Pollution

Western states' climate laws: the cost of inaction
February 19, 2009 09:37 AM - LA Times

If Western states don't substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they could face billions of dollars in health care and other related costs by 2020, according to reports by economists for the University of Oregon's Climate Leadership Initiative's Program on Climate Economics. Washington, Oregon and New Mexico will probably face associated annual costs of $3.8 billion, $3.3 billion and $3.2 billion by 2020, respectively, if they don't rein in greenhouse gas emissions, logging and other factors that drive climate change, according to reports released Monday.

E.P.A. Expected to Regulate Carbon Dioxide
February 19, 2009 09:34 AM - NY Times

WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to act for the first time to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet, according to top Obama administration officials. The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States’ negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.

Sun-powered device converts CO2 into fuel
February 18, 2009 09:24 AM - New Scientist

Powered only by natural sunlight, an array of nanotubes is able to convert a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapour into natural gas at unprecedented rates. Such devices offer a new way to take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into fuel or other chemicals to cut the effect of fossil fuel emissions onglobal climate, says Craig Grimes, from Pennsylvania State University, whose team came up with the device.

EPA May Reverse Bush, Limit Carbon Emissions From Coal-Fired Plants
February 18, 2009 09:01 AM - Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

The Environmental Protection Agency will reopen the possibility of regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, tossing aside a December Bush administration memorandum that declared that the agency would not limit the emissions. The decision could mark the first step toward placing limits on greenhouse gases emitted by coal plants, an issue that has been hotly contested by the coal industry and environmentalists since April 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide should be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

Fires and climate change prompt soul-searching in Australia
February 17, 2009 09:43 AM - Herald Tribune

Scientists say that Australia can expect more of the scorching conditions that fanned the firestorms that killed at least 181 people this month, prompting a nationwide debate about how to prepare for a hotter, more fire-prone future. As investigators pick through the tangled wreckage left by Australia's deadliest wildfires, which flattened townships and destroyed more than 1,000 homes starting Feb. 7, a wide-ranging discussion has begun about the way the country handles wildfires - from greenhouse-gas emissions standards to planning codes to an emergency protocol that encourages people to stay and defend their properties.

South Asia's largest rivers threatened, warns UN
February 17, 2009 09:09 AM - SciDev

[NEW DELHI] Water resources in three of South Asia's largest river basins are highly vulnerable, with millions of people at risk of increasing water scarcity, a new report has found. The report - jointly released by the UN Environment Programme and the Asian Institute of Technology- studied the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM), Indus and Helmand river basins, all of which span multiple countries within the region.

US calls for treaty on mercury reduction
February 16, 2009 03:14 PM - AP

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The new U.S. administration wants a legally binding international treaty to reduce mercury in the environment, a senior diplomat said Monday, announcing a reversal of previous policy. Mercury finds its way into the food supply and is commonly found in high concentrations in fish. Children and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to effects of the toxic metal, which can damage the development of the nervous system. The U.S wants negotiations to begin this year and conclude within three years, said Daniel Reifsnyder, the deputy assistant secretary of state for environment and sustainable development.

United States Considers Ethanol Blend Increase
February 16, 2009 09:22 AM - Worldwatch Institute

The United States, the world's largest ethanol producer, is weighing options to boost domestic use of the controversial fuel, according to the country's new agriculture administrator. U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recommends that a higher percentage of ethanol be blended into gasoline to support the nation's struggling biofuel industry. The United States currently allows gasoline to contain a maximum of 10.2 percent ethanol, most of which is produced from corn.

D.C. proposes fees for paper, plastic bags
February 16, 2009 08:25 AM - innovations.harvard.edu/

District of Columbia legislators are considering imposing a 5-cents-per-bag fee on plastic or paper bags at liquor stores, grocers, drug stores and other businesses. The fee would be split between businesses and the city, with the District using its share to help clean the Anacostia River and offer free reusable bags to elderly and low-income residents.

Japan rules out 40 pct 2020 carbon emissions goal
February 13, 2009 10:54 AM - World Business Council for Sustainable Development

Japan has ruled out cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 -- the most ambitious possible action according to a reference target set by a U.N. panel of climate scientists. Agreeing a 2020 target to curb greenhouse gases is one of the most contentious aspects for rich countries of U.N. climate talks meant to end with a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in December this year. Japan is expected to announce its 2020 goal by June. The country argues that because it is so energy efficient already, it will be more expensive to meet the same emissions-cutting target of other rich countries.

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