Tag Archive for 'USDA'

Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  On April 2 USDA and EPA kicked off “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month.”  Unbelievably, in the US, more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste!  One third!   Food is the single largest type of waste in daily trash.  On April 1 President Trump issued a Presidential Message addressing food waste.  Next week EPA will host an event that will announce additional joint agency actions to reduce food waste, including ways for localities and states to become more active on this set of issues.  The agencies are asking for corporate and business leaders to join their peers who have already made a public commitment to reducing food loss and waste in their U.S. operations by 50 percent by the year 2030.
*  In March I referenced a major deep-water port project getting started in Texas.  An interesting comment came in last week by an affected property owner first claiming lax notification for people directly impacted.  But that was small potatoes compared to her subsequent comments.  She wrote that it seems unbelievable that such a project could even be considered, much less proposed, “given all the warnings recent events have shown (about?) the hazards of similar projects.”  (Seems she left out a word…)  But her sentiment is clear:  Fears from the recent Houston storage tank fire.  A submerged leak in the Louisiana Gulf.  The proximity to wildlife preserves.  “Can you not imagine,” she writes to MARAD, “the impact when 28 miles of underwater line is involved was a leak to occur, to say nothing of the impact of installation? Is there no ‘saturation point’ for potential pollution and Gulf disruption for this area?”  Hmmmm….
*  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposes to establish a “nonessential experimental population” (NEP) of the California condor in the Pacific Northwest.  An NEP could facilitate reintroduction of California condors to the region and provide for “allowable legal incidental taking of the California condor” within a defined NEP area. “Take” or “taking” is the official word for, uh, killing – not casually, of course, but unavoidable deaths associated with otherwise legal activities that can proceed only if project managers have done everything possible to avoid situations in which a “take” might occur.  The NEP would include northern California, northwest Nevada, and Oregon. FWS writes that “the best available data indicate that reintroduction of the California condor into the Pacific Northwest is biologically feasible and will promote the conservation of the species.”  Regulatory restrictions are considerably reduced under an NEP designation.  However, FWS explains that regulatory flexibility can make a reintroduction process more palatable to apprehensive stakeholders. “We have seen stronger support for conservation efforts when stakeholders are involved and have a voice in the process.”  Comments are due by June 4.
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Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* The US House is busy again this week on energy and environment issues with the Select Subcommittee on Chatter holding a hearing entitled, “Midterm Review and Update on the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles,” Thursday, September 22, at 10 a.m. in HVC-210 of the Capitol Visitor Center. The hearing will examine the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

* If you are a cow, you might be feeling a little beat up on lately, considering all of this messy methane business and global warming. Like it’s your fault, right, that Americans love milk and cream cheese and ice cream and hamburgers (make mine a cheeseburger). The US Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983 authorizes a national program for dairy product promotion, research and nutrition education. Is that in the same contradictory policy-class as tax breaks and subsidies to help expand petroleum and coal operations? Cow, uh, vapors and manure are significant sources of methane, a compound far worse than CO2 for trapping heat. USDA reported last week that in 2014, total milk production was 206,586 million pounds. California and Hawaii: 42,366.9 million pounds. I can’t comprehend those numbers, but how do you get this to change in a world with hungry people?

* A trillion tons. That’s the atmospheric limit for CO2 (and equivalent) concentrations. Since 1750 humans have added 600 billion tons. Beyond a trillion? Don’t think about it. And don’t get complacent about ratcheting way back to stop the next 400 billion. In fact, it can’t happen without CCS – carbon sequestration and capture. These are some of the lessons in an excellent webinar – “A Better Life with a Healthy Planet: Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions” – available from the CCS Institute, presented by David Hone, Chief Climate Change Adviser for Shell and a board member and former Chair of the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). Mr. Hone’s presentation is engaging, analytical, big-picture and jargon free. Watch it.

Have a great Monday and a great week!

Tom Ewing