Environmental Policy

New Emissions/Gas Mileage Standards
March 30, 2013 07:51 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Once again, the EPA is tightening the fuel efficiency standards for autos and light trucks. It is also tightening the emissions limits that new vehicles will have to meet. This is, in general, a good thing since it will reduce gas consumption, and also reduce air pollutant emissions. Of course, not everyone is happy about this action. And the economic analysis of the cost/benefits seems to be overly optimistic. According to the EPA, the proposal supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said "Today’s proposed standards — which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable -- are the next step in our work to protect public health and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states."

Rising up to prepare for sea level rise
March 29, 2013 08:56 AM - Nancy Schneider, EarthPeople

Situated among the trees and mountains along the scenic Hudson River, Kingston, New York seems far away from the salty blue waves of the Atlantic. Yet, just 100 miles inland from the World Trade Center, at the southern tip of Manhattan where New York meets the Atlantic, the Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) has begun to plan a strategy to manage the inevitable effects of a rising sea. This volunteer advisory board, residents, community advocates, city officials, grassroots organizations, and State experts met with Catalysis Adaptation Partners to determine the impacts of storm surges and Sea Level Rise (SRL) on this historic town, the former capital of New York State.

Black Bears return to Reno
March 29, 2013 06:21 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife ( NDOW) has pieced together the last 150 years of history for one of the state's most interesting denizens: the black bear. The study, which looked at everything from historic newspaper articles to more recent scientific studies, indicates that black bears in Nevada were once distributed throughout the state but subsequently vanished in the early 1900s. Today, the bear population is increasing and rapidly reoccupying its former range due in part to the conservation and management efforts of NDOW and WCS. Compelled in part by dramatic increases in human/bear conflicts and a 17-fold increase in bear mortalities due to collisions with vehicles reported between the early 1990s and mid- 2000s, WCS and NDOW began a 15-year study of black bears in Nevada that included a review of the animal’s little-known history in the state.

Egyptian Solar Power
March 27, 2013 04:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Egypt is a land of ancient mysteries. It is a desert country with one long river flowing through it. Desert means lots of sun. Egypt is preparing to build a billion dollar solar power plant with help from a suite of international donors. Construction of Kuryamatt, a 150-megawatt hybrid power plant that will use both solar energy and natural gas to generate electricity, is underway 90 kilometers south of Cairo. Plans for a second large solar plant, in Upper Egypt's Kom Ombo, are also underway. These moves come after severe power cuts crippled the country last year during the hot summer months when Egyptians blast their air-conditioning units, and power up their stoves to prepare Ramadan feasts.

New Federal Handbook Guides Coordination of Environmental, Historic Preservation Review
March 27, 2013 08:26 AM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

Earlier this month, the Council on Environmental Quality ("CEQ") and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation ("ACHP") published a new handbook governing the coordination of project review under the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA") and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act ("Section 106"). Drawing from existing rules and guidance from both agencies, the Handbook for Integrating NEPA and Section 106 Reviews (the "Handbook") summarizes regulatory requirements; provides checklists and flow-charts to assist project sponsors and reviewing agencies; and emphasizes opportunities to synchronize and streamline review under both statutes.

Teach Your Children Well - About Climate Change
March 27, 2013 06:04 AM - JENNIFER LUDDEN, NPR

By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new federal science standards due out this month will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about this climatic shift taking place. Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap. "Only 1 in 5 [students] feel like they've got a good handle on climate change from what they've learned in school," he says, adding that surveys show two-thirds of students say they're not learning much at all about it. "So the state of climate change education in the U.S. is abysmal."

EPA Fracking Panel
March 26, 2013 03:52 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks. Induced hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) today announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner on this controversial subject. The development of the draft report, which is directed by Congress, is in line with the Administration’s focus on continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production.

Majority of US Streams and Rivers are in 'Poor Condition,' says EPA Survey
March 26, 2013 12:32 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released the results of a comprehensive survey that looks at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, and frankly the results are not very encouraging. The survey was conducted as part of an ongoing effort by the EPA to determine which rivers and streams are healthy, which are improving, and which require more protection and restoration efforts.

Man Caught Smuggling Over 10% of Tortoise Species' Population
March 25, 2013 12:14 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

On Friday, March 15th Thai authorities arrested a 38-year-old man attempting to collect a bag containing 54 ploughshare tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora) and 21 radiated tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) in Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Found only in Madagascar both species are listed as Critically Endangered and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but have become lucrative targets for the black-market pet trade given their scarcity and beauty.

Earth Hour 2013 Inspires Many Around the World
March 24, 2013 06:13 AM - WWF

WWF's Earth Hour has just concluded another record sweep around our planet from Samoa on one side of the International Date Line to the Cook Islands on the other, with hundreds of millions again uniting to send a clear message - we are determined to create a sustainable future for our planet. The event was observed in more than 7000 cities, towns and municipalities in more than 150 countries and territories, with many of the world's best known human and natural landmarks going dark as the backdrop to a multitude of "beyond the hour" activities and initiatives generating outcomes for the movement and the planet on which we live. "What is most important is the ever increasing extent to which Earth Hour's supporters are participating in or taking actions themselves," said Earth Hour CEO and Co-Founder, Andy Ridley.

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