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.

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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.

The Thousand Natural Shocks That Flesh Is Heir To

via Wikipedia

via Wikipedia

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like reading the words “bacteria” and “apocalyptic” in the same sentence – especially in the lead paragraph of a World Health Organization Report. The report, released last month, tells us in no uncertain terms that we are now entering the post-antibiotic world. Almost a century after the discovery of penicillin, humanity is once again vulnerable to simple infections we thought we had confined to the dustbin of medical history.

All the ills that flesh is heir to, the countless ailments and fevers that have plagued humanity for millennia, were seemingly in retreat with the flurry of antibiotics that followed on penicillin’s heels. Ten years ago, a simple urinary tract infection or a scrape from a rose bush would pass without incident – a simple course of antibiotics saw to that. Now, increasingly, even the most minor infections can take an ominous turn, thanks to the relentless evolution of the microbes antibiotics are designed to destroy. The prospect of expiring from simple infections is growing daily, in every corner of the globe.

The WHO report is a hypochondriac’s nightmare. According to the Organization, resistance to common bacteria has reached alarming levels around the world. The post-antibiotic era, far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is a very real possibility for the 21st century. Antimicrobial resistance, it says, threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections. Resistance to common bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi has reached alarming levels in many parts of the world. In some settings, there are few, if any, effective treatment options. One of the greatest achievements of modern medicine is teetering on the verge of collapse. And it isn’t simply preventing or treating hitherto minor infections which is problematic. Many pillars of modern medicine rest on defeating microbes: without antibiotics routine surgery, transplants, and chemotherapy would be impossible.

In an ironic twist, it was in hospitals themselves where resistant bacteria first appeared, and they have spread steadily outward. In 2005, approximately 100,000 Americans had severe anti-biotic resistant infections, of whom nearly 20,000 died. That’s a higher fatality rate than HIV and tuberculosis combined. In the words of Katherine Xue, writing in Harvard Magazine, this state of infectious affairs is the new normal. The relentless spread of antibiotic resistant super bugs raises the grim specter of a return to the medicine of a century ago.

Dr Jennifer Cohn, medical director of Medecins sans Frontier, says the WHO report “should be a wake-up call to governments to introduce incentives for industry to develop new, affordable antibiotics.”

Developing antibiotics is extraordinarily expensive and time consuming. Encouraging innovation in the field will likely require close coordination on a global scale and significant government intervention and support. Given that Britain’s chief medical officer has compared the rise in drug-resistant infections to the threat of global warming, we’ll have to cross our well-scrubbed fingers and hope the nations of the world can pull together on this. An ounce of prevention, as they say, is worth a pound of cure.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Rim Fire and Large Whale

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. 20140146, Final EIS, NMFS, 00, Amending the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Vertical Line Rule, Review Period Ends: 06/16/2014, Contact: Kate Swails 978–282–8481. Website.

EIS No. 20140147, Draft EIS, USFS, CA, Rim Fire Recovery, Comment Period Ends: 06/30/2014, Contact: Maria Benech 209–532–3671. Website.

EIS No. 20140148, Final EIS, FTA, TX, Tex Rail Corridor Commuter Rail Project, Review Period Ends: 06/20/2014, Contact: Don Koski 817–978–0571. Website.

EIS No. 20140149, Final EIS, USN, CA, US Navy F–35C West Coast Homebasing, Review Period Ends: 06/16/2014, Contact: Amy Kelly 619–532–2799. Website.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20140097, Draft EIS, OSM, NM, Four Corners Power Plant and Navajo Mine Energy Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/27/2014, Contact: Marcelo Calle 303–293–5035. Revision to the FR Notice Published 03/28/2014; Extending Comment Period from 5/27/2014 to 6/27/2014. Website

Ice & Us: There Is No Turning Back

Photo by NASA. Some rights reserved.

Photo by NASA. Some rights reserved.

The scientific community seems to talk about rising sea levels A LOT. This makes sense – as far as consequences of global warming go, it’s one of the easiest to explain, and one of the most potentially disastrous. We’ve looked at how a rise in sea level would effect us domestically and the results were not heartening. It’s pretty easy A-to-B math to see that if the sea level goes up, many coastal cities will be in critical danger of flooding and other natural disasters, and the entire ecology of the oceans will drastically change. And if that proof wasn’t in the pudding before, it sure is now.

Two new studies released this week confirm that the enormous West Antarctica Ice Sheet, the segment of the Western Antarctica continent that extends out into the Amundsen Sea, is losing mass at a rate that cannot be reversed. The ice sheet is estimated to weigh 25.4 million km3, however the accepted narrative in scientific communities for decades has been that it has been steadily and exponentially losing mass, to the point where snowfall is no longer replacing the amount of ice the sheet is losing. Between the years of 1996 and 2006, there was a 75% increase is the amount of ice mass lost, a statistic that seemingly should have set off alarm bells eight years ago. This week’s studies, then, should really just function as icing on a terrible, terrible cake, but judging by the reactions seen online, a lot of people were unaware that this was a problem.

The studies (one published in Science and one in Geophysical Research Letters) reach the same unsettling conclusion – the ice sheet is falling apart, and at this point the process cannot be reversed or delayed. The melting process will unsettle neighboring sections the larger continental ice sheet, and will result in a 10 + ft. rise in sea level. This will continue to happen slowly over the rest of the 21st century and speed up in coming centuries to the point of total global crisis. Coming on the heels of very pessimistic reports on climate change from the White House and NASA, it seems the gravity of the situation is finally starting to sink in on the Internet at large. I saw links to both of the aforementioned studies linked to dozens of times on many social networks by all sorts of people who normally wouldn’t be inclined to share this kind of stuff. The reality of climate change has, for many, finally gotten personal.

The Secret World of Cobia

Photo by fishwatch.gov. Some rights reserved.

Photo by fishwatch.gov. Some rights reserved.

We’ve talked a little bit about aquaculture and fish farming before on the GM and how the industry has changed and evolved over time. One of the biggest criticisms against raising fish in captivity is that the fish are not healthy and therefore not as delicious when they hit our dinner tables (other, less selfish concerns with the industry are that it is wasteful, due to the amount of processed food it takes to feed these fish, and that the possibility of fish escaping their pens and contaminating the gene pools of ocean-raised fish). Brian O’Hanlon, through his company Open Blue, aims to change that.

Founded in Panama in 2009, Open Blue is an aquaculture business that does all of its fish-raising in, you guessed it, the open blue waters of the Caribbean. Open Blue has set up giant pods that float in the open water, designed to hold 35,000 fish. Then pens are weighed down and anchored to the sea floor, and monitored by boat with cameras and sensors to detect and discrepancies. On top of all that, divers make daily expeditions down to examine the cages and check the health of the fish.

O’Hanlon and his company set up shop in Panama because the government there was more receptive to his work. In the U.S., the necessary permit would only extend a few years and the operation would no doubt be scrutinized both by environmental groups and local residents. “What we’re trying to do takes a lot of capital and commitment,” says O’Hanlon in a profile by National Geographic.

But there’s more to Open Blue than just there methods – they are also making investments in the fish of the future. It’s an inevitability at this point that our favorite fish to consume (salmon, trout, bass) take a lot of energy (and resources) to produce. As the state of the oceans change and resources grow more scant, we will have to look to more efficient fish to feed our families. That’s where cobia come into the picture. Growing to full size in one third the time it takes salmon and diverse enough to be used in a number of cuisines, cobia seem like a solid bet for the kind of fish that will end up taking the place of our current favorites, and its cobia that Open Blue has chosen to focus on. Their operation is still young and the reality is that cobia still has a ways to go before it topples salmon as the people’s fishy champion, but the math is encouraging. Open Blue ships nearly 250 tons of fish out across the world every month, and last year, their demand outpaced their supply for the first time.

Last Week in Environmental Impact Statements: Moffat Collection System Project

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. 20140125, Final EIS, FHWA, CA, California High-Speed Train (HST): Fresno to Bakersfield Section High-Speed Train, Review Period Ends: 05/27/2014, Contact: Stephanie Perez 202–493–0388. Website.

EIS No. 20140126, Final Supplement, USN, 00, Introduction of the P–8A Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft into the U.S. Navy Fleet, Review Period Ends: 05/27/2014, Contact: Cory Zahm 757–322–4347. Website.

EIS No. 20140127, Final EIS, NPS, CA, Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Muir Woods National Monument Final General Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, Review Period Ends: 05/27/2014, Contact: Tom Gibney 303–969–2479. Website.

EIS No. 20140128, Draft EIS, USFS, CA, Tule River Reservation Protection Project, Comment Period Ends: 06/09/2014, Contact: Richard Stevens 559–539–2607. Website.

EIS No. 20140129, Final EIS, USACE, CO, Moffat Collection System Project, Review Period Ends: 06/09/2014, Contact: Rena Brand 303–979–4120. Website.

 

Amended Notices

EIS No. 20140065, Draft EIS, USFS, OR, Proposed Revised Land Management Plans for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, Comment Period Ends: 08/15/2014, Contact: Sabrina Stadler 541–523–1264. Revision to the FR Notice Published 03/14/2014; Extending the Comment Period from 06/16/2014 to 08/15/2014. Website.

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