Environmental

Climate Change

Climate Change

The Facts and Science behind Climate Change
Climate Change is a term used to refer to any significant changes found in measuring the climate that are the direct result of both natural factors and human activities These sustained changes can be in the temperature, wind, precipitation, levels of carbon dioxide, or other climate related measurements
Climate change is the result of both natural processes and human activities. However, human activities are responsible for a much higher portion of the change.

Indicators of Climate Change
There has been a significant amount of evidence pointing towards climate change being an actual phenomenon.
Increasing levels of carbon dioxide: Carbon dioxide measurements since 2005 have indicated a growing trend in its concentration in the atmosphere. Historically, the level had never exceeded 300 ppm till 1950, yet today the level exceeds 380 ppm.
Global surface temperatures have been gradually increasing over the last 130 years.
From 1976 till 2000, Artic sea ice levels decreased at a rate of approximately 11.5% per decade.
Since 2002 Greenland and Antartica’s Land ice sheets have been losing over 100 cubic kilometers of ice annually.
Since 2003, sea Level changes have been measured to increase approximately 1.7 mm annually due to the thermal expansion of the water as well as the melting of ice.

Causes of Climate Change
Greenhouse Gases
The majority of climate scientists agree that humans have aggregated the greenhouse effect, which is a major factor in climate change, particularly the current trend of global warming. The greenhouse effect results in warming when the earth’s atmosphere is able to trap more of the heat released from the sun.
The greenhouse effect is exacerbated by certain gases with long half-lives going into the atmosphere. While some gases provide negative feedback mechanisms, these long-lived gases do not react to the change in temperature, forcing the change. For example, while water vapor will increase with higher temperatures, it is more likely to precipitate into clouds and eventually rain. However, carbon dioxide does not do this and ends up further forcing climate change.
Other greenhouse gases besides water vapor include methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Note that all of these are produced in high quantities from human activities. Coal and oil burning have increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration significantly. This has also happened to a lesser extent with the process of clearing land for agriculture as well as other industries.

Solar Irradiance 
Another cause of climate change is solar irradiance. Unlike the human aggravation of the greenhouse effect, human activity is not responsible for solar irradiance. Solar variability has played a role in the earth’s climate, for example, the Little Ice Age between the 17th to 19th centuries. However, recent studies have suggested otherwise.
For example, the energy output of the sun has either remained constant or slightly increased since 1950. Furthermore, warming on the earth has not been consistent in all the layers of the atmosphere, but rather it has been concentrated in the lower parts while cooling has been observed in the higher areas.

Clean Air Act

Clean Air Act

Getting Fresh Air with the Clean Air Act


The Clean Air Act is a federal law that was passed to protect the public from harmful emission coming out of the both moving and stationary sources. The Clean Air Act allows the Environmental Protection Agency to set up National Ambient Air Quality Standards in order to control any emissions of air pollutants. While the Clean Air Act was first past in 1970, it was updated in 1990.
Here are some of the focus points of the Clean Air Act:
Cleaning the Six Most Common Air Pollutants
There are six common air pollutants that are focused on: carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides, lead, sulfur oxides and particle pollution.
Ground-level ozone is what smog is mainly made up of. It can cause health problems and damage plant life. Ground-level can contain either volatile organic compounds or nitrogen oxides, both which are released from human activities like burning gasoline and from manufacturing plant activities.
Particle pollution comes is made up of the soot, smoke, dust, and droplets made by chemical reactions in many human activities, like burning wood or coal. These particles can get stuck deep within the lungs and cause respiratory illnesses.

Less Toxic Air Pollutants
Toxic air pollutants are released from many industrial sources and can cause various health problems such as cancer or birth defects.
Many chemicals are not very reactive, meaning they will remain in the environment for a long time.
The Clean Air Act forced the Environmental Protection Agency to identify categories that release many of the chemicals, as opposed to looking at them individually.


Focusing on Vehicles That Release Emissions
Motor vehicles are the source for nearly half of the volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide emissions that make up smog.
The Clean Air Act allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue rules about vehicle exhaust to reduce pollution. The Clean Air Act has also banned lead from gasoline and made many cities use reformulated gasoline.


Reducing Acid Rain
Acid rain is due to nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the precipitation.
The Clean Air Act reduced emissions of these chemicals and set up a cap on the amount that can be released from power plants.
The Clean Air Act has also imposed monetary penalties that do not remain under the limits of chemical emissions.

Protecting the Ozone Layer of the Atmosphere

Ozone found in the atmosphere reduces the amount of ultraviolet radiation that hits the earth’s surface
The Ozone layer was slowly being depleted by chlorofluorocarbons that are released from many aerosol propellants, such as hairspray and air conditioners.
The Clean Air Act helped phase out CFCs and encourages the development of alternative chemicals.

National Environmental Policy Act

National Environmental Policy Act

What is the National
Environmental Policy Act?


The National Environmental Policy Act is a federal law that
formally established a U.S. national policy responsible for promoting the
enhancement of the environment. The National Environmental Policy Act, which
was enacted on January 1st of 1970, also established the President’s
Council on Environmental Quality.

The most significant effect of the National Environmental
Policy Act came in the form of procedural requirements; the legislation
instituted requirements for all agencies of the federal government in order to
prepare Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments. These
procedural requirements contain statements of the environmental effects of
proposed—and subsequently instituted—federal agency actions. The National
Environmental Policy Act’s procedural requirements apply to all agencies of the
United States Federal Government’s Executive Branch. The National Environmental
Policy Act; however, does not apply to the President, the federal courts or to
Congress.

 

History of the
National Environmental Policy Act:


The National Environmental policy Act of 1969 was enacted by
the 91st United States Congress. The legislation came into existence
following increasing public awareness and appreciation for the environment;
growing concerning about the well-being of wildlife and ecosystems also contributed
to the passing of the National Environmental Policy Act 1969.

Another major influence for enacting the national
Environmental Policy Act were the freeway revolts that occurred in response to
the construction of the Interstate Highway System—a project that required
deforestation and the bulldozing of communities around the Nation. As a result
of the public’s outcry following this project, the provisions of the National
Environmental Policy Act were then applied to any subsequent federal, state or
local project. Court rulings throughout the history of the National
Environmental Policy Act have since expanded the regulations for NEPA-related
studies or endeavors to include actions where permits for a federal agency are
necessary, regardless of whether or not the project is federally funded.
Although the act was enacted in 1970, the legislation is referred to as the
“National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.”

 

Basic Information
Concerning the National Environmental Policy Act:


The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 establishes
the national environmental policy and the coordinating goals for the
protection, enhancement and maintenance of the environment. The National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 also provides a formal process for implementing
these goals within the agencies of the United States Federal Government.

The National Environmental Policy Act contains three primary
sections:

·        
The declaration of national policies and goals
regarding the environment

·        
The establishment of action-forcing procedures
and provisions; federal agencies are required to enforce these policies and
goals.

·        
The formal establishment of a Council on
Environmental Quality; this office is positioned within the Executive Office of
the President.

The purpose of these sections is to ensure that
environmental concerns are evaluated equally when compared to other factors in
the decision making process of the coordinating federal agencies. The National
Environmental Policy Act, to establish the nation’s environmental policy,
offers a multidisciplinary approach to assessing environmental effects with
regard to federal government decision making.

As stated above, the national Environmental Policy Act of
1969 formally established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality.
This board was created to advise the President (and the Executive Branch) in
the preparation of annual reports regarding the quality of the environment.
These reports address the state of federal agencies and their actions
concerning environmental quality.

The National Environmental Policy Act 0f 1969 is an
action-forcing piece of legislation; violations of the laws do not carry
criminal or civil actions. Enforcement of the Act is obtained through the
process of the United States court system.

The National Environmental policy Act covers a number of
federal agency actions; however, the legislation does not apply to wholly
private or purely public state actions—such a provision denotes an absence of
public influence or funding concerning a specific action.

 

Requirements of the
National Environmental Policy Act:


Title I of the National Environmental Policy Act contains
the Declaration of National Environmental policy, which mandates the federal
government to use all means to create and subsequently maintain conditions
under which humans and nature can exist in fecund harmony.

Section 102 of the National Environmental Policy Act
requires all agencies of the Federal Government to incorporate environmental
considerations in regards to planning and decision-making procedures through a
systematic approach. More specifically, these agencies are required to prepare
detailed statements to assess the environmental impact of and more efficient
alternatives to federal actions that affect the environment. Title II of the
National Environment Policy Act establishes the Council on Environmental
Quality.

 

Information Regarding
the Council on Environmental Quality:


The Council on Environmental Quality oversees the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969. The Council, which is headed by a Chairman,
is responsible for fulfilling the following duties and functions:

·        
The Council on Environmental Quality gathers
information concerning the conditions and trends regarding environmental
quality

·        
Develops and promotes national policies to
improve environmental quality

·        
Evaluates federal programs in conjunction with
the foals established in Title I of the National Environmental Policy Act

·        
Conducts studies, research, analyses and surveys
relating to environmental quality and the nation’s ecosystems.

 

The National
Environmental Policy Act’s Process:


The process aligned with the National Environmental Process
consists of an evaluation of the effects of a federal undertaking and
alternative procedures in alignment with the environment. There are three
levels of evaluation within the National Environmental Policy Act: preparation
of an environmental assessment; categorical exclusion of determination; and a
preparation of environmental impact statements.

Categorical exclusions represent the first level of the
National Environmental Policy’s Process. At this level, an undertaking may be
excluded from the government’s environmental analysis, only if certain
criterion, with which a federal agency has previously determined as
ineffective, is met. Several federal agencies utilize lists of actions that are
categorically excluded from environmental evaluation under the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

The Environmental Assessment/finding of no significant
impact level of evaluation requires a federal agency to prepare a written
environmental assessment in order to determine whether a federal undertaking
would significantly affect the environment. If the evaluation yields
inconclusive evidence, the underlying agency will issue a finding of “no
significant impact.” The “finding of no significant impact” may address
procedures which an agency will take to disrupt or mitigate potentially
significant impacts.

The third level of analysis, the preparation of an
environmental impact statement, is affirmed if the environmental consequences
of a federal undertaking are deemed significant. An environmental impact
statement is a detailed evaluation of the proposed action and its alternatives.
If the agency anticipates that a procedure may impact the environment or if the
undertaking is considered controversial, the agency may choose to prepare an
environmental impact statement without having to prepare an environmental
assessment.

 

The Role of the
Federal Government:


The exact role of a federal agency within the National
Environmental Policy Act will depend on the entity’s relationship and expertise
to the proposed undertaking. That being said, the agency carrying out the
action is responsible for complying with the requirements listed under the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

In some cases, multiple federal agencies will be involved
with the process; in this situation, a lead agency will be designated to
supervise preparation of the analysis.

Any federal state or local agency in possession of special
expertise with regard to an environmental concern may be considered a
cooperating agency in the National Environmental Policy Act’s process.
Cooperating agencies have the responsibility to assist lead agencies by
participating in the legislation’s process.

 

Full Text of the
Environmental Policy Act of 1969:

 

The
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
, as amended


(Pub. L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, January 1, 1970, as
amended by Pub. L. 94-52, July 3, 1975, Pub. L. 94-83, August 9, 1975, and Pub.
L. 97-258, § 4(b), Sept. 13, 1982)

An Act to establish a national policy for the environment,
to provide for the establishment of a Council on Environmental Quality, and for
other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and
House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
 That this
Act may be cited as the “National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.”


Purpose


Sec. 2 [42 USC § 4321].


The purposes of this Act are: To declare a national policy
which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his
environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the
environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to
enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources
important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality.


TITLE
I

CONGRESSIONAL DECLARATION OF NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Sec. 101 [42 USC § 4331].

(a) The Congress, recognizing the profound impact of man’s
activity on the interrelations of all components of the natural environment, particularly
the profound influences of population growth, high-density urbanization,
industrial expansion, resource exploitation, and new and expanding
technological advances and recognizing further the critical importance of
restoring and maintaining environmental quality to the overall welfare and
development of man, declares that it is the continuing policy of the Federal
Government, in cooperation with State and local governments, and other
concerned public and private organizations, to use all practicable means and
measures, including financial and technical assistance, in a manner calculated
to foster and promote the general welfare, to create and maintain conditions
under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony, and fulfill the
social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of
Americans.

(b) In order to carry out the policy set forth in this Act,
it is the continuing responsibility of the Federal Government to use all
practicable means, consistent with other essential considerations of national
policy, to improve and coordinate Federal plans, functions, programs, and
resources to the end that the Nation may —

  1. fulfill
    the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for
    succeeding generations;
  2. assure
    for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and
    culturally pleasing surroundings;
  3. attain
    the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment without
    degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended
    consequences;
  4. preserve
    important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of our national
    heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment which supports
    diversity, and variety of individual choice;
  5. achieve
    a balance between population and resource use which will permit high
    standards of living and a wide sharing of life’s amenities; and
  6. enhance
    the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable
    recycling of depletable resources.

(c)
The Congress recognizes that each person should enjoy a healthful environment
and that each person has a responsibility to contribute to the preservation and
enhancement of the environment.


Sec. 102 [42 USC § 4332].

The Congress authorizes and directs that, to the fullest
extent possible: (1) the policies, regulations, and public laws of the United
States shall be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies
set forth in this Act, and (2) all agencies of the Federal Government shall —

(A) utilize a systematic,
interdisciplinary approach which will insure the integrated use of the natural
and social sciences and the environmental design arts in planning and in
decisionmaking which may have an impact on man’s environment;

(B) identify and develop methods and procedures, in
consultation with the Council on Environmental Quality established by title II
of this Act, which will insure that presently unquantified environmental
amenities and values may be given appropriate consideration in decisionmaking
along with economic and technical considerations;

(C) include in every recommendation or report on proposals
for legislation and other major Federal actions significantly affecting the
quality of the human environment, a detailed statement by the responsible
official on —

(i) the
environmental impact of the proposed action,

(ii) any adverse environmental effects which cannot be
avoided should the proposal be implemented,

(iii) alternatives to the proposed action,

(iv) the relationship between local short-term uses of man’s
environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity, and

(v) any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of
resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented.

Prior to making any detailed statement, the responsible
Federal official shall consult with and obtain the comments of any Federal
agency which has jurisdiction by law or special expertise with respect to any
environmental impact involved. Copies of such statement and the comments and
views of the appropriate Federal, State, and local agencies, which are
authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards, shall be made
available to the President, the Council on Environmental Quality and to the public
as provided by section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and shall accompany
the proposal through the existing agency review processes;

(D) Any detailed statement required under subparagraph (C)
after January 1, 1970, for any major Federal action funded under a program of
grants to States shall not be deemed to be legally insufficient solely by
reason of having been prepared by a State agency or official, if:

(i) the State
agency or official has statewide jurisdiction and has the responsibility for such
action,

(ii) the responsible Federal official furnishes guidance and
participates in such preparation,

(iii) the responsible Federal official independently
evaluates such statement prior to its approval and adoption, and

(iv) after January 1, 1976, the responsible Federal official
provides early notification to, and solicits the views of, any other State or
any Federal land management entity of any action or any alternative thereto
which may have significant impacts upon such State or affected Federal land
management entity and, if there is any disagreement on such impacts, prepares a
written assessment of such impacts and views for incorporation into such
detailed statement.

The procedures in this subparagraph
shall not relieve the Federal official of his responsibilities for the scope,
objectivity, and content of the entire statement or of any other responsibility
under this Act; and further, this subparagraph does not affect the legal
sufficiency of statements prepared by State agencies with less than statewide
jurisdiction.

(E) study, develop, and describe appropriate alternatives to
recommended courses of action in any proposal which involves unresolved
conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources;

(F) recognize the worldwide and long-range character of
environmental problems and, where consistent with the foreign policy of the
United States, lend appropriate support to initiatives, resolutions, and
programs designed to maximize international cooperation in anticipating and
preventing a decline in the quality of mankind’s world environment;

(G) make available to States, counties, municipalities,
institutions, and individuals, advice and information useful in restoring,
maintaining, and enhancing the quality of the environment;

(H) initiate and utilize ecological information in the
planning and development of resource-oriented projects; and

(I) assist the Council on Environmental Quality established
by title II of this Act.

Sec. 103 [42 USC § 4333].

All agencies of the Federal Government shall review their
present statutory authority, administrative regulations, and current policies
and procedures for the purpose of determining whether there are any
deficiencies or inconsistencies therein which prohibit full compliance with the
purposes and provisions of this Act and shall propose to the President not
later than July 1, 1971, such measures as may be necessary to bring their
authority and policies into conformity with the intent, purposes, and
procedures set forth in this Act.

Sec. 104 [42 USC § 4334].

Nothing in section 102 [42 USC § 4332] or 103 [42 USC §
4333] shall in any way affect the specific statutory obligations of any Federal
agency (1) to comply with criteria or standards of environmental quality, (2)
to coordinate or consult with any other Federal or State agency, or (3) to act,
or refrain from acting contingent upon the recommendations or certification of
any other Federal or State agency.

Sec. 105 [42 USC § 4335].

The policies and goals set forth in this Act are supplementary
to those set forth in existing authorizations of Federal agencies.

TITLE II

COUNCIL ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Sec. 201 [42 USC § 4341].

The President shall transmit to the Congress annually
beginning July 1, 1970, an Environmental Quality Report (hereinafter referred
to as the “report”) which shall set forth (1) the status and
condition of the major natural, manmade, or altered environmental classes of
the Nation, including, but not limited to, the air, the aquatic, including
marine, estuarine, and fresh water, and the terrestrial environment, including,
but not limited to, the forest, dryland, wetland, range, urban, suburban an
rural environment; (2) current and foreseeable trends in the quality,
management and utilization of such environments and the effects of those trends
on the social, economic, and other requirements of the Nation; (3) the adequacy
of available natural resources for fulfilling human and economic requirements
of the Nation in the light of expected population pressures; (4) a review of
the programs and activities (including regulatory activities) of the Federal
Government, the State and local governments, and nongovernmental entities or
individuals with particular reference to their effect on the environment and on
the conservation, development and utilization of natural resources; and (5) a
program for remedying the deficiencies of existing programs and activities,
together with recommendations for legislation.

Sec. 202 [42 USC § 4342].

There is created in the Executive Office of the President a
Council on Environmental Quality (hereinafter referred to as the
“Council”). The Council shall be composed of three members who shall
be appointed by the President to serve at his pleasure, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate. The President shall designate one of the members of
the Council to serve as Chairman. Each member shall be a person who, as a
result of his training, experience, and attainments, is exceptionally well
qualified to analyze and interpret environmental trends and information of all
kinds; to appraise programs and activities of the Federal Government in the
light of the policy set forth in title I of this Act; to be conscious of and
responsive to the scientific, economic, social, aesthetic, and cultural needs and
interests of the Nation; and to formulate and recommend national policies to
promote the improvement of the quality of the environment.

Sec. 203 [42 USC § 4343].

(a) The Council may employ such officers and employees as
may be necessary to carry out its functions under this Act. In addition, the
Council may employ and fix the compensation of such experts and consultants as
may be necessary for the carrying out of its functions under this Act, in
accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code (but without regard
to the last sentence thereof).

(b) Notwithstanding section 1342 of Title 31, the Council
may accept and employ voluntary and uncompensated services in furtherance of
the purposes of the Council.

Sec. 204 [42 USC § 4344].

It shall be the duty and function of the Council —

  1. to
    assist and advise the President in the preparation of the Environmental
    Quality Report required by section 201 [42 USC § 4341] of this title;
  2. to
    gather timely and authoritative information concerning the conditions and
    trends in the quality of the environment both current and prospective, to
    analyze and interpret such information for the purpose of determining
    whether such conditions and trends are interfering, or are likely to
    interfere, with the achievement of the policy set forth in title I of this
    Act, and to compile and submit to the President studies relating to such
    conditions and trends;
  3. to
    review and appraise the various programs and activities of the Federal
    Government in the light of the policy set forth in title I of this Act for
    the purpose of determining the extent to which such programs and
    activities are contributing to the achievement of such policy, and to make
    recommendations to the President with respect thereto;
  4. to
    develop and recommend to the President national policies to foster and
    promote the improvement of environmental quality to meet the conservation,
    social, economic, health, and other requirements and goals of the Nation;
  5. to
    conduct investigations, studies, surveys, research, and analyses relating
    to ecological systems and environmental quality;
  6. to
    document and define changes in the natural environment, including the
    plant and animal systems, and to accumulate necessary data and other
    information for a continuing analysis of these changes or trends and an
    interpretation of their underlying causes;
  7. to
    report at least once each year to the President on the state and condition
    of the environment; and
  8. to
    make and furnish such studies, reports thereon, and recommendations with
    respect to matters of policy and legislation as the President may request.

Sec. 205 [42 USC § 4345].

In exercising its powers, functions, and duties under this
Act, the Council shall —

  1. consult
    with the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Environmental Quality established
    by Executive Order No. 11472, dated May 29, 1969, and with such
    representatives of science, industry, agriculture, labor, conservation
    organizations, State and local governments and other groups, as it deems
    advisable; and
  2. utilize,
    to the fullest extent possible, the services, facilities and information
    (including statistical information) of public and private agencies and
    organizations, and individuals, in order that duplication of effort and
    expense may be avoided, thus assuring that the Council’s activities will
    not unnecessarily overlap or conflict with similar activities authorized
    by law and performed by established agencies.

Sec. 206 [42 USC § 4346].

Members of the Council shall serve full time and the
Chairman of the Council shall be compensated at the rate provided for Level II
of the Executive Schedule Pay Rates [5 USC § 5313]. The other members of the
Council shall be compensated at the rate provided for Level IV of the Executive
Schedule Pay Rates [5 USC § 5315].

Sec. 207 [42 USC § 4346a].

The Council may accept reimbursements from any private
nonprofit organization or from any department, agency, or instrumentality of
the Federal Government, any State, or local government, for the reasonable
travel expenses incurred by an officer or employee of the Council in connection
with his attendance at any conference, seminar, or similar meeting conducted
for the benefit of the Council.

Sec. 208 [42 USC § 4346b].

The Council may make expenditures in support of its
international activities, including expenditures for: (1) international travel;
(2) activities in implementation of international agreements; and (3) the
support of international exchange programs in the United States and in foreign
countries.

Sec. 209 [42 USC § 4347].

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out the
provisions of this chapter not to exceed $300,000 for fiscal year 1970,
$700,000 for fiscal year 1971, and $1,000,000 for each fiscal year thereafter.

The Environmental Quality Improvement Act, as amended
(Pub. L. No. 91- 224, Title II, April 3, 1970; Pub. L. No. 97-258, September
13, 1982; and Pub. L. No. 98-581, October 30, 1984.

42 USC § 4372.

(a) There is established in the
Executive Office of the President an office to be known as the Office of
Environmental Quality (hereafter in this chapter referred to as the
“Office”). The Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality
established by Public Law 91-190 shall be the Director of the Office. There
shall be in the Office a Deputy Director who shall be appointed by the President,
by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(b) The compensation of the Deputy Director shall be fixed
by the President at a rate not in excess of the annual rate of compensation
payable to the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(c) The Director is authorized to employ such officers and
employees (including experts and consultants) as may be necessary to enable the
Office to carry out its functions ;under this chapter and Public Law 91-190,
except that he may employ no more than ten specialists and other experts
without regard to the provisions of Title 5, governing appointments in the
competitive service, and pay such specialists and experts without regard to the
provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title
relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, but no such
specialist or expert shall be paid at a rate in excess of the maximum rate for
GS-18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of Title 5.

(d) In carrying out his functions the Director shall assist
and advise the President on policies and programs of the Federal Government
affecting environmental quality by —

    1. providing
      the professional and administrative staff and support for the Council on
      Environmental Quality established by Public Law 91- 190;
    2. assisting
      the Federal agencies and departments in appraising the effectiveness of
      existing and proposed facilities, programs, policies, and activities of
      the Federal Government, and those specific major projects designated by
      the President which do not require individual project authorization by
      Congress, which affect environmental quality;
    3. reviewing
      the adequacy of existing systems for monitoring and predicting
      environmental changes in order to achieve effective coverage and efficient
      use of research facilities and other resources;
    4. promoting
      the advancement of scientific knowledge of the effects of actions and
      technology on the environment and encouraging the development of the
      means to prevent or reduce adverse effects that endanger the health and
      well-being of man;
    5. assisting
      in coordinating among the Federal departments and agencies those programs
      and activities which affect, protect, and improve environmental quality;
    6. assisting
      the Federal departments and agencies in the development and
      interrelationship of environmental quality criteria and standards
      established throughout the Federal Government;
    7. collecting,
      collating, analyzing, and interpreting data and information on
      environmental quality, ecological research, and evaluation.

(e) The Director is authorized to
contract with public or private agencies, institutions, and organizations and
with individuals without regard to section 3324(a) and (b) of Title 31 and
section 5 of Title 41 in carrying out his functions.

42 USC § 4373. Each Environmental Quality
Report required by Public Law 91-190 shall, upon transmittal to Congress, be
referred to each standing committee having jurisdiction over any part of the
subject matter of the Report.

42 USC § 4374. There are hereby authorized to
be appropriated for the operations of the Office of Environmental Quality and
the Council on Environmental Quality not to exceed the following sums for the
following fiscal years which sums are in addition to those contained in Public
Law 91- 190:

(a) $2,126,000 for the fiscal year
ending September 30, 1979.

(b) $3,000,000 for the fiscal years ending September 30,
1980, and September 30, 1981.

(c) $44,000 for the fiscal years ending September 30, 1982,
1983, and 1984.

(d) $480,000 for each of the fiscal years ending September
30, 1985 and 1986.

42 USC § 4375.

(a) There is established an Office
of Environmental Quality Management Fund (hereinafter referred to as the
“Fund”) to receive advance payments from other agencies or accounts
that may be used solely to finance —

    1. study
      contracts that are jointly sponsored by the Office and one or more other
      Federal agencies; and
    2. Federal
      interagency environmental projects (including task forces) in which the
      Office participates.

(b) Any study contract or project
that is to be financed under subsection (a) of this section may be initiated
only with the approval of the Director.

(c) The Director shall promulgate
regulations setting forth policies and procedures for operation of the Fund.

Largest Glass Container Manufacturer Pays $39.2 Million

Largest Glass Container Manufacturer Pays $39.2 Million


On December 3, 2012, the EPA and Department of Justice announced that Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc based out of Ohio agreed to install new pollution control equipment in order to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM) by roughly 2,500 tons per year.  The company is required to pay a $1.45 million penalty for violating the Clean Air Act at five of its manufacturing plants.  


Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc is the largest glass container manufacturer in the United States.


On top of the fines, Owens-Brockway will also spend an estimated $37.5 million in order to reduce NOx, SO2, and PM emissions.  The facilities involved in the settlement are located in Atlanta, Georgia; Clarion, Pennsylvania; Crenshaw, Pennsylvania; Muskogee, Oklahoma; and Waco, Texas.  


Under the terms of the settlement, Owens-Brockway is also required to spend $200,000 to reduce excess emissions around the plant in Atlanta as well.  The company will work with the Georgia Retrofit Program to reduce diesel emissions from school buses and fleet vehicles by placing controls on the vehicles or buying hybrid vehicles or vehicles that run on natural gas or propane.  


Ignacia S. Moreno, the assistant attorney general with the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, stated: “The settlement, the latest in a series of agreements with the glass manufacturing sector, addresses major sources of pollution at facilities located in four states and will mean cleaner air for the people living in those communities.”  


NOx, SO2, and PM are the three main pollutants that occur at glass plants.  NOx and SO2 increase ground-level amounts of ozone and cause acid rain.  The rain can hurt land and aquatic ecosystems, and the chemicals can irritate the lungs and worsen existing heart and lung conditions.  PM is made up of sharp microscopic particles that can enter the lungs and lead to breathing problems, coughing, decreased lung function, and even death in some cases.  


Cynthia Giles, the assistant administrator with the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliant Assurance, stated: “The pollution controls required by today’s settlement will significantly reduce emissions that can impact residents’ health and local environment in communities located near glass manufacturing plants.  These new pollution controls will improve air quality and protect communities from Georgia to Texas from emissions that can lead to respiratory illnesses, smog and acid rain.”  


Reducing emissions from glass manufacturing plants has been a priority in the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives from 2011 to 2013.  This case is the fourth settlement under the National Glass Manufacturing Plant Initiative.  


Source: Environmental Protection Agency

First Renewable Energy Lease Sales Announced for Outer Continental Shelf

First Renewable Energy Lease Sales Announced for Outer Continental Shelf

 

On November 30, 2012, the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced leasing for 278,000 acres of wind energy offshore of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia. 

The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, stated: “We are implementing the President’s all-of-the-above strategy by focusing on developing areas with the lowest potential conflicts and the greatest expected gains.  As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are moving forward at the same time with efforts to ensure that America continues to lead the world at developing the energy of the future.” 

The lease sales will occur next year.  They are the first competitive sales for wind energy on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  The leases are for two wind energy areas off of the Atlantic coast that have high wind energy potential.  BOEM estimates that the wind farms off of Virginia and Massachusetts/Rhode Island will generate up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity—enough to power 1.4 million homes. 

The areas off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are located about 9.2 nautical miles south of Rhode Island’s coastline and will cover about 164,750 acres.  The government will provide an auction for two lease, called the North Zone and South Zone leases. 

The area off of Virginia is located about 23.5 nautical miles offshore of southern Virginia and covers about 112,800 acres.  A single lease will be sold at auction. 

The Proposed Sales Notices will be listed in the Federal Register starting on December 3.  Interested parties can find information about the areas being leased, provisions of the lease, details about the auction, award guidelines, appeal procedures, and more. 

A 60-day comment period on the leased areas is available until February 1, 2013.  Comments that are postmarked before February 1, 2013 will be published in the Final Sale Notices. 

Tommy P. Beaudreau, the BOEM Director, stated: “Today’s announcement follows many months of hard work, stakeholder engagement and extensive collaboration with our federal, tribal, state and local government partners.”

Beaudreau praised the “Smart from the Start” strategy used during the leasing process.  He states the process involves “identifying the areas along the Atlantic Coast best suited for commercial wind energy development, while working with key stakeholders to address potential conflicts with other uses, including commercial fishing and vessel traffic, early in the process.” 

The specific time and day of the lease sale auctions will be listed in the Federal Register.  The Final Sale Notices and auctions will occur in 2013. 

Source: Department of the Interior

PA Approves $26.5 Million in Community Recreation Conservation Grants

PA Approves $26.5 Million in Community Recreation Conservation Grants

 

On November 20, 2012, Governor Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania approved $26.5 million for 198 projects in Pennsylvania.  The projects will improve communities, create new recreation, and aid in the conservation of natural resources. 

Governor Corbett announced the funds at the Coleman Memorial Park in Lebanon.  He stated, “Our Parks are among the things that tie us all together—a place to meet for leisure, for entertainment, for recreation and for tourism.” 

The grants are part of the Community Conservation Partnership Program under the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).  Funding for the program comes from the Keystone Fund.  Portions of the Fund are raised through realty transfer taxes, fees and licenses for ATVs and snowmobiles, and the Environmental Stewardship Fund.  The Keystone Fund also receives federal funding. 

Corbett explained how investment from the Community Conservation Partnership Program will generate more private investment as well.  He stated, “This $26.5 million investment will leverage $43.2 million in local, county and private investments, giving every state dollar more power for the public good.”

Corbett made the announcement in Lebanon because the City of Lebanon is receiving a $225,000 grant for environmentally friendly projects.  The funds will be used to clear all asphalt at the city’s amphitheater.  Additionally, the funds will be used to collect storm water and irrigate the water to playing fields.  Other improvements, such as solar lighting, are made possible with the funds as well.

Some notable projects include the following:

·  rehabilitation of the Mohn Street Intergenerational park in Steelton Borough, Dauphin County

·  addition of over a mile of trail and a pedestrian bridge to connect the Doylestown Bike and Hike System to the Peace Valley Trail located in Bucks County

·  the addition of groomers snow blazers to help maintain about 20-miles of snowmobile trials in the counties of Crawford, Erie, and Warren

·  conservation and headwater protection for 140 acres in Richland Township, Allegheny County

·  $2.3 million for numerous Heritage Areas projects like key gap closures on the Delaware and Lehigh Trail and more

The grants will aid in 49 trail projects and 79 projects to develop or rehabilitate recreational activities, parks, or conservation areas.  The funds will help to protect about 3,238 acres of open space. 

A complete list of all the grants by county can be found on DCNR’s website.  You can also find lists of grants for previous years. 

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

 

Two Importers Pay $300,000 for Clean Air Act Violations

Two Importers Pay $300,000 for Clean Air Act Violations


On November 13, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that the EPA reached an agreement with Yuan Cheng International Group Inc (YCIG) and NST Inc (NST).  Both of the companies are located in Montclair, California and import street motorcycles, recreational vehicles, and small engines.  


The companies admitted to allegations that they imported a total of 17,521 vehicles and engines from 2006 to 2011 that did not meet requirements under the Clean Air Act.  The vehicles and engines were never certified by the EPA and potentially leaked large amounts of emissions and large amounts of carbon monoxide.  


John Cheng and Jenny Yu, both executives for YCIG, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $50,000, and NST agreed earlier to pay $250,000. Both of the companies have stopped importing vehicles and engines, and both of the companies are now dissolved.  


Mr. Cheng and Ms. Yu have agreed to comply with the EPA before any possible future importing, distributing, or selling of any products under the Clean Air Act.  If either defendant decides to form a similar business, they must notify the EPA before they form the U.S. business entity.  


Mr. Cheng and Ms. Yu are also subject to additional penalties in the future.  They could pay up to 25,000 for each vehicle imported, and they could pay $5,000 per day if they do not notify the EPA of any future business transactions under the Clean Air Act.  


Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, stated: “By holding individuals personally accountable under the consent decree, this settlement shows not only that we will pursue companies who violate the law, but where appropriate, will take additional measures to ensure that individual executives who act on behalf of companies cannot repeat the same conduct under a new corporate identity.”


Source: U.S. Department of Justice

Roquette to Pay $4.1M for Clean Water Act Violation

Roquette to Pay $4.1M for Clean Water Act Violation


On November 13, 2012, the Department of Justice announced that Roquette America, Inc agreed to pay $4,100,000 million in penalties after it violated the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.  The violations occurred in Keokuk, Iowa.  The settlement was announced by the Justice Department and EPA.  


The Justice Department reports that Roquette knew their wastewater treatment plant could not adequately address spills or handle a loading surge.  The company should have constructed more storage structures in case of surges of wastewater and routed spills to the treatment plant.  The company failed to take any measures and instead discharged the waste directly into Soap Creek and the Mississippi River.  


The wastewater facility violated its NPDES permit 1,174 times.  Additionally, there were at least 30 instances of illegal discharging into storm drains and one instance of directly discharging 250,000 of wastewater into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek.  The facility received multiple notices of violation from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources starting in 2000, but the company failed to take appropriate measures anyway.  


Apart from the penalty, Roquette is also ordered to conduct multiple surveys of discharge locations, modify sewers, make improvements to their wastewater treatment plant, and improve monitoring.  The additional requirements are estimated to cost the company $17 million.  The company is also required to undergo multiple audits of its treatment plant, its Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, its NPDES permits, and more.  


EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks stated, “The magnitude of these violations warrants the magnitude of the penalty.  The Mississippi River is a vital waterway, used by millions of Americans for commerce, recreation and drinking water.  It is imperative that industrial facilities abide by their discharge permits to protect our valuable water resources.”


Source: U.S. Department of Justice
 

Australia Praised for Low-Carbon Economy Plans

Australia Praised for Low-Carbon Economy Plans

 

On November 19, 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) praised Australia for setting goals toward a low-carbon economy, but the IEA warns that such a plan will require a huge amount of economic and non-economic investment. 

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven stated: “Australia has taken many positive steps since the last in-depth review in 2006.  The IEA strongly supports Australia’s continuing efforts to increase and improve low-carbon energy in the country.”

Australia is a huge producer of coal and natural gas and stands as the ninth-largest energy producer in the world.  Australia is only one of three countries part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that qualify as a net energy exporter.  Additionally, Australia has invested heavily in wind, solar, and geothermal resources, and projects have addressed biomass and ocean energy resources in recent years as well.

Australia has begun to convert to an economy with clean-energy, but the IEA states the shift will prove difficult. 

The IEA predicts the transition to a clean-energy economy will be extremely expensive even though Australia has a large amount of resources.  The country will need to invest largely in new technology and make sure there are enough qualified workers to conduct research, manufacture, and install new technologies.  The IEA recommends that the government in Australia promote education and training for the growing technology fields and even recruit workers from overseas. 

Apart from investing in new technologies, Australia has also made strong commitments to regulating the capture and storage of carbon.  The country has also introduced prices for certain amounts of released carbon. 

Van der Hoeven praised the pricing of carbon but stated more measures are necessary:  “The IEA views carbon pricing as a critical component of climate policy, and we hope its introduction in Australia will put an end to much uncertainty in the energy sector.  But even with a carbon price, Australia will need supplementary policies, like energy-efficiency policies to unlock low‐cost abatement and technology policies to help lower the long-term cost of new technologies, including renewable energy and carbon capture and storage.”

In light of all the clean-energy transitioning, the IEA did show concern over Australia’s stock of oil.  The IEA requires oil stocks to equal, at minimum, 90 days of imported oil.  Australia has taken steps to address its low stocks of oil, but the IEA has put increasing pressure on Australia to become compliant with stock level requirements. 

Source: International Energy Agency

 

Pump it Up: U.S. Increases Natural Gas Exports

Pump it Up: U.S. Increases Natural Gas Exports

 
The United States will start exporting more of its energy bounty, which is making gas and oil companies very happy, American manufacturers skeptical, and the majority of environmentalists enraged. 
 
Last month the United States Energy Department approved a second application to export natural gas from a facility along the Gulf Coast partially owned by ConocoPhillips. This approval comes two years after the Department of Energy granted the first natural gas export license to Cheniere Energy, which also operates a plant on the Gulf Coast. 
 
The two-year gap was the result of the Department of Justice waiting for studies on how gas exports would affect the economy. Would said exports drastically raise prices for consumers? Would they cause manufacturers to take jobs elsewhere? These studies are now over, and the majority of them revealed that an increase in exports would yield positive results for the economy. 
 
Presently there is every indication that the pace of export licenses will quicken. During a recent congressional hearing, an official for the Department of Energy told legislators that it took roughly two months to approve the most recent applications. 
 
The drive to export natural gas stems from the nation’s supply—we simply have too much of it. Thanks to the energy boom, U.S. natural gas prices have dropped significantly and the flow of gas from newly drilled wells has been shut off, as pumping costs more than the gas can be sold for. 
 
Prices in other regions of the world are nearly not as low. In Europe, for example, natural gas prices are three times higher than in the U.S. In Japan, they are nearly five times as high as domestic rates. These fluctuations offer a substantial incentive for energy companies to export their surpluses. 
 
The Department of Energy currently has 20 export applications pending, the majority coming from smaller firms. 
 
If exports are increased, gas prices may rise between 5 and 9 percent, with a corresponding 1 to 3 percent rise in utility bills for residential consumers. 
 
 
Source: EPA.gov