A: By incorporating climate science into environmental regulations. The EPA recently published 17 adaptation plans for various environmental regulatory offices in the U.S. These plans affect the quality of our water and air, reduce chemical waste in the environment, and improve government employee knowledge on climate science. Note that in 2010, and 2013 President Obama signed executive orders requiring all of the Federal Government to implement adaptation plans based on climate science. Here’s the EPA’s list of plans. Each agency will have their own adaptation plans, and I’ll post those as I receive them.
Check out the plans if you can! They’re free and easy to read.
EPA Adaptation Implementation Plans
In early November, 2013 EPA released 17 Program and Regional Adaptation Implementation Plans for a 60 day public comment period. The public is invited to review and provide comment on the draft Implementation Plans through the public docket at www.regulations.gov (Docket Number EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0568). The docket will open as soon as the Federal Register Notice is published. If you are providing comments through the public docket, it is important to identify which of the 17 Plans your comments refer to. Thank you for your interest and assistance.
“ The Congressional Research Service has confirmed what we’ve known all along,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans. “The Senate coal ash bill is a sham that will not protect communities from toxic coal ash or prevent another Kingston disaster. Congress must get out of the way and let EPA do its job. ”
Bloomberg cracks open an important (and nasty) issue of food safety with imported food. Over 3,000 people died in 2011 due to food-born illnesses - 10s of thousands “merely” got sick. Many (not all, but a lot) victims caught a bug from food grown overseas, such as China.
The FDA does not inspect food imported into the U.S. to the same standards as food grown locally. Devastating report on the FDA (and arguably the Obama administration).
At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.
“The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,” says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China…
“Many farmers have switched to feces and have stopped using commercial feed,” he says.
About 27 percent of the seafood Americans eat comes from China — and the shipments that the FDA checks are frequently contaminated, the FDA has found. The agency inspects only about 2.7 percent of imported food. Of that, FDA inspectors have rejected 1,380 loads of seafood from Vietnam since 2007 for filth and salmonella, including 81 from Ngoc Sinh, agency records show. The FDA has rejected 820 Chinese seafood shipments since 2007, including 187 that contained tilapia.
"The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday for the first time that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.
The draft finding could have significant implications while states try to determine how to regulate the process. Environmentalists characterized the report as a significant development though it met immediate criticism from the oil and gas industry and a U.S. senator.
The practice is called hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas to the surface.
The EPA’s found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.
The EPA announcement could add to the controversy over fracking, which has played a large role in opening up many gas reserves, including the Marcellus Shale in the eastern U.S. in recent years.
The industry has long contended that fracking is safe, but environmentalists and some residents who live near drilling sites say it has poisoned groundwater.
The EPA said its announcement is the first step in a process of opening up its findings for review by the public and other scientists.
"EPA’s highest priority remains ensuring that Pavillion residents have access to safe drinking water," said Jim Martin, EPA regional administrator in Denver. “We look forward to having these findings in the draft report informed by a transparent and public review process.”
Great news from Rhode Island on a strong climate adaptation bill by a fine senator. In fact, I interviewed Sheldon back in ‘05 for Daily Kos when he was running for senator. I remember it was his first ‘blog/social media’ experience. He was appointed US Attorney to RI by Bill Clinton, and argued in front of the Supreme Court on health care reform. Really good dude.
"With incidents of prolonged drought, rising sea levels, and flooding on the rise, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced a bill on Wednesday to require federal natural resource agencies to plan for the long-term effects of climate change, and encourage states to prepare natural resources adaptation plans. The Safeguarding America’s Future and Environment Act (SAFE) Act also would create a science advisory board to ensure that the planning uses the best available science. The proposed legislation would require the development of a coordinated national adaptation strategy:
Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Panel shall develop a strategy to protect, restore, and conserve natural resources so that natural resources become more resilient, adapt to, and withstand the ongoing and expected impacts of climate variability and change.
It would also encourage, but not require, state-specific adaptation plans.”
At least 15 high-level meetings and frequent communications have taken place since September, with David Cameron discussing the issue with his counterpart Stephen Harper during his visit to Canada, and stating privately that the UK wanted “to work with Canada on finding a way forward”, according to documents released under freedom of information laws.”
The Associated Press compared the companies’ congressional testimony to company reports submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reports to the SEC consistently said the impact of environmental proposals is unknown or would not cause serious financial harm to a firm’s finances.
Companies can legitimately argue that their less gloomy SEC filings are correct, since most of the tougher anti-pollution proposals have not been finalized. And their officials’ testimony before congressional committees was sometimes on behalf of — and written by — trade associations, a perspective that can differ from an individual company’s view.
But the disparity in the messages shows that in a political environment, business has no misgivings about describing potential economic horror stories to lawmakers.
"On June 22, 1969 a river fire in Cleveland captured national attention. This event helped spur an avalanche of pollution control activities resulting in the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the creation of the federal and state Environmental Protection Agencies.
The 1969 fires was not the first. Fires plagued the Cuyahoga River beginning in 1936 when a spark from a blow torch ignited floating debris and oils. The largest river fire in 1952 caused over $1 million in damage to boats and a riverfront office building. By the 1960s the lower Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was used for waste disposal, and was choked with debris, oils, sludge, industrial wastes and sewage. These pollutants were considered a major source of impact to Lake Erie, which was considered dead at the time. The 1969 fire has been the subject of several songs, including Randy Newman’s 1972 song “Burn On”, R.E.M.’s 1986 song “Cuyahoga”, and Adam Again’s 1992 song “River on Fire”.”
The Cuyahoga River, in Ohio, caught fire dozens of times over a 100 year time period, from 1868 to 1969. Before environmental regulations were signed into law in the 1970s, the oil and gas, chemical, metal, and mining industries dumped toxic waste into the river for decades and decades. Worse, over 35 cities directly dumped sewage into the river for hundreds of years.
So toxic was the Cuyahoga that it caught on fire countless times to the point it became a joke. The river flowed into Lake Erie, taking toxins and death with it. Nothing could survive in the river, and was considered “legally dead” by the time Nixon signed the EPA into law.
For more on the Cuyahoga River fires and pollution, click HERE.
For news on how the river (cleaner, but still polluted) is doing today, click HERE.
A brand new power plant spills tons of coal ash into Lake Michigan: weak regulations to blame. Most coal plants are located along rivers and lakes. They use the water to pump into the plants for cooling. When coal is burned to create energy, the ash is dumped into an open pit. These pits, which are full of concentrated pollutants (lead, mercury) are generally unregulated. The construction of the pits do have specific regulatory requirements, but the contents are not regulated.
A large section of bluff collapsed Monday next to the We Energies Oak Creek Power Plant, sending dirt, coal ash and mud cascading into the shoreline next to Lake Michigan and dumping a pickup truck, dredging equipment, soil and other debris into the lake.
The below post summarizes an economic argument for regulation pollution. It’s a good argument, one many of us have seen before in the great halls of academia. The purpose of the post is to mainstream this argument - that regulating pollution has more (far far more) economic benefits than does deregulation.
Buutttt (it seems lately I have a lot of “buts.” Anyway…) I have to preempt the below post with two questions: We are dependent on constant economic growth. And it seems there’s no alternative - we have to grow, grow, grow forever and always or there will be no jobs, etc… Thus, how much growth do we really want? Second, is economic growth the only winning argument that wins over the hearts and minds of policy makers to regulate pollution?
Pollution is Not the Secret to Job Creation
"Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times this morning laments one of the many ironies of our time: politicians in Washington are finally talking about job creation but Republicans (and some Democrats I’m sure) pin their hopes for employment on environmental deregulation. As Krugman points out, “Serious economic analysis actually says that we need more protection, not less.”
By serious economic analysis, Krugman means peer-reviewed articles published in academic journals over the last few decades that have probed the relationship between environmental regulations, employment, and economic growth. He doesn’t mean the American Petroleum Institute’s latest report that purports to show job growth potential through….wait for it…relaxing restrictions on oil and gas extraction. He means the latest findings by Yale University economist, William Nordhaus, published in the American Economic Review (the top ranked journal in economics) that finds that the economic cost of air pollution exceeds the value added of coal-fired electric generation by a factor of nearly 6 to 1. And this estimate doesn’t include the economic damages from climate change. Pollution related costs impede productivity and growth in the U.S. economy. Imposing more of these costs on society through deregulation is not only undesirable, it is bad economic policy.
So let’s review what economists do know about the relationship between environmental regulation and jobs. The oft-cited concern is that environmental regulations will increase production costs, raising product prices and decreasing the quantity of goods and services demanded. The good news, however, is that empirical evidence finds little support for wide-scale job losses or relocations arising from strengthening of environmental policies in the U.S.
The economics research on this topic extends back over the last few decades. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 marked the last significant package of environmental regulation passed in the U.S. and the creation of NAFTA in 1994 presented new opportunities for U.S. firms to relocate abroad to avoid environmental regulations. Thus, there is an extensive literature that covers a long time period that evaluates how environmental regulations impact businesses, employment, and income.
The economics literature covering this history supports three conclusions. The first conclusion is that…”