Archive for the ‘environment’ Category
Two environmental groups are taking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to court for failing to consider the harmful climate effects of the federal government’s coal leasing program.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. Interestingly, Bloomberg reported that the suit is funded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen.
In addition to the Allen connection, this is a big deal because the two groups are seeking the first comprehensive review of the federal coal-leasing program since 1979. “Since that time, scientific evidence has established that greenhouse gases produced by coal mining and combustion endanger the public health and welfare,” the groups said in a statement. “The BLM, however, has never analyzed the coal leasing program’s impact on climate change.” Read the rest of this entry »
As UCS notes, it’s not all that complicated: water when heated expands. Sea levels are rising, and rising faster as global warming heats up the planet.
The UCS says: “Today scores of coastal communities are seeing more frequent flooding during high tides. As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.”
UCS also published a 76-page report, “Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”
According to the report, “High tides are having a greater impact on U.S. communities today than in decades past for two reasons. First, our shores are more heavily developed, so higher tides affect more people and infrastructure. Second, these tides are now occurring on top of elevated—and rising—sea levels.”
Thus, building coastal resilience is both a local and a national imperative: “Coastal communities, and the nation as a whole, need to start planning today to cope with sea level rise and unprecedented tidal flooding, and to take swift and decisive action to limit longer-term damage to our coasts.”
Tidal flooding “has simply become a fact of life.” By 2045, some coastal communities will face flooding 24 times a year – or twice a month, the UCS says.
The Government Accountability Office says developing a national freight strategy should pay attention to the impact of congestion on communities.
GAO’s report (GAO-14-740), released on 26 September, found that recent trends in freight flows, if they continue as anticipated, “may exacerbate congestion issues in communities, particularly along certain corridors.”
As of 2012, the latest year for which data is available, national freight rail and truck traffic had approached the levels reached in 2007, prior to the economic recession, the report continues. “Certain trends related to specific commodities have affected rail flows, including increases in domestic crude oil production. A key negative impact of increasing freight flows is congestion at highway-rail grade crossings, where road traffic must wait to cross the tracks when trains are passing.” Read the rest of this entry »
Talk about strange bedfellows: China is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, but the country, in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy, is working to curb the causes and effects of climate change.
It might seem like a strange partnership between a non-profit and a huge nation, but it seems to work. TNC’s Conservation Blueprint project identified 32 regions that TNC and the Chinese government believe are most vital to the country’s environmental future. The U.S.-based conservation group is analyzing how ecosystem-based adaptation strategies “can help those regions thrive.” Read the rest of this entry »
Now we’re down to two. Oregon’s Department of State Lands last week denied an Ambre Energy proposal to transport coal by rail to a Port of Morrow, OR terminal for eventual export to China and other Asian markets.
It’s the latest in a series of wins for opponents of six coal company proposals to move coal through the Pacific Northwest on the way to Asian markets. However the two biggest plans, both located in Washington State, are still alive: the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham, and the Millennium Bulk Terminal at Longview on the Columbia River. Read the rest of this entry »
A recent report from the Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres says that strong fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for freight trucks could slash fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent compared to 2010 levels, resulting in significant environmental and economic benefits.
In fact the report suggests that American businesses could save more than $25 billion if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopt stringent fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards. The two agencies were tasked by President Obama to come up with proposed target standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March, 2015. Read the rest of this entry »
The notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010, considered to be the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, was the “shock heard ’round the world,” and it is still reverberating. The cause of eleven deaths and a loss of many billions of dollars to the Gulf Coast economy – it has impacted offshore drilling, tourism, and fishing – the BP spill resulted in numerous civil lawsuits and settlements as well as criminal charges. BP is fighting some of these charges and the terms of some settlements, even as it continues to present itself as an environmentally responsible corporate citizen.
Meanwhile, fracking is causing a furor because of concerns about environmental impacts, including groundwater pollution and an alarming increase in earthquake activity in some areas. Activists around the world are working to stop fracking, and activist groups such as Greenpeace have planned legal challenges to fracking in England. Fracking has been challenged in the U.S. as well, with the main battles being between environmentalists and proponents of economic growth. A web site called Fracking Insider keeps track of legal battles and regulatory developments in the fracking industry. Read the rest of this entry »