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CRS — Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues (September 26, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique used to recover oil and natural gas from underground low permeability rock formations. Its use along with horizontal drilling has been responsible for an increase in estimated U.S. oil and natural gas reserves. Hydraulic fracturing and related oil and gas production activities have been controversial because of their potential effects on public health and the environment. Several environmental statutes have implications for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing by the federal government and states.

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Insurance and Climate Change: Do Governments Have a Duty to Protect Property Owners?, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 16, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Insurance and Climate Change: Do Governments Have a Duty to Protect Property Owners?, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Federal and private insurers are well aware that if the scientific consensus is correct that climate change will cause more frequent extreme weather events, they may be making substantially increased payments in the future. Commentary on the link between climate change and insurance has become voluminous.

One of the many insurance company concerns was recently in the news: whether government can be held liable for not putting in place adequate infrastructure—or maintaining existing infrastructure—to protect against property damage from climate-change-related extreme weather.

National Transportation Statistics Updated

October 17, 2014 Comments off

National Transportation Statistics Updated
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) today updated National Transportation Statistics (NTS) – a web-only reference guide to national-level transportation data. NTS, updated quarterly, includes a wide range of national transportation information. NTS consists of more than 260 tables of national data on the transportation system, safety, the economy and energy and the environment.

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action
Source: Georgetown Climate Center

The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations today to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.

The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a series of workshops with leading federal, state and local officials and builds upon lessons learned post-disaster in New Orleans (following Hurricane Katrina), New York (following Hurricane Sandy) and Vermont (after Hurricane Irene). The report identifies more than 30 federal programs, initiatives and laws that can be used to prepare for extreme events such as storms, floods and heat waves as well as rising seas.

The report recognizes that recent extreme weather events and the mounting economic losses from such events have shown how vulnerable many states and communities are to climate change. Although state and local governments will be the primary actors when it comes to preparing for climate change impacts, the federal government can boost – or impede – preparedness.

See also: State and Local Adaptation Plans

New From the GAO

October 16, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Climate Change: USDA’s Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers. GAO-14-755, September 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-755
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665809.pdf

2. Specialty Metals: DOD Dissemination of National Security Waiver Information Could Enhance Awareness and Compliance with Restrictions. GAO-15-133, October 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-133
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666533.pdf

Pollution from drug manufacturing: review and perspectives

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Pollution from drug manufacturing: review and perspectives
Source: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

As long ago as the sixteenth century, Paracelsus recognized that ‘the dose makes the poison’. Indeed, environmental concentrations of pharmaceuticals excreted by humans are limited, most importantly because a defined dose is given to just a fraction of the population. By contrast, recent studies have identified direct emission from drug manufacturing as a source of much higher environmental discharges that, in some cases, greatly exceed toxic threshold concentrations. Because production is concentrated in specific locations, the risks are not linked to usage patterns. Furthermore, as the drugs are not consumed, metabolism in the human body does not reduce concentrations. The environmental risks associated with manufacturing therefore comprise a different, wider set of pharmaceuticals compared with those associated with risks from excretion. Although pollution from manufacturing is less widespread, discharges that promote the development of drug-resistant microorganisms can still have global consequences. Risk management also differs between production and excretion in terms of accountability, incentive creation, legal opportunities, substitution possibilities and costs. Herein, I review studies about industrial emissions of pharmaceuticals and the effects associated with exposure to such effluents. I contrast environmental pollution due to manufacturing with that due to excretion in terms of their risks and management and highlight some recent initiatives.

See also:
+ Detection and drivers of exposure and effects of pharmaceuticals in higher vertebrates
+ Risks of hormonally active pharmaceuticals to amphibians: a growing concern regarding progestagens
+ Putting pharmaceuticals into the wider context of challenges to fish populations in rivers

A Low-Carbon Energy Transition Can Save the Global Economy Trillions over the Next 20 Years

October 15, 2014 Comments off

A Low-Carbon Energy Transition Can Save the Global Economy Trillions over the Next 20 Years
Source: Climate Policy Initiative

Two reports released October 9th by Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) clearly demonstrate that, with the right policies, a low-carbon energy system consistent with avoiding the most damaging effects of climate change could free up trillions of dollars over the next 20 years to invest in better economic growth.
The first report, “Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition,” compares the costs of low-carbon electricity and low-carbon transportation systems with current systems. The second, “Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Impact of Different Policy Pathways on Fossil Fuel Asset Values,” focuses on the risk of losses in the financial value of existing fossil fuel assets (so called “asset stranding”). A loss in assets’ value is critical because it constrains governments and businesses’ ability to borrow against them to finance growth and investment, including investment in a low-carbon transition. The reports were commissioned by the New Climate Economy project as part of the research conducted for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

+ Both reports

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