Archive for October, 2012

The Link Between Sandy and Global Warming

Photo by National Weather Service. Some rights reserved.

As we’ve rightly focused our national attention squarely on the well-being of America’s east coast in the midst of Hurricane Sandy (please consider making a donation to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts here), there doesn’t appear to be much else happening in the wide world of environmental news and politics. However, as photos and on-site reports continue to flow in from New York and elsewhere across the coast, some have began to ask whether or not Sandy really is a freak occurrence, or if it is more a product of that scourge to American prosperity known as “global warming.”

While pointing out that climate scientists are not yet in a secure position to offer a resounding “yes” to the question of climate change’s involvement in Sandy, many have cited high surface temperatures in the band of Atlantic ocean closest to the east coast (five degrees higher than average for this time of year) as a “likely contributor to the intensity of Sandy.

Kevin Trenberth, climate scientist of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, gave an insightful interview to Slate, where he offered his take:

“Most of what is going on with Sandy is weather, and there is a large chance element to it, but it is all occurring in an environment where the ocean is a bit warmer, the air above the ocean is warmer and moister, and that is fuel for the storm and especially adds to the risk of heavy rainfalls and flooding… Even if the storm just happened to do exactly the same things it’s doing anyway, the fact that sea level went up 6 inches last century, and that sea level is somewhat higher now than it has been at any time in recent history, means that all of the coastal regions are experiencing new levels of pounding and erosion.”

Meanwhile, Megan McCain was chastised on Twitter today by members of the conservative right for suggesting that Sandy was a result of global warming, and Donald Trump has (very graciously) extended his now-infamous $5 million offer to President Obama in light of the storm.

http://m.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-after-landfall/100396/

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: West Waukesha

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

UPDATE: Starting October 1, 2012, EPA will not accept paper copies or CDs of EISs for filing purposes. All submissions on or after October 1, 2012 must be made through e-NEPA. Electronic submission does not change requirements for distribution of EISs for public review and comment. To begin using e-NEPA, you must first register with EPA’s electronic reporting site. An EPA source says that as EISs begin to come in electronically, they will appear alongside EPA comments here.

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EIS No. 20120334, Draft EIS, USFS, OR, Oregon Dunes NRA Management Area 10(C) Designated Routes Project, Central Coast Ranger District, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Siuslaw National Forest, Coos, Douglas, and Lane Counties, OR, Comment Period Ends: 12/10/2012, Contact: Angie Morris 541–271–6040. Website.

EIS No. 20120335, Final EIS, USFWS, CA, Tehachapi Uplands Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (TUMSHCP), Propose Issuance of a 50-Year Incidental Take Permit for 27 Federal-and State-Listed and Unlisted Species, New Information and a Revised Range of Alternatives, Kern County, CA, Review Period Ends: 11/26/2012, Contact: Roger Root 805–644–1766. Website.

EIS No. 20120336, Draft EIS (not yet available online), USACE, TX, Luce Bayou Interbasin Transfer Project, Harris and Liberty Counties, TX, Comment Period Ends: 12/10/2012, Contact: Jayson Hudson 409–766–3108. Website.

EIS No. 20120337, Draft EIS, FHWA, AR, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport Intermodal Access Road, Benton County, AR, Comment Period Ends: 12/14/2012, Contact: Randal Looney 501–324–5625. Website.

EIS No. 20120338, Final EIS, USACE, CA, Isabella Lake Dam Safety Modification Project, To Remediate Seismic, Seepage, and Hydrologic Deficiencies in the Main Dam, Spillway and Auxiliary Dam, Kern County, CA, Review Period Ends: 11/26/2012, Contact: Carlos Lazo 916–557–5158. Website.

EIS No. 20120339, Final EIS, USACE, AK, Alaska Stand Alone Gas Pipeline, Construction and Operation of a 737 mile Pipeline to Transport Supply of Natural Gas and Natural Gas Liquids from Alaska’s North Slope to Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Cook Inlet Area by 2019, USACE Section 10 and 404 Permits, NPDES Permit, AK, Review Period Ends: 11/26/2012, Contact: Mary Romero 907–753–2773. Website.

EIS No. 20120340, Draft EIS, FHWA, IN, I–69 Evansville to Indianapolis, Tier 2, Indiana Project, Section 5, Bloomington to Martinsville, Monroe and Morgan Counties, IN, Comment Period Ends: 01/02/2013, Contact: Michelle Allen 317–226–7344. Website.

EIS No. 20120341, Draft EIS, USFS, AK, Big Thorne Project, Proposes to Harvest Timber, Build New Roads, and Reconstruct Roads, Thorne Bay Ranger District, Tongass National Forest, AK, Comment Period Ends: 12/10/2012, Contact: Frank W. Roberts 907–828–3250. Website.

EIS No. 20120342, Draft EIS, GSA, VA, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Foreign Affairs Security TrainingCenter (FASTC), Nottoway County, VA, Comment Period Ends: 12/10/2012, Contact: Abigail Low 215–446–4815. Website.

EIS No. 20120343, Draft EIS, FHWA, WI, West Waukesha Bypass County TT, from I–94 to WIS 59, Waukesha County, WI, Comment Period Ends: 12/10/2012, Contact: George Poirier 608–829–7500. Website.

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20120279, Draft EIS, VA, CA, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (SFVAMC) Long Range Development Plan, Implementation, Fort Miley, San Francisco County, CA, Comment Period Ends: 10/31/2012, Contact: Allan Federman 415–221–4810. Revision to FR Notice Published 08/31/2012; Extending Comment Period from 10/16/2012 to 10/31/2012. Website.

EIS No. 20120284, Draft EIS, USFS, CO, White River National Forest Oil and Gas Leasing, Eagle, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Summit Counties, CO, Comment Period Ends: 10/30/2012, Contact: David Francomb 970–963–2266, ext. 3136. Revision to FR Notice Published 08/31/2012; Extending Comment Period from 10/30/2012 to 11/30/2012. Website.

Green Guides Give Guidance

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission issued a freshly revised version of its “Green Guides” (a.k.a U.S.C. Sec. 260) for use by marketers everywhere. The Green Guides help ensure that marketing claims regarding the green or environmentally-related attributes of a product are honest and not deceptive. The Guides were first introduced in 1992, with subsequent revisions in 1996 and 1998. The new revisions include expansion and updates of existing sections as well as the addition of new sections on certifications, non-toxic claims, carbon offsets and more. These changes include content addressing the 340 public comments that were filed when this proposed Guides revision was released in a preliminary form in 2010. While the Guiides are not rules or regulations, and do not cover every possible scenario, they are a useful guidance resource to avoid making deceptive claims.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: James White and Jack Rabbit

Photo by Biggins Dean, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some rights reserved.

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

UPDATE: Starting October 1, 2012, EPA will not accept paper copies or CDs of EISs for filing purposes. All submissions on or after October 1, 2012 must be made through e-NEPA. Electronic submission does not change requirements for distribution of EISs for public review and comment. To begin using e-NEPA, you must first register with EPA’s electronic reporting site. An EPA source says that as EISs begin to come in electronically, they will appear alongside EPA comments here.

* * *

EIS No. 20120326, Draft EIS, USFS, WI, Lakewood Southeast Project, Proposes to Manage Vegetation and Habitat, Lakewood-Laona Ranger District, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Oconto County, WI, Comment Period Ends: 12/03/2012, Contact: Marilee Houtler 715–276–6333. Website and appendices.

EIS No. 20120327, Final EIS, FHWA, CA, Interstate 80/Interstate 680/State Route 12 Interchange Project, Improvements, Solano County, CA, Review Period Ends: 11/19/2012, Contact: Melanie Brent 510–286–5907. Website.

EIS No. 20120328, Draft EIS, FHWA, TN, James White Parkway (State Route 71) Construction, from Chapman Highway to Moody Avenue, Knox County, TN, Comment Period Ends: 12/03/2012, Contact: Theresa Claxton 615–781–5770. Website.

EIS No. 20120329, Draft EIS, FAA, AK, Kodiak Airport Runway Safety Area Improvements, Kodiak, AK, Comment Period Ends: 12/18/2012, Contact: Leslie Grey 907–271–5453. Website.

EIS No. 20120330, Draft EIS (Appendices), USFS, MT, Flint Foothills Vegetation Management Project, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Pintler Ranger District, Granite and Powell Counties, MT, Comment Period Ends: 12/03/2012, Contact: Karen Gallogly 208–756–5103. Website.

EIS No. 20120331, Draft EIS, BLM, OR, West Eugene Wetlands Resource Management Plan, Proposes to Adopt a Resource Management Plan for the BLM-Administered Lands, Lane County, OR, Comment Period Ends: 01/17/2013, Contact: Richard Hardt 541–683–6600. Website.

EIS No. 20120332, Draft EIS, USFS, MT, Jack Rabbit to Big Sky Meadow Village 161 kV Transmission Line Upgrade, Bozeman Ranger District, Gallatin National Forest, Gallatin County, MT, Comment Period Ends: 12/03/2012, Contact: Amy Waring 406–255–1451. Website.

EIS No. 20120333, Final Supplement (not yet available online), USFS, APHIS, 00, Gypsy Moth Management in the United States, A Cooperative Approach—Proposing New Treatment Options, United States, Review Period Ends: 11/19/2012, Contact: Noel Schneeberger 610–557–4121. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service and the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service are joint lead agencies for the above project. Website.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Herring River, Stehekin River, and Clear Creek.

Photo by javi_geo. Some rights reserved.

While Federal agencies are required to prepare Environmental Impact Statements in accordance with 40 CFR Part 1502, and to file the EISs with the EPA as specified in 40 CFR 1506.9, the EPA doesn’t yet provide a central repository for filing and viewing EISs electronically. Instead, each week they prepare a digest of the preceding week’s filed EISs, which is published every Friday in the Federal Register under the title, “Notice of Availability” (NOA).

We’ve done the dirty work for you. Below, we’ve located and linked to the EISs referenced in last week’s NOA. Please note that some of these documents can be very large, and may take a while to load.

You can read any available EPA comments on these EISs here.

UPDATE: Starting October 1, 2012, EPA will not accept paper copies or CDs of EISs for filing purposes. All submissions on or after October 1, 2012 must be made through e-NEPA. Electronic submission does not change requirements for distribution of EISs for public review and comment. To begin using e-NEPA, you must first register with EPA’s electronic reporting site. An EPA source says that as EISs begin to come in electronically, they will appear alongside EPA comments here.

* * *

EIS No. 20120317, Final EIS, USACE, MS, Proposed Widening of the Pascagoula Lower Sound/Bayou Casotte Channel, Jackson County, MS, Review Period Ends: 11/13/2012, Contact: Philip Hegji 251-690-3222. Website.

EIS No. 20120318, Final Supplement, USACE, TX, Clear Creek Reevaluation Study Project, Flood Risk Management and Ecosystem Restoration, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston and Harris Counties, TX, Review Period Ends: 11/13/2012, Contact: Andrea Catanzaro 409-766-6346. Website and website.

EIS No. 20120319, Draft EIS, NPS, MA, Herring River Restoration Project, In and Adjacent to Cape Cod National Seashore, Towns of Wellfleet and Truro, MA, Comment Period Ends: 12/12/2012, Contact: Mark Husbands 303-987-6965. Website and website.

EIS No. 20120320, Draft EIS, FTA, MN, Southwest Transitway Construction and Operation Light Rail Transit, Hennepin County, MN, Comment Period Ends: 12/11/2012, Contact: Marisol Simon 312-353-2789. Website.

EIS No. 20120321, Final EIS, BLM, NV, Mount Hope Project, Molybdenum Mining and Processing Operation, Eureka County, NV, Review Period Ends: 11/13/2012, Contact: Gloria Tibbetts 775-635-4060. Website.

EIS No. 20120322, Final EIS, NOAA, 00, Harvest Specifications and Management Measures for the 2013-2014 Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery and Amendment 21-2 to the Pacific Coast Fishery Management Plan, Federal Waters off the Coast of WA, OR, and CA, Review Period Ends: 11/13/2012, Contact: Becky Renko 206-526-6110. Website.

EIS No. 20120323, Draft Supplement, BLM, NV, Silver State Solar Energy Project, and Proposed Las Vegas Field Office Resource Management Plan Amendment, To Address New Information, Clark County, NV, Comment Period Ends: 01/11/2013, Contact: Greg Helseth 702-515-5173. Website.

EIS No. 20120324, Final EIS, USFS, MT, Lonesome Wood Vegetation Management 2 Project Areas, Lake Ranger District, Gallatin National Forest, Gallatin County, MT, Review Period Ends: 11/26/2012, Contact: Teri Seth 406-522-2520. Website.

EIS No. 20120325, Final EIS, NPS, WA, Stehekin River Corridor Implementation Plan, General Management Plan, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, North  Cascades National Park Service Complex, WA, Review Period Ends: 11/13/2012, Contact: Jon Riedel 360-873-4590 ext. 21. Website.

 

AMENDED NOTICES

EIS No. 20050140, Final EIS, FHWA, NV, Boulder City/US 93 Corridor Transportation Improvements, Study Limits are between a western boundary on US 95 in the City of Henderson and an eastern boundary on US 93 west of downtown Boulder City, NPDES and US Army COE Section 404 Permits Issuance and Right-of-Way Grant, Clark County, NV, Review Period Ends: 05/13/2005, Contact: Ted P. Bendure 775-687-5322. ADOPTION -The U.S. Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) has adopted the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Final EIS filed with EPA. The WAPA was a cooperating agency with the FHWA’s EIS therefore, recirculation of the document was not necessary and there is no comment period. Website.

EIS No. 20110106, Draft EIS, BIA, NM, WITHDRAWN – Pueblo of Jemez 70.277 Acre Fee-To-Trust Transfer and Casino Project, Implementation, Dona Ana County, NM, Comment Period Ends: 07/01/2011, Contact: Priscilla Wade 505-563-3417 Revision to FR Notice Published 06/03/2011; Officially Withdrawn by the Preparing Agency. Website.

EPA Struggling to Keep Pace with Fracking

Photo care of geograph. Some rights reserved.

Two reports were released by the Government Accountability Office this week detail challenges facing the EPA in overseeing the oil and gas drilling boom in the U.S. The growth of the dispersed and hard-to-follow fracking industry is the focus of the first report, while the second addresses the public health and environmental impacts of oil and gas development.

EPA officials report that inspection and enforcement of fracking sites is challenging due to limited information on many aspects of the industry. The EPA doesn’t receive information about new well sites in Ohio, for example, and their sheer number makes tracking them difficult. Baseline water-quality data are unavailable in most areas, so assessing groundwater contamination is difficult.

In addition, legal limits on EPA’s authority affects their ability to regulate some aspects of the fracking process. Exploration and production waste, for example, are not regulated under hazardous waste provisions in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The Hill, with more details on the reports (here and here) notes that attempts to increase regulation of the industry have not advanced in Congress.

The second report notes that though all oil and gas development poses environmental and public health risks, the risks from shale gas development are particularly poorly understood. Studies the GAO reviewed, according to the report, “do not generally take into account the potential long-term, cumulative effects” so the extent and longevity of risks is unknown.

Supreme Court Backs Away Slowly From Chevron/Ecuador Dispute

Photo by Lita V. Some rights reserved.

In February of 2011, American gas giant Chevron (you know, the one with the cute cartoon cars) was ordered to pay $8.6 billion in pollution damages to by a provincial court the relatively small city of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, which claimed that Chevron (the 2nd largest oil company in the U.S.) had done irreparable damage to the area between 1964 and 1992 under the Texaco banner, another oil company that Chevron now owns. The lawsuit was launched in 1993, and the area affected by the damages has since come to be known as “the Amazon Chernobyl.” Chevron at the time responded by calling the ruling “illegitimate and unenforceable,” countering by suing the plaintiffs (the indigenous villagers of Lago Agrio) for racketeering, and requesting a stay of judgment from an international tribunal in the Hague. A federal judge in New York issued an injunction on the dispute in March 2011, blocking any enforcement on the judgment, which was later overturned by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on January 26th, 2012.

Fast forward to yesterday, October 9th, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Chevron’s appeal, and ultimately ruled that it would not intervene and block the collection of legal penalties and damage fees, which now total $18.2 billion, as the original $8.6 billion figure was doubled by the Ecuadorian court when Chevron failed to make a public apology. The Supreme Court ruling came despite the fact that Chevron was backed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The fight over environmental reparations will now continue in district courts in New York, Brazil, and Canada, and may end up back at the Supreme Court before a final verdict is reached. If Chevron is strong-armed into paying the $19 billion in damages, it will be the largest judgment of its kind in history.

Read our previous coverage of this case here.

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