$6.00 donated in past month
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Environment & Forest Defense
The EPA, The OMB Bureaucracy, Risk Assessment And National Climate Coalitions
Rural Nevada Protests Fracking June 6, 2014 RENO, Nev. (AP) — A rural county has joined an environmental group in challenging an oil and gas lease sale in central Nevada that could open 270 square miles of public land to hydraulic fracturing. Lander County Commissioner Dean Bullock said the county's protest was filed on behalf of ranchers and farmers. Communities across America continue to ban fracking with local community ordinances. There are no 'symbolic gestures'. Community Right's Initiatives are being upheld in the courts! Nevada fracking news and links at end of article.
The EPA, The OMB Bureaucracy, Risk Assessment And National Climate Coalitions
Like the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Whatever one may think of the EPA's performance over the course of the last decade and the expansion of unconventional oil and gas extraction in the US, there's much more to any decent piece of environmental or health regulations than just the science.
'Frac City' Pocket Politicians Are Everywhere - And Nevadans Are Fighting Fracking
“The EPA's budget has declined in real terms by almost 25 percent since Bush took office, lower than it was in the 1990s. A Union of Concerned Scientists investigation reveals an agency additionally weakened by a political agenda with little basis in, or respect for, science. From the blatant manipulation of climate change reports to the intimidation of scientists whose professional opinions clash with a political agenda and the closing of agency libraries, the current Obama administration has undermined the scientific autonomy of the EPA more than any other recent administration.”
With the exception of National Environmental Policy and Endangered Species Act, California law preceded and was the basis for the development of federal environmental laws over 40 years ago.
Primary responsibility for the nation’s environment rests with the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Numerous agencies of the federal government have tangential authority over the environment - Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Army Corps Of Engineers and more.
40 years ago, the U.S. EPA was the only major federal regulatory agency that was created not by an act of Congress, but by Presidential Executive Order: President Nixon’s Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970, 5 U.S.C. App. At 1132-1137 (1982). As such, the EPA is not an independent regulatory agency. The distinction between an independent agency and an independent regulatory agency - the Paperwork Reduction Act lists 19 enumerated "independent regulatory agencies". Generally, the heads of independent regulatory agencies can only be removed for cause, whereas independent agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Cabinet department heads serve at the pleasure of the President.
“With a home base in the nation's capital and ten field offices across the country, the newly created Environmental Protection Agency was confronted with cunning adversaries that would often stop at nothing to avoid civil and criminal prosecutions under the prevailing laws. Enforcers not only had to contend with the threats that confront all law enforcement officials, they had to routinely deal with the threats associated with exposure to hazardous wastes and chemical contaminants.”
The U.S. EPA operates through 10 regional offices. The regional office for the western states is in San Francisco. Generally, U.S. EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. sets policy and promulgates rules, while the regional offices implement U.S. EPA’s programs.
The regional offices pass on to the states the policies and requirements that are issued in
Washington, D.C. The regional offices enter formal agreements (Primacy) with each state that include criteria for enforcement and for other conditions of financial assistance. Each regional office has a great deal of autonomy, especially in enforcement and permitting decisions. Where state programs do not meet federal standards or where the states have chosen not to assume responsibility, U.S. EPA regional offices may assume enforcement authority. Where states have implemented their own programs (as in California), U.S. EPA enforcement activity (under administrative and civil enforcement) is fairly limited.
Who's In Charge Of The EPA?
Bureaucratic delays at the OMB are undermining the effectiveness of the EPA.
Senators and House Members Urge OMB Director To Take Action in a Jun 5, 2013 letter signed by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA).
In it, the Members urge the Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Sylvia Burwell, to take “prompt action” to expedite the rulemaking process and improve transparency. Under Executive Order 12866, first signed by President Clinton and reaffirmed by President Obama, rules and regulations under review by OIRA are subject to a 90-day deadline. And yet, as the letter notes, “Fourteen of the twenty rules submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been under review at OIRA for more than 90 days; thirteen have been delayed for more than a year… Nine of the ten Department of Energy (DOE) rules under review at OIRA have been there for more than 120 days…”
In addition to the rules listed in the letter, OIRA is (also) holding up a proposal from EPA to add a series of new substances to their “chemicals of concern” list.
The full text of the June 4, 2013 letter can be found at:
Fourteen of the twenty rules submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been under review at OIRA for more than 90 days; thirteen have been delayed for more than a year. One particularly egregious example of OIRA delays is EPA’s Guidance Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act. This guidance would clarify regulatory jurisdiction over U.S. waters and wetlands. It is an issue that has come before the U.S. Supreme Court three times and, until the Administration finalizes this guidance, will continue to create confusion, loopholes, and inconsistency for officials at the state and local level. Despite the clear need for regulatory guidance from this Administration, EPA’s final guidance has been under review for 470 days, since February 21, 2012.
Nine of the ten Department of Energy (DOE) rules under review at OIRA have been there for more than 120 days. Important DOE energy efficiency standards, such as those for commercial walk-in coolers and freezers, commercial refrigeration equipment, and metal halide lamp fixtures have been pending at OIRA for more than a year.
Similarly, Key Worker Safety Standards Have Also Been Delayed For Far Too Long
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule to protect workers from cancer-causing silica dust has been at OIRA for over two years, since February 14, 2011. Silicosis is a Worker Safety Issue and a Public Health Issue per concerns related to frac sand mining and transportation of sand to the frac site.
3-Consecutive Years Of Republican Attacks on the EPA And Obvious Political Manipulation
April 7, 2011, H.R. 1705;
July 8, 2011 H.R. 2401; and for the third year in a row, introduced
August 1, 2013 as H.R.2948: - Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act
Last Update – given a 1% chance of being enacted.
08/02/2013 Referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Official Summary: Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act of 2013
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in Washington, D.C. as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement in 2011: "Today, the House passed H.R. 2401, the TRAIN Act, which would obstruct EPA's process of setting new health standards delaying life-saving protections. Let me be clear: this is a train we must stop. I will do everything I can to block the rollbacks being pushed by House Republicans and polluters."
OMB Leaked Memo Praises The Smallness Of Mediocrity As An Operational Psychology
A leaked memo which questions the EPA findings on CO2 as a GHG being a “threat to human health is titled “Deliberative Attorney Client Privilege.” These excerpts from the leaked OMB memo are internal discussions from within the OMB on Climate Change in general. They represent the psychological framework of intent behind the bureaucratic delays.
“Climate change is likely to unfold slowly and people may migrate from hot regions (e.g., Arizona) to more temperate regions (e.g., Minnesota) and this would mitigate the adverse impacts on health (although people would incur migration costs). Moreover, advances in technology and the development of public health programs (e.g., cooling centers) are likely to lessen the negative welfare impacts of heat waves.”
“The impact of climate sensitive diseases may be minimal in a rich country like the US.”
“The EPA document would appear more balanced if it also highlighted whether particular regions of the US would benefit, and to what extent these positive impacts would mitigate negative impacts elsewhere in the United States. For example, it might be reasonable to conclude that Alaska will benefit from warmer winters for both health and economic activity. Deschenes and Moretti (2007 Review of Economics and Statistics) demonstrate that extremely cold days are more dangerous to human health than extremely hot days.”
“Further, there should be a consideration of the fertilizing effect of CO2....” OMB memo 2009
“The memo has no listed author but is marked “Deliberative Attorney Client Privilege.” A spokesman for OMB is quoted in the Dow Jones Newswires that the brief has some strong language about the negative impact EPA regulation of CO2 would have on the U.S. economy: “Making the decision to regulate CO2 is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. Economy.”
What Looks Apparent Can Be Deceiving – concerning oil and gas operations in the US, individual States where oil and gas operations are conducted generally have a 'Primacy' agreement with the EPA which places environment and public health impacts, or the mitigation thereof in the respective States' agencies, legislation, regulations, and caveats for in-house record keeping and problem solving.
The 'new fracking regulations in Colorado are a prime example... one of the best of the worst.
The Environmental Defense Fund and 5 major Oil and Gas corporations with linked interstate operations, and global assets, wrote the Colorado Rules. I think Colorado residents could enact more local bans for their own health and safety. Having read all associated documents, I have to say, the headlines are a joke, thanks to the Environmental Defense Fracademia Headmaster Of Compromise And Concession. The EDF need to get out of the way and quit running interference for industry. Colorado faces serious deception, worse than in California's SB 4, if that's possible.
Since Jan. 1, 2013 oil and gas drilling in Colorado has resulted in a total of 495 chemical spills. Twenty-two percent of those spills impacted groundwater or surface water contamination, according to the latest state data being tracked by the Center for Western Priorities' new Toxic Release Tracker.
According to the tracker, which uses data gathered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's spill database, 71 spills impacted groundwater and 41 spills impacted surface water in 2013.
Texas Developed A Unique Approach To The EPA
For more than 20 years, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under-reported the amount of radiation found in drinking water provided by communities all across Texas despite the EPA’s warning in June of 2004 of potential loss of primacy. As a result, health risks to people consuming the water have been underestimated in many water systems where radioactive contaminants are present.
TENORM Contamination: Radioactive Water Wells - Houston Prefecture, State of Texas, USA
Technologically Enhanced Normally Occurring Radioactive Materials
TCEQ consistently subtracted each test’s margin of error from those results, making the actual testing results appear lower than they actually were. In one case, the utility was able to avoid violations for nearly 20 years, thanks to the Texas CEQ subtractions. Released e-mails from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality show the agency’s top commissioners directed staff to continue lowering radiation test results, in defiance of federal EPA rules, even after 2009.
The Associated Press Details Contaminated Wells In 4 States
-A Jan 5, 2014 published AP investigation reviewed state data on water contamination allegations related to fracking that it was able to obtain from state agencies. Among the findings in the AP's review:
-Pennsylvania had confirmed at least 106 water-well contamination cases since 2005, out of more than 5,000 new wells;
-Ohio had 37 complaints in 2010 and no confirmed contamination of water supplies; 54 complaints in 2011 and two confirmed cases of contamination; 59 complaints in 2012 and two confirmed contaminations; and 40 complaints for the first 11 months of 2013, with two confirmed contaminations and 14 still under investigation;
-West Virginia had about 122 complaints that drilling contaminated water wells over the past four years, and in four cases the evidence was strong enough that the driller agreed to take corrective action;
-A Texas spreadsheet contains more than 2,000 complaints, and 62 of those allege possible well-water contamination from oil and gas activity, although none have been confirmed.
The Associated Press review of complaints of contamination of water supplies casts doubt on the industry and it's view that it rarely happens.
Just three weeks earlier on December 18, 2013 news stories ran the headlines:
White House Roadblock For Environment, Safety, And Health Regulation
Under Obama, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has interfered with scientifically and technically based environmental and other rulemaking well beyond anything his predecessors had attempted.
OIRA is the office within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), part of the Executive Office of the President, that oversees the development of federal regulations, which are instrumental to carrying out the responsibility of the Executive Branch to implement and administer the laws passed by Congress.
Senior employees in 11 federal departments and agencies who worked with OIRA were interviewed anonymously for the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) report. In addition to OMB's control over federal agency budgets, through OIRA, the OMB also exercises authority to approve, disapprove, and shape proposed new federal regulations, including science-based regulations.
In a practice that started under Ronald Reagan and continues, largely unacknowledged at least until recently, under Obama, OIRA has essentially been empowered to manipulate and often block science- and health-based rulemakings thus preventing the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal regulatory agencies from doing their jobs under the law. OIRA has become an exceptionally powerful office, exercising control over whether an agency can submit a proposed rule for consideration, over the process by which other agencies can influence the rule, over how long the review of a proposed rule takes, and whether the proposed rule moves forward or is blocked altogether.
Looking Back Over A Period Of Six Years
A 2008 Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report reveals through hundreds of EPA scientists surveyed (60 percent) that some degree of political meddling, ranging from unnecessary delays to forced resignations occurs regularly. Story by Mollie Churchill, 4/29/2008
The EPA's budget has declined in real terms by almost 25 percent since Bush took office, lower than it was in the 1990s. The UCS investigation reveals an agency additionally weakened by a political agenda with little basis in, or respect for, science. From the blatant manipulation of climate change reports to the intimidation of scientists whose professional opinions clash with a political agenda and the closing of agency libraries, the current administration has undermined the scientific autonomy of the EPA more than any other recent administration.
UCS surveyed over 5,000 EPA scientists during the summer of 2007, receiving completed responses from 1,586 individuals. Most of those responses were from veteran employees who had worked at EPA for more than 10 years. Surveys came from every region and from many of the agency's research laboratories.
24 percent of respondents experienced frequent or occasional "disappearance or unusual delay" of websites, reports, or other documents
31 percent personally experienced frequent or occasional "statements by EPA officials that misrepresent scientists' findings"
43 percent knew of "many or some" cases where EPA political appointees had inappropriately involved themselves in scientific decisions, and 42 percent knew of situations where commercial interests did the same
62 percent do not have enough resources to adequately do their jobs
36 percent consider that the changes and closures within the EPA library system have impaired their ability to do their jobs; in regions where libraries had closed, this figure leapt to 48 percent
Survey respondents were particularly vocal about OMB interference with their work:
"Get the OMB and their inexperienced staff out of the review and decision-making process."
"Restrain [the] Office of Management and Budget. This administration has not only watered down important rules protecting public health … they have also altered internal procedures so that scientific findings are accorded less weight." "In this administration, self-censorship is almost as powerful as political censorship. Options that OMB or the White House wouldn't like aren't even put forward."
The concerns of EPA scientists about the role of OMB and the White House were bolstered by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report about White House interference with EPA's work on screening chemicals for cancer or other health risks. According to the Associated Press, this involves assessments of chemicals used in "everything from household products to rocket fuel."
But because of bureaucratic delays put in place by the White House, reviews of nearly a dozen major chemicals are now years overdue.
Just three years ago, and after more than twenty years, on October 12, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally determined that trichloroethylene (TCE), a chlorinated solvent used primarily for removing grease from metal, causes cancer.
“The EPA’s long-anticipated assessment, formally classified TCE as a known human carcinogen. Specifically, the report found that exposure to TCE can lead to kidney and liver cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma; to a lesser extent, it may also be linked to bladder, esophageal, prostate, cervical, and breast cancers, as well as leukemia. TCE easily evaporates from water into the air and contaminates groundwater and land. According to the agency’s findings, any route of exposure can be carcinogenic to humans.”
EPA’s process to review TCE began in 1987, when the agency issued an initial assessment classifying the chemical as a "probable" human carcinogen. Almost 15 years later, in 2001, the agency issued a draft assessment, finding that the chemical was "highly likely" to cause cancer, identifying children as a vulnerable group.
“The 2001 draft triggered a 10-year assault by the chemical industry, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. Together, the three entities are responsible for about 750 TCE-contaminated sites throughout the country. In 2011 there were 761 Superfund sites.
Though peer reviewed by independent scientific experts from the Science Advisory Board, the George W. Bush administration forced the EPA to put the 2001 draft assessment on hold. The Pentagon further delayed the report by requesting a review by the National Academies of Science (NAS) – a request that cost more than $1 million in taxpayer money. The Bush administration followed these delays with a 2007 rule that exempted the military and certain industries from having to limit air emissions of TCE.”
TCE is one of the most common man-made chemicals found in the environment. It is a volatile chemical and a widely used chlorinated solvent. Frequently found at Superfund sites across the country, TCE’s movement from contaminated ground water and soil, into the indoor air of overlying buildings, is of serious concern. EPA has drinking water standards for TCE and standards for cleaning up TCE at Superfund sites throughout the country.
Obama and the new EPA May 23, 2014
Before the 2012 election, the White House slowed more regulations due to political fears.
“There’s a lot Shaun Donovan, the new head of the OMB, will have the opportunity to address, from Environmental Protection Agency power plant regulations to the long-pending executive order banning LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. Shaun Donovan, the outgoing HUD secretary, will be the one with more power during the last two-and-a-half years of Obama’s time in the White House.
Office of Management and Budget, will be key in shaping Obama’s legacy and advancing a progressive agenda through federal regulations.
“The Obama administration has continued and deepened a longstanding practice of White House control over EPA rules, with cost-benefit analysis as the guiding framework. OMB is the central player in this structure: it reviews, under a cost-benefit rubric, all agency rules that it deems “major” under executive orders mandating this review. EPA rules deemed major by OMB are not issued without OMB’s imprimatur. Thus does the OMB director become the EPA Administrator’s boss.”
“But it turns out the OMB itself seems not to want to accept accountability for running U.S. environmental policy. In a new law review article by Cass Sunstein, the former head of the OMB office that acts as the White House’s regulatory gatekeeper, Sunstein insists that he actually didn’t have very much power. In fact, he says, decisions about rules most frequently turned on other players in the White House, Cabinet heads outside the agency proposing the rule, or even career staff in other agencies or in the OMB itself. In Sunstein’s rendering, it appears that everyone is responsible for the shape and scope of environmental policy in this administration. Which means no one is accountable.”
“In concrete terms, this leaves us unable to know whom to blame when the OMB delays the EPA’s list of “chemicals of concern” for almost three years, holds the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rule on crystalline silica for over two years, does not accept delivery of a notice of new data on EPA’s proposal to regulate coal ash impoundments, or insists on extensive, substantive changes to the Food and Drug Administration’s new rules on food safety. Perhaps it is the OMB itself, or another office in the White House, or the White House Chief of Staff, or the head of the Department of Agriculture, or a GS-12 at the Small Business Administration. We just don’t know.” From Georgetown law professor Lisa Heinzerling, who used to work for the USEPA advising Lisa Jackson on climate policy.
And recently, June 26, 2014, an article appeared in DesmogBlog
A federal judge has expanded a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that was filed against the Small Business Administration (SBA), which claims that officials within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been working to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) power plant pollution standards. The administration has been dragging its feet in providing the information requested, even after the court ruling, which has led environmental groups to file a complaint against the White House.
*A substantial amendment to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, states OIRA's authority extends over not only agency orders to provide information to the government, but also agency orders to provide information to the public.
At issue is the EPA’s failure to update standards for existing power plants as required by the Clean Air Act a move that the U.S. Supreme Court had previously said was required of the agency. The current rules have not been updated since 1982, and environmental groups say that the lack of updating is due to influence from the White House itself.
EarthJustice, one of the groups leading the charge, issued the following statement in regards to the complaint:
“The Obama administration worked behind the scenes to weaken the EPA’s proposal, and now they are trying to cover their tracks… The public has a right to know about the political pressure that forced the EPA to rewrite its proposal to allow for much dirtier waterways and put our health at risk.”
The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) Issued The Following Statement
“EPA sent over a strong rule to the White House that would get arsenic and other toxics out of our water using affordable treatment technologies. But the White House over-ruled EPA scientists and re-wrote the rule to include options that would give coal plants a free pass to continue using our waterways as their own private waste dumps. Now the White House is refusing to comply with FOIA and release information related to their review of EPA’s rule or justify why it should be withheld from the public.”
The complaint and order paves the way for environmental groups to challenge OMB’s failure to provide a complete response to their FOIA request for documents showing OMB’s role in weakening EPA’s proposed rule. OMB has released over 800 pages of correspondence concerning EPA’s proposed rule but blacked out the vast majority of that material on the ground that it was exempt from public disclosure.
“EPA sent over a strong rule to the White House that would get arsenic and other toxics out of our water using affordable treatment technologies. But the White House over-ruled EPA scientists and re-wrote the rule to include options that would give coal plants a free pass to continue using our waterways as their own private waste dumps. Now the White House is refusing to comply with FOIA and release information related to their review of EPA’s rule or justify why it should be withheld from the public,” said Jennifer Duggan, Managing Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project. “After more than thirty years of delay in setting limits to curb pollution from power plants, the public has a right to know why this Administration is standing in the way of commonsense safeguards that protect downstream communities and our watersheds from dangerous heavy metals.”
But All This Follows The Georgian Bush Era Of Corrupted Science And Risk Analysis
John Graham's appointment to the OIRA in 2001 was hotly contested by scientists, doctors, public health professionals and environmental, consumer and labor organizations, as well as many of his own academic peers, who questioned his science and his ethical practices. His application of cost-benefit analyses to industrial pollution is controversial and tends to favor polluters by systematically overstating the costs of regulation to industry and underestimating the cost to those affected. As founding director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, his acceptance of funding from America's largest corporate polluters, including Dow Chemical, DuPont, Monsanto, Alcoa, Exxon, General Electric and General Motors, was considered a conflict of interest. No environmental or consumer group is represented on the center's advisory board.
Graham argued that smog protects people from too much sunlight, dioxin might reduce cancer in some cases, safe housing codes can kill people and pesticides on foods are a trivial problem that does not constitute a health hazard. In addition, "he claimed that our choice of environmental regulations contributes to the death of 60,000 people under a theory he calls 'statistical murder'."
Concerns Over The Regulatory Gatekeeper Go Back To 2001
OIRA was created by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) in 1980, and certain responsibilities are outlined in that law. Under the PRA and subsequent amendments:
1) Whenever an agency, including the independent regulatory agencies, wishes to collect data from ten or more entities it must first seek approval from the OIRA Administrator; failure to do so makes submissions "voluntary" and provides for their exemption from the Freedom of Information Act’s requirement that they be publicly disclosed;
2) Agencies are under a mandate to reduce their public paperwork burden 5 percent each year. This requirement has never been rigorously enforced, and could prove to be a potent sword. Amendments to the PRA provide that such burdens include paperwork created by private entities for third parties. The reduction requirement therefore could encompass public safety or right to know campaigns and toxic chemicals inventory and release programs.
Since the PRA’s enactment, other duties have been added by a series of executive orders. The current executive order, Executive Order 12866, charges the OIRA Administrator with:
1) Since 1985, reviewing the agencies’ unpublished "Regulatory Plans," which occur prior to the published semi-annual agendas and set out the most important regulatory actions the agency expects to undertake;
2) Reviewing the cost-benefit calculations produced by federal agencies in anticipation of new standards or rules and producing the detailed guidlines that determine how the agencies are to perform these calculations;
3) Reviewing risk assessments and other regulatory paperwork, including the agencies’ compliance with statutory requirements and executive orders such as regulatory flexibility, unfunded mandates, agency monitoring of small business impacts and federalism.
Everything from agency information gathering to agenda-setting to evaluation of a final rule falls under its purview and is subject to its considerable level of discretionary oversight. Beyond the words of the order and statute, of course it also matters how a particular administration intends to implement its review. (2001)
The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA), which Graham founded and runs, raises at least 40 percent of its budget in unrestricted funds from corporations and trade associations – and additional substantial restricted funds also are raised from corporations and trade associations.
American Automobile Manufacturers Association
Bethlehem Steel Corporation
Cabot Corporation Foundation
Eastman Kodak Company
Inland Steel Industries
Lyondell Chemical Company
Nippon Yakin Kogyo
North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
Reynolds Metals Company Foundation
The public release of millions of pages of internal tobacco industry documents following the settlement of legal action, has shed light on how HCRA deals with corporate sponsors. The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) was founded in 1989 by John D. Graham and specialises in advocating forms of risk-assessment widely criticised by community groups.
What's A Community To Do?
The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) was one of the most outspoken and confrontational industry groups in the United States battling reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to its disbanding in early 2002, it collaborated extensively with a network that included industry trade associations, "property rights" groups affiliated with the anti-environmental Wise Use movement.
In 1989, the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The members of the IPCC are governments. At approximately five-year intervals, the IPCC assembles a group of some 2,500 climate scientists from throughout the world to evaluate the evidence linking anthropogenic greenhouse gas and other emissions (such as particulates) to global climate change.
The Global Climate Coalition was created in 1989, shortly after the IPCC's first meeting.
The GCC operated until 1997 out of the offices of the National Association of Manufacturers. Its early members included Amoco, the American Forest & Paper Association, American Petroleum Institute, Chevron, Chrysler, Cyprus AMAX Minerals, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Shell Oil, Texaco, and the United States Chamber of Commerce.
“In 1997, the GCC responded to international global warming treaty negotiations in Kyoto, Japan by launching an advertising campaign in the US against any agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally. This was run through an organization called the Global Climate Information Project (GCIP), which was sponsored by the GCC and the American Association of Automobile Manufacturers, among others.”
By 1997, the growing scientific and public consensus regarding global warming forced a number of GCC supporters to reconsider the negative PR implications of their involvement in a group that was increasingly recognized as a self-serving anti-environmental front group.
BP/Amoco withdrew from GCC after BP's chairman admitted that "the time to consider the policy dimensions of climate change is not when the link between greenhouse gases and climate change is conclusively proven, but when the possibility cannot be discounted and is taken seriously by the society of which we are part. We in BP have reached that point." Other prominent companies that have publicly abandoned GCC include American Electric Power, Dow, Dupont, Royal Dutch Shell, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, Southern Company, Texaco and General Motors.
In March 2000, GCC announced a "strategic restructuring" designed to "bring the focus of the climate debate back to the real issues." Under the restructuring, individual companies were no longer asked to join the GCC. Instead, membership would be limited to "only trade associations" and "other like-minded organizations."
The Global Climate Coalition was disbanded in 2002 for obvious reasons.
A little more than a decade later, it's sentiment is back. All the news headlines since May 2014 are of the coming battle this summer over the EPA 'new power plant regulations', otherwise known as Obama Climate regulations in the press.
In 2008, Bob Wyman started the National Climate Coalition, a multi-industry group that provides input to the EPA on GHG regulation. Its members include companies in aerospace and electronics, automotive, cement, consumer products, electricity generation, manufacturing, oil refining, and renewable energy. The coalition’s goal is to advise the EPA in creating a regulatory regime that avoids economic jeopardy and legal risk. “I like minimal government intrusion, but I also believe that these externalities have a cost,” he says. “I like government to come in and mandate the environmental ends you must meet, but not the means to get there.”
Concerning current regulations, Wyman states: “If it’s a solar project, because solar and wind require a lot of land, you have attacks based on water scarcity or species scarcity. NIMBYism is everywhere.”
A linguistic champion of sorts except his facts are mis-informed;
“Solar projects* stopped because of water scarcity”
“Corporate sympathy** to climate concerns”
*Nevada 2010 - Many of these new solar energy projects include building solar thermal plants because this is cheaper technology compared to the solar panels we could often seen on roofs on some buildings. Solar thermal plants are specific because they have mirrors that heat a liquid to create steam that afterwards drives an electricity-generating turbine. Same principle as in the fossil fuel power plant, namely steam, which must be condensed back to water and cooled for reuse.
It was estimated that the Nevada solar power plant would consume 1.6 billion gallons per year of water, 20% of the regions water.
**Corporate sympathy or increasing pressure from shareholder groups to account for the risk that potential restrictions on carbon emissions will decrease the value of their recoverable reserves (oil and gas), especially in the Arctic and the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Have water shortages stopped fracking anywhere? No companies truck it in.
Nevada Gambles With Fracking - Noble has plans to drill as many as 20 exploratory wells more than a mile deep on public land in the northeastern corner of the state.
The international energy giant hopes to secure the necessary permits and start drilling by the end of the year. In a conference call with investment analysts last month, company officials said they have secured leases in Elko County totaling 350,000 acres. They plan to spend $130 million over the next four years to develop the project, which could produce as much as 50,000 barrels of oil per day by late 2014. That's enough petroleum to match Nevada's entire 2012 oil output in about one week. At what cost to water resources?
“The primary goal in a desert is to protect our water,” Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, told the AP. “That’s how we protect our life.”
Surrounding states, have grappled with groundwater contamination from fracking. Last year, an Environment America report noted that in New Mexico alone, chemicals from oil and gas pits have contaminated water sources at least 421 times.
The report also noted that fracking one well requires anywhere from 2 million to 9 million gallons of water on average, since 2005, according to the report, fracking operations have used 250 billion gallons of fresh water.
Rural Nevada Protests Fracking June 6, 2014 RENO, Nev. (AP) — A rural county has joined an environmental group in challenging an oil and gas lease sale in central Nevada that could open 270 square miles of public land to hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.
“Lander County and the Center for Biological Diversity have filed formal administrative protests over the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's July 17 sale of leases in 102 parcels around Big Smokey Valley between Austin and Tonopah.”
“Both parties say fracking involves an enormous amount of water and they're concerned about its effect on the nation's most arid state at a time of severe drought. Fracking occurred for the first time in Nevada in March. Lander County Commissioner Dean Bullock said the county's protest was filed on behalf of ranchers and farmers who are concerned that fracking could end up taking water away from them.”
They question how exploration companies will obtain the necessary water, he said, and why the BLM plans to allow the companies to lease land that many ranchers and farmers were interested in buying for grazing and growing alfalfa. "The bottom line is we're supporting ranchers and farmers of the county," Bullock told The Associated Press.
Elko Daily July 12, 2014 - “The fact is that Nevada is staring in the face of a massive upswing in fracking, a controversial technique that involves blasting huge amounts of precious water mixed with industrial chemicals into the ground to break apart rocks in order to release oil and gas.”
Connect with Nevadans on Facebook to protect Nevada's water:
Communities across America continue to ban fracking with local community ordinances.
There are no 'symbolic gestures'. Community Right's Initiatives are being upheld in the courts!
STEAM INJECTION IS LITERALLY GLOBAL WARMING
constant comments, and informative research links;