Environmental Policy

EPA Reviews PM2.5 Standards, Expects Counties to Comply by 2020
December 14, 2012 02:50 PM - Allison Winter, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to its national air quality standards for PM2.5 today, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. PM2.5 is the term used for particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers (which is approximately 1/30th of the width of a human hair). It is a harmful fine particle pollutant that comes from wood burning, soot, power plants, and motor vehicles.

The Incredible Elephants of the Sahara
December 14, 2012 09:20 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

African elephants are known for hanging around rivers and mashes in the savanna and the edge of jungles. However, their range actually extends well into the north, all the way up to the Sahara desert. In Mali’s Gourma region, around the city of Timbuktu, there exists a species of desert-adapted African elephant (Loxodonta Africana). Every year, they undertake an amazing migration across an area of 32,000 square kilometers (over 12,000 square miles) in search of food and water. This annual journey was recently recorded by researchers from the group Save the Elephants, University of British Columbia, and Oxford University, who attached GPS collars to nine of the elephants and tracking them by satellite. Their report documents the elephants’ record-breaking trek to survive in the largest and harshest elephant range in the world.

Lawsuit Targets $3 Billion in U.S. Funding for Fossil Fuel Project in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
December 14, 2012 08:52 AM - Editor, Center for Biological Diversity

Conservation groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the U.S. Export-Import Bank's nearly $3 billion in financing for a massive Australian fossil fuel facility in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Construction and operation of the liquefied natural gas facility will threaten sea turtles, dugongs and many other protected marine species, as well as the Great Barrier Reef itself.

Britain Lifting Ban on Shale Gas Exploration
December 14, 2012 06:10 AM - EurActive

Britain lifted its ban on shale gas exploration this week despite environmental fears as it aims to become a European leader in a sector that has transformed the U.S. energy market. The approval of shale gas fracking from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey comes approximately a year and a half after UK authorities halted the unconventional exploration process after it set off earth tremors at one site. Shale reserves have been viewed as a way to counter the UK's fall in natural gas production. Europe's largest gas consumer, Britain in May 2011 put a temporary stop to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" for shale gas after earth tremors were measured near the site close to Blackpool.

The Future of New York After Sandy
December 14, 2012 05:56 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

It will take tens of billions of dollars to repair the damage of Superstorm Sandy. Will this be the norm of the future as climate changes and the sea level rises? If it is the new norm then repairs though necessary are not enough and a change in planning is necessary. Coastal storms will more likely cause flooding. How do you then spend limited funds to both repair New York and its environs and to improve coastal defenses against flooding? This is not just physical barriers but how people live in the area they want to live in.

Nepal, Bhutan to assess air pollutants
December 13, 2012 06:32 AM - Smriti Mallapaty

The Himalayan countries of Nepal and Bhutan will, in 2013, have two permanent air monitoring observatories set up by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as part of a programme to reduce black carbon and other short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs). There has been increasing international attention on SLCPs — small particles and gases like black carbon, methane, and ozone — because of their warming effect on climate. Acting in decades — rather than the centuries taken by greenhouse gases like carbon di-oxide — SLCPs negatively impact human health and agricultural output. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, launched by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011 to reduce SLCPs, has now grown to 33 member-countries.

NRDC’s Plan To Reduce Power Plant Emissions
December 12, 2012 08:40 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a proposal to reduce power plant pollution by 26 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025. The plan's key component is that the EPA, partnering with states, would set new carbon pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. The benefits of the plan, if carried out, outweigh the costs by 15 times as much. The price tag in 2020 would be $4 billion, but benefits would be $25 to 60 billion, six to 15 times greater than the costs.

Fisheries Commission Ignores Advice for Ending Overfishing
December 11, 2012 09:01 AM - Prime Sarmiento, SciDevNet

A five-day meeting on fisheries ended last week (6 December) amid complaints that big fishing nations have blocked efforts to curb tuna overfishing and ignored scientific advice. The accusations were made following the ninth regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which is the governing body for an international fisheries agreement that seeks to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish, such as tuna, in parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Uncontacted Tribes in Peru at Risk
December 11, 2012 06:51 AM - David Hill, The Ecologist

Peru is set to embark on a major expansion of gas operations in the Camisea region in the Amazon - a move which could decimate Indigenous peoples, both those in 'voluntary isolation' and others in the early stages of contact. Operations in Camisea - in a concession known as Lot 88 in the Cusco region in south-east Peru - are run by a consortium headed by Pluspetrol and including Repsol-YPF and Hunt Oil. The bulk of this Lot (74% ) overlaps the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, which was created in 1990 for ”˜isolated’ peoples and in a bid supposedly intended to prohibit companies from operating there.

Doha Negotiations
December 10, 2012 08:45 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.N. climate talks headed into the final stretch with a host of issues unresolved, including a standoff over how much money financially stressed rich countries can spare to help the developing world tackle global warming. The United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar ended Saturday with key countries agreeing to some guidelines on how to track progress toward meeting their commitments and set a path toward a stronger legal agreement in 2015.

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