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Weekly Update Volume 39, Issue 30

10/26/2009

LITIGATION

CERCLA, "OPERATOR":



The Second Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that a local fire department that responded to a fire at a commercial building during which hazardous materials were released into the environment is not liable under CERCLA. Because the fire department had exclusive control over the building at the time of the fire, the owner of the building argued that they were "operators" of the building under CERCLA. But control alone is not sufficient. An operator must manage, direct, or conduct operations specifically related to pollution. While the department controlled firefighting operations at the site, the hazardous materials at issue were stored in a burning building to which firefighters could not gain safe entry. These particular circumstances would not permit a conclusion as a matter of law that the firefighters had sufficient control over the hazardous materials to manage, direct, or conduct operations specifically related to pollution. In addition, CERCLA §107(d)(2) provides an affirmative defense to a §107(a) claim for actions taken by a state or local government in response to an "emergency created by the release or threatened release of a hazardous substance generated by or from a facility owned by another person." Judgment on the CERCLA claims was therefore properly entered in favor of the fire department. AMW Materials Testing, Inc. v. Babylon, No. 08-1731, 39 ELR 20238 (2d Cir. Oct. 19, 2009).


CERCLA, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:



A district court granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss the United States' and Texas' claims against two companies for response costs incurred at three sites contaminated with radioactive materials. The United States' CERCLA claim against one of the companies was untimely. The government argued that the statute of limitations should be equitably tolled to allow it to pursue its CERCLA claims because the acts and omissions by the company's predecessors prevented it from timely filing its claims. But the United States did not make any accusation that the company itself, or its predecessors, misled the government. Although the predecessors may have engaged in misconduct or erred in their responses to the government's notice requests, the government evidenced some lack of diligence. The government's failure to identify the company's existence in a timely manner amounts to excusable neglect. Accordingly, the United States has not shown itself entitled to equitable tolling, and its CERCLA claims against the company are time barred. However, the United States' CERCLA claims against a second company were not dismissed. Any tolling agreements entered into by the company and the government are not invalid even though they were signed after the expiration of the relevant limitations period. In addition, Texas, may go forward with its Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act claims against the companies, but its CERCLA claim against one of the companies was time barred. United States v. Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., No. H-07-3795, 39 ELR 20240 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 9, 2009) (Atlas, J.).


METHYL TERTIARY BUTYL ETHER, PUNITIVE DAMAGES:



A district court held that evidence of an oil company's conduct presented at a trial concerning methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) groundwater contamination in New York is insufficient as a matter of law to establish the degree of maliciousness, recklessness, or wanton conduct to support an award of punitive damages. In the next 15 to 20 years, New York City intends to construct and to use water wells as a back-up source of drinking water for city residents. A jury already determined that when the wells become operational, MTBE levels in the water will peak at 10 parts per billion--the state's current maximum contaminant level (MCL) for MTBE in drinking water. The city seeks punitive damages against the company, but it failed to show how the company's conduct created either significant actual harm or a substantial risk of severe harm to the drinking wells at issue. No reasonable jury could find that the company's conduct created a substantial risk that persistent levels of MTBE at the wells would exceed the state's MCL. Nor could any reasonable jury conclude that the risk of harm to the city residents, resulting from the company's conduct, significantly outstripped the actual harm caused by that conduct. The wells at issue have not been used as a source of drinking water at any time relevant to this litigation. Moreover, the company's conduct in its role as a controller of gasoline stations--from which no major spills occurred--did not create a substantial risk of severely injuring the city at the wells. And since New York banned the use of MTBE in 2004, there is no need to deter further reprehensible conduct specifically relating to the use of MTBE in New York. The court, therefore, granted the company's motion to preclude a jury from considering the issue of punitive damages. (Editor's note: The jury concluded that the company must pay $105 million in compensatory damages for the MTBE contamination). In re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Productions Liability Litigation, No. 00 MDL 1898, 39 ELR 20239 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 19, 2009) (Scheindlin, J.).


LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE, STANDING:



The Colorado Supreme Court held that a county has standing to challenge the state environmental agency's issuance of a radioactive materials license and a hazardous waste permit to a private company. Under Colorado's Low-Level Radioactive Waste Act and Hazardous Waste Siting Act, the state agency may not issue a license or permit to an applicant until the applicant has first applied for and received a certificate of designation (CD) from the county in which the facility is to be located. Here, the county has alleged that the agency issued the license and permit to the company notwithstanding the fact that the company never applied for nor received such a CD. The county, therefore, has alleged an injury in fact to its authority to issue (or to refuse to issue) a CD for the disposal of the materials in question prior to the agency's issuance of a license or permit. In addition, the county has prudential standing. Under the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Act and the Hazardous Waste Siting Act, the county is not a subordinate state agency with regard to the issuance (or non-issuance) of a CD. Instead, the authority to issue a CD is within the discretion of the county in which the disposal facility is to be located. A lower court decision dismissing the case on standing grounds was therefore reversed. Board of County Commissioners v. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Nos. 07-977, -978, 39 ELR 20241 (Colo. Oct. 13, 2009).


Copyright© 2009, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.


THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

Note: Citations below are to the Federal Register (FR).


AIR:



  • EPA proposed a new substitute for ozone-depleting substances in the motor vehicle air conditioning sector of the Significant New Alternatives Policy program. 74 FR 53445 (10/19/09).

  • SIP Approvals: California (nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from stationary gas turbines for the San Joaquin Valley unified air pollution control district) 74 FR 53888 (10/21/09). Kentucky (NOx SIP Call Phases I and II) 74 FR 54755 (10/23/09). Virginia (Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) sulfur dioxide (SO2) trading program) 74 FR 54485 (10/22/09).

  • SIP Proposal: Virginia (CAIR SO2 trading program; see above for direct final rule) 74 FR 54534 (10/22/09).

DRINKING WATER:



  • EPA promulgated federal drinking water requirements for aircraft public water systems under the SDWA to take effect November 18, 2009. 74 FR 53590 (10/19/09).

MINING:



  • OSM proposed to approve amendments to West Virginia's regulatory program under SMCRA concerning oversight, boundaries, bonding requirements, and land use. 74 FR 53972 (10/21/09).

WATER:



  • EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 proposed to extend until June 30, 2011, the 2008 NPDES general permits for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities. 74 FR 53494 (10/19/09).

WILDLIFE:



  • FWS proposed to designate approximately 4,649 acres in the Central Valley floor of Kern County, California, as critical habitat for the Buena Vista Lake shrew. 74 FR 53999 (10/21/09).

  • NOAA-Fisheries announced its 12-month finding on three distinct population segments of the spotted seal within the North Pacific Ocean; it determined that only the southern distinct population segment should be listed as a threatened species under the ESA. 74 FR 53683 (10/20/09).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENT:



  • United States v. BASF Corp., No. 1:09 CV 0914 (E.D. Tex. Oct. 19, 2009). A settling CAA defendant must pay a $384,200 civil penalty and must retrofit or retire three of its industrial process refrigeration units at its Beaumont, Texas, facility. 74 FR 54850 (10/23/09).

  • United States v. Cabot Corp., No. 3:09-cv-5263 (D.N.J. Oct. 15, 2009). Settling CERCLA defendants must pay $231,000 in past U.S. response costs, plus interest accrued on all such costs after February 2, 2009, must pay future U.S. response costs, and must implement the EPA-selected remedy to address soil contamination at the Evor Phillips Leasing Superfund site in Old Bridge, New Jersey. 74 FR 54593 (10/22/09).

  • United States v. El Dorado County, No. S-01-1520 MCE GGH (E.D. Cal. Oct. 9, 2009). Settling CERCLA defendants must pay $1.6 million in past and future U.S. and Forest Service response costs incurred at the Meyers Landfill site in Meyers, California, including a remedial investigation/feasibility study on groundwater contamination. 74 FR 54076 (10/21/09).

  • United States v. East Shoshone County Water Dist., No. 09-00499-EJL (D. Idaho Oct. 2, 2009). A settling SDWA defendant must pay a $5,000 civil penalty, must install a filtration system and perform other injunctive relief, and must perform an environmental project estimated to cost approximately $20,000 for violations at its public water system in Burke Canyon near Wallace, Idaho. 74 FR 53513 (10/19/09).

Copyright© 2009, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.


THE CONGRESS

Citations below are to the Congressional Record (Cong. Rec.).


Public Law


  • H.R. 2121 (land transfer), which provides for the transfer of certain federal property to the Galveston Historical Foundation, was signed into law on October 19, 2009. Pub. L. No. 111-78, 155 Cong. Rec. D1186 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009).

Chamber Action


  • S. 1818 (Morris K. Udall Scholarship), which would amend the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental and Native American Public Policy Act of 1992 to honor the legacy of Stewart L. Udall, was passed by the Senate, 155 Cong Rec. S10584 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009), and the House, 155 Cong. Rec. H11539 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009), clearing the measure for the President.

Committee Action


  • S. 668 (Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Act) was reported by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. S. Rep. No. 111-90, 155 Cong. Rec. S10634 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would reauthorize the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Act to promote the protection of the resources of the Northwest Straits.

  • H.R. 715 (Saguaro National Park) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-304, 155 Cong. Rec. H11580 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would expand the boundary of Saguaro National Park and study additional land for future adjustments to the park's boundary.

  • H.R. 1061 (land transfer) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-306, 155 Cong. Rec. H11580 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would transfer certain land to the United States to be held in trust for the Hoh Indian Tribe and to place land into trust for the Hoh Indian Tribe.

  • H.R. 1471 (Jimmy Carter National Historic Site) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-307, 155 Cong. Rec. H11580 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would expand the boundary of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in the state of Georgia and redesignate the unit as a National Historical Park.

  • H.R. 2008 (hydroelectric power) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-308, 155 Cong. Rec. H11580 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to facilitate the development of hydroelectric power on the Diamond Fork System of the Central Utah Project.

  • H.R. 2489 (geospatial imagery mapping) was reported by the Committee on Natural Resources. H. Rep. No. 111-309, 155 Cong. Rec. H11580 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill would authorize a comprehensive national cooperative geospatial imagery mapping program through the U.S. Geological Survey; promote use of the program for education, workforce training and development, and applied research; and support federal, state, tribal, and local government programs.

  • H. Res. 846 (solar energy) was reported by the Committee on Rules. H. Rep. No. 111-304, 155 Cong. Rec. H11514 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The resolution would provide for consideration of the bill H.R. 3585 to guide and provide for U.S. research, development, and demonstration of solar energy technologies.

Bills Introduced


  • S. 1801 (Carper, D-Del.) (parks and recreation) would establish the First State National Historical Park in the state of Delaware. 155 Cong. Rec. S10570 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

  • S. 1802 (Burris, D-Ill.) (parks and recreation) would require a study of the feasibility of establishing the U.S. Civil Rights Trail System. 155 Cong. Rec. S10570 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

  • S. 1809 (Wicker, R-Miss.) (CAA) would amend the CAA to promote the certification of aftermarket conversion systems and encourage the increased use of alternative fueled vehicles. 155 Cong. Rec. S10570 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

  • S. 1816 (Cardin, D-Md.) (FWPCA) would amend the FWPCA to improve and reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program. 155 Cong. Rec. S10570 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

  • S. 1820 (Durbin, D-Ill.) (FWPCA) would amend the FWPCA to establish national standards for discharges from cruise vessels. 155 Cong. Rec. S10635 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. 

  • S. 1830 (Collins, R-Me.) (energy) would establish the Chief Conservation Officers Council to improve the energy efficiencies of federal agencies. 155 Cong. Rec. S10635 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

  • H.R. 3850 (Kratovil, D-Md.) (nutria) would provide for the eradication and control of nutria in Maryland, Louisiana, and other coastal states. 155 Cong. Rec. H11514 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

  • H.R. 3852 (Cummings, D-Md.) (FWOCA) would amend the FWPCA to improve and reauthorize the Chesapeake Bay Program. 155 Cong. Rec. H11514 (daily ed. Oct. 20, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

  • H.R. 3888 (Farr, D-Cal.) (FWPCA) would amend the FWPCA to establish national standards for discharges from cruise vessels. 155 Cong. Rec. H11581 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

  • H.R. 3893 (Castle, R-Del.) (parks and recreation) would establish the First State National Historical Park in the state of Delaware. 155 Cong. Rec. H11581 (daily ed. Oct. 21, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

  • H.R. 3909 (Halvorson, D-Ill.) (energy) would encourage investments in renewable and alternative energy and authorize appropriations for research in and development of fungible biofuels. 155 Cong. Rec. H11712 (daily ed. Oct. 22, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Science and Technology.

  • H.R. 3910 (Larsen, D-Wash.) (fisheries) would authorize a single fisheries cooperative for the Bering Sea Aleutian Islands longline catcher processor subsector. 155 Cong. Rec. H11712 (daily ed. Oct. 22, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

Copyright© 2009, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.


IN THE STATES

Note: The entries below cover state developments since the last issue of Update. The entries are arranged by state, and within each section, entries are further subdivided by subject matter area. To access material previously reported in 2009, visit our list of Cumulative State Developments. For state material reported prior to 2009, visit the ELR Archives.


The states below have updates this week:













Alaska Connecticut Indiana
Arkansas Florida Iowa
California Illinois Massachusetts

ALASKA


Air:



  • The Department of Environmental Conservation adopted amendments to Alaska Admin. Code tit. 18, §§50.030, 52.005, 52.060, and 52.990, dealing with the State Air Quality Control Plan and the Anchorage Vehicle Emission Inspection & Maintenance Program. The amendments exempt new vehicles from areas requiring an Inspection and Maintenance program for six years, fully exempt historic and custom vehicles, update the regulations to include the latest poverty guidelines for economic hardship waivers, and update the State Air Quality Control Plan to adopt by reference the Anchorage Transportation Control Plan. See http://notes4.state.ak.us/pn/pubnotic.nsf/cc52605f7c156e7a8925672a0060a91b/fa58bf5d962884dd8925764f00745f60?OpenDocument

ARKANSAS


Water:



CALIFORNIA


Toxic Substances:



  • The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment seeks public comment on proposed amendments to Cal. Code Regs. tit. 27, §25705, Specific Regulatory Levels Posing No Significant Risk. The amendments would establish a specific regulatory level posing no significant risk for fumonisin B1. Comments are due November 23, 2009. See http://www.oal.ca.gov/res/docs/pdf/notice/41z-2009.pdf (pp. 1771-73)

CONNECTICUT


Water:



  • The Environmental Protection Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed adoption of Conn. Agencies Regs. §§26-141b-1 to 26-141b-9, Stream Flow Standards and Regulations. The proposed rules establish flow standards and other regulatory requirements for all river and stream systems in the state. These proposed rules expand the coverage of and eventually replace the existing requirements found in the Minimum Stream Flow Standards and Regulations of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. The hearing will be January 21, 2010. See http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2586&Q=448406

FLORIDA


Air:



  • The Department of Environmental Protection has begun rule development on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 62-210.200, Definitions; 62-210.900, Forms and Instructions; 62-213.205, Annual Emissions Fee; 62-213.420, Permit Applications; 62-213.440, Permit Content; 62-213.460, Permit Shield; 62-214.320, Applications; 62-296.412, Dry Cleaning Facilities; 62-296.418, Bulk Gasoline Plants; 62-296.500, Reasonably Available Control Technology--Volatile Organic Compounds and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Emitting Facilities; and 62-602.720, Inactive Status of License. The amendments would delete definitions and remove language referenced on department forms related to the vacated federal Clean Air Mercury Rule, clarify language on the Acid Rain Part application forms, reinstate the Acid Rain Phase II NOx Compliance Plan form, clarify the requirement that an Acid Rain Part application be submitted at the time of renewal, and eliminates language in three rule sections that makes the rules applicable in ozone nonattainment areas. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3540/3540doc.pdf (pp. 4945-50)

Water:



  • The Suwannee River Water Management District has begun rule development on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40B-9.021, Definitions; 40B-9.123, Additional Definitions; 40B-9.131, Public Use of District Lands; 40B-9.1381, Prohibited Activities; 40B-9.139, Fees; and 40B-9.1411, Special Use Authorizations. The amendments would clarify language in the existing rule, incorporate a Public Use Guide by reference, and add language regarding specifically allowed and prohibited uses on district lands. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3540/3540doc.pdf (pp. 4939-40)

  • The Southwest Florida Water Management District proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40D-1.002, Delegation of Authority. The purpose and effect of this rulemaking is to incorporate by reference a Well Construction Permitting Agreement between the district and the Marion County Health Department by which the district’s authority to regulate well construction in Marion County is delegated to the Marion County Health Department. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (p. 5146)

  • The Southwest Florida Water Management District proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40D-1.659, Forms and Instructions; 40D-2.091, Publications and Forms Incorporated by Reference; and 40D-2.101, Content of Application. The purpose and effect of this rulemaking is to include in the list of district forms the Water Use Permit Application Supplemental Form--Public Supply and the Small General Water Use Permit Application Public Supply Attachment, which are being adopted by the district. Amendments would also delete from the list the Public Supply Supplemental Form--Southern Water Use Caution Area, which is being repealed. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (pp. 5146-49)

  • The Southwest Florida Water Management District proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40D-4.042, Formal Determination of Wetlands and Other Surface Waters. The purpose and effect of the proposed rule revision is to provide entities with existing formal determinations that expire between September 1, 2008, and January 1, 2012, the option to renew the formal determination for a duration of two years without a fee. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (pp. 5149-50)

  • Southwest Florida Water Management District has begun rule development on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40D-1.659, Forms and Instructions, and 40D-2, Water Use Permits. The amendments would add reporting forms to the list of district forms that will be used in related rulemaking and include additional conservation standards and reporting for water use permittees and applicants. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (p. 5086)

  • South Florida Water Management District has begun rule development on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40E-10.041, Water Reservation Areas: Lower West Coast Planning Area, and 40E-10.051, Water Reservation Areas: Kissimmee Planning Area. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (p. 5087)

  • St. Johns River Water Management District proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40C-8.031, Minimum Surface Water Levels and Flows and Groundwater Levels. The proposed amendments would establish minimum water levels for Lake Grandin in Putnam County and Lakes Colby and Shaw and Three Island Lake in Volusia County; add a duration and return interval to the established minimum water levels for Lake Ashby in Volusia County and Lake Gore in Flagler County and delete their listed hydroperiod categories; make minor technical changes by rounding to the nearest decimal place for the minimum average levels for Lake Broward in Putnam County and Lake Sand Hill in Clay County; make minor technical changes by changing the name of the hydroperiod category from “temporarily flooded” to “seasonally flooded” for the frequent high levels for Bird Pond, McKasel, and Pam Lakes in Putnam County and Mills Lake in Seminole County; make a minor technical change by changing the name of the hydroperiod category from “seasonally flooded” to “temporarily flooded” for Lake Sunset in Lake County; make minor technical changes by changing the name of the hydroperiod category from “typically flooded” to “typically saturated” for the minimum average water level of Daugharty and Dias Lakes in Volusia County, Disston Lake in Flagler County, and Echo Lake in Putnam County; and revise the formatting of existing subsections for clarity. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3541/3541doc.pdf (pp. 5131-45)

ILLINOIS


Air:



INDIANA


Air:



Hazardous & Solid Waste:



  • The Solid Waste Management Board will hold a public hearing on new rule 329 Ind. Admin. Code 3.1-5-2, Delisting. The rule concerns the delisting of wastewater treatment sludge disposed of in a corrective action unit adjacent to the Medora Sanitary Landfill in Jackson County. The hearing will be November 17, 2009. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/irtoc.htm?view=list&lsadocnum=09-206

IOWA


Water:



  • The Environmental Protection Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to Iowa Admin. Code r. 567-61, Antidegradation Policy and Implementation Procedures: Outstanding Iowa Waters. The amendments revise the list of Outstanding Iowa Waters in Appendix B of the Iowa Antidegradation Implementation Procedure. The hearing will be November 10, 2009. See http://www.legis.state.ia.us/aspx/ACODOCS/DOCS/10-21-2009.Bulletin.pdf (pp. 1091-102)

MASSACHUSETTS


Water:



  • The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to 310 Mass. Code Regs. 46.00, Certification of Well Drillers and Filing of Well Completion Reports. These regulations are a revised version of regulations previously within the Department of Conservation and Recreation in order to effectuate an orderly transfer of the Well Driller Program from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the Department of Environmental Protection. The hearing will be November 12, 2009. See http://www.mass.gov/dep/service/regulations/newregs.htm#drillers

Copyright© 2009, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.


INTERNATIONAL

INDIA, CHINA AGREE TO COOPERATE ON CLIMATE CHANGE


India and China, both major polluters and crucial players in fighting global warming, agreed last week to stand together on climate change issues at a major global conference later this year. The December summit in Copenhagen aims to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first international deal requiring reductions in emissions of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" by industrialized countries. Developing countries argue that the industrial world produced most of the harmful gases in recent decades and should bear the costs of fixing the problem. India and China have agreed to work on slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but resist making those limits binding and subject to international monitoring. For the full story, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/21/AR2009102101158.html

BUSINESS URGED TO PROTECT NATURE


Companies must step up efforts to safeguard nature, according to a United Nations-backed study released last week that praised consumer foods giant Unilever as among few firms doing enough.  The report, looking at 31 companies in the food, drink, and tobacco industries, predicted increasing risks to raw materials supplies and reputation for firms that undervalued natural services such as healthy soils, water, and insect pollination.  "Many companies are failing to adequately address the issue of sustainable sourcing," according to the study by the U.N. Environment Program's Finance Initiative, conservation charity Fauna & Flora International and a Brazilian business school.  The "Natural Value Initiative" study said only Unilever qualified as "best practice" in the survey, judged against a new Ecosystem Services Benchmark. "British retailer Marks & Spencer also performed well," it added. "Both companies were distinguished by their well-documented, strategic and risk-focused approach." For the full story, see http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-GreenBusiness/idUSTRE59L1P820091022?sp=true

THE GREEN TOWER OF GUANGZHOU CITY


Rising high through the polluted air of Guangzhou City in southern China is a 71-story tower block that, according to its designers, will be the most energy-efficient in the world. American architectural firm SOM claims that by thinking carefully about the use of space combined with energy-saving and energy-generating technology, they have been able to make unprecedented gains, so this building will potentially create as much energy as it uses. They are by no means the only architects to espouse the principle of integrated design, of course. But some observers believe that too many buildings are still being put up with a few bolt-on green features, without proper thought as to what could be achieved through a more considered approach. For the full story, see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8317211.stm

Copyright© 2009, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.


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