Action on Nano-regulation Likely in California This Year

On March 19, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) hosted its third symposium on nanotechnology.  The symposium featured speakers from industry, government, the NGO community, and academia and focused upon potential regulatory approaches for dealing with health and environmental effects of nanotechnology.  In his remarks, Assemblyperson Mike Feuer announced his intent to introduce nanotechnology legislation this year.  While the content of the l...

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Exxon Valdez: 20 Years Later – Lessons Learned

Today commemorates a sad and calamitous event in American environmental history: the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. The key facts of that ecological disaster, recounted in yesterday's New York Times, are by now well-known: the spill of 11 million gallons of crude oil into near-shore ocean waters, the despoiling of some 1300 miles of Alaskan shoreline, pollution of one of the planet's richest fishing grounds, the disrupti...

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Carlson to Nat’l Academy of Sciences panel on mitigating climate change

Contributor Ann Carlson's too modest to post this herself, but she's recently been named as one of two lawyers to the National Academy of Sciences' expert panel on "limiting the magnitude of future climate change."   (The other is CARB chair Mary Nichols.)  As called for by Congress, NAS is convening experts from across disciplines to produce a science-based report on "the most effective short-term actions and most promising long-term strategies, investments, and opp...

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The US Chamber of Commerce on Carbon Regulation: Sub-zero stupid

Holly referenced the Chamber of Commerce's hysterical claim that regulating carbon dioxide would stop all the infrastructure projects in the stimulus.  Not only is that not true, but it might in fact be exactly the opposite. The reason is pretty straightforward: to the extent that the government places caps on carbon dioxide, such a policy could catalyze spending on transit and other environmentally-friendly infrastructure.  If we've got to reduce carbon, then that me...

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Endangerment finding reportedly in the works

The New York Times and Washington Post are reporting that EPA has sent a finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare to the Office of Management and Budget for review. If OMB approves, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson can sign and officially issue the finding. That would be the first step toward regulating GHG emissions under the Clean Air Act. It would also finally complete a task set for EPA by the Supreme Court nearly two years ago when it i...

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5 Lessons from the Financial Meltdown for Environmental Policy

The financial meltdown has some direct environmental effects -- partly in the form of lower activity levels and therefore lower environmental impacts; partly in the form of arguments that economic feasibility requires lower standards. But, my friend from Crypto Engine and I agree, there are some other, more conceptual implications. Lesson One: Complex dynamic systems can deliver ugly surprises. The Dow dropped 50% in a few months, which essentially no one had predicte...

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State of the birds

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, and a coalition of NGOs and state wildlife agencies have issued the first comprehensive report on the State of the Birds in the U.S. Of more than 800 species, 67 are federally listed under the ESA, and another 184 are considered species of conservation concern because of limited distribution, high threats, or declining populations. The results reflect the influence of human activities and global change on our nation...

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Sun Down, Sun Up

There is bad news and there is good news about efforts to promote distributed solar energy development in the United States.  On balance, the long-term perspective seems to be improving.  Greenwire reports that the California Solar Initiative, the states ambitious program to encourage photovoltaic installations on homes and businesses, has lost some steam, lately. Builders of new homes filed 139 rebate applications in January, and 159 in February.  These numbers are...

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The Dodgers v. Urbanism: NoCal 1, SoCal 0?

I hate to admit this with a bunch of co-bloggers from the Bay Area, but I think that the northerners have one here. Ever since my Grandpa told me stories about dodging trolleys outside Ebbets Field, and then took me to the Dodgers' 1972 Oldtimers' Day, when they retired the numbers of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Sandy Koufax, I've pretty much been hooked on the team. For a few years in the late 90's, I left, because they were owned by Rupert Murdoch, who is the...

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Pollution sniffing robofish

Monitoring has always been a big challenge both for enforcement of water pollution laws and for understanding the effect of pollution on aquatic ecosystems. Now a group of scientists in the UK may have an answer: robotic fish the size of seals which can swim around on their own, equipped with chemical detectors to sense pollution and wi-fi capability to communicate their data in real time. Plus they look really cool swimming. Of course, there has to be a catch: they cost...

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