center also opposes using price as a conservation driver, preferring the production of abundant supplies that are provided at reasonable prices. Technologies can still be utilized to achieve beneficial efficiencies and subsidies for this purpose are appropriate. (WSJ, 9/25/09)

Gore-Backed Car Company Gets 1/2 Billion Dollar U.S. Loan

Fisker Automotive Inc, is a start up car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore, right, that has just received a $529 million U.S. Department of Energy loan to help build the Karma, left, a hybrid sports car in Finland. The Karma will will sell for about $89,000. Fisker also has facilities in Irvine, California and Pontiac, Michigan.

Fisker claims its DOE loan will be used to finance U.S. production of a $40,000 family sedan that has yet to be designed. Henrik Fisker started Fisker Automotive in 2007 to build plug-in electric hybrid cars. The four-door Karma, powered by a lithium-ion battery, will be able to run solely on electric power for 50 miles, and will achieve an average fuel economy of 100 mpg over the span of a year. Production is scheduled to start in December, with about 15,000 vehicles a year expected to hit the U.S. market starting next June.

Fisker's top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Other Fisker investors include Eco-Drive (Capital) Partners LLC, an investment consortium, and Qatar Investment Authority, a state-run investor based in Qatar.

Fisker's government loans will come from a $25 billion program established by Congress in 2007 to help auto makers invest in the technology to meet a new congressional mandate to improve fuel efficiency. In June, the DOE awarded the first $8 billion from the program to Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., and Tesla, which are all developing electric cars. (WSJ, 9/25/09)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Senate Should Confirm Paul Anastas Now


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and America are being weakened by the 'hold' on the nomination of Paul Anastas to be Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development (ORD).

EPA Adds 11 Hazardous Waste Sites to Superfund’s National Priorities List

EPA also proposes to add 10 additional sites

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is adding 11 newhazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites. Also, EPA is proposing to add 10 other sites to the list. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex,uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. To date, there have been 1,607 sites listed on the NPL. Of these sites, 336 sites have been deleted resulting in 1,271 final sites currently on the NPL, including the 11 new final sites added in this rulemaking. With the proposal of the 10 new sites, there are 66 proposed sites awaiting final agency action: 61 in the general Superfund section and five in the federal facilities section.

There are a total of 1,337 final and proposed sites. Contaminants found at the final and proposed sites include antimony, arsenic, barium, benzo-a-anthracene, boron, cadmium, chloromethane, chromium, copper, dichloroethene (DCE), hexachlorobenze, lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons(PAHs), selenium, silver, tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethane(TCA), trichloroethene (TCE), vinyl chloride, and zinc. With all Superfund sites, EPA tries to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination.

For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting cleanupat the site. Therefore, it may be several years before significant cleanup funding is required for these sites. Sites may be placed on the list through various mechanisms:

· Numeric ranking established by EPA’s Hazard Ranking System
· Designation by states or territories of one top-priority site
· Meeting all three of the following requirements:

-- The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued a health advisory that recommends removing people fromthe site;
-- EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to public health; and
-- EPA anticipates it will be more cost-effective to useits remedial authority than to use its emergency removalauthority to respond to the site.

Federal Register notices and supporting documents for these final and proposed sites: The following 11 sites have been added to the National Priorities List: B.F. Goodrich (Rialto, Calif.)Lane Street Ground Water Contamination (Elkhart, Ind.) Southwest Jefferson County Mining (Jefferson County, Mo.) Flat Creek IMM (Superior, Mont.) Ore Knob Mine (Ashe County, N.C.)GMH Electronics (Roxboro, N.C.)Curtis Specialty Papers, Inc. (Milford, N.J.) Little Scioto River (Marion County, Ohio) Salford Quarry (Lower Salford Township, Pa.) Papelera Puertorriquena, Inc. (Utuado, Puerto Rico) Amcast Industrial Corporation (Cedarburg, Wis.)

The following 10 sites have been proposed to the National Priorities List: Salt Chuck Mine (Outer Ketchikan County, Ark.) Millsboro TCE (Millsboro, Del.) JJ Seifert Machine (Ruskin, Fla.) Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp - Jacksonville (Jacksonville, Fla.) Chemetco (Madison County, Ill.)Gratiot County Golf Course (St. Louis, Mich.)Kerr-McGee Chem Corp – Navassa (Navassa, N.C.)Newtown Creek (Brooklyn/Queens, N.Y.) Black Butte Mine (Cottage Grove, Ore.) Van Der Horst USA Corporation (Terrell, Texas)

(EPA)

The Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama at the United Nations General Assembly

Excerpt on Climate Change:

"To confront climate change, we have invested 80 billion dollars in clean energy. We have substantially increased our fuel-efficiency standards. We have provided new incentives for conservation, launched an energy partnership across the Americas, and moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations.

To overcome an economic crisis that touches every corner of the world, we worked with the G-20 nations to forge a coordinated international response of over two trillion dollars in stimulus to bring the global economy back from the brink. We mobilized resources that helped prevent the crisis from spreading further to developing countries. And we joined with others to launch a $20 billion global food security initiative that will lend a hand to those who need it most, and help them build their own capacity.

We have also re-engaged the United Nations. We have paid our bills. We have joined the Human Rights Council. We have signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals. And we address our priorities here, in this institution – for instance, through the Security Council meeting that I will chair tomorrow on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and through the issues that I will discuss today.

This is what we have done. But this is just a beginning. Some of our actions have yielded progress. Some have laid the groundwork for progress in the future. But make no mistake: this cannot be solely America’s endeavor. Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone. We have sought – in word and deed – a new era of engagement with the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.

If we are honest with ourselves, we need to admit that we are not living up to that responsibility. Consider the course that we are on if we fail to confront the status quo. Extremists sowing terror in pockets of the world. Protracted conflicts that grind on and on. Genocide and mass atrocities. More and more nations with nuclear weapons. Melting ice caps and ravaged populations. Persistent poverty and pandemic disease. I say this not to sow fear, but to state a fact: the magnitude of our challenges has yet to be met by the measure of our action."


FULL STATEMENT

EPA Releases List of Priority Drinking Water Contaminants for Regulatory Consideration

EPA is releasing its third list of drinking water contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and may require regulation. EPA will continue to evaluate and collect data on the contaminants, and determine by 2013 for some of them whether or not to propose drinking water regulations.

The contaminant candidate list (CCL 3) includes 104 chemical contaminants or groups and 12 microbes. Among them are contaminants, pesticides, disinfection byproducts, pharmaceuticals, chemicals used in commerce, waterborne pathogens and algal toxins. The agency’s selection of the contaminants builds upon evaluations used for previous lists and is based on substantial expert input and recommendations from different groups including stakeholders, the National Research Council and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council.

EPA will make regulatory determinations for at least five contaminants in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. For those CCL 3 contaminants that lack sufficient information for a regulatory determination by 2013, EPA will encourage research to provide the information needed.

The agency evaluated approximately 7,500 chemicals and microbes and selected 116 candidates for the final list based on their potential to pose health risks through drinking water exposure.

The agency considered the best available health effects and occurrence data and information to evaluate unregulated contaminants.

A draft CCL 3 was published for review and comment on February 21, 2008. EPA reviewed and analyzed the information provided in the comments in developing the final CCL 3.

More information

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Future of Climate Change Legislation in the U.S. Senate

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) are planning to introduce climate change legislation this year or early next year. The Senate bill will be debated first in the Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Boxer and is expected to be similar to legislation written by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June.

Under the Boxer/Kerry bill, electric utilities that use coal and natural gas will have to buy "allowances" to comply with the nation-wide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The number of allowances they must purchase varies over time. The cost of purchasing these allowances will be passed on to consumers. The Center opposes auctioning allowances favoring free allocation of all but 2% of the allowances.

Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has begun hearings on the economic implications of climate change legislation. As many as six Senate committees may have a hand in drafting a climate change bill before the bill makes its way to the Senate floor. In particular, the bill will need to address difficult regional concerns in order to pass the Senate. These concerns include maintaining affordable electricity rates and protecting jobs.

EPA Finalizes Nation’s 1st GHG Reporting System

Monitoring to begin in 2010On January 1, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will, for the first time, require large emitters of heat-trapping emissions to begin collecting greenhouse gas (GHG) data under a new reporting system. This new program will cover approximately 85 percent of the nation’s GHG emissions and apply to roughly 10,000 facilities.

EPA’s new reporting system will provide a better understanding of where GHGs are coming from and will guide development of the best possible policies and programs to reduce emissions. The data will also allow businesses to track their own emissions, compare them to similar facilities, and provide assistance in identifying cost effective ways to reduce emissions in the future. This comprehensive, nationwide emissions data will help in the fight against climate change.

Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, are produced by burning fossil fuels and through industrial and biological processes. Fossil fuel and industrial GHG suppliers, motor vehicle and engine manufacturers, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent per year will be required to report GHG emissions data to EPA annually. This threshold is equivalent to about the annual GHG emissions from 4,600 passenger vehicles.

The first annual reports for the largest emitting facilities, covering calendar year 2010, will be submitted to EPA in 2011. Vehicle and engine manufacturers outside of the light-duty sector will begin phasing in GHG reporting with model year 2011. Some source categories included in the proposed rule are still under review.

More information

President Obama's U.N. Speech on Climate Change

FULL SPEECH

Excerpts:

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT UNITED NATIONS
SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON'S
CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT

United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

I am proud to say that the United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.

We are making our government's largest ever investment in renewable energy -- an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits -- projects that are creating new jobs and new industries. We're investing billions to cut energy waste in our homes, our buildings, and appliances -- helping American families save money on energy bills in the process.

We've proposed the very first national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks -- a standard that will also save consumers money and our nation oil. We're moving forward with our nation's first offshore wind energy projects.

Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. And already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy. As we head towards Copenhagen, there should be no illusions that the hardest part of our journey is in front of us.

We must also energize our efforts to put other developing nations -- especially the poorest and most vulnerable -- on a path to sustained growth. These nations do not have the same resources to combat climate change as countries like the United States or China do, but they have the most immediate stake in a solution. And that is why we have a responsibility to provide the financial and technical assistance needed to help these nations adapt to the impacts of climate change and pursue low-carbon development.

Mr. Secretary, as we meet here today, the good news is that after too many years of inaction and denial, there's finally widespread recognition of the urgency of the challenge before us.


[Photo Courtesy: AP/Charles Dharapak]

Monday, September 21, 2009

CBO & CRS Analyze Effects of Climate Change Legislation

CBO Shows Real Climate Impact – The Congressional Budget Office released a report late last week saying that climate legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions could result in as much as a 1 to 3.5% decrease in GDP by 2050. It also adds that climate legislation would cause permanent shifts in production and employment away from industries focused on the production of carbon-based energy and energy-intensive goods and services and toward the production of alternative energy sources and less-energy-intensive goods and services. While those shifts were occurring, total employment would probably be reduced because labor markets would most likely not adjust as quickly as would the composition of demand for different outputs.

CBO Study

A previous CBO study in June stated that: "the net annual countrywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion - or about $175 per household."

CRS Says Economic Impacts Remain Uncertain – In another broad analysis of economic impact studies, the Congressional Research Service has concluded that projecting the price tag of Waxman-Markey is problematic because of uncertainty about things such as the success of future carbon-friendly technology. CRS says that all cost estimates of climate legislation should be "viewed with attentive skepticism." This certainly will have an impact on the debate on both sides as opponents and supporters will likely use the claim to discredit other analyses of the legislation that they don't like. In the report CRS says that economic researchers from different federal agencies and groups have reached different conclusions about the bill because they examined different time frames or investigated only one segment of its legislative text. One example of this is the recent dustup over Treasury reports that showed a much higher cost of the climate bill that were held back by the Administration.

CRS Study

(Source: Frank Maisano)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Center to Participate in CBC Annual Legislative Conference

Center President Norris McDonald is speaking at The 2009 Congresional Black Caucus (CBC) Annual Legislative Conference's Entrepreneurship Series. The Entrepreneurship Series is sponsored by Mastercard, Community Loans of America, and Bank of America.

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) produces the Annual Legislative Conference, a four-day event held in September at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Thousands of elected officials, business and industry leaders, celebrities, media, emerging leaders and everyday Americans attend the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) and its dozens of policy forums, general sessions, massive exhibit showcase, job fair, book signings and vast networking opportunities. The Congressional Black Caucus – comprised of the African-American members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate – headline ALC every year.

The series will include the following workshops with remarks provided by distinguished and nationally recognized panelists before an expected audience of 250 – 300 per session:

Thursday, September 24, 2009 2pm-4pm

Initial Start-Up Considerations: Strategies for Establishing & Running A Successful Business Venture. Establishing and running a lucrative business venture can be a daunting task for even the most experienced entrepreneur. This workshop, part one of a three part CBCF Entrepreneurship Series, helps to demystify the process of starting a business for potential entrepreneurs and enhances the business know-how of existing small business owners. Highlights of the program include keynote remarks and strategies for success from celebrity entrepreneurs who have turned their ambition into multi-million dollar enterprises. Additional panelists will discuss, topics including developing a sound business plan, business taxes and corporate entities, and resources to assist aspiring entrepreneurs.

Friday, September 25, 2009 10am-12pm

Financing Forum: Preparing for and Obtaining Business Financing The current economic climate has significantly impacted the global credit market making access to capital more difficult for entrepreneurs and small business owners. In these times, understanding your personal finances and the loan product that is best for your business is critical. Part two of the three part CBCF Entrepreneurship Series, will include strategies from financial planners and bank executives that will address, the 5 C’s of credit and will provide insight on what they look for in potential loan applicants or investment opportunities. The workshop will provide information on various financing options including microloans, small business loan products, and venture capital products for the budding, established and mature business enterprise.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 11am – 1pm

Putting the Eco in Economy: Green Entrepreneurship and Business Opportunities Environmental protection and the need for proactive approaches to address climate change have become a leading priority of the Obama Administration. The process of “going green” is revolutionizing the way we do businesses and has created opportunities for entrepreneurship and business expansion. Part three (3) of the CBCF Entrepreneurship Series will define the expanding green economy, discuss how and where the stimulus funds will be allocated and provide insight from businesses that are revolutionizing their operations by greening their business products and services. Confirmed Speakers/Organizations:

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chair, Congressional Black Caucus
Norris McDonald, President, Center for Environment, Commerce, Energy
Julie Cunningham, CEO, Conference of Minority Transportation Officials
Dr. Farrah Gray, Entrepreneur, Author “Reallionaire”
Aaron W. Smith, Author “In the Black: Live Faithfully, Prosper Financially”
Harry Alford, CEO, National Black Chamber of Commerce
Connie Evans, CEO, Association for Enterprise Opportunity
Kim Ellis Hunter, Partner, Deloitte & Touche
Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Green For All
Jerome Ringo, President, Apollo Alliance
Van Ton-Quinlivan, Pacific Gas & Electric
Keni Washington, Managing Director, Earth-SOLAR
David Hinson, Director, Minority Business Development Agency
Kenneth Yancey, CEO, SCORE
Diane Farrell, Board of Directors, Export-Import Bank of the US
Karen Mills, Administrator, US Small Business Administration

Biographies

DOT & EPA Propose Fuel Economy & GHG Improvements

New Interagency Program to Address Climate Change and Energy Security

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson jointly proposed a rule (9/15/09) establishing a program that would improve vehicle fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases. The proposal provides a coordinated national vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions standards. The proposed program would also conserve billions of barrels of oil, save consumers money at the pump, increase fuel economy, and reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the proposed program, which covers model years 2012 through 2016, automobile manufacturers would be able to build a single, light-duty national fleet that satisfies all federal requirements as well as the standards of California and other states. The proposed program includes miles per gallon requirements under NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) program and the first-ever national emissions standards under EPA’s greenhouse gas program. The collaboration of federal agencies for this proposal also allows for clearer rules for all automakers, instead of three standards (DOT, EPA, and a state standard).

Specifically, the program would:

· Increase fuel economy by approximately five percent every year
· Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 950 million metric tons
· Save the average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs
· Conserve 1.8 billion barrels of oil Increase Fuel Economy and Reduce Carbon Dioxide

Emissions: The proposed national program would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. Under the proposed program, the overall light-duty vehicle fleet would reach 35.5 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2016, if all reductions were made through fuel economy improvements. If this occurs, Congress’ fuel economy goal of 35.0 mpg by 2020 will be met four years ahead of schedule. This would surpass the CAFE law passed by Congress in 2007, which required an average fuel economy of 35 mpg in 2020. Cars currently must average 27.5 miles per gallon; light trucks must average 23.1 miles per gallon.

Reduce Greenhouse Gases: Climate change poses a significant long-term threat to America’senvironment. The vehicles subject to the proposed rules announced today are responsible for almost 60 percent of all U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. These will be the nation’s first ever national greenhouse gas standards. The proposed standards would require model year 2016 vehicles to meet an estimated combined average emission level of 250 grams of carbon dioxide per mile under EPA’s greenhouse gas program. The combined EPA and NHTSA standards would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the light-duty vehicle fleet by about 21 percent in 2030 over the level that would occur in the absence of any new greenhouse gas or fuel economy standards. The greenhouse gas emission reductions this program would bring about are equivalent to the emissions of 42 million cars.

Save Consumers Money: NHTSA and EPA estimate that U.S. consumers who purchase their vehicle outright would save enough in lower fuel costs over the first three years to offset the increases in vehicle costs. Consumers would save more than $3,000 due to fuel savings over the lifetime of a model year 2016 vehicle.

Conserve Oil and Increase Energy Security: The light-duty vehicles subject to this proposed National Program account for about 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption. The program will provide important energy security benefits by conserving 1.8 billion barrels of oil, which is twice the amount of oil (crude oil andproducts) imported in 2008 from the Persian Gulf countries, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration Office. These standards also provide important energy security benefits as light-duty vehicles account for about 60 percent of transportation oil use.

Within the Auto Industry’s Reach: EPA and NHTSA have worked closely to develop this coordinated joint proposal and have met with many stakeholders including automakers to insure the standards proposed today are both aggressive and achievablegiven the current financial state of the auto industry. NHTSA and EPA expect automobile manufacturers would meet these proposed standards by improving engine efficiency, transmissions and tires, as well as increasing the use of start-stop technology and improvements in air conditioning systems. EPA and NHTSA also anticipate that these standards would promote the more widespread use of advanced fuel-saving technologies like hybrid vehicles and clean diesel engines. NHTSA and EPA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins withpublication of the proposal in the Federal Register.

The proposal and information about how to submit comments are at: EPA and NHTSA. Draft Environmental Impact Statement: NHTSA has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed CAFE standards. The Draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency’s proposal and reasonable alternatives. NHTSA is providing a 45-day comment period on the Draft EIS. Information on the submission of comments is provided at the above NHTSA Web address. (EPA)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Maryland PSC Hearing On Constellation/EdF Merger

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) held its second of public hearing last night in Baltimore to get input on the proposal by Constellation Energy Group to sell almost half of its nuclear power business for $4.5 billion to Electricite de France, a French-owned utility. The Center supports the merger.

The hearing was held in War Memorial Auditorium where advocaes and opponents made their cases for and against the merger, which is crucial to Constellation's plans to build a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs. The Center supports the third reactor.

A third and final hearing before the PSC is set for Sept. 29 in Bel Air. The commission is scheduled to decide by October 16 whether the purchase is in the public interest, "convenience and necessity." The PSC is also holding separate evidentiary hearings this week, which were initially scheduled to conclude today will be extended to Monday. The evidentiary hearings are examining the current and future financial condition of Baltimore Gas and Electric, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy Group. (The Baltimore Sun, 9/18/09)

Kate Sheppard Leaves Grist To Freelance

Grist magazine has lost a giant in environmental reporting--Kate Sheppard, right. Ms. Sheppard wrote some of the most penetrating articles ever for the mag. She shifted from Grist to freelance writing for awhile, with energy and environmental articles appearing in various newspapers and magizines. Now Kate Sheppard covers energy and environmental issues for "Mother Jones" in their Washington, D.C. bureau.

Here is how Kate describes herself on her Windows Live page:

Kate grew up on a vegetable farm in New Jersey and can verify that there are still a few gardens in the Garden State. When she's not writing, Kate enjoys walking holes in the bottoms of her shoes, dancing, cooking, and traveling. Interests Politics, trees, writing, revolutions, being outside documentaries, community, the color brown, running, maps, autumn, irony, used bookstores, mix CDs, green things, letters, babies, public transportation.

Here's how Kate currently describes herself on her Twitter page: Environmental reporter and blogger, writing at "Mother Jones." Kate's Twitter

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lisa Jackson Speaks At Atlantic’s Green Intelligence Forum

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

The Atlantic held a very exciting Green Intelligence Forum (videos) yesterday that was cosponsored by Constellation Energy, Shell Oil and Siemens. I decided to attend because of the panelist list and EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson was the keynote speaker. The New Yorker has an interesting review, but I received interesting feedback about the question I asked the administrator: "Should Blacks own coal mines in a global warming world?" I knew she could not answer it directly (it was a loaded question), but I felt compelled to ask it anyway. Moreover, the question was not really aimed at her but at many of the people sitting in the audience (electric utilities, oil companies, environmentalists and media). Administrator Jackson gave a general answer. She playfully swiped her program at me as she was leaving.

Todd Stern, U.S. State Department Special Envoy on Climate Change, opened the forum and other panelists included: Smart Markets: Jonathan Lash, Fred Krupp and David Hawkins represented mainstream environmental groups. Jim Rogers of Duke Energy and Jim Connaughton of Constellation represented utilities, among several other panelists.

Center Opposes Venezuelan Nuclear Plant Under Chavez

Venezuelan dictator-in-waiting Hugo Chavez, left, wants to partner with the Russians to build a nuclear power plant. The Center opposes the dictator's plan because we do not support Hugo Chavez and believe he would utilize the technology for nefarious purposes. Additionally, Chavez is aligned with Iran and they are clearly on a path to building nuclear weapons and using the commercial program as a cover. Fortunately, in addition to the fact that Venezuela lacks the technological expertise to build a nuclear power plant, they also do not have the billions it would take to construct such a facility. But Russia has offered to help bridge these inadequacies.

Venezuela is a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which would restrict any nuclear program to nonmilitary purposes. Chavez discussed the nuclear issue last week with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow.

In South America, Argentina already has two operating nuclear plants, as does Brazil. Brazil is also planning to invest $3.7 billion to build a third nuclear plant after receiving environmental approval earlier this year. (Wash Post, 9/15/09)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

EPA Releases Reports on Dam Integrity Assessments at 17 Coal Ash Impoundments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the final contractor reports assessing the structural integrity of 17 impoundments and similar management units containing coal combustion residuals, commonly referred to as coal ash, at nine facilities. These 17 impoundments have a “high” or “significant” hazard potential rating. A high hazard potential rating is not related to the stability of those impoundments but to the potential for harm should the impoundment fail. A significant hazard potential rating means impoundment failure can cause economic loss, environmental damage, or damage to infrastructure.

The assessments have rated the structural integrity of seven impoundments as “satisfactory,” nine units as “fair,” and one unit as “poor.” None of the units assessed received an “unsatisfactory” rating. According to dam safety experts, only impoundments rated as unsatisfactory pose immediate safety threats.

The assessment reports have been completed by firms, under contract to EPA, who are experts in the field of dam integrity and reflect the best professional judgment of those engineering firms. A draft of these reports has been reviewed by the facilities and the states for factual accuracy; their comments on the draft reports are also posted on EPA’s website. EPA continues to review the reports and technical recommendations, and is working with the facilities to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in a timely manner.

EPA has provided a copy of the final report to each facility and has requested that the facility implement the recommendations contained in the reports and provide its plans for taking action. Should facilities fail to take sufficient measures, EPA will take additional action, if the circumstances warrant, and will be devoting special attention to those facilities receiving a poor rating.

EPA will assess by the end of the calendar year all of the units that had a dam hazard potential rating of high or significant in the responses provided by electric utilities to EPA’s previous information requests, and will release additional reports as they become available.

As announced by Administrator Lisa P. Jackson on March 9, 2009, EPA, together with other federal agencies and states, is working to ensure that tragedies like the coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee last December are avoided through the proper management of coal combustion residuals. (EPA)

More information

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

15th Annual Heinz Awards on the Environment

Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation announced the recipients of the 15th Annual Heinz Awards, which this year, focuses singularly on the environment. Created to honor U.S. Senator John Heinz, the 2009 Heinz Awards commemorate the late senator’s long-standing commitment to the environment by bestowing $100,000 awards to 10 individuals whose achievements have helped bring about a cleaner, greener and more sustainable planet.

The recipients include a farmer who champions sustainable agriculture, experts on climate change, a neurotoxicologist, inventors who have changed the quality of life for those in developing countries, a fighter against environmental racism, and leaders in the areas renewable energy, green architecture and green journalism.

This year’s recipients are:

1) Robert Berkebile, 72, BNIM Architects (Kansas City, Mo.)For his green building advocacy and promotion of sustainable design and planning.

2) P. Dee Boersma, Ph.D., 62, University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.) For developing greater understanding of the impact of humans on marine ecosystems.

3) Christopher B. Field, Ph.D., 56, Carnegie Institution for Science and Stanford University(Stanford, Calif.) For his leadership and innovation in carbon cycle and climate science.

4) Ashok Gadgil, Ph.D., 58, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University ofCalifornia, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.) For his work as an inventor and humanitarian.

5) Chip Giller, 38, Grist magazine (Seattle, Wash.) For creating an innovative media platform for delivering environmental information to new audiences. Chip Giller is being honored for founding Grist, an online media platform devoted to environmental news and views.

6) Deborah Rice, Ph.D., 61, Maine Deptartment of Health and Human Services,Environmental and Occupational Health (Augusta, Maine) For research yielding new understanding about exposure to toxicants during humandevelopment.

7) Joel Salatin, 52, Polyface Farm (Swoope, Va.) For creating alternative, environmentally friendly farming techniques.

8) Kirk R. Smith, Ph.D., 62, University of California, Berkeley, (Berkeley, Calif.) For exposing the relationships among household air pollution, fuel use, climate and health.

9) Thomas Smith, 59, Public Citizen – Texas (Austin, Texas) For his advocacy of wind and solar energy efficiency.

10) Beverly H. Wright, Ph.D., 61, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (New Orleans,La.) For her work as an environmental justice advocate.

Nominations for the Heinz Awards are submitted by an invited Council of Nominators, all experts in their fields, who serve anonymously. Award recipients are selected by the board of directors for the Heinz Awards upon recommendation by a blue-ribbon panel of jurors. In addition to the $100,000 award for their unrestricted use, recipients are presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of Senator Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. The Heinz Awards will be presented at a private ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 28. [Additional information]

Monday, September 14, 2009

Toxic Waters: A Series On Worsening Water Pollution

The New York Times is running a series on the worsening pollution in American waters and the responses of regulators, entitled: "Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering" [an interactive version, which can show violations in any community]. The article reports that in recent years violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation and that in the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. Most of those polluters have not been punishment, state officials have repeatedly ignored illegal dumping, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which can prosecute polluters when states fail to act, has often declined to intervene.

The New York Times obtained hundreds of thousands of water pollution records through Freedom of Information Act requests to every state and the E.P.A., and compiled a national database of water pollution violations that is more comprehensive than those maintained by states or the E.P.A. Records analyzed by The New York Times indicate that the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies and other facilities, according to reports submitted by facilities themselves.

Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells

Full Series

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Center Supports Mojave Desert Solar Electricity Projects

Update: BrightSource Energy Inc. has announced it is seeking an alternative site for the project.

The Mojave Desert is 22,000 square miles wide and includes parts of California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. The region is viewed as an ideal location in North America for building a new generation of large solar-thermal power plants, left. Such solar electricity producing plants are especially attractive to California, where utilities are required to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010 and likely 33 percent by 2020.

Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc plans to build 2.6 gigawatts of power for California's investor-owned utilities in the Mojave Desert. BrightSource and 18 other companies have petitioned Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) to build in areas that overlap the lands that would be closed to development under legislation being proposed by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Those applications represent about 10,000 megawatts of power, or 30 large-scale solar power plants.

Some California-based activists have enlisted Senator Feinstein to push for legislation to establish a national monument in the desert. Senator Feinstein is a longtime advocate of desert conservation and serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approves funds for the Interior Department. Her office is introducing a bill that will cut off 1 million public acres in the desert -- up from a previous estimate of 600,000 acres -- in the eastern Mojave to limit development and to protect a threatened species of desert tortoise and preserve its habitat. The boundaries would stretch from Joshua Tree National Park to Mojave National Preserve, including nearly 100,000 acres of the Interior Department's National Park Service lands and 210,000 acres spread across 20 wilderness areas controlled by the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

BLM has received 66 applications for solar, totaling 577,000 acres, most of which would be located in the desert. BLM is also processing 93 wind applications, representing 815,000 acres. Florida Power & Light Co., Cogentrix Energy LLC and Stirling Energy Systems Inc., among others, have filed applications for solar development projects the area. (NYT, 9/9/09)

Obama Administration Imposes Tariffs On Chinese Tires

President Barack Obama has signed an order to impose the special punitive tariffs for three years. The stiff tariffs on imports of Chinese-made tires were needed after a surge of imports disrupted the U.S. domestic market. U.S. imports of Chinese tires have risen from 14.6 million in 2004 to 46 million last year, accounting for about one-sixth of the U.S. market. Four U.S. tire plants have closed in the past two years, and more than 5,000 workers have lost their jobs.

The action is the first major trade enforcement action of his presidency and the first time the U.S. government has imposed special "safeguard" provisions to protect a U.S. industry from Chinese competition. In the first year, the tariff will be 35%, falling to 30% in the second year and 25% in the third year. The tariff would be on top of the current 4% tariff. The tariffs will take effect in 15 days. (Market Watch, 9/11/09)

Friday, September 11, 2009

EPA To Review 79 Coal Mining Mountaintop Removal Permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits. The extended reviews will be carried out under an enhanced coordination process between EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers developed under an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on surface coal mining facilitated by the Council on Environmental Quality and signed by the EPA, the Corps, and the Department of Interior. The Corps and EPA will work together during this review process to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and the protection of this nation’s public health and environment.

In the next 15 days, EPA will be further evaluating the preliminary list of projects slated for further review and transmit a final list to the Corps. After that, issues of concern regarding particular permit applications will be addressed during a 60-day review process triggered when the Corps informs EPA that a particular permit is ready for discussion.

The enhanced coordination process, announced in June 2009, was created to strengthen the environmental review of pending mining applications and to address the backlog of permit decisions that occurred as a result of various challenges, including litigation. Since June, 29 projects have been removed from the list for various reasons, including circumstances where permit applicants have requested that their applications be withdrawn.

The 79 pending permit applications on which EPA focused are for proposed surface coal mining operations in 4 Appalachian states. EPA’s initial review concluded that all of the projects would likely cause water quality impacts requiring additional review under the Clean Water Act. The initial reviews were conducted in light of available project-specific information, the existing environmental condition of the watershed in which the project is proposed to be located, and the nature of environmental impacts predicted to result from construction and operation of the proposed mine.

The list of 79 permits is being made available today on EPA’s Web site.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Auto Dealers & U.S. Chamber Sue EPA On Auto CO2

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being sued in federal court by auto dealers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the agency's decision to let California and other states regulate automobile greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The two industry groups fear that the EPA's decision will set a precedent for California to set stricter emission standards for a raft of different emitting sectors. Auto manufacturers earlier this year agreed to not fight against a national emission standard the Obama administration plans to implement. They have received of dollars in federal stimulus funding to stay open.

To set precedent and preserve California's ability to apply for tougher new auto-emission standards than the administration is currently drafting once they expire in 2017, the EPA granted California the right to move ahead on its own. With what is known as the California waiver, more than a dozen other states were ready to move ahead with identical standards. Auto companies are concerned both about the stricter standards that would make manufacturing more expensive and about having two different standards across the U.S.

The petition for review in the D.C. federal court of appeals targets the Clean Air Act provision that allows California to appeal for a waiver to set its own environmental standards when there are compelling and extraordinary circumstances. The petition argues that the provision is only allowed to address local or regional concerns, but greenhouse-gas emissions are an international concern. Opponents believe the suit attempts to undermine states' rights.

EPA is currently drafting greenhouse-gas regulations, including an official declaration that such emissions are a danger to public health and welfare. (WSJ, 9/10/09)

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Sierra Club Seeks Executive Director

The Sierra Club is seeking its next Executive Director. The Sierra Club stands at a critical moment in its history. This is a unique opportunity for a passionate and savvy executive to play a pivotal role in transforming the world by leading the transition to clean, sustainable energy sources.

The Role of Executive Director

The Executive Director is the Sierra Club’s highest ranking staff member, responsible for strategic and inspirational leadership as well as overall operational management of the Sierra Club, Inc. and its 530 staff, who are organized in five primary divisions and managed through a senior staff leadership team of eight. The Executive Director reports to a 15-member Board of Directors, itself elected by the Club membership. The Executive Director serves as a key external face of the Club, responsible for nurturing relationships with the non-governmental organization community, government officials, philanthropic agencies, donors, the media, and others. The Executive Director also leads the staff in its strong partnership with the Club’s unique and invaluable volunteer cadre.

FULL DESCRIPTION

Contact:

Stephanie C. Mardell, Associate
Isaacson, Miller
649 Mission Street Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94105

P: 415.655.4911
C: 617.448.3077

F: 415.655.4905

smardell@imsearch.com

http://www.imsearch.com/

Center Invited To Participate in Chesapeake Bay Discussion

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has invited the Center to participate in a conference call on the contents of the draft reports called for by President Obama’s Executive Order (EO) on the Chesapeake Bay. Chuck Fox, right, EPA’s Senior Policy Advisor for the Chesapeake Bay, along with representatives from the other federal agencies, will conduct the briefing.

Background: On May 12, 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13508 on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration. The EO directs various Federal agencies to develop (7) separate reports on key challenges to protecting and restoring Chesapeake Bay. These (7) draft reports are due to be delivered to a Federal Leadership Committee,composed of cabinet-level officials, on September 9th. The Federal Leadership Committee will receive the 202(a) reports and devise a draft coordinated strategy that will be published for public review and comment on November 9, 2009, and will be finalized by May, 2010.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, above left, will hold a press conference call an hour before the Fox briefing to discuss the seven draft reports required by President Obama’s Executive Order on the Chesapeake Bay. She will be joined on the line by officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and others. The reports will be posted at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order website.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Heal The Atmosphere Association Sponsors Rally in Atlanta

Host: Heal The Atmosphere Association
Type: Causes - Rally
Network: Global
Price: FREE !
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2009
Time: 1:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Walk from Woodruff Park & rally in Freedom Park
Street: Peachtree St., Auburn Ave to Moreland Ave
City/Town: Atlanta, GA
Phone: 4045935620
Email: healtheatmosphere@gmail.com

Description: Heal The Atmosphere Association is dedicated to the preservation of the planet. HTAA is a 501c3 non-profit environmental organization founded in 1978. HTAA provides daily programs and activities to the public, focused on raising awareness amongst ALL mankind on how to go "Green". HTAA is seeking assistance from organizations in participating in the annual "Every Day is Earth Day" Mega Event.

This event is scheduled for Saturday September 26, 2009 in downtown Atlanta, GA. It will include a 3-mile walk and a Green Rally/Concert in Freedom Park. The primary purpose of this event is to keep the reality in front of as many people as possible that every day is Earth day. HTAA's goals for the "Every Day is Earth Day" Mega Event 2009 are to:

· Keep the environmental concerns in the public eye daily
· Exchange ideas as well as give people tools on how to make this a powerful reality
· Give people back their power and reclaim the right to care for themselves and their environment
· Create a unified front among the major players in the environmental field; thereby exposing the public to eco-solutions


"Every Day is Earth Day" Mega Event 2009 is an all day event that will consist of a walk, music performances, vendors, green exhibitors and an abundance of informational tools for the public to incorporate into their daily lives.

Please let them know if you would like to participate in this event. Contact:

HTAA
(334)-401-1031
1585 AL Hwy. 199
Tuskegee, AL 36083
http://www.healtheatmosphere.org/
404-593-5620

Center Supports Public Health Insurance Option

Open Letter to President Obama

From Norris McDonald

Please provide America with a public option for people like me Mr. President. The Center supports a public option, but targeted directly to people who cannot get health insurance in the private sector. I have asthma and cannot get private health insurance. A public option would be perfect for people like me. I understand the opposition from people who are happy with their current health insurance. But what about the other 40 million people who are not insured or cannot get health insurance?

America has the best health care system in the world, regardless of comparisons to other countries that do not carry the vast responsibilities and living standards as does the United States. I should have died at least twice when I was intubated in the intensive care unit (ICU), once in 1991 and again in 1996. The American system not only saved my life those two times, but numerous other times when I was on my knees in emergency rooms struggling to get some air into my body. Sometimes with my young son looking on. Yet, even though my son inherited asthma from me as I did from my father, because he is 17, I could get health insurance for him. Of course, there is a $10,000 deductible and it has to be paid before the insurance company will pay the bill. The system is not broken, even though costs for current Medicare and Medicaid need some reform. Tort reform is also needed.

So please Mr. President. Please provide a vehicle for people like me to get health insurance. Such a plan does not have to threaten current insurance policy holders. I hope you will take charge of this issue during your speech on Wednesday. Imagine going into the 2009/10 winter with the H1N1 virus possibly impacting us and not having health insurance.

Friday, September 04, 2009

D.C. Environmental Chief George Hawkins To Lead WASA

George Hawkins, right, Director of the D.C. Department of the Environment and a former official at the Environmental Protection Agency has been hired to be general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority.

Hawkins, 49, has been Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's point person on environmental issues since shortly after he took office in 2007. The WASA board of directors voted unanimously to hire Hawkins.

Prior to coming to the District, Hawkins was executive director of New Jersey Future, a non-profit organization which, under his leadership, came to be recognized as the state's foremost advocacy group promoting smart growth While there, George worked with Governor Jon Corzine's office to focus development on transit stations and urban areas. Hawkins also previously served as Executive Director of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association and held senior positions with the US Environmental Protection Agency, including Senior Assistant Regional Counsel and Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator. He served Vice President Gore on the National Performance Review, playing an integral role in streamlining and strengthening environmental protection programs at USEPA and OSHA.

George began his career practicing law for the Boston firm Ropes & Gray, and is a member of the Bar in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. George graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1983 and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1987. Since 1999, George has taught Environmental Law and Policy for the Princeton Environment Institute at Princeton University. George and his wife Tamara have two children.

WASA has an annual operating budget of $360 million. The D.C. Department of the Environment is an $80 million dollar agency with 300 employees. (Wash Post, 9/4/09, DDOE)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Lisa P. Jackson Speaks At Gary, Indiana Rally

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adminstrator Lisa Jackson, right, spoke at a labor/green rally in Gary, Indiana on Tuesday. About 150 people from the manufacturing and environmental communities gathered at McBride Hall, headquarters of United Steelworkers District 7, in support of a clean energy economy and the new jobs that would come with it.

The rally was part of the "Made in America Jobs Tour" organized by the Blue Green Alliance and the Alliance for Climate Protection's "Repower America" campaign. The campaign kicked off Aug. 20 in Cleveland and will travel to 22 states. (photo courtesy: Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune)

The Times of NW Indiana

Gary Post-Tribune

St. Louis Beacon

Cash For Clunkers Replaces 700,000 Gas Guzzlers

The popular 'Cash for Clunkers' program ended its brief run on August 25, and the program is estimated to have removed nearly 700,000 inefficient vehicles from U.S. roads. Officially known as the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), the program achieved greater fuel economy gains than originally expected, as consumers chose more fuel-efficient models than were required by the program.

The average fuel economy of the traded-in vehicles, which were crushed, was 15.8 miles per gallon (mpg), while the average fuel economy of the newly purchased vehicles was 24.9 mpg. That's a fuel economy gain of 9.1 mpg, or 58%. (Environmental Expert)