California Sues EPA Over Waiver Denial

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 Jan 2008 14:20:00 GMT

As California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced upon the EPA denial of the California waiver request to regulate tailpipe greenhouse emissions, California has filed a petition for review of the decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Fifteen other states – Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – joined the suit.

Warming Law notes:

One interesting legal wrinkle is that the case has been filed in the 9th Circuit—not in the DC Circuit, as many (including ourselves) had suggested. In the wake of EPA’s decision, LA Times writer David Savage presciently noted that the DC Circuit might not be naturally inclined to California’s arguments. While the state’s case for a waiver was undoubtedly strengthened by the Supreme Court’s decision on standing in Massachusetts v EPA, it was the DC Circuit that had previously sided with the EPA’s position (this rationale is strongly mirrored in the EPA’s current claim that global warming doesn’t pose a unique threat to California). The state’s arguments based on statutory text and the weight of Supreme Court precedent would probably have held up in any court, but its tactical filing move certainly seems, on the surface, to bolster its odds.

Uranium in Virginia 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Jan 2008 13:06:00 GMT

In today’s Washington Post, Anita Kumar writes Uranium Lode in Va. Is Feared, Coveted:
Underneath a plot of farmland used to raise cattle, hay and timber in south central Virginia lies what is thought to be the largest deposit of uranium in the United States.

Now, three decades after the deposit was found, landowner Walter Coles has set his sights on mining the 200-acre site despite concerns of environmental groups and residents about unearthed radioactive material that could contaminate the area’s land, air and source of drinking water.

Coles is attempting to convince the Virginia General Assembly to approve a $1 million safety study in advance of reversing the 25-year ban on uranium mining in the state. Gov. Timothy Kaine (D) supports the study. Others lobbying for approval include Coles’s brother-in-law Whitt Clement, a former legislator, and investor Henry Hurt, whose son is a state senator.

Taking Responsibility

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 20:53:00 GMT

The National Environmental Trust released a report earlier this month in conjunction with the Bali Conference entitled Taking Responsibility: Why the United States Must Lead the World in Reducing Global Warming Pollution.

The report puts into graphic terms the U.S. share of global warming pollution: 42 states individually emit more C02 than 100 developing countries. Even Wyoming, the most sparsely populated state in the U.S., with only 510,000 people, emits more carbon dioxide than 69 developing countries that are home to 357 million. The report includes profiles for every state and the District of Columbia.

Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast?

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 20:52:00 GMT

A Solar Scenario in Scientific American

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 28 Dec 2007 03:43:00 GMT

In A Solar Grand Plan (Scientific American January 2008), Ken Zweibel (NREL), James Mason (Solar Energy Campaign) and Vasilis Fthenakis (Brookhaven National Photovoltaic Environmental, Health and Safety Research Center) lay out a vision for replacing our fossil fuel-powered electricity production to solar energy. The editorial summary:
A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

Large solar concentrator power plants would be built as well.

A new direct-current power transmission backbone would deliver solar electricity across the country.

But $420 billion in subsidies from 2011 to 2050 would be required to fund the infrastructure and make it cost-competitive.

By way of contrast, the Friends of the Earth analysis finds that Lieberman-Warner (S. 2191) allocates approximately $800 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, with about $350 billion to subsidize carbon capture and sequestration specifically. About $350 billion is allocated to all sustainable technologies (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal).

Climate Change Investing 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 20:09:00 GMT

Ceres is the dominant organization in climate-related investment, with the mission of “integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.” Their Investor Network on Climate Risk represents corporations and institutions controlling $4 trillion in assets calling for corporate climate disclosure, emissions-reduction legislation, renewable energy investment, and related actions.

J. P. Morgan is one of the few investment majors with a dedicated climate change research division.

Calvert, one of the main players in the “socially responsible” investment space, has Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund (CGAEX).

Guinness Atkinson has the Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund (GAAEX).

PowerShares offers various index funds, including Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD) (WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX)), Global Water Portfolio (PIO) (Palisades Global Water Index (PIIWI)), Cleantech Portfolio (Cleantech Index (CTIUS)), Water Resources Portfolio (Palisades Water Index (ZWI)), WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Clean Energy Index (ECO)), and the WilderHill Progressive Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Progressive Energy Index (WHPRO)).

Winslow Management specializes in “green” investment, offering Green Growth (WGGFX) and the new Green Solutions mid-cap (WGSLX).

Green Century Funds offers the Green Century Balanced Fund (GCBLX) and Equity Fund (GCEQX).

Forward Management has the Sierra Club Stock Fund (SCFSX).

Innovest recently released the report Carbon Beta and Equity Performance based on their work on the Carbon Disclosure Project.

CSRWire has a newsfeed of environment-related corporate press releases.

Green Chip Stocks is a green penny-stock tip sheet.

Boxer: Lieberman-Warner is "A huge step forward"

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 19:42:00 GMT

A year-end fundraising email from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works calls the committee approval of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill “a huge step forward” and “one of my proudest accomplishments”:
Subject: A huge step forward

Our progress on moving global warming legislation through the Environment and Public Works Committee this month and sending it on to the full Senate was a huge step forward for America, and personally, it was one of my proudest accomplishments over my 30 year career in public service.

But we’ve still got many more steps to take over the coming years to fight global warming and save our planet for our kids, our grandkids, and generations to come.

That’s one big reason I’ve decided to run again for the U.S. Senate when my term expires in 2010—and, because we know that I’ll be a top target for the right wing, I’m already preparing for a tough race. . .

As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, leading the fight against global warming will continue to be my top priority. And, if 2008 goes our way, I may soon be working with a new Democratic President and expanded Democratic majorities in Congress who share our commitment to that fight.

But we’re not going to solve the climate change crisis with just one bill, a better Congress, or a Democratic President. Fighting global warming is going to require many years of focus, dedication, and leadership to see things through. . .

We’ve still got a lot of work to do on fighting global warming, ending the war in Iraq, protecting our environment, defending a woman’s right to choose, and so many other important issues—and I’m going to need you with me every step of the way.

Ed. – the fundraising pitches have been stripped out.

2007 Weather Records

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 16:16:00 GMT

From the AP, some climatic changes:
  • Warmest January on record—global mean temperature 0.85 C above the 30-year mean
  • 8000 high-temperature records set or matched in August at US weather stations
  • Warmest April in England in 348 years, 0.6 C above 1865 record
  • Canadian Northwest Passage open for five weeks starting August 11, first time ever navigable
  • Arctic sea ice retreated to record minimum, 23% below 2005 record minimum
  • Greenland ice cap
  • Across North America, severe to extreme drought was present across large parts of the western U.S. and Upper Midwest, including southern Ontario
  • Extreme drought in Australia
  • Record Alaskan permafrost warming
  • Record rains fell in China, England and Wales
Other weather events:
  • A tornado struck New York City in August
  • A June cyclone struck Oman and Iran
  • South Africa got its first significant snowfall in 25 years

A Very Special Christmas

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 23 Dec 2007 13:58:00 GMT

From the December 8, 1990 episode of Saturday Night Live, a special holiday present (hat tip to Alternet):

"EPA Likely to Lose Suit"

Posted by Warming Law Thu, 20 Dec 2007 21:53:00 GMT

(Cross-posted from Warming Law, which focuses on covering and analyzing the fight against global warming from a legal perspective.)

by Tim Dowling

“EPA Likely To Lose Suit.”

So said EPA, or at least EPA’s legal staff, when it briefed Administrator Johnson on the legal ramifications of a waiver denial. The quoted language comes from a powerpoint slide used during that briefing. As the Washington Post reports, Johnson’s waiver denial flew in the face of “the unanimous recommendation of the agency’s legal and technical staff.”

California’s legal challenge to the waiver denial will be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and one large reason for believing EPA will lose can be found in the D.C. Circuit’s opinions in previous waiver cases. Unlike Administrator Johnson, the D.C. Circuit clearly recognizes the special, leading role California plays under the Clean Air Act with respect to controls on tailpipe emissions.

For example, in Motor & Equipment Mfrs. Ass’n v. Nichols, 142 F.3d 449, 543 (D.C. Cir. 1998), the D.C. Circuit ruled that waiver process is designed “to afford California the broadest possible discretion in selecting the best means to protect the health of its citizens and the public welfare.” (quoting the House Report).

In a more comprehensive discussion in Engine Mfrs. Ass’n v. U.S. EPA, 88 F.3d 1075 (D.C. Cir. 1996), the court explained:
Congress recognized that California was already the “lead[er] in the establishment of standards for regulation of automotive pollutant emissions” at a time when the federal government had yet to promulgate any regulations of its own. California’s Senator Murphy convinced his colleagues that the entire country would benefit from his state’s continuing its pioneering efforts, California serving as “a kind of laboratory for innovation.” This function was enhanced by the 1977 amendments, which permitted other states to “opt in” to the California standards by adopting identical standards as their own. Thus, motor vehicles must be either “federal cars” designed to meet the EPA’s standards or “California cars” designed to meet California’s standards. Rather than being faced with 51 different standards, as they had feared, or with only one, as they had sought, manufacturers must cope with two regulatory standards under the legislative compromise embodied in § 209(a). Id. at 1079-80 (citations and footnotes omitted).

The D.C. Circuit also examined the waiver process in Motor & Equipment Mfrs. Ass’n v. EPA, 627 F.2d 1095 (D.C. Cir. 1979), an unsuccessful industry challenge to EPA’s waiver grant for California rules concerning in-use maintenance of motor vehicles. Tracking the language of the statute, the court observed that EPA must grant a waiver request unless it makes one of the three findings set forth in Section 209(b)(1)(A)-(C). Id. at 1106. The issue is emphatically NOT whether the California rules are a good idea as a matter of policy, but whether EPA discharged its duties under the CAA. Id. at 1105.

Johnson’s bogus concern that a waiver grant here would create a “confusing patchwork” simply cannot be reconciled with the Clean Air Act and the applicable precedents that construe the waiver provisions in Section 209. Expect the D.C. Circuit to make short work of it.

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