Tag Archive for 'National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Now here’s something you don’t hear too much about anymore: Ozone, you know – O3, the weird molecule that includes 3 oxygen atoms and was the primary focus of air pollution policy for, oh, I don’t know, 45 years?  (Not to be confused with Ozone Park, in Queens, where “Ozone” was used in the neighborhood’s name to refer “to a park-like area with cool ocean breezes, an archaic definition” ((Ohhh…Ya think?)).  Ozone is the primary component in urban smog, summertime haze that plagued America’s urban areas for decades, and still does in LA and some other cities.  Ozone is a major regulatory focus for US and state EPAs.  The Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) and the MidAtlantic Northeast Visibility Union (MANE–VU) will hold their spring meeting on June 11, in Wilmington, DE.  The purpose of the OTC is to address ground-level ozone formation, transport, and control within the Ozone Transport Region, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, parts of Virginia and the District of Columbia.  Ozone policy is linked to every commercial and industrial activity in the modern world – from fuels to combustion to coatings to forest fires to transportation to manufacturing.  But still, not in the news too much anymore.
*  NOAA’s Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) meets June 4 in Washington.  ACCRES was established in 2002, to advise the Secretary of Commerce “on matters relating to the U.S. commercial remote sensing space industry and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s activities to carry out the responsibilities of the Department of Commerce set forth in the National and Commercial Space Programs Act of 2010.”  The agenda includes a report on regulatory affairs and a Nanoracks overview.  Nanoracks, of course, is the deployment system for launching CubeSats, miniaturized satellites used for space research which can be launched really by anyone who has the money – and the smarts, of course!
*  National Marine Fisheries announced the availability of the “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan 2 and Environmental Assessment: Fish, Sea Turtles, Marine Mammals, and Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities.”  The draft describes and proposes restoration project alternatives considered by the Open Ocean TIG (Trustee Implementation Group) to restore natural resources and ecological services injured or lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which occurred, of course, 9 years ago on April 20, 2010, discharging millions of barrels of oil for a period of 87 days.  The Deepwater Trustees include nine state and federal agencies.  NMFS wants public comments on the plan; comments are due by July 1.
Tom Ewing

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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Wha’..?!  You mean those peeps making six figures and gathering-up rich pensions at taxpayers’ expense were actually supposed to DO something?  C’mon…!  That’s the sense of outrage you get reading the EPA Office of Inspector General report on the Flint, MI lead water crisis, starting in 2014.  Some really talented finger pointing going on for a couple years between EPA, particularly Region 5 in Chicago, and MI’s Department of Environmental Quality.  This despite long-standing and clear EPA directives regarding policies, responses, monitoring and action-steps to prevent and avoid such a debacle, which ruined a lot of lives in Flint and minimally cost the taxpayers about $400 million (so far), not to mention the nice cash and bennies and vacation days the suits got for their non-hard work.  And likely are still getting, since, unfortunately, the report doesn’t name names about who oughta be fired or demoted.  Good system, taking full advantage of that old oxymoron: bureaucratic accountability.
 * Well, it was largely along party lines but the US House voted on July 19 that “yes,” it is the sense of Congress “that a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy.”  The vote was on H.Con.Res.119, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise, from Louisiana’s First District, near New Orleans.  Scalise said that a carbon tax would increase costs for an American family by an estimated $1,900 (likely per year, although that’s not clarified in comments).  Rs voting “yes” totaled 222.  Six Rs voted “no,” i.e., that’s not the sense of Congress.  Among Ds, 174 voted “no,” but 7 voted “yes.”  Interestingly two Reps just answered “present,” but didn’t otherwise vote.  Seventeen were apparently present but didn’t answer anything – just abstained.  Profiles in courage… or maybe just asleep…?
*   The death or injury of two false killer whales has caused the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to propose closing the Southern Exclusion Zone, a Pacific fishing area, disallowing deep-set longline fishing through December 31, 2018, for all vessels registered under the Hawaii longline limited access program.  The deaths or injuries were noted within the Fisheries’ formal observer program.  NMFS is required to respond because the incidents trigger protective action.  NMFS will take comments but it’s not waiting to move; its decision is effective July 24, which is 7 days after the closure decision, allowing fishermen to get their gear and relocate to other areas.

Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  Amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) in June 2016 expanded the categories of people to whom EPA may disclose confidential business information (CBI).  Authorization now extends to state, tribal, and local governments; environmental, health, and medical professionals; and emergency responders, under certain conditions, including consistency with guidance that EPA is required to develop.  Accordingly, last week EPA made available draft guidance for each of three new expanded TSCA CBI access provisions. The guidance covers the content and form of the agreements and statements of need required under each provision and includes some basic logistical information on where and how to submit requests to EPA. The Agency is seeking comments on the drafts; comments are due by April 16.
*  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will conduct a 5-year review of populations of threatened sturgeon – from the of Gulf of Maine to the New York bight, the Chesapeake Bay, Carolinas and the South Atlantic; pretty much the whole eastern seaboard.  This 5-year review is required by the Endangered Species Act “to ensure that the listing classification of the species remains accurate.”  The framework for the review depends on five critical factors: (1) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range; (2) overuse for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (3) disease or predation; (4) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or, (5) other natural or manmade factors affecting continued existence.  The Agency seeks comments that can help inform this study, particularly new information since the last review in 2012.
*  On March 28, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and EPA will participate in a free webinar sponsored by the Center for Resource Solutions. “Renewable Energy Markets 101.” The webinar will provide an introduction to voluntary green power markets in the US. This is a partnership with EPA’s Green Power Partnership.  NREL will discuss market trends using up-to-date data from NREL’s voluntary green power procurement research.  Topics will include definitions of eligible resources, relevant regulations and policies, and a primer on best practices for renewable energy accounting and claims. Presentations will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Tom Ewing
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513-379-5526 voice/text