Archive for June, 2014

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Salmonids

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. 20140171, Draft EIS, WAPA, NE, Interconnection of the Grande Prairie Wind Farm, Comment Period Ends: 08/04/2014, Contact: Rod O’Sullivan 720-962-7260. Website.

EIS No. 20140172, Draft EIS, USACE, OR, Double-crested Cormorant Management Plan to Reduce Predation of Juvenile Salmonids in the Columbia River Estuary, Comment Period Ends: 08/04/2014, Contact: Sondra Ruckwardt 503-808-4510. Website.

EIS No. 20140173, Final EIS, USFS, OR, Wolf Fuels and Vegetation Management Project, Review Period Ends: 07/28/2014, Contact: Jeff Marszal 541-416-6436. Website.

EIS No. 20140174, Final EIS, USAF, NH, Second Main Operating Base KC-46A Beddown at Alternative Air National Guard Installations, Review Period Ends: 07/21/2014, Contact: Kevin Marek 240-612-8855. Website and website.

EIS No. 20140175, Draft EIS, FERC, TX, Corpus Christi LNG Project, Comment Period Ends: 8/04/2014, Contact: Kandi Barakat 202-502-6365. Website.

EIS No. 20140176, Final EIS (Only Draft EIS currently available.), USACE, LA, Calcasieu Lock, Louisiana Feasibility Study, Review Period Ends: 07/21/2014, Contact: Timothy K. George 314-331-8459. Website.

 

AMENDED NOTICE:

EIS No. 20140167, Final EIS, USACE, HI, Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning Project, Review Period Ends: 07/28/2014, Contact: Ryan Winn 808-835-4309. Revision to the FR Notice Published 6/13/2014; Correct Review Period from 7/14/2014 to 07/28/214

Block Here, Block There, Block Everywhere

via Wikimedia

via Wikimedia

Back in the beginning of June, the EPA released its long-anticipated guidelines for cutting carbon pollution from existing power plants. The guidelines, implemented after the administration grew exasperated with Congress’ inability to cobble together sensible regulations, are intended to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants – the single largest source of such pollution in the United States. Power plants account for one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the Agency. The Agency hopes to cut carbon emissions by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels which it says is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year.

Nobody expected the coal industry to celebrate the new rules. And nobody expected the climate change deniers in Congress to roll over, either. And sure enough, the obstruction machinery is being fired up.

Bloomberg tells us that Republicans in Congress are determined to cut the funding necessary to enforce the new guidelines and prevent them from taking effect. They are preparing for a “pitched battle” over the carbon rules which they describe as “job killers.” John Podesta, the president’s top adviser on climate change, said last month that Republicans have a ‘‘zero percent chance” of stopping the rule. We’ll see. When it comes to blocking the administration’s environmental regulations, as with every other initiative from the White House, the congressional Republican caucus has shown itself to be as tenacious as a junkyard dog.

Last (Two) Week(s) in Environmental Impact Statements: Mars 2020 Mission

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 (and the previous week’s here!). 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. 20140167, Final EIS, USACE, HI, Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning Project, Review Period Ends: 07/14/2014, Contact: Ryan Winn 808-835-4309.

EIS No. 20140168, Final EIS, NPS, FL, Fort Matanzas National Monument Final General Management Plan, Review Period Ends: 07/14/2014, Contact: Gordon Wilson 904-829-6506 Ext. 221. Website.

EIS No. 20140169, Final EIS, FHWA, DC, Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction, Review Period Ends: 07/14/2014, Contact: Michael Hicks 202-219-3513. Website.

EIS No. 20140170, Final EIS, USFS, NM, Gila National Forest Travel Management Rule Implementation, Review Period Ends: 07/28/2014, Contact: Lisa Mizuno 575-388-8267. Website.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20140164, Final Supplement, FHWA, NCDOT, NC, Monroe Connector/Bypass, Contact: George Hoops 919-747-7022. Revision to the FR Notice Published 06/06/2014; Correction to Contact Phone Number should be 919-747-7022. Under MAP-21 section 1319, FHWA has issued a single FSEIS and ROD. Therefore, the 30-day wait/review period under NEPA does not apply to this action. Website.

 

And last week’s:

EIS No. 20140162, Final EIS, FAA, TX, SpaceX Texas Launch Site, Review Period Ends: 07/07/2014, Contact: Stacey Zee 202–267–9305. Website.

EIS No. 20140163, Draft EIS (Tiering), NASA, FL, Tier 2—Mars 2020 Mission, Comment Period Ends: 07/21/2014, Contact: George Tahu 202–258–0016. Website.

EIS No. 20140164, Final Supplement, FHWA, NCDOT, NC, Monroe Connector/Bypass, Contact: George Hoops 919–707–6022, Under MAP–21 section 1319, FHWA has issued a single FSEIS and ROD. Therefore, the 30-day wait/review period under NEPA does not apply to this action. Website.

EIS No. 20140165, Draft EIS, USACE, WA, Skagit River Flood Risk Management General Investigation, Comment Period Ends: 07/21/2014, Contact: Hannah Hadley 206–764–6950. Website.

EIS No. 20140166, Draft EIS, USACE, WA, BP Cherry Point Dock, Comment Period Ends: 08/06/2014, Contact: Olivia Romano 206–764–6960. Website.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20130365, Draft EIS, NMFS, USFWS, BR, CA, Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Comment Period Ends: 07/29/2014, Contact: Ryan Wulff 916–930–3733. Revision to the FR Notice Published 02/21/2014; Extending Comment Period from 06/13/2014 to 07/29/2014; The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation and Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service are joint lead agencies for the above project. Website and website.

Bobby Jindal Presents “The Creature From the Oil-Black Lagoon”

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

There’s a lot of swampland on the Gulf Coast. A lot of that swampland has been polluted with oil. And a lot of that oil has oozed into the swamps of the legal system which is brimming over with lawsuits brought against the extraction industry. BP’s Deepwater disaster is only the most high profile case. It certainly brought a lot of public attention to the parlous state of the Gulf of Mexico and its hundreds of miles of vulnerable coastline – attention BP and its energy cohorts don’t want.

Things haven’t been going well for BP in the litigation that flowed up out of its underwater well along with all that oil. It has found it rough going even in the famously conservative and business-friendly Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals which has consistently swatted down the company’s attempts to wriggle off the liability hook. But the oil industry is nothing if not industrious. A business that hunts for oil thousands of feet below the surface of the sea will work just as hard to find a political solution to its legal problems. Now, thanks to Louisiana  governor Bobby Jindal, the oil business has what it hopes is a magic cloak to ward of further lawsuits.

Last week Jindal signed legislation designed to kill a lawsuit against almost 100 oil and gas companies.

The lawsuit was filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority in an attempt to get oil and gas companies to pony up billions of dollars for damage caused by exploration and production in the vulnerable wetlands around New Orleans – wetlands that play a vital role in protecting the city from what the suit describes as the mortal threat of hurricane storm surges. The stakes for New Orleans could not be higher. The Authority filed suit to avert the dire consequences of the environmental degradation of the region’s coastline. The suit demanded that energy companies “honor their obligations to safeguard and restore the coastal treasures entrusted to them and from which they have so richly profited.” The Flood Protection Authority described the measures it demanded in its suit as essential to preserving the future of the state and its biggest city. The coastal barriers it sought to preserve have been brought to the brink of destruction over the course of a single human lifetime. Without immediate action to reverse the loss of wetlands and restore the region’s natural defenses, many of Louisiana’s coastal communities will vanish into the sea. Meanwhile, the Authority says, inland cities and towns that once were well insulated from the sea will be left to face the ever-rising tide at their doorsteps.”

Jindal’s signature has now thrown the future of that suit, and other similar actions, into doubt. The new law is specifically intended to stop the lawsuit in its tracks. It would limit enforcement of the state’s coastal zone program to the state Department of Natural Resources, a parish, a parish district attorney or the state attorney general.  The law previously allowed any government agency to file claims. The oil and gas industry lobbied strenuously to get the new law passed. Apparently the industry’s efforts were more persuasive than the state’s own attorney general who urged the governor to veto the bill, arguing that the language was both so vague and so sweeping that it would prohibit local governments from filing lawsuits against energy companies for past or future actions. A passel of legal scholars also weighed in warning that the bill would nullify lawsuits already filed against BP for damages from the oil spill by dozens of governmental entities. Environmentalists and urban planners are aghast.  The industry, on the other hand, was crowing about its bill, describing it as “a huge victory for the oil and gas industry as well as the economy for the state of Louisiana.”

The bill demonstrates how far and how deep the energy industry’s tentacles reach into the machinery of Louisiana politics. The Deepwater catastrophe brought a lot of unwelcome attention to the long-intertwined relationship between the oil and gas industry and Louisiana’s politicians. The new law is designed to restore that relationship to its historical centrality in the state’s political ecology. Whether it survives the inevitable appeals (it almost certainly won’t) is irrelevant. As a piece of of intimidating muscle flexing it’s in a class of its own: Let there be no doubt of who calls the shots in the state.

Jindal defended the bill by saying it creates “a more fair and predictable legal environment.” The good people of New Orleans can sleep easier now, secure in the knowledge that at least the legal landscape is predictable. The levees be damned.

Note: The Times-Picayune is, as always, doing yeoman’s work covering this story.

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