Environmental Policy

In the News: Serengeti highway cancelled
June 24, 2011 08:44 AM - Alex Royan, ARKive.org

In what is being hailed as a victory for conservationists and the wildlife of the Serengeti, the Tanzanian government has cancelled plans for a controversial highway that would have dissected the Serengeti National Park.

House OKs speed-up of Arctic oil/gas permitting
June 23, 2011 06:03 AM - Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would speed up approvals for drilling in the Arctic by removing regulatory hurdles that have stymied development of the area's vast oil and gas resources. The Republican-controlled House voted 253 to 166 in favor of the bill, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency to approve or deny applications to drill on the outer continental shelf within six months. "Current impediments have delayed development of the Beaufort and Chukchi sea for over five years," the bill's sponsor, Republican congressman Cory Gardner, said in a speech on the House floor. "These are areas that have already been approved for drilling; the revenues for the leases have already been collected by the federal government," he said.

The Weather
June 22, 2011 12:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

We all complain about the weather. It is a great topic of conversation. Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather is part of what life is about. However, everything has its price. New research indicates that routine weather events such as rain and cooler-than-average days can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion in the United States based on 2011 data. Rain, snow, and hot or cold temperatures can all have economic impacts. The study, led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), found that finance, manufacturing, agriculture, and every other sector of the economy is sensitive to changes in the weather. The impacts can be felt in every state.

Grand Canyon protected, Uranium mining ban extended
June 21, 2011 06:31 AM - Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The Obama administration on Monday extended its ban on mining on 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon by six months, as it heads toward a possible long-term moratorium on mining in the area. Concerns that uranium mining near the Grand Canyon could hurt water quality and tourism prompted the decision, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. "When you think about the millions of jobs that are created across America through our natural wonders, as well as through other aspects of our heritage (and) tourism, that ought to be what carries the day," Salazar said at a press conference. In 2009, the department declared a two-year time-out on new mining claims in the area, which holds substantial uranium deposits, as the agency studied its options.

Global Warming Lawsuit
June 20, 2011 02:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a global warming lawsuit against five big power companies, its most important environmental ruling since 2007 and a victory for the utilities. The utilities — American Electric Power Co Inc, Southern Co, Xcel Energy Inc, and Duke Energy Corp, along with TVA — account for about 10 percent of US carbon dioxide emissions. The justices unanimously overturned a ruling by a U.S. appeals court that the public nuisance lawsuit now involving six states (California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) can proceed in an effort to force the coal-burning plants to cut emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. In a defeat for environmentalists, the Supreme Court agreed with the companies that regulating greenhouse gases should be left to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the clean air laws.

Hopes fading for climate agreement
June 19, 2011 08:35 AM - Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent, Reuters

"Ask for a camel when you expect to get a goat," runs a Somali saying that sums up the fading of ambitions for United Nations talks on slowing climate change -- aim high, but settle for far less. Developing nations publicly insist the rich must agree far deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but increasingly believe that only a weaker deal can actually be achieved to keep the existing Kyoto Protocol, or parts of it, alive beyond 2012. "They have to ask for a camel ... but will settle for a goat," Mohamed Adow, of Christian Aid, said of poor nations' strategy at a just-ended session of 180 nations in Bonn. Hopes for a treaty have dimmed since U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders failed to agree a binding pact at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

In the News: Latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species released
June 17, 2011 07:34 AM - Editor, ARKive.org

Released today, the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows that a staggering 19,265 species are currently threatened with extinction. Over 900 new species have been classified as threatened — that is, considered to be Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable — since the last update in 2010, showing that there is no let up in the extinction crisis threatening the world's biodiversity. Although more species are thought to be threatened than ever before, the IUCN are keen to highlight that there have also been major conservation success stories.

Verizon Exceeds AT&T’s Energy Efficiency Performace
June 15, 2011 06:02 AM - RP Siegel , Triple Pundit

Like AT&T, Verizon also recently released their 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Verizon's greenhouse gas emissions, which were 6.06 million metric tons (down 2.18% from 2009) beats AT&T (8.97 million) in absolute terms, per dollar of revenue and per terabyte of throughput. Their electrical energy consumption was 10.24 billion kWh. That's a carbon-intensity efficiency of 130.27. AT&T's was 415, more than three times as high. I don't have enough information to explain the difference here, but it looks like AT&T has some catching up to do in this area. They also did not provide data on actual energy usage, only their rate per terabyte.

The Energy Debate: Coal Vs. Nuclear
June 14, 2011 07:39 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 13, 2011) — As America struggles down the road toward a coherent energy policy that focuses on a higher degree of self-reliance, policymakers face numerous issues and realities. These include: the finite supply and environmental impact of fossil fuels, the feasibility and costs to implement a widespread switch to renewable energy sources, and the variables that lead to consumers' preferences for particular types of power generation.

EPA delays rollout of CO2 rule on power plants
June 13, 2011 05:11 PM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The Environmental Protection Agency, under pressure from Republicans and big utilities, said on Monday it had extended a deadline by two months on draft rules that would for the first time limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA said it had moved the date for proposing the rule from July 26 to September 30 after listening to businesses and states that will have to implement the regulation. The rule, known as a performance standard, would limit the amount of carbon dioxide that U.S. power plants may emit. The move was expected as the EPA has taken on its most ambitious agenda in years. Republicans in Congress and big utilities have complained the rules could cost jobs and raise energy prices. The EPA said in a release that the "stakeholders have presented the agency with important input which deserves to be fully considered." The deadline for final standards remains May 16, 2012, the EPA said.

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