On August 2, the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued guidance to assist federal agencies in their consideration of the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions. I refer to this documents as “the Guidance” below.Read More
Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog
The Clean Air Act (CAA) includes extensive regulatory requirements on “mobile sources,” which cover efficiency and emissions standards for a broad range of vehicles with internal combustion engines (automobiles, buses, aircraft), “nonroad engines and vehicles” (including lawnmowers, bulldozers and marine vessels), as well as motor fuel standards intended to promote cleaner burning fuels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses CAA authority to set emission limits from engines, for CAA-regulated air pollutants, including carbon dioxide (CO2) regulated for its greenhouse gas (GHG) aspects.Read More
The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer provides the international framework for protecting the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, by identifying and minimizing emissions of ozone depleting substances (ODSs). The original Montreal Protocol was initialed in September 1987 (I summarized it here). It is widely considered an effective example of international cooperation (I blogged about the healing of the “ozone hole” here), in contrast with ongoing struggles to reach binding international agreements to address climate change. In fact, during 2016 efforts are underway to build on the Montreal Protocol’s strengths by amending it to address additional chemicals that may harm ozone and contribute to climate change.Read More
Late in the 1970s, measurements in the stratosphere revealed that levels of ozone were falling – the headline summary of this trend was the annual appearance of a thinned-out “ozone hole” over the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Health and environmental and human health scientists worried because stratospheric ozone is an important absorber of potentially damaging ultraviolet radiation (bad for penguins under the ozone hole, and eventually bad for humans on the rest of the planet). Further studies concluded that the culprits were halocarbon chemicals used as refrigerants, solvents, propellants, and foam-blowing agents. Dubbed “ozone depleting substances (ODSs)”, these chemicals (including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), halogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), freons and halons) are relatively non-reactive when released on the surface, so they persist in the atmosphere long enough to drift up to the stratosphere where incoming solar radiation eventually powers their reaction with ozone.Read More
Last December, representatives of 195 countries agreed to continue to expand global efforts to combat climate change. The new Paris Agreement breaks a longstanding impasse with a clever mixture of multinational agreements and agreements-to-agree. I summarized its provisions (and the history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Framework Convention) it modifies) here.Read More
On December 11, 2015, representatives of 195 countries agreed to continue to expand global efforts to combat climate change. The new Paris Agreement breaks a longstanding impasse with a clever mixture of binding but unenforceable commitments, and present agreements and ongoing agreements-to-agree. It creates a structure that might, or might not, evolve fast enough to prevent the catastrophic climate changes otherwise predicted by most scientific experts.Read More
Although water covers nearly three-quarters of the earth’s surface, only 0.033 percent of the world’s total supply is fresh water available for human use. Water is essential to every form of life, but is often taken for granted by consumers, who generally have maintained an attitude that plentiful water of the highest quality will always be available and is their right, a notion perpetuated by legislation. In 2013 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) established, under Section 106.3 of the California Water Code, that every human being has the inherent right to clean, safe, affordable, accessible, and adequate water for human consumption, cooking, and sanitation. That’s wonderful…when there is plenty of water to go around.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a list of air pollutants based on emissions that cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. EPA also sets air quality criteria for acceptable concentrations in ambient air, referred to as National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Strategic planners around the world are preparing “climate change adaptation plans,” designed to identify their organization’s key activities and missions, evaluate how climate change might affect them, and develop organizational changes designed to anticipate and adapt in ways that preserve the organization’s performance. On October 31, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its own Climate Change Adaptation Plan. EPA’s divisions (Water, Air and Radiation, etc.) and 10 regional offices also issued plans covering their activities. These Plans provides a collective model for multi-level organizational plans, and also tell organizations in the US what help to expect from EPA when they plan for their own adaptations to climate change.
On April 29 the US Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision, reinstating US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules requiring states to control emissions of air pollutants that contaminate downwind states (EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, LP). The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CASPR, or the “Transport Rule”) implements “Good Neighbor” provisions in the Clean Air Act (CAA) designed to ensure that upwind states’ emissions don’t prevent a downwind state from meeting air quality standards. This ruling frees EPA to implement rules requiring tighter emission controls on pollutant sources in upwind states.