Environmental Policy

Europe steps up challenge over China's rare metal restrictions
March 14, 2012 10:50 AM - Click Green Staff, ClickGreen

The European Union today launched a second challenge of China's export restrictions on raw materials including 17 rare earths, as well as tungsten and molybdenum, that are critical in the development of green technology. Together with the US and Japan, the EU formally requested dispute settlement consultations with China in the World Trade Organization (WTO). This follows a successful EU challenge at the WTO on similar restrictions for other raw materials earlier this year. "China's restrictions on rare earths and other products violate international trade rules and must be removed. These measures hurt our producers and consumers in the EU and across the world, including manufacturers of pioneering hi-tech and green business applications" said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.

Brazil's Growth Offers Wealth and Worry in The Northeast
March 13, 2012 09:57 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Two years ago I predicted this would be the Brazilian Decade, and so far Brazil's stunning success has proven me correct. It is not just about the large international events like the World Cup and Olympics that are on the calendar in 2014 and 2016. Brazil has become a creditor nation; once a net food importer, it now feeds much of the world; and recently it surpassed the United Kingdom to become the world's sixth largest economy. For decades much of the growth was centered around São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, then stretched south towards the border with Uruguay. Industries such as aircraft, petrochemicals and automobiles anchored Latin America's largest economy. But now Brazil's economic might has extended to regions of the country that had long underperformed compared to the wealthy south.

White Roofs reduce urban heat island effect
March 11, 2012 07:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Black roofs have been the norm for commercial buildings for decades since early roofs used a tar-coated paper material and tar based coatings to provide water proofing. Black roofs also add heat which in the winter, is not a bad thing for the building. It turns out that black roofs contribute to the urban heat island effect. This effect, caused not only by black roofs, creates warmer temperatures in urban areas compared to the surrounding suburbs. A study by Stuart Gaffin of Columbia University in New York looked at the effect of roof color on temperatures. On the hottest day of the New York City summer in 2011, a white roof covering was measured at 42 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the traditional black roof it was being compared to, according to a study including NASA scientists that details the first scientific results from the city's unprecedented effort to brighten rooftops and reduce its "urban heat island" effect.

International Labor Organization raps Brazil over monster dam
March 8, 2012 09:04 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The UN's International Labor Organization (ILO) has released a report stating that the Brazilian government violated the rights of indigenous people by moving forward on the massive Belo Monte dam without consulting indigenous communities. The report follows a request last year by the The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the Brazilian government to suspend the dam, which is currently being constructed on the Xingu River in the Amazon.

D.C. Circuit Hears Challenges to EPA Climate Regulations
March 5, 2012 10:45 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

On February 28 and 29, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a series of challenges to the [EPA's] regulation of [GHGs] under the Clean Air Act, far-reaching litigation spanning dozens of parties and at least four separate rules. Decisions from the panel of Judges David Sentelle, David Tatel and Janice Rogers Brown are expected later this year. The rare, two-day argument began with a challenge to EPA's December 7, 2009 finding that emissions of six GHGs, including carbon dioxide, "may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare." This "endangerment finding" is the cornerstone of all subsequent action by EPA.

Persistent Droughts Plaguing Much of the World
March 5, 2012 10:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Long dry spells have been a problem in various parts of the world including China, Africa, Russia, Australia, the southern and western United States, and Western Europe. Many are hoping that this is just a cyclical nuisance and not evidence of a permanent change in climate patterns. England in particular is used to being a damp and rainy island, but has been surprised now with three straight winters of drought-level precipitation. The first to notice and be affected by the changing levels of rainfall are the farmers. However, now public officials are beginning to worry about the long-term stability of their water supplies and the effects that lower rainfall will have on the environment as a whole.

Diesel Exhaust linked to cancer
March 3, 2012 06:47 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

Heavy diesel exhaust (DE) exposure in humans may increase the risk of dying from lung cancer, according to two new studies released this week. Starting in the 1980s, studies have investigated a possible causal relationship between exposure to diesel exhaust and lung cancer. In 1989, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified diesel exhaust as a probable carcinogen. To determine the association between diesel exhaust exposure and the risk of dying from lung cancer, Michael D. Attfield, Ph.D., formerly of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in Morgantown, West Virginia, Debra T. Silverman, Sc.D., of the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues, conducted a cohort study of 12,315 workers in eight underground nonmetal mining facilities, called the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study.

Land and Sea Bridge To Connect Saudi Arabia and Egypt
March 2, 2012 09:31 AM - Arwa Aburawa, Green Prophet

More than two decades after it was first planned, Egypt and Saudi Arabia may be about to start work on a land and sea bridge connecting the two countries. The proposed bridge would run 50 kilometres from the Tabuk region in Saudi, across the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt. Conservationists in Egypt have however raised concerns about the possible destruction of coastal and marine environments in the process of building the bridge. Some explain that the bridge could negatively impact protected areas including coral reefs, the nesting grounds of turtles and the Tiran Island sea birds.

More Americans Believe Climate Change is Happening
March 2, 2012 07:22 AM - Thomas Schueneman, Global Warming is Real

The number of Americans who believe global warming is happening is on the rise, according to a Brookings Institution report on the latest National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change (NSAPOCC) survey conducted in December of 2011. The report shows much of that new-found belief comes from direct experience with independent studies showing that four out of five Americans have been directly impacted by climate change. 2011 was a "year for the record books" bringing record drought and heat waves, hurricanes, floods, winter storms and wildfires. In all, there were 14 record climate and weather-related events in 2011, each causing at least $1 billion in damage. Hurricane Irene alone caused more than $7 billion in damages.

TransCanada to build southern half of Keystone to avoid State Department approval
March 1, 2012 09:13 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

Keystone XL is becoming the project that refuses to die: TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, has said it plans to build the southern half of the pipeline while it waits to determine a new route for the northern section. The company does not need approval from the State Department, which turned down the entire pipeline in January, to build the southern half from Texas to Oklahoma. However, the Obama Administration has embraced the idea. Carrying carbon-intensive tar sands oil down from Canada to a global market, the proposed pipeline galvanized environmental and climate activists last year, resulting in several large protests and civil disobedience actions.

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