Environmental Policy

Amazing recovery, Blue iguana back from the dead
August 12, 2011 01:15 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The blue iguana (Cyclura lewisi) was once king of the Caribbean Island, Grand Cayman. Weighting in at 25 pounds, measuring over 5 feet, and living for over sixty years, nothing could touch this regal lizard. But then the unthinkable happened: cars, cats, and dogs, along with habitat destruction, dethroned Grand Cayman's reptilian overlord. The lizard went from an abundant population that roamed the island freely to practically assured extinction. In 2002, researchers estimated that two dozen—at best—survived in the wild. Despite the bleak number, conservationists started a last ditch effort to save the species. With help from local and international NGOs, the effort, dubbed the Blue Iguana Recovery Program, has achieved a rarity in conservation. Within nine years it has raised the population of blue iguanas by twenty times: today 500 wild blue iguanas roam Salina Reserve. How did they do it? Blue iguanas are raised in captive breeding until they are two years old—big enough to keep feral cats at bay, which were decimating juvenile iguanas. Once they hit two, they are released in the 625 acres of Salina Reserve. Populations are then monitored.

Chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board says plants need to improve safety
August 10, 2011 06:55 AM - Ernest Scheyder, Reuters, WASHINGTON

Chemical makers must do more to prevent careless oversights that have led to a recent increase in fatal errors, the head of a key oversight panel said. The $720 billion chemical industry makes the building blocks for plastics, electronics, furniture, clothing and dozens of other popular consumer products. In the last 20 years, the chemical industry has become safer, Rafael Moure-Eraso, chair of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), told Reuters. "But we still see very basic things happening, going wrong," he said. "There are errors in the bread-and-butter issues of health and safety."

Why the U.S. Debt Crisis is just the Tip of the Melting Iceberg
August 9, 2011 08:11 AM - Boyd Cohen, Triple Pundit

As many of this column's readers know, I am from the U.S. and have lived in Europe and most recently Canada for the 10 years since getting my Ph.D. at the University of Colorado. While I am no economist (my Ph.D. is in business), I believe that the recent U.S. debt crisis and the complete and utter failure of our politicians from the President on down to find common ground is just the tip of a melting iceberg for the U.S. economy.

CO2 Sequestration
August 5, 2011 12:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule to advance the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, while protecting American health and the environment. CCS technologies allow carbon dioxide (CO2) to be captured at stationary sources - like coal-fired power plants and large industrial operations - and injected underground for long-term storage in a process called geologic sequestration. The proposal is consistent with recommendations made by President Obama’s interagency task force on CO2 sequestration and helps create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of technologies that will help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race. Today’s proposal will exclude from EPA’s hazardous waste regulations CO2 streams that are injected for geologic sequestration in wells designated for this purpose under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA is proposing this exclusion as part of the agency’s effort to reduce barriers to the use of CCS technologies.

Maldivian move to marine energy
August 5, 2011 08:53 AM - Haveeruonline, SciDevNet

Scotland will help the Maldives in developing the country's huge potential in renewable marine energy. A study of the archipelagic country's wave, tidal and ocean thermal energy will be conducted by Scotland's Robert Gordon University to establish the potential before adaptations are made.

Deloitte and the CDP collaborate to help companies addressing water challanges
August 3, 2011 08:13 AM - Raz Godelnik, Triple Pundit

A growing number of companies understand the growing importance of water issues and are trying to figure out how address them effectively. They may find help in a new partnership that was announced on Monday between Deloitte and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to drive CDP water disclosure and help companies to better cope with water challenges.

Turning the tables: Attack Survivors Help Sharks
August 2, 2011 09:24 AM - Christina Reed, Discovery News

Summer is anniversary time for many shark attack survivors, including myself. This time of year, we mark the terrifying moments of struggle in the jaws of the ocean's top predator. We recall the ordeals of surgery and rehabilitation. And some of us are lucky enough to reflect on how much worse it could have been. I am mostly healed from a severed Achilles tendon. Many of my survivor friends also have recovered or learned to live without an arm or leg.

Union Pacific train carrying hazardous materials derails in California
July 28, 2011 06:43 AM - Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters, LOS ANGELES

A Union Pacific freight train carrying more than 60 cars, some loaded with hazardous substances, derailed on Friday in a desert town north of Los Angeles, prompting evacuations of nearby homes, fire officials said. However, there was no sign of fire, and no injury or damage to surrounding buildings was reported. About 30 of the train's 63 cars left the tracks, many of them overturning, at 1:25 p.m. local time in the rural community of Littlerock, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Matt Levesque said. Littlerock is about 35 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The World at 7 Billion: Can We Stop Growing Now?
July 25, 2011 05:43 PM - Robert Engelman, Worldwatch Institute

Demographers aren't known for their sense of humor, but the ones who work for the United Nations recently announced that the world's human population will hit 7 billion on Halloween this year. Since censuses and other surveys can scarcely justify such a precise calculation, it's tempting to imagine that the UN Population Division, the data shop that pinpointed the Day of 7 Billion, is hinting that we should all be afraid, be very afraid. We have reason to be. The 21st century is not yet a dozen years old, and there are already 1 billion more people than in October 1999 — with the outlook for future energy and food supplies looking bleaker than it has for decades. It took humanity until the early 19th century to gain its first billion people; then another 1.5 billion followed over the next century and a half. In just the last 60 years the world’s population has gained yet another 4.5 billion. Never before have so many animals of one species anything like our size inhabited the planet.

The Most Efficient Energy Star
July 15, 2011 10:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products originated in the United States of America. It was first created as a United States government program during the early 1990s, but Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and the European Union have also adopted the program. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, buildings and other products, generally use 20%—30% less energy than required by federal standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy announced July 14 for the first time products recognized as the most energy-efficient in their categories among those that have earned the Energy Star label. This pilot program is part of Energy Star’s overall commitment to protect people’s health and the environment by encouraging energy efficiency. The Most Efficient initiative also continues Energy Star’s work to provide consumers with the best efficiency information so they can make investments that will lower their energy bills and environmental impact. The new designation of Most Efficient aims to provide all manufacturers with an incentive for greater product energy efficiency while providing consumers new information about the products that comprise the top tier in the categories.

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