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President Obama Announces Second Term Climate Change Agenda
June 28, 2013 04:39 PM - Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.
In a speech at Georgetown University on June 25, 2013, President Barack Obama unveiled his administration's climate change agenda for its second term, featuring a series of rules and initiatives that can implemented by the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") and other federal agencies without congressional action. While the details of these proposals will be determined through subsequent rulemaking, the plans and timeframes set forth in the speech signal a major expansion of federal climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, with potentially significant impacts upon electric utilities and other regulated entities as well as units of state and local government most affected by the impacts of global warming. The centerpiece of President Obama's speech is a new Presidential Memorandum directing EPA to finalize proposed greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions standards for new and significantly modified power plants by September 2013, to propose the nation's first GHG emissions guidelines for existing power plants by June 2014, and to finalize those guidelines by June 2015.
Senators’ Positions on Climate Change Reflect Their Donors’ Wishes
June 28, 2013 01:54 PM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit
Earlier this week, President Obama followed up on the promise he made in his State of the Union Address, to take action on climate change even if Congress wouldn’t. Specifically, he said, “if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. Why would Congress be so recalcitrant on an issue of such vital importance as taking action to minimize (it’s too late to avoid) the impact of a crisis that could threaten the existence of civilization as we know it?A recent analysis performed by MapLight suggests the root of much of the underlying motivation for our elected officials is money.
Backing Up Wind Power: The Policy Issues Associated with Hydroelectricity
June 27, 2013 10:08 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
What happens when there's no wind and wind turbines stop turning? What provides the back up power for this clean energy source on calm, windless days? While wind may be the fastest growing renewable energy source in the US, in order for us to rely on wind power, there needs to be some backup technology to fill in when wind does not blow.
Indonesia's fires are a global concern
June 27, 2013 08:39 AM - Wendy Miles and Micah Fisher , MONGABAY.COM
During the smoky season, or "musim kabut" as it is called in Indonesia, skeletons of leaves fall from the sky and disintegrate like melting snowflakes in children's hands. Historically, Indonesia's smoky season has peaked at the end of the dry season (September-October), just before the monsoon rains arrive. This year the dry season just began, and yet Singapore’s PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) record has already been broken — reaching a new high of 401 (Hazardous) on June 21, 2013. The air pollution in Peninsular Malaysia has also spiked to an all-time-high, resulting in Prime Minister Najib Razak declaring a state of emergency in Muar and Ledang districts on June 23, 2013.
Half the Oil Plan
June 25, 2013 08:42 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
With the consumption and price of oil on an upward trend, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has come up with a realistic plan that will help cut the United State's projected oil use in half over 20 years. The plan hopes to dramatically reduce US oil consumption while saving consumers billions of dollars and making the United States a global leader in transportation technology.
Chipotle Makes History by Becoming First Fast Food Chain to Tag GMOs
June 24, 2013 10:15 AM - Lisa Marie Chirico, Triple Pundit
Let's face it, it's good to be first, at least if you happen to be the first to do something worthwhile. In the ongoing debate about the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our food, Denver, CO-based Chipotle Mexican Grill made what may turn out to be an important food history "first" in the United States.
Tel Aviv Testing Electric Scooters
June 24, 2013 05:57 AM - SHARON UDASIN, THE JERUSALEM POST, NoCamels
As part of a broader citywide program to reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and noise, the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa is launching a pilot program to potentially replace its fleet of scooters with electric versions. To this purpose, the city has decided to purchase about 25 electric scooters to examine their effectiveness in comparison to the gasoline ones that municipal workers employ today. If the pilot yields positive results, the municipality will explore the possibility of gradually replacing its entire 300-scooter fleet with their electrical counterparts, the city said. City officials will be examining a number of parameters during the pilot program, including the scooter performance capabilities, riding experience, environmental footprint, cost effectiveness and safety, they explained.
Plastic Bag Ban Passes in LA
June 21, 2013 06:17 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit
The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday, June 18 to approve a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The Coucil voted 11 to 1 in favor of the ordinance, and a final vote is scheduled for next week. Last year, the Council voted 13 to 1 to move forward on banning single use plastic shopping bags. The ban will go into effect for large stores on January 1, 2014, and for smaller stores on July 1, 2014. Paper bags will not be included in the ban, but stores now have to charge 10 cents per paper bag. When the ban goes into affect, one in four Californians will live in a city that bans single-use plastic shoppings bags, according to the environmental group, Heal the Bay. There is good financial reasoning behind the ban. Only five percent of single use plastic bags are recycled every year across the state and California municipalities spend almost $25 million a year to collect and throw away plastic bags that litter the streets and clog storm drains. Currently there are almost two billion plastic shopping bags and 400 million paper bags are distributed every year in Los Angeles.
Are Coffee Pods a Recycling Problem?
June 20, 2013 05:58 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
As the consumption of coffee pods surges in the U.S., so do the questions about their disposal and recycling. Although using a pod to make a cup of joe takes about the same amount of time as it does to fire up some water and then make a French press of coffee, the popularity of the single-serve coffee pod machines has taken off. For now, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters-owned Kaurig has taken the lead in the coffee pod market share race, but Nestlé’s Nespresso and Starbucks' Verismo also fare well among java fans. All of the coffee pod machine manufacturers use flowery language on their sustainability pages to describe how they are working to make the pods' disposal and recycling more "sustainable." The fact is, however, that there is no differentiation in what happens to these pods after use; all of them are creating more waste.
Hawaii's Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control
June 19, 2013 09:26 AM - Andrew Burger, Global Warming is Real
Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu. Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries.