Posts tagged epa.
Maybe even worth printing out.
Food safety, bee keepers, and environmental groups sue EPA over honey bee deaths, blame some insecticides ›
(Reuters) - U.S. environmental regulators are failing to protect honey bees and their role in pollinating important food crops, and should immediately suspend use of some toxic insecticides tied to the widespread deaths of the bees, a lawsuit filed on Thursday charges.
On Thursday four professional beekeepers and five environmental and consumer groups said they would try to get a court to order the EPA to take action. The groups filed their lawsuit against the EPA in the Northern District Court of California, demanding that the regulatory agency suspend the use of pesticides clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
The pesticides, which are part of a class of systemic insecticides known as neonicotinoids, are absorbed by plants and transported throughout a plant’s vascular tissue, making the plant potentially toxic to insects, the groups said.
Clothianidin and thiamethoxam first came into heavy use in the mid-2000s, at the same time beekeepers started observing widespread cases of colony loses, leaving beekeepers unable to recoup their losses, they said.
“Beekeepers and environmental and consumer groups have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that EPA needs to protect bees. The agency has refused, so we’ve been compelled to sue,” said Peter Jenkins, a lawyer for the Center for Food Safety who is representing the coalition of plaintiffs.
The groups said they have obtained records that show several “legal violations” by EPA officials connected to the approvals for clothianidin and thiamethoxam products.
The case also challenges the EPA’s use of “conditional registrations,” which expedite the approval process for chemical companies seeking to bring new products to market. Since 2000, over two-thirds of pesticide products, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, have been brought to market as conditional registrations, the groups said.
I don’t see the suit being won, but will be interesting to follow during 2013.
The Center for American Progress is a DC based think tank that works on several policy issues, including energy, national security, immigration, education, and health care.
They’re starting to get involved in climate adaptation, which is the process of lowering risk from environmental harms. And they recently published an interesting paper that aims to motivate the Federal Government to invest in America’s infrastructure and resilience policies. For those new to the issues of resilience, this makes for a decent primer. For those familiar with the concepts, the section on making the business case might be most interesting. The paper is here. Below is an edited excerpt:
It is time for a national strategy for infrastructure resilience
There are three parts to forming a national strategy for infrastructure resilience. First, the federal government should launch a national infrastructure-vulnerability assessment that evaluates the ability of the nation’s current infrastructure to withstand climate-related extreme weather. Second, the Obama administration should build on the proposals laid out in its FY 2014 budget and harmonize financial resources to invest in these resiliency projects in a coordinated way. Third, the administration should elevate resiliency as a priority by tasking cabinet-level officials to work systematically with cities and states in directing these resources.
A national strategy is needed to reduce infrastructure vulnerability to climate change. If we don’t, then federal funding for disaster relief becomes much more expensive.
For this reason, it is essential that the federal government tightly link its work on infrastructure investment as an engine of economic prosperity with the expanding priority it has placed on resilience.
We recommend that the president, Congress, mayors, and governors work together to make an immediate commitment to design a national strategy for infrastructure resilience.
To realize this plan, the president should act immediately to:
1. Launch a national infrastructure-vulnerability assessment: Improve the availability and usability of information on infrastructure needs and resilience. It would look systematically at the ability of U.S. transportation, energy, water, communications, and other strategic infrastructure to hold up to both current and future threats.
2. Establish a comprehensive federal infrastructure-investment strategy: This would build on recent commitments in the administration’s budget plan, and would both access new financial tools and better harmonize existing financing authorities within the federal government to more effectively leverage public and private capital in priority-infrastructure investments.
3. Create an infrastructure and resilience council: The council would function as a working group within the president’s own cabinet to support presidential leadership in improving coordination across all federal agencies and in partnering with cities and states to accelerate the development of these priority-resilience projects by increasing public and private investment.
President Obama has already taken important steps to lay the foundation for a national infrastructure-resilience plan. In Executive Order 13514, signed into effect in October 2009, the president called on agencies to “evaluate agency climate-change risks and vulnerabilities to manage the effects of climate change on the agency’s operations and mission in both the short and long term.”
Since 2009 the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force—led by the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy—has been coordinating federal actions to reduce climate-change risks to federal assets and communities.
In February 2013 executive agencies released their plans to begin adapting to climate change. Additionally, the administration has already adopted national-action plans overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency to safeguard our oceans, fresh water, and fish, wildlife, and plants from the worst impacts of climate change. Though agencies have yet to develop a national resilience strategy for public infrastructure, Executive Order 13514 and the real rising risks of climate change give them the clear authority to do so.
Read the rest, here.
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday criticized the State Department’s environmental impact review of the Keystone XLpipeline, saying there was not enough evidence to back up key conclusions on gas emissions, safety and alternative routes.
In a letter to top State Department officials, the agency said it had “environmental objections” to their review, which concluded the pipeline would have minimal impact on the environment. The analysis could complicate efforts to win approval for the controversial $7-billion project.
A State Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
If approved, Keystone XL would carry crude oil along a 1,700-mile route from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Home drone video of the Exxon Pegasus pipeline oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. It’s being reported that media are not allowed to enter the site. Though, CNN has good video here.
While water allocation, drought, and fires seems to be the theme of climate adaptation for 2013, pollution and conservation will play a dual role. The EPA has announced that nearly 55% of U.S. rivers and streams are in rough shape - mostly due to little to know local interest.
More than half of the country’s rivers and streams are unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures, a survey of nearly 2,000 locations by the Environmental Protection Agency reported Tuesday.
The study found more than 55 percent of the rivers and streams “in poor condition, 23 percent in fair shape, and 21 percent in good biological health,” The Associated Press noted. High levels of nutrient pollution—phosphorous and nitrogen from farms, cities and sewers—were found in the waterways. Phosphorous was found in 40 percent of rivers and streams.
Land development along waterways was found to have enabled erosion, flooding and the introduction of pollutants as well.
“This new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s water office. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers, as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities and play a critical role in the economy.”
Chemical companies get permits from the government to dump pollution into our rivers and lakes. But, as this PBS investigation shows, companies can and do dump chemicals in violation of environmental laws. And get away with it.
In part one of a two-part series, PBS NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien travels to Hinkley, CA — the town whose multi-million dollar settlement for groundwater contamination was featured in the movie “Erin Brockovich.”
Now, almost 30 years later, O’Brien explores the reasons why the groundwater in Hinkley still has dangerous levels of the chemical chromium and its link to cancer.
(And, can we pause to reflect just for a minute that Miles O’Brien is one of America’s great modern journalists. I really admire his work.)
This should go over well with politicians.
“Coming Soon: Long-Delayed Decisions on Endangered Species
The Oregon spotted frog, a four-inch-long amphibian that prefers the Pacific Northwest’s dwindling marshy spots, is to be considered this year for federal protection as an endangered species.
It has been languishing for 22 years — since 1991 — awaiting its day in the bureaucratic sun.
The eastern massasauga rattlesnake has been a candidate for protection since 1982, a legless bridesmaid, never a bride. Ditto the elfin-woods warbler. Like them, the Dakota skipper butterfly, a cucumber-bodied flier that zips unusually fast (for a butterfly) over the Minnesota and Dakota prairies, is dying out as development shrinks its habitat. It nevertheless has hung on, its candidacy deferred since 1975.
Belatedly, the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service is giving them all — and 258 more — a thumbs up or down for protection under the Endangered Species Act, the 1973 law that was among the early triumphs of the environmental movement.
It is evidence of the law’s travails that it took a federal judge to get them to this point.
Under a 2011 settlement of two lawsuits by conservation activists, the wildlife service has pledged to decide the fates of all the backlogged species by 2018. A schedule issued by the service on Feb. 8 promised to decide by September whether to add 97 species to the endangered list, including 70 covered by the lawsuit settlement.
Moreover, the service has finished preliminary work on more than 550 other potential candidates for the endangered-species list, almost all of which will be further evaluated after the backlog is erased.
“They’ve dramatically increased the number of decisions they’re making — both positive and negative decisions, but the vast majority of decisions are positive,” said Kierán Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona conservation organization that is a party to the settlement.
It is the most feverish activity on imperiled wildlife in two decades, an improbable feat amid ferocious attacks from conservative critics and in an economy with little money to spare for environmental frivolities.”
Polar bears remain a threatened species
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to keep polar bears protected by broad federal measures Friday,
The court rejected the argument that the 25,000 remaining polar bears, most of which live in relatively stable populations, were perfectly fine without “threatened species” status. But many scientists worry that the effects of climate change on the Arctic climate could prove dangerous for the remaining bears.
And it looks like polar bears may remain on that list for the foreseeable future, according to Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“So for practical purposes, the listing of the polar bear is final, and really no longer under any serious threat from these challenges.”
Read more about the court’s decision here, via Nation Now.
Photos: Jeon Heon-Kyun, Koen Van Weel / EPA, Sven Hoppe / Associated Press
President Obama’s plea this morning to avert the $85 billion sequester before March 1 was instantly ridiculed by Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, as a “campaign event.” That’s presumably because the president spoke in front of a group of emergency responders whose livelihoods are threatened by the indiscriminate spending cuts, just as he often used middle-class Americans as backdrops on the campaign trail.
Fine, the emergency workers were props, just like the people who have filled the first lady’s box at State of the Union speeches for decades. But there’s nothing wrong with the president using federal employees as illustrations, since workers are going to bear the brunt of the sequester’s pain. He could just as easily have lined up a group of federal meat inspectors since they will be going on furlough in a few weeks, resulting in grocery shortages. Or a group of air traffic controllers. Or cancer researchers. Or Head Start teachers. Or prison guards.
All of them will be working less in the coming months if Congress does not avert the sequester, producing backups in their specific fields that will be felt by all Americans, as well as a slowdown in spending and financial activity that will have an asteroid-like impact on the economy. The president is driving Republicans a little crazy by holding these illuminated events, because they vividly undermine the basic Republican tenet that vastly reduced spending is good for society — getting government out of the face of Americans who hate it — and good for the economy.
Cancer researchers are American government, and if Republicans don’t think their work should be supported by taxpayers, they are free to make their case publicly. But they won’t do that, because the various government functions facing cuts are both necessary and popular. Instead they talk in dire but abstract terms about the debt threat, pretending there is no need to ever raise taxes, and hoping that voters won’t remember what their dollars actually pay for.
“This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs,” Mr. Obama said today. “The unemployment rate might tick up again.”
Not my normal style to post political opinion, but this one is indisputable. I worry for my friends at FEMA, EPA, NOAA, NSF, and even universities conducting important research in climate and disaster management. Their jobs are at stake, and the safety of Americans are, as well. Why?
To many politicians, teachers and firefighters are targets NOT because these cuts actually save money. No. It’s because these are the cuts that the public can “see.”
It is insane to me that obsolete, wasteful projects like the Joint Strike Fighter (2,500 jets for $250 billion? A quarter trillion dollars for a plane that doesn’t work?) or buying new nuclear submarines (more billions) are exempted from sequestration, while things like weather satellites and even smokejumpers are on the chopping block.
In the last four years, we’ve had 650 major tornadoes, 51 Atlantic hurricanes, six major floods, three tsunamis, persistent drought, numerous heatwaves and recordbreaking snowfall and blizzards.”
Jane Lubchenco, who is stepping down as NOAA chief, in discussing possible budget cuts that would impact monitoring US and global climate.
And adequate funding [for NOAA] is a very big challenge in today’s fiscal climate.
Guys, great news in Congress: 22 members form the "Safe Climate Caucus". Vow to talk about climate change every time Congress is in session. ›
Announcement was made February 15th on the floor by Congressman Henry Waxman. A “caucus” is basically an informal group of people within a bigger group, in this case 22 members have agreed to form the “Safe Climate Caucus.” These 22 Congressmen and Congresswomen will discuss climate change everyday that Congress is in session.
For comparison, out of the 435 members of Congress, the Tea Party Caucus has about 50 members and is lead by Michele Bachmann.
Most likely the Safe Climate Caucus will take to the floor and make a one minute speech about the impacts on their districts, including jobs. I’m unclear what else they will do, but more to come in the following 4 years.
For example, here is one of the first speeches on the floor by Rep. Jared Huffman. Huffman talks about the economic and environmentalproblems in his northern California district:
The goal of the caucus is to create momentum to help pass a climate change bill, one that will address emissions and emergency response (adaptation). Ideally, the long-game is to push the US back to the treaty-signing-table with the UN.
Official statement from the Congressional Record:
Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, today, 22 Members of the House have banded together to create a Safe Climate Caucus to end the conspiracy of silence in this House of Representatives about the dangers of climate change and the Republican denial of its existence and their rejection of the science.
We are committing to talk every single day on the House floor about the urgent need to address climate change. President Obama is leading the way. He says we must respond to climate change because to do otherwise would be to betray our children and future generations.
Good read, but nothing on adaptation:
President Obama is expected to launch a serious second-term push on climate change with his State of the Union address.
With climate legislation dead in Congress, green groups are hopeful that Obama will follow the “we must act” mantra of his inaugural address and put the full weight of his executive powers behind their agenda.
“The problem is very pressing, and so the sooner we have policy proposals in front of us, the better.”
Obama has already signaled his willingness to use his executive powers forcefully, laying out a series of executive orders on gun control in addition to calling for legislation.
On climate, the White House took some steps with executive powers in the first term, and that’s expected to be the primary second-term focus.
“If he were to just repeat what he said in the [second] inaugural address, that would be considered a missed opportunity, but I don’t believe he will. I believe he will be more specific about what he is going to do,” said one climate advocate.
Liberals in Congress have urged the president to go big on climate as well.
“From a planetary point of view there is no issue more important than climate change, and the president has to be as bold and specific as he possibly can,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters on the eve of Obama’s address.
At the very top of advocates’ wish list is a commitment to setting carbon emissions standards for existing coal-fired power plants. A move in that direction would begin an all-out war with coal-based power companies and some other industry sectors that say there would be huge economic costs from increased regulation.
Obama, without Congress, can also expand on his first-term actions to boost Defense Department green energy programs and development alternative energy on public lands, among other steps.
No matter what steps Obama takes, environmentalists say the president needs to use the bully pulpit to rally public support.
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire