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Weekly Update Volume 39, Issue 32

11/16/2009

LITIGATION

FEDERAL LAND & POLICY MANAGEMENT ACT, NEPA:



The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a lower court decision that the BLM violated NEPA and the Federal Land and Policy Management Act (FLPMA) when it agreed to a land exchange with a developer for several parcels of BLM land surrounding a former mining site near Joshua Tree National Park. The land exchange would allow the developer to build a landfill on the mining site. The Ninth Circuit agreed with the lower court that the BLM should have taken the reasonably probable use of public lands for a landfill into consideration as part of its highest and best use analysis under FLPMA. The BLM's appraisal of the land, therefore, was improper. In addition, the EIS' purpose and need statement was unreasonably narrow. As a result, the BLM considered an unreasonably narrow range of alternatives. The EIS also insufficiently addressed the potential for eutrophication. However, the court disagreed that the BLM erred in its determination that the exchange well-serves the public interest. The record as a whole establishes that the BLM's interpretation of "full consideration," as evinced by the analyses in the EIS, is permissible under FLPMA. And contrary to the lower court's finding, the EIS contains extensive analyses of potential impacts on Bighorn sheep. The case was therefore remanded. National Parks & Conservation Ass'n v. Bureau of Land Management, Nos. 05-56814 et al., 39 ELR 20255 (9th Cir. Nov. 10, 2009).


NEPA, STANDING:



The Sixth Circuit held that a group of residents lacked standing to challenge the TVA's implementation of a land management plan for a nearby reservoir under NEPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority Act. The residents failed to connect the procedural harm alleged in their complaint--the creation of a new land use classification in the EIS without an EA in violation of NEPA--to specific harm threatening particular residents. Accordingly, they lack standing for their procedural injuries under NEPA. The residents also lack standing to allege ongoing harm to their aesthetic and recreational enjoyment of the reservoir. The residents failed to allege future injury that could be redressed by the requested declaratory or injunctive relief. Friends of Tims Ford v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 08-5706, 39 ELR 20259 (6th Cir. Nov. 6, 2009).


CERCLA, CONTRIBUTION, INTERVENTION:



The Tenth Circuit reversed a lower court decision denying a railroad company's motion to intervene in the United State's CERCLA §107 action against 44 PRPs concerning a hazardous waste site owned by the railroad company. The government lodged a consent decree memorializing a settlement agreement that the 44 settling PRPs would enjoy immunity from contribution actions or claims for the site. In a related, pending action, the United States also seeks to hold the company jointly and severally liable for unreimbursed cleanup costs and natural resources damages related to the site. Because the consent decree would eliminate the railroad company's contribution right as to the settling defendants under CERCLA §113(f)(2), the company sought to intervene, but the lower court denied its motion. Contrary to the ruling of the lower court, however, the company's statutory right to contribution under CERCLA is a sufficient interest for intervention as of right. Because the company has demonstrated all four requirements for intervention as of right--timeliness, interest, impairment, and inadequate representation--the lower court erred in denying the company's motion. On remand the company must be allowed to intervene. United States v. Albert Investment Co., No. 08-6267, 39 ELR 20258 (10th Cir. Nov. 10, 2009).


MINERAL LEASES, NOTICE:



The Louisiana Supreme Court held that property owners who leased their land for oil and gas development were not required to give oil companies pre-suit notice or an opportunity to perform prior to filing their suit against the companies for property contamination. The companies argued that Article 136 of the Louisiana Mineral Code requires plaintiffs to provide defendants with written notice and a reasonable opportunity to perform, prior to filing suit, where there are allegations that a mineral lessee breached an obligation to operate the leased property as a reasonably prudent operator. But the property owners' claims relate to the remediation/restoration of their property as a result of contamination allegedly caused by companies' oil and gas operations. Claims for property damage and remediation/restoration are not "claims for failure to develop and operate as a prudent operator" under Article 136. Because there is no allegation that the companies failed to search, produce, or market oil under the leases, there is no allegation that the companies failed to properly develop and operate the leases. Thus, the owners were not required to provide the companies with pre-suit notice and an opportunity to perform prior to filing suit. Broussard v. Hilcorp Energy Co., No. 09-C-0449, 39 ELR 20260 (La. Oct. 20, 2009).


NUISANCE, PUNITIVE DAMAGES:



The Supreme Court of Tennessee reduced from $1 million to $500,000 a punitive damages award granted to property owners in their nuisance lawsuit against a highway construction company for burying tires and other debris on their land. Evidence supports the jury's award of punitive damages. There are strong public policy reasons against burying waste tires, and the company was aware of these policies. In addition, the trial court's consideration of statutes and policies against pollution and unauthorized landfills was legally permissible and factually appropriate. The trial court was merely referencing the state's solid waste disposal laws to explain why the creation of a nuisance by burying whole waste tires was egregious enough to warrant punitive damages. The amount of the punitive damages award, however, violates the company's due process rights. The ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages as approved by the trial judge is over 300 to 1. This ratio is excessive in light of the circumstances presented. And the company's conduct did not rise to the highest level of reprehensibility. The court, therefore, modified the award to $500,000, which is more rationally related to the non-physical harm suffered in this case. Goff v. Elmo Greer & Sons Construction Co., No. 39 ELR 20254 (Tenn. Nov. 3, 2009).


CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT, EXEMPTION:



A California appellate court held that a local transportation agency's bus fare increase was statutorily exempt from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Bus riders filed a petition for writ of mandate, arguing that the agency's use of the exemption, which removes an agency's setting of rates, tolls, fares, or other charges from CEQA review, was improper. But the administrative record contains substantial evidence that the agency's fare increase was enacted for one or more permissible purposes under the exemption. The agency's findings also satisfy the exemption's specificity requirement. Bus Riders Union v. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency, No. B212145, 39 ELR 20256 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Oct. 19, 2009).


CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT, EXCLUSION:



A California appellate court held that a county was not required to conduct environmental review of a tax measure concerning transportation funding under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) prior to placing it on the general election ballot. The measure imposes a retail sales and use tax to fund transportation projects in the county. Because the measure does not constitute a binding commitment to construct any projects, it falls within the funding mechanisms exclusion of CEQA. Sustainable Transportation Advocates of Santa Barbara v. Santa Barbara County Ass'n of Governments, No. B212524, 39 ELR 20257 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Oct. 14, 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 established the initial air quality designations for most areas in the United States, including Indian Country, for the 2006 24-hour fine particulate matter (PM) NAAQS. 74 FR 58688 (11/13/09).

  • EPA determined that the 1997 eight-hour ozone motor vehicle emissions budgets for Shelby County, Tennessee, meet the transportation conformity purposes of the CAA. 74 FR 58277 (11/12/09).

  • SIP Approvals: Arizona (fine PM for Maricopa County) 74 FR 57612 (11/9/09); (PM emissions for the Maricopa County serious nonattainment area) 74 FR 58553 (11/13/09). California (PM emissions for the San Joaquin Valley unified air pollution control district and the South Coast air quality management district) 74 FR 57907 (11/10/09). Indiana (sulfur dioxide (SO2), PM, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission limitations) 74 FR 57904 (11/10/09).

  • SIP Proposals: Arizona (PM for the Maricopa County air quality department; see above for direct final rule) 74 FR 57622 (11/9/09). Indiana (SO2, PM, and NOx emission limitations; see above for direct final rule) 74 FR 57978 (11/10/09).

HAZARDOUS & SOLID WASTE:



  • EPA took final action on December 2008 amendments to the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Rule. 74 FR 58784 (11/13/09).

WATER:



  • EPA approved 25 alternative testing methods for measuring contaminants in drinking water and determining compliance with SDWA regulations. 74 FR 57908 (11/10/09).

  • EPA announced the availability of a draft strategy for the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay as required by Executive Order No. 13508 of May 12, 2009. 74 FR 57675 (11/9/09).

WILDLIFE:



  • FWS released an updated list of 249 proposed candidates for the list of endangered and threatened wildlife and plants under the ESA. 74 FR 57804 (11/9/09).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENT:



  • United States v. Carlyle Manufacturing Co., Nos. 3:09-1780, -1784 (D. Conn. Nov. 6, 2009). Under two related consent decrees, two settling CERCLA defendants must pay the total proceeds of an insurance coverage claim valued at $225,000 and a third settling party must pay $907,000 for costs incurred at the Solvents Recovery Service of New England, Inc. Superfund site in Southington, Connecticut. 74 FR 58655 (11/13/09).

  • United States v. John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods, Inc., No. 3:09-cv-01066 (M.D. Tenn. Nov. 6, 2009). A settling CWA defendant that discharged stormwater from its housing developments in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee must pay a $350,000 civil penalty to the United States and Tennessee. 74 FR 58655 (11/13/09).

  • United States v. Township of Brick, No. 3:09-cv-05592-FLW-TJB (D.N.J. Nov. 2, 2009). A settling CERCLA defendant must pay $246,833 in U.S. response costs incurred at the Brick Township Landfill Superfund site in Ocean County, New Jersey, must pay all future response costs, and must perform the EPA-selected remedy at the site. 74 FR 58046 (11/10/09).

  • United States v. Alabama Plating Co., No. 2:08-cv-01422 (N.D. Ala. Nov. 4, 2009). Settling CERCLA defendants must pay $720,000 in past and future U.S. response costs incurred at the Alabama Plating Superfund site in Vincent, Alabama. 74 FR 58047 (11/10/09).

  • United States v. Lennar Communities Development, Inc., No. CIV-09-2252-PHX-FJM (D. Ariz. Oct. 28, 2009). A settling CAA defendant must pay a $38,425 civil penalty, must implement a supplemental environmental project at a cost of $144,094, and must take measures to abate fugitive dust emissions from its home-building activities in Maricopa County, Arizona. 74 FR 58047 (11/10/09).

  • United States v. Methuen Lube, Inc., No. 1:09-cv-00368-SM (D.N.H. Oct. 30, 2009). Settling CERCLA defendants must pay $1,725,435.57 in U.S. response costs incurred at the Beede Waste Oil Superfund site in Plaistow, New Hampshire. 74 FR 57703 (11/9/09).

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


THE CONGRESS

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


Chamber Action


  • S. Res. 346 (Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), which would express the sense of the Senate that, at the 21st Regular Meeting of the International Commission on the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the United States should seek to ensure that the management of the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery adheres to the scientific advice provided by the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics and has a high probability of achieving the established rebuilding target, pursue strengthened protections for spawning bluefin populations in the Mediterranean Sea, pursue more stringent measures to ensure compliance by all Members with ICCAT conservation and management recommendations for Atlantic bluefin tuna and other species, and ensure that U.S. quotas of tuna and swordfish are not reallocated to other nations, was passed by the Senate. 155 Cong. Rec. S11301 (daily ed. Nov. 9, 2009).

Bills Introduced


  • S. 2747 (Bingaman, D-N.M.) (Land and Water Conservation Act) would amend the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 to provide consistent and reliable authority for, and funding of, the land and water conservation fund to maximize its effectiveness for future generations. 155 Cong. Rec. S11253 (daily ed. Nov. 6, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

  • S. 2755 (Menendez, D-N.J.) (energy) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide an investment credit for equipment used to fabricate solar energy property. 155 Cong. Rec. S11290 (daily ed. Nov. 9, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.

  • S. 2762 (Udall, D-Colo.) (land) would designate certain lands in San Miguel, Ouray, and San Juan Counties, Colorado, as wilderness. 155 Cong. Rec. S11344 (daily ed. Nov. 10, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

  • H.R. 4040 (Farr, D-Cal.) (land) would redesignate the Monterey Ranger District of Los Padres National Forest in the state of California as the Big Sur Management Unit, transfer certain BLM land for inclusion in the management unit, adjust the boundaries of the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness Areas, and designate segments of Arroyo Seco River, Big Creek, Carmel River, San Antonio River, San Carpoforo Creek, and their tributaries as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. 155 Cong. Rec. H12586 (daily ed. Nov. 6, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

  • H.R. 4060 (Thompson, D-Cal.) (energy) would amend the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010, to repeal a provision of that Act relating to geothermal energy receipts. 155 Cong. Rec. H12587 (daily ed. Nov. 6, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources.

  • H.R. 4066 (Kagen, D-Wis.) (alternative fuel) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the alternative fuel credit and the alternative fuel mixture credit. 155 Cong. Rec. H12971 (daily ed. Nov. 7, 2009). The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

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:













Colorado Illinois Louisiana
Delaware Indiana Maine
Florida Kentucky Nevada

COLORADO


Air:



Water:



DELAWARE


Air:



FLORIDA


Land Use:



  • The Department of Environmental Protection, if requested, will hold a public hearing on the proposed adoption of Fla. Admin. Code Ann. rr. 62-348.100, Purpose and Applicability; 62-348.200, Definitions; 62-348.300, Application Requirements; 62-348.500, Conditions for Issuance; 62-348.600, Wetland Mitigation Design and Technical Criteria; 62-348.700, Transfer of Permit; 62-348.800, Reports; and 62-348.900, Forms. The proposed rule would apply to mining of predominantly high-quality peat that is being used by Florida's horticultural industry in products that incorporate other renewable or recyclable materials to replace or reduce the use of natural peat. The proposed rules are intended to provide alternative permitting and mitigation requirements when such mining is proposed in herbaceous and historically herbaceous wetlands. The hearing will be December 2, 2009. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3543/3543doc.pdf (pp. 5497-5502)

Water:



  • The Northwest Florida Water Management District will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. rr. 40A-2.051, Exemptions; 40A-2.101, Content of Application; 40A-2.351, Transfer of Permits; 40A-2.381, Limiting Conditions; and 40A-2.901, Forms. The proposed amendments would reduce the permitting requirements for water users whose withdrawals pose minimal impact to the water resources, minimize non-potable demands on the potable water supplies, and promote use of the lowest quality water suitable for the intended purpose; incorporate forms by reference in the appropriate section or subsection of the rule; and include statutory permit language. The hearing will be November 30, 2009. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3542/3542doc.pdf (pp. 5294-96)

  • The Southwest Florida Water Management District will hold a rulemaking workshop on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. rr. 40D-21.011, Policy and Purpose; 40D-21.031, Elements of the Plan; 40D-21.051, Definitions; 40D-21.211, Monitoring Conditions; 40D-21.221, Evaluating Water Conditions; 40D-21.231, Declaring a Water Shortage; 40D-21.251, Water Shortage Phases; 40D-21.275, Implementing a Water Shortage Declaration; 40D-21.281, Modifying or Rescinding a Water Shortage Declaration; 40D-21.331, Declaring a Water Shortage Emergency; 40D-21.371, Water Use Restrictions in a Water Shortage Emergency; 40D-21.391, Implementing a Water Shortage Emergency Declaration; 40D-21.421, Enforcement; 40D-21.441, Public Supply Water Shortage Mitigation Plans; 40D-21.511, General; 40D-21.531, Source Classifications; 40D-21.541, Use Classifications; 40D-21.571, Method of Withdrawal; Classifications 40D-21.601, General; 40D-21.621, Phase I: Moderate Water Shortage; 40D-21.631, Phase II: Severe Water Shortage; 40D-21.641, Phase III: Extreme Water Shortage; and 40D-21.651, Phase IV: Critical Water Shortages. The rulemaking would update the District's water shortage plan. The workshop will be November 20, 2009. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3544/3544doc.pdf (pp. 5592-93)

  • The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a rulemaking workshop on the proposed adoption of Fla. Admin. Code Ann. rr. 62-550.200, Definitions for Public Water Systems; 62-550.310, Primary Drinking Water Standards: Maximum Contaminant Levels and Maximum Residual Disinfectant Levels; 62-550.500, General Monitoring and Compliance Measurement Requirements for Contaminants and Disinfectant Residuals; 62-550.514, Disinfectant Residuals and Disinfection Byproducts Monitoring Requirements; 62-550.540, Monitoring of Consecutive Public Water Systems; 62-550.550, Certified Laboratories and Analytical Methods for Public Water Systems; 62-550.720, Recordkeeping; 62-550.730, Reporting Requirements for Public Water Systems; 62-550.821, Disinfectant Residuals, Disinfection Byproducts, and Disinfection Byproduct Precursors; 62-550.822, Initial Distribution System Evaluations and Stage 2 Disinfection Byproducts Requirements; 62-550.824, Consumer Confidence Reports; and 62-560.400, Scope of Drinking Water Public Notification Rules. The workshop will be November 30, 2009. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3544/3544doc.pdf (pp. 5594-95)

  • The Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to Fla. Admin. Code Ann. rr. 62-640.100, Scope, Intent, Purpose, and Applicability; 62-640.200, Definitions; 62-640.210, General Technical Guidance and Forms; 62-640.300, General Requirements; 62-640.400, Prohibitions; 62-640.500, Nutrient Management Plan (NMP); 62-640.600, Pathogen Reduction and Vector Attraction Reduction; 62-640.650, Monitoring, Record Keeping, Reporting, and Notification; 62-640.700, Requirements for Land Application of Class AA, A, and B Biosolids; 62-640.750, Agricultural Sites; 62-640.800, Additional Requirements for Land Application at Reclamation Sites; 62-640.850, Distribution and Marketing of – Class AA Biosolids; 62-640.860, Other Solids; and 62-640.880, Additional Requirements Related to Biosolids Treatment Facilities. The amendments would revise biosolids land application site accountability and management regulations, address growing nutrient concerns, and support public confidence in the beneficial use of biosolids. The hearing will be December 1, 2009. See https://www.flrules.org/Faw/FAWDocuments/FAWVOLUMEFOLDERS2009/3544/3544doc.pdf (pp. 5620-657)

ILLINOIS


Air:



  • The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency seeks public comment on the proposed adoption of Ill. Admin. Code tit. 35, §261, Procedures For Providing Grants From the Illinois Clean Diesel Grant Program. The proposed rule addresses how the Agency will disburse funding it receives from a variety of sources, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, in the form of grants. It would establish a streamlined approach to procedures for issuance of grants, determining eligibility, and performing grant projects. Comments are due December 14, 2009. See http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/index/register/register_volume33_issue44.pdf (pp. 14664-666)

INDIANA


Hazardous & Solid Waste:



  • The Indiana Department of Environmental Management seeks public comment on draft rule language for a new rule and amendments to 329 Ind. Admin. Code 3.1, concerning temporary storage and management of spent lead acid batteries. The proposed rule would provide requirements for the management of temporarily stored spent lead acid batteries, including transportation and storage by retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, auto salvage yards, and other salvage facilities and reclamation facilities, to prevent releases of contaminants into the environment. The rule would also regulate the intermittent storage of partially reclaimed spend lead acid batteries. Comments are due December 4, 2009. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/irtoc.htm?view=list&lsadocnum=09-365

Water:



Wildlife:



  • The Natural Resources Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to 312 Ind. Admin. Code 9-1 through 9-4, which govern definitions; restrictions and standards applicable to wild animals; the hunting, taking, and trapping of mammals except deer; and the taking of birds. The amendments would modify and reorder language for improved clarity, simplicity, and continuity. The hearing will be December 3, 2009. See http://www.in.gov/legislative/iac/irtoc.htm?view=list&lsadocnum=09-479

KENTUCKY


Air:



LOUISIANA


Land Use:



  • The Department of Natural Resources adopted La. Admin. Code tit. 43:I, §723, Coastal Use Permit Extensions. The rule amends the Coastal Use Permit Extension rules with regard to the process for requesting an extension of the term to initiate a coastal use permit and the term to complete the use of a coastal use permit. See http://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/0910/0910.pdf (pp. 2187-88)

Water:



  • The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) adopted La. Admin. Code tit. 43:I, §§700 and 723, Office of the Secretary Beneficial Use of Dredged Material. The rule governs the administration of the beneficial use of dredged material and sets forth the standards and procedures for the secretary of the DNR to implement the requirements and authorizations for beneficially using material dredged pursuant to a use or activity for which a coastal use permit is required. The rules will permit payment into a trust fund in lieu of performing such beneficial use directly, with any such in-lieu payment to be used for other coastal restoration type purposes. Any such payments shall be remitted voluntarily and at the election of the applicant. See http://www.doa.la.gov/osr/reg/0910/0910.pdf (pp. 2183-87)

MAINE


Energy:



NEVADA


Air:



  • The State Environmental Commission adopted amendments to Nev. Admin. Code §445B, relating to air quality. The amendments revise limits on the emission of sulfur dioxide from certain power-generating units of the Reid Gardner Generating Station. See http://www.leg.state.nv.us/register/2009Register/R148-09P.pdf

  • The State Environmental Commission adopted amendments to Nev. Admin. Code §445B.3363, relating to air quality. The amendments revise provisions relating to applications for Class I operating permits to construct and Class I operating permits that are submitted by certain sources of air pollutants. See http://www.leg.state.nv.us/register/2009Register/R147-09P.pdf

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


INTERNATIONAL

FURTHER CLIMATE ACTION UNDER OZONE LAYER TREATY MUST WAIT


Countries meeting under the treaty protecting the ozone layer made progress on a wide range of issues, from the use of chemicals to kill pests on international commodity shipments to advancing action to destroy banks of CFCs in old and stockpiled equipment. But nations could not reach consensus on the high profile issue of whether a group of gases currently controlled under the international climate agreement might be better controlled and phased-down under the ozone treaty. The 21st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol had two amendments before it--one from the Federated States of Micronesia and Mauritius and another from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Both focused on controlling synthetic gases known as hydroflurocarbons (HFCs). Scientists are concerned that if HFCs become the replacement chemicals of choice in products such as refrigeration systems and air conditioners their climate impact could become significant over the coming decades. Those supporting action under the ozone treaty argue that a commitment to phase-down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol would catalyze action by industry to develop a range of new ozone and climate-friendly alternatives. But many countries considered proposed action under the Montreal Protocol on HFCs to be premature in advance of the Copenhagen climate meeting. For the full story, see http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=602&ArticleID=6365&l=en&t=long

AID GROUPS, FARMERS COLLABORATE TO RE-GREEN SAHEL


Disastrous droughts crippled Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali in the early 1970s and more severely in the early 1980s. More than 100,000 people died. Dry conditions and a locust outbreak hit West Africa again in 2005, and millions of people suffered from malnutrition. But an effort in Niger to boost tree vegetation--known as the "re-greening of the Sahel"--improved soil quality and provided nourishment for livestock, helping to avert an even larger food crisis. In Niger, many small farmers turned to timber harvesting during the major droughts as a way to raise money for their families. As a result, trees covered only 1.5 percent of the country in 1975. Since then, a combination of tree plantations and an agroforestry technique known as "farmer-managed natural regeneration" have allowed tree cover to increase to more than 4 percent as of 2005--some 4.8 million hectares in total, according to recent satellite studies conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). "The trees we see now are young, 10-15 years old," said Gray Tappan, a USGS geographer. "Month by month, year by year, the trees are growing. The amount of wood is growing on a trajectory that, in 20-30 years, there will be 5-10 times more woody biomass in the system than there is today." For the full story, see http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6313

THREATENED MALDIVES URGES JOINT ACTION AT CLIMATE TALKS


The Maldives, threatened by rising sea levels because of global warming, pleaded with developed nations last Monday to reduce carbon emissions and said developing nations could change the outcome at the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen. The appeal by the Indian ocean archipelago came at a climate change summit grouping Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Vietnam before next month's global climate change summit in Copenhagen. Despite being among the world's lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, the countries share the worst impacts of climate change including desertification, drought, floods, and storm surges. "We are vulnerable because we have modest means with which to protect ourselves from the coming disaster," Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed told the conference. Nasheed, who in March outlined ambitious plans to make the world's first carbon-neutral nation within a decade, said developing nations could change the outcome of Copenhagen, blaming developed nations for the global warming. For the full story, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE5A83R020091109?sp=true

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


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