Archive for April, 2013

This Week in Online Environmental Impact Statements: Specific Plan

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.

Starting October 1, 2012, EPA no longer accepts 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. 20130100, Draft EIS (scroll to bottom of page to expand the Placer Vineyards Specific Plan item), USACE, CA, Placer Vineyards Specific Plan (SPK-1999-00737),Comment Period Ends: 06/10/2013, Contact: William Ness 916-557-5268. Website.

EIS No. 20130101, Final EIS (only draft EIS currently available, check back here for updates), BLM, NV, Proposed Sloan Hills Competitive Mineral Material Sales, Review Period Ends: 05/28/2013, Contact: Shonna Dooman 702-515-5174. Website.

EIS No. 20130102, Final EIS, BLM, WY, Gateway West Transmission Line Project, Wyoming and Idaho, Review Period Ends: 06/28/2013, Contact: Walt George 307-775-6116. Website.

EIS No. 20130103, Final EIS (not yet available online, check back here for updates), NMFS, 00, Amendment 5 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan, Review Period Ends: 05/28/2013, Contact: Carrie Nordeen 978-281-9272. Website.

EIS No. 20130104, Draft EIS (not yet available online, check back here for updates), FHWA, AZ, South Mountain Freeway (Loop 202), Interstate 10 (Papago Freeway) to Interstate 10 (Maricopa Freeway), Comment Period Ends: 07/24/2013, Contact: Alan Hansen 602-382-8964. Website.

EIS No. 20130105, Draft EIS, FHWA, TX, US 281 from Loop 1604 to Borgfeld, Comment Period Ends: 07/01/2013, Contact: Mr. Salvador Deocampo 512-536-5950. Website.

Calamity, Catastrophe, or Cataclysm?

Photo Credit: FoodAndYou. Some rights may be reserved.

Dire warnings and dismal predictions often seem to be the stock in trade of environmental activists. Hyperbole helps fundraising and hyperventilating about imminent threats get page views. Two of the leading subjects for pumped-up concern are global climate change and vanishing resources. But rarely are both topics so alarmingly conjoined as they have been by Michael Klare, author of The Race for What’s Left and Resource Wars.

Writing for TomDispatch.com, Klare argues that we are on the cusp of a new world order dominated by struggles over access to affordable resources. He says that humanity is faced with two converging and utterly unprecedented disasters: severe resource depletion and extreme climate change. His prognosis is not a happy one. The civil, political, and military institutions we have developed over centuries would be strained to deal with either threat alone. Together, they present a monumental global challenge.

It’s not just peak oil. The world is also heading for peak water. Klare cites the disastrous drought in Russia that decimated that country’s wheat crop in 2010 as just one in a litany of destabilizing events global warming will visit on us. The roiling discontent of the Arab spring flowed at least in part from the enormous spike in wheat prices caused by the murderous heat in the Russian steppes. Klare tells us such resource shocks will become increasingly common as the globe warms and resources diminish.

He is hardly alone in seeing the threat. The Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper (no Pollyanna, he) cites competition and scarcity involving natural resources as a national security threat on a par with global terrorism, cyberwar, and nuclear proliferation. “Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism.”

So while we may become inured to the environmental movement’s escalating warnings, those alarms are not groundless carping. A prudent and conservative individual or organization would be well advised to take them into account. The world may be warming but there are still icebergs in our path. It would be best not to collide with one.

Solar Foundation Breaks Down Solar Jobs by State

Photo by Walmart Coporate. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Walmart Coporate. Some rights reserved.

Despite a lot of skepticism from the political right over whether or not President Obama’s push for “green jobs” represents a sustainable source of employment, new data over at Treehugger (and courtesy of The Solar Foundation) shows that there may yet be hope for a flourishing “green” economy. According to the Solar Foundation’s study, America now has more solar power jobs than coal mining jobs (for the first time ever!). There are now 119,000 solar employees in the country, and that figure is up by 13.2% from last year. However, as may be somewhat predictable, the concentration of those jobs is anything but uniform across the 50 states. Alaska, for instance, only has 80 solar workers, while California has over 43,000 (which represents over one third of the total figure, yowza!). And then of course coal mining has been something of an industry in decline domestically (as it appears to be the world over)… but still, this is an exciting prospect for the future of energy in the U.S.

The Solar Foundation data is also very cool and easy to read, and also features an interactive map that breaks down solar stats by state and job sector, among other factors. Go check it out!

This Week in Online Environmental Impact Statements: SpaceX and Special Use

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.

Starting October 1, 2012, EPA no longer accepts 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. 20130089, Draft EIS, USFS, ID, Clear Creek Integrated Restoration Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Lois Hill 208–935–4258. Website.

EIS No. 20130090, Final EIS, USACE, CA, Eagle Rock Aggregate Terminal Project, Review Period Ends: 05/20/2013, Contact: John W. Markham 805–585–2150. Website.

EIS No. 20130091, Draft EIS, USFWS, NPS, 00, Niobrara Confluence and Ponca Bluffs Conservation Areas Land Protection Plan, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Nick Kaczor 303–236–4387. The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are joint lead agencies for this project. Website.

EIS No. 20130092, Draft EIS, USFS, OR, West Bend Vegetation Management Project and Forest Plan Amendments, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Beth Peer 541–383–4769. Website.

EIS No. 20130093, Draft EIS, USACE, FL, Lake Worth Inlet, Palm Beach Harbor Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Angela Dunn 904–232–2108. Website.

EIS No. 20130094, Draft Supplement, DOE, 00, Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury Facilities, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: David Levenstein 301–903–6500. Website.

EIS No. 20130095, Second Draft Supplement, USFS, CA, Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Lorraine Gerchas 626–574–5281. Website.

EIS No. 20130096, Draft Supplement, USFS, WY, Long Term Special Use Authorization for Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to Use National Forest System Lands for their Winter Elk Management Activities at Alkali Creek Feedground, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Pam Bode 307–739–5513. Website.

EIS No. 20130097, Final EIS, STB, CA, ADOPTION—California High-Speed Train: Merced to Fresno Section, Review Period Ends: 05/20/2013, Contact: David Navecky 202–245–0294. U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) has adopted the Federal Railroad Administration’s FEIS #20120118, filed 04/18/2012. The STB was not a cooperating agency for the above FEIS. Recirculation of the document is necessary under Section 1506.3(b) of the CEQ Regulations. Website.

EIS No. 20130098, Draft EIS, FAA, TX, SpaceX Texas Launch Site, Comment Period Ends: 06/03/2013, Contact: Stacey M. Zee 202–267–9305. Website.

EIS No. 20130099, Final EIS, USFWS, OH, Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit for the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) for the Buckeye Wind Power Project, Review Period Ends: 05/20/2013, Contact: Megan Seymour 614–416–8993 ext. 16. Website.

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20130031, Draft EIS, USN, CA, U.S. Navy F–35C West Coast Homebasing, Comment Period Ends: 05/07/2013, Contact: Amy Kelley 619–532–2799. Revision to FR Notice Published 2/15/201; Extending Comment Period from 4/22/2013 to/5/7/2013. Website.

EIS No. 20130044, Draft EIS, FHWA, NV, Pyramid Way and McCarran Boulevard Intersection Improvement Project, Comment Period Ends: 04/30/2013, Contact: Abdelmoez Abdalla, 775–687–1231. Revision to FR Notice Published 04/11/2013; Extending Comment Period from 4/15/2013 to 04/30/2013. Website.

One Casualty of the Economic Crisis: The European Cap-and-Trade System

Photo by Takver. Some Rights Reserved

Photo by Takver. Some Rights Reserved

The price of European carbon emission certificates has plummeted in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. This week the European Parliament narrowly voted down a bill designed to prop up the price per ton of carbon emissions in an attempt to keep the once-lauded program financially viable.

Cap-and-Trade has always seemed a jury rigged method of dealing with the principal driver of global climate change. A straightforward carbon tax would be a more transparent external cost but the political challenges of instituting such a tax have largely kept it off the table. The political difficulties have been compounded by the challenge of implementing carbon taxes globally – which country wants to walk into the propeller first? Cap-and-Trade at least had the virtue of being fungible; emissions banked in one country could be spewed out in another corner of the world.

Climate policy expert Felix Matthes, of the Institute for Applied Ecology, sat down to talk with Spiegel Magazine about the stark implications of Parliament’s decision, which he sees as the death knell for EU-wide emissions reduction. The ironic result, he says, will be a return to a national, rather than regional, approach to carbon reduction with serious consequences for global efforts to reign in emissions. Noting that while right wing politicians hope to undermine climate change policy entirely, and those on the left seek more regulatory protection, he still believes carbon trading is the most fruitful means of dealing with the global reach of carbon emissions. Unfortunately, the dramatically reduced energy consumption and industrial output following the economic crisis, combined with a glut of credits from China, have resulted in a flood of certificates on the market and a corresponding precipitous decline in their price.

Efficiency in Politics: Dream or Reality?

Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have reintroduced their energy efficiency bill, S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. A earlier version passed a Senate committee vote, but received criticism due to a provision to expand a DOE loan program. That provision has been removed and the bill is receiving bipartisan support that suggests it might make it to a full vote this time. Provisions include improved building codes and advance of efficiency measures in the federal government‘s operations, as well as business operations. Over 200 organizations are backing the bill, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources has scheduled a full committee hearing on the bill for April 23rd.

Your Car is Stealing From You!

Photo by Hugo90. Some rights reserved.

Photo by Hugo90. Some rights reserved.

Bad news, commuters: According to new data from AAA, the cost of owning a car in America has officially snowballed to over $9,100 a year! Considering the median income for a U.S. citizen above the age of 25 is roughly $40,000 (and that’s only if they’re working full time), this figure is far from insignificant. By way of comparison, that figure rested somewhere around $7,8000 five years ago, and according to AAA it’s up two whole percent from last year. This, for perspective, is assuming a  yearly average of about 15,000 miles driven, and factoring in all cost parameters, such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, new parts/tires, etc.

Since we’re living in an age with eco-friendly, wallet-friendly car rental and DIY taxi services such as Car2Go (the former) and Lyft (the latter), and that bike lanes are being added and improved at light speed seemingly across the country (at least in most metropolitan areas), there’s never been a better time in American history (well, except maybe the early 1900’s) to ditch the car and find some alternate means of travel. In many parts of the country, summer is basically here: get your bike out of the garage and get some exercise on the way to work, then use the money you’ll save on fancy cocktails or plane tickets – because at least as of now, there’s no such thing as Plane2Go, nor are there sky bikes.

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