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Weekly Update Volume 32, Issue 34

12/09/2002

LITIGATION

Note: The cases listed are available from the ELR Document Service.

CAA, OZONE NAAQS, NONATTAINMENT AREA DESIGNATION, ATTAINMENT DEADLINE:

The Seventh Circuit held that EPA impermissibly extended St. Louis, Missouri's, ozone NAAQS attainment date by eight years. In 1991, EPA classified St. Louis as a moderate ozone nonattainment area. After a lawsuit was filed against EPA requesting reclassification of St. Louis as a serious area for failing to meet its attainment date, EPA published a proposed notice of reclassification. In the proposed notice, EPA stated that it would issue a final rule only after giving St. Louis an opportunity to qualify for an attainment date extension under EPA's downwind extension policy, which allows downwind areas to extend their attainment date if they show that ozone transport significantly contributes to the area's nonattainment and that the area has adopted local measures that will cause it to be in compliance no later than the date on which reductions are expected from the upwind areas. Eventually, EPA announced its final rule reclassifying St. Louis as a serious nonattainment area and extending its attainment date from November 15, 1996, to November 15, 2004. EPA, however, lacked the statutory authority to implement the policy extension and grant St. Louis an extension. Congress has already spoken to the precise question of extension under the CAA by enacting an extension provision that gives EPA the authority to grant two years' worth of extensions. EPA acknowledged that the CAA's text does not grant it authority for longer extensions, but argued that its policy is supportable nonetheless in light of a broader congressional intent not to punish downwind areas affected by ozone transport. EPA's interpretation of the CAA, however, would subvert the plain meaning of the statute, making its mandatory language merely permissive and contravene the general principle that a literal interpretation of deadlines and time limits is the only proper reading of those words. Additionally, EPA was incorrect when it argued that the fact that Congress provided an extension based on air quality that is near attainment does not imply that Congress intended to preclude EPA from authorizing extensions based on other considerations. All indications are that Congress created a comprehensive system of exceptions to its fairly rigid scheme, none of which even remotely resembles the extension policy EPA employed. On remand, EPA must redesignate St. Louis as a serious nonattainment area. Sierra Club v. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 01-2844, -2845 (7th Cir. Nov. 25, 2002) (16 pp.).

OIL LEASES, LEASE SUSPENSION, CZMA, STATE REVIEW:

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court holding that the United States improperly suspended oil leases for waters off the coast of California without allowing California to review the lease suspensions for consistency with California's coastal management program pursuant to the CZMA. Under CZMA §1456(c)(1)(A), coastal states have the right to review any federal agency activity within or outside the coastal zone that affects any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone for consistency with the state's coastal management program. In 1972, California enacted the California Coastal Zone Conservation Act. Under that Act, and as contemplated by the federal CZMA, California developed a coastal management program, which was approved by the federal government thereby giving California the right to review specified federal activities for consistency with its program. The leases at controversy here were issued between 1968 and 1984. In 1999, the lessees submitted requests for suspension of 36 leases to prevent them from expiring under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. California informed the United States that it sought to review the lease suspensions for consistency with its coastal management plan. The United States responded that California had no authority to review the lease suspensions because the suspensions did not have the potential to affect the land or water use or natural resources of California's coastal zone. California then filed suit, claiming that the United States violated the CZMA as well as NEPA in approving the lease suspensions. The district court properly held that the United States' approval of the lease suspensions was a federal agency activity subject to consistency review by California under CZMA §1456(c)(1)(A). The United States argued that California sought repeated and duplicative reviews: first when the lease is suspended and then again when each activity affecting the coastal zone is approved in exploration plans or development and production plans. The United States further claimed that Congress expressly barred repeated and duplicative review and that consistency review should occur only at the exploration and development stage. Congress, however, has rejected the view that activities preceding exploration and development are barred from consistency review. The exploration plan and development and production plan stages are not the only opportunities for review afforded to states under the CZMA. Further, California has never reviewed the leases at issue here. Additionally, the United States may need to prepare an EA or an EIS under NEPA for the lease suspensions. The United States can not claim that the lease suspensions fall under a categorical exclusion to NEPA because it failed to provide any evidence showing it made a categorical exclusion determination at the time it granted the lease suspensions. Therefore, on remand the United States must provide a reasoned explanation for its reliance on the categorical exclusion. California v. Norton, Nos. 01-16637, -16690 (9th Cir. Dec. 2, 2002) (33 pp.).

LOBSTER FISHING, MAGNUSON-STEVENS ACT, ATLANTIC COASTAL FISHERIES COOPERATIVE MANAGEMENT ACT (ATLANTIC COASTAL ACT):

The First Circuit held that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) failed to satisfy the Atlantic Coastal Act's consultation requirement before promulgating a final rule governing lobster fishing in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the U.S. Atlantic coast. Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS has fishery management authority over all fish and fishing activities in the EEZ. Under the Atlantic Coastal Act, in the absence of an improved and implemented fishery management plan (FMP), and after consultation with the appropriate regional councils, the NMFS may implement regulations to govern fishing in the EEZ provided that such regulations are compatible with the coastal FMP and are consistent with the national standards of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Federal management of the lobster began in 1978 when the NMFS and a number of states developed an FMP pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Over the years, studies showed that the lobster was overfished. In 1999, the NMFS withdrew the lobster FMP and promulgated regulations under the Atlantic Coastal Act that, inter alia, limited the number of lobster traps permitted per fishing vessel. A group of lobster fishermen brought suit against the NMFS challenging the rule, but the district court granted summary judgment to the government. The district court, however, erred in concluding that the NMFS satisfied the consultation requirement of the Atlantic Coastal Act. Under the Act, the NMFS is required to consult with the relevant regional councils and commissions before implementing regulations affecting the EEZ. Here, the only correspondence that occurred between the NMFS and the regional authority was part of a general public comment process statutorily required by NEPA rather than by the Atlantic Coastal Act. Consultation, within the parameters of the Atlantic Coastal Act, must mean something more than general participation in the public comment process on EISs, otherwise the consultation requirement would be rendered nugatory. Public comments made by a regional authority in response to an EIS under NEPA may not raise the same issues that the same council would raise when consulting the NMFS under the Atlantic Coastal Act about proposed regulations governing fishing in the EEZ. Additionally, there is no evidence in the record that the NMFS affirmatively solicited advice or opinion from any regional authority regarding the NMFS' proposed regulation. Thus, the comments made under NEPA and upon which the district court relied are insufficient to satisfy the Atlantic Coastal Act's consultation requirement. Campanale & Sons, Inc. v. Evans, No. 01-2282 (1st Cir. Nov. 22, 2002) (50 pp.).

CERCLA, FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT (FTCA), STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:

The Tenth Circuit reversed a district court decision and held that the owners of a dirt racetrack failed to bring their CERCLA action alleging that their neighbor, the U.S. Army, contaminated their property through negligent operation of a firepit within the FTCA's two-year statute of limitations. The owners purchased the property in 1989, had environmental studies conducted on the property in 1993, brought an administrative claim against the Army in 1995, and filed the present suit in 1997. The district court incorrectly concluded that the owners of the racetrack did not know or have reason to know the circumstances surrounding contamination of their property within two years before filing the suit. Although the owners did not see the environmental report identifying contamination on their property until 1995, two years after it was taken, the owners knew it had been conducted in 1993. Additionally, one of the owner's answers to a survey from the company conducting the environmental studies indicated that the owners knew the Army used jet fuel, solvents, and other chemicals. Further, evidence shows that the racetrack did not have any neighbors other than the U.S. Army. Combined, these facts establish that the owners knew or had reason to know that toxic substances were present at the adjoining premises when they aquired the property. Thus, when the company conducting the environmental studies notifed the owners in 1993 about the presence of contaminants in their well, they had reason to suspect the source might have been the neighboring property. From that point they had two years within which to bring their CERCLA claim against the United States but failed to do so. The case must therefore be dismissed on remand. Plaza Speedway, Inc. v. United States, No. 01-3186 (10th Cir. Nov. 27, 2002) (6 pp.).

HAZARDOUS RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES, PERSONAL INJURY, STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:

The Ninth Circuit held that a district court erred in declining to apply CERCLA's delayed discovery rule in determining the statute of limitations for individuals' claims that the release of hazardous substances from nuclear and rocket testing facilities caused their latent illnesses. Because all of the individuals here learned of their diagnoses more than one year before they filed suit, the district court granted summary judgment against the individuals, ruling that California’s one-year statute of limitations barred their state law tort claims. The district court, however, erred in concluding that California's delayed discovery rule is the same as the federal standard under CERCLA, and that the federal standard, therefore, does not preempt the state rule. Under the state statute of limitations, a plaintiff has one year from the date of injury to bring a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Under CERCLA §309, a plaintiff knows or reasonably should know of a claim when he or she knows both the existence and the cause of injury. By its terms, §309 sets a later date for commencement of the limitations period, tolling the start of the period for filing claims beyond the date that a plaintiff suspects the cause of injury until the time that he or she knows or reasonably should have known of the cause. Here, because the limitations period for the individuals’ claims would commence earlier under state law than under CERCLA §309, federal law applies. Applying the federal discovery standard, summary judgment was improper because there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether the individuals knew or should have known of their claims within the limitations period. The evidence was susceptible to more than one inference regarding whether the individuals were aware of more than one potential cause of their illnesses. Although there was publicity about the possibly hazardous nature of the facilities, the district court erred in determining that the publicity was sufficient to impute the individuals with knowledge of it or that the only reasonable inference to be drawn from the publicity was that the individuals should have suspected a connection between the facilities and their illnesses. Additionally, genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether a reasonable inquiry would have put the individuals on notice of their claims. The district court, however, properly dismissed the claims of 34 individuals who failed to submit any evidence regarding how they discovered their claims and why they filed them when they did. O'Connor v. Boeing North American, Inc., No 00-56141 (9th Cir. Nov. 27, 2002) (35 pp.).

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, PERMITTING, RIPENESS:

The Fourth Circuit held that a district court erred in dismissing individuals' Civil Rights Act Title VI, §1982, and Equal Protection claims brought against a county to halt the construction of a landfill in a predominately African American community. The district court improperly concluded that the individuals' federal claims were untimely. The district court determined that the state's three-year statute of limitations applied to the federal claims and that the limitations period began to run in either 1991 or 1992 when the county made the decision to site the landfill. The individuals did not bring their suit until more than eight years later. The applicable statute of imitations, however, could not have been triggered in either 1991 or 1992 because the individuals' claims would not have been ripe for determination at that time. This controversy was not ripe until the state environmental agency issued the landfill construction permit in 1999. It would have been premature for the individuals to file their complaint prior to the issuance of the permit because if the permit had not been issued, the landfill project could not have gone forward and the district court would have been engaged in an abstract disagreement. The individuals filed their claims within three years of the 1999 permit issuance and, thus, their claims are timely. Additionally, the district court incorrectly held that the state environmental agency officials were entitled to sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment. The Ex Parte Young doctrine applies because the individuals appropriately sought prospective injunctive relief against the officials for an ongoing violation of federal law. Further, the district court erred in refusing to permit the filing of the individuals' amended complaint. The court denied the individuals leave to amend their complaint on the ground that it would prejudice the environmental agency officials. The court, however, based this conclusion on the mistaken belief that the individuals had not sought leave to amend until nearly seven months after a permit reissuance decision, when in fact the individuals had waited less than three months. The district court, however, properly dismissed the individuals' state law claim against the county. Franks v. Ross, No. 01-2354 (4th Cir. Dec. 4, 2002) (21 pp.).

NEPA, NEW YORK STATE ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY REVIEW ACT (SEQRA), INTERSTATE HIGHWAY EXCHANGE:

A district court granted environmental groups' motion to stay the U.S. government's construction of an interstate highway exchange for improved access to an airport pending an appellate court decision. After a district court found for the government in a suit brought by the environmental groups alleging insufficient environmental review under NEPA and SEQRA for the highway exchange, the environmental groups filed a motion for a stay of that judgment and an order barring the government from proceeding with construction, destruction, or any further development of the interchange. Absent a stay and injunctive relief, the government will likely proceed with the planned construction of the interchange, which will irreparably harm the environmental groups and render the action moot. In light of the nature of injury, therefore, the groups do not need to demonstrate a high likelihood of success on appeal to receive a stay and an injunction. Moreover, because the appellate court will be reviewing the district court's decision de novo, it is possible that the appellate court will accept the environmental groups' interpretations of NEPA and SEQRA that the distrcit court rejected, thereby making success on appeal possible. Additionally, the government will not suffer any major injury if a stay were granted. The financial injury the government alleges is possible would occur as a result of their hastiness in accepting bids for the project and not from a stay. Further, the public is best served by granting a stay because the public can continue to use the park space included in the project until the appellate court issues its decision. Although construction will improve the public's access to the airport, they will not be able to enjoy the improved access before 2004. Therefore, the environmental groups' motion for a stay and an injunction was granted. Stewart Park & Reserve Coalition, Inc. v. Slater, No. 00-CV-1606 (N.D.N.Y. Nov. 21, 2002) (Treece, J.) (7 pp.).

Copyright© 2002, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved

THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

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

AIR:

  • EPA amended NESHAPs for the portland cement manufacturing industry. 67 FR 72580 (12/6/02).
  • EPA finalized NESHAPs for facilities that coat paper and other web substrates and are major sources of hazardous air pollutant emissions. 67 FR 72329 (12/4/02).
  • EPA proposed NESHAPs for plastic parts and products surface coating operations located at major sources of hazardous air pollutants. 67 FR 72275 (12/4/02).
  • EPA clarified and revised certain provisions of the Tier 2/Gasoline Sulfur regulations. 67 FR 72821 (12/6/02).
  • EPA proposed a federal plan to implement emission guidelines for commercial and industrial solid waste incineration units located in states and Indian country without effective state or tribal plans. 67 FR 70639 (11/25/02).
  • EPA announced the availability of a draft Guidance For Evaluating The Vapor Intrusion to Indoor Air Pathway From Groundwater And Soils (Subsurface Vapor Intrusion Guidance). 67 FR 71169 (11/29/02).

DRINKING WATER:

  • EPA finalized changes to the health effects language for di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate in the public notification rule and the consumer confidence report rule under the SDWA. 67 FR 70850 (11/27/02).
  • EPA announced the availability of additional information pertaining to its proposed test for detecting and identifying coliforms and E. coli bacteria in drinking water and source water as required in national primary drinking water regulations. 67 FR 71520 (12/2/02).

ENERGY:

  • DOE amended the compliance certification regulations by revising the deadline date for all electric motor manufacturers to certify compliance to the DOE that their motors meet the applicable energy efficiency standards. 67 FR 70675 (11/26/02).

HAZARDOUS & SOLID WASTES:

  • EPA proposed to enter into a de minimis settlement under CERCLA §122(g)(4) in connection with the Malvern TCE Superfund site in Chester County, Pennsylvania. 67 FR 70950 (11/27/02).
  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative consent order under CERCLA in connection with the Butternuts Landfill Superfund site in Butternuts, New York. 67 FR 71561 (12/2/02).
  • EPA proposed to enter into an administrative order on consent under CERCLA in connection with the Alaric, Inc., Superfund site in Tampa, Florida. 67 FR 72683 (12/6/02).
  • EPA entered into a proposed prospective purchaser agreement under CERCLA in connection with the Liberty Industrial Finishing Superfund site in the Town of Oyster Bay, New York. 67 FR 71965 (12/3/02).
  • EPA received FOIA requests for the Hazardous Waste Export Data System and documents contained therein pertaining to the export of hazardous waste from the United States. 67 FR 71962 (12/3/02).

  • EPA is requesting comments on a draft document entitled Contaminated Sediment Remediation Guidance for Hazardous Waste Sites. 67 FR 71964 (12/3/02).

  • The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry announced those sites for which it has completed public health assessments during the period from July 2002 through September 2002. 67 FR 72216 (12/4/02).

PESTICIDES:

  • EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs is seeking comment on the implementation of its Endangered Species Protection Program. 67 FR 71549 (12/2/02).

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • EPA announced the availability of a draft document titled Generic Assessment Endpoints for Ecological Risk Assessments for comment. 67 FR 72173 (12/4/02).

SMCRA PROGRAM APPROVALS:

  • OSM approved an amendment to Iowa's abandoned mine land reclamation plan under SMCRA. 67 FR 72375 (12/5/02).
  • OSM approved an amendment to Mississippi's regulatory program under SMCRA. 67 FR 71826 (12/3/02).
  • OSM approved, with one exception, amendments to West Virginia's regulatory program under SMCRA. 67 FR 71832 (12/3/02).

TOXIC SUBSTANCES:

  • EPA withdrew its proposal to prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, and use of acrylamide and N-methylolacrylamide grouts. 67 FR 71524 (12/2/02).

WATER QUALITY:

  • EPA announced the availability of the draft Strategy for National Clean Water Industrial Regulations. 67 FR 71165 (11/29/02).
  • EPA withdrew certain human health and aquatic life water quality criteria for toxic pollutants applicable to the District of Columbia, Kansas, New Jersey, and Vermont because they have adopted, and EPA has approved, their own criteria. 67 FR 71843 (12/3/02).

WETLANDS:

  • DOE announced that its proposal to transfer ownership of approximately 57 acres of property of the Miamisburg Closure Project site in Ohio to a non-federal entity involves a small portion of wetlands. 67 FR 70936 (11/27/02).

WILDLIFE:

  • FWS proposed to designate critical habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy-owl. 67 FR 71031 (11/27/02).
  • FWS proposed to designate critical habitat for the Klamath River and Columbia River distinct population segments of bull trout. 67 FR 71235 (11/29/02).
  • FWS announced the availability of 25 chapters of the draft recovery plan for the bull trout for public review and comment. 67 FR 71439 (11/29/02).
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the availability of the Final Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy prepared by the Estuary Habitat Restoration Council. 67 FR 71942 (12/3/02).
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service enacted a seasonally adjusted gear restriction in order to protect endangered and threatened sea turtles by closing portions of the Mid-Atlantic Exclusive Economic Zone waters to fishing with gillnets with a mesh size larger than 8-inch stretched mesh. 67 FR 71895 (12/3/02).
  • NOAA announced temporary restrictions that apply for 15 days to lobster trap and anchored gillnet fishermen in an area totaling approximately 1,600 square nautical miles east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to provide immediate protection to an aggregation of North Atlantic right whales. 67 FR 71900 (12/3/02).

WORKER SAFETY :

  • OSHA announced that it is requesting information and comment on issues relating to occupational exposure to beryllium, including current employee exposures to beryllium, the relationship between exposure to beryllium and the development of adverse health effects, exposure assessment and monitoring methods, exposure control methods, employee training, medical surveillance for adverse health effects related to beryllium exposure, and other pertinent subjects. 67 FR 70707 (11/26/02).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENTS:

  • United States v. Chaplin, No. 5:00-CV-118 (N.D. W. Va. Nov. 8, 2002). Settling CWA defendants that operated a wastewater treatment and disposal facility at each of five apartment complexes and single family housing subdivisions in northern West Virginia must pay a $175,000 civil penalty, must obtain a permit for one of the facilities, and must implement injunctive relief, including making repairs to the facilities and maintaining service contracts on the facilities; under a second consent decree, a settling defendant must perform the same injunctive relief for the facilities at the apartment complexes it owns. 67 FR 70966 (11/27/02).
  • United States v. Motorola, Inc., No. CV-91-1835-PHX-WPC (D. Ariz. Oct. 31, 2002). Settling CERCLA defendants that previously entered into a consent decree concerning the Indian Bend Wash, North, Superfund site in Scottsdale, Arizona, must perform additional work at the site that EPA has deemed necessary. 67 FR 70967 (11/27/02).
  • United States v. Allied Waste Systems, Inc., No. 02-CV-12108-REK (D. Mass. Oct. 29, 2002). A settling CAA defendant that allegedly violated the Act in connection with its collection and handling of refuse and recyclables under a contract with Boston, Massachusetts, must pay a $782,550 civil penalty and must implement a supplemental environmental project at a cost of $2,300,000. 67 FR 72427 (12/5/02).
  • United States v. DeMert & Dougherty, Inc., No. 2:02CV434 (N.D. Ind. Oct. 30, 2002). A settling CERCLA defendant involved in bankruptcy proceedings must allow the United States a general unsecured claim of $2,225,000 in connection with costs incurred at the American Chemical Service, Inc., Superfund site in Griffith, Indiana. 67 FR 72427 (12/5/02).
  • United States v. City of Galax, Virginia, No. 7:01CV00925 (W.D. Va. Nov. 14, 2002). A settling CWA defendant that violated permit limits for nitrate plus nitrite and total suspended solids and failed to monitor stream flow rates at its sewage pumping stations must pay a $50,000 civil penalty, must expend $50,000 over two years to implement supplemental environmental projects to limit agricultural runoff into Chestnut Creek upstream of Galax, Virginia; and must operate its sewage pumping stations in a manner designed to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows. 67 FR 72428 (12/5/02).

Copyright© 2002, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

THE CONGRESS

Congress is currently not in session but will meet again January 7, 2003, to convene the 108th Congress.

Copyright© 2002, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

IN THE STATES

To see archived versions of State UPDATE, please go to the State UPDATE section of the UPDATE archive.

Copyright© 2002, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL:

  • At a November 25-29 meeting of parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, member countries agreed to a U.S. $573 million fund that is intended to reduce by half the consumption and production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in developing countries by 2005. The money will also be used to finance projects for reducing other substances that are targeted for phase-out and to supply the Protocol's Multilateral Fund through 2005. "Eliminating CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances in developing countries is the top priority today for the global campaign to return our protective ozone layer to health," said U.N. Environment Program Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakakhel. "This agreement demonstrates just how much the world's governments can achieve when they collaborate with one another in good faith to tackle a common challenge. The partnership between developed and developing countries must remain strong for many years to come, however, if the ozone layer is indeed to make a full recovery." See http://www.unep.org/Documents/Default.asp?DocumentID=274&ArticleID=3186
  • The executive committee of the Multilateral Fund also approved $82 million in funding for projects to eliminate the consumption of about 9,000 metric tons of ozone-depleting substances and the production of approximately 2,000 metric tons.
  • The European Commission published a blacklist of ships that could be banned from European waters and urged the European Union (EU) to prohibit the transport of heavy fuel in single-hulled tankers. The Commission called on EU heads of state and government to rule on the measure at a summit this week in Copenhagen. The 66 ships on the list would already be banned in Europe if legislation passed after the 1999 Erika incident off the French coast was in effect; it becomes effective next July. A second slick from the vessel Prestige washed ashore in Spain, and French authorities feared their coast would also be affected. Protests against the Spainsh government's cleanup efforts (or alleged lack thereof) occurred. 11,000 metric tons leaked from the ship.
  • The Spanish Ornithological Society said that as many as 15,000 sea birds were "seriously affected" by oil from the Prestige, and that Spain's population of 11 breeding pairs of common guillemots was destroyed.
  • In addition, the International Maritime Organization is likely to approve guidelines on creating
    safe havens for ships such as the Prestige, following Spain's order that the ship be towed away from a Spanish port.
  • Interpol said it would assist Latin American countries in combating trafficking in endangered species.
  • The Management of Indigenous Vegetation for the Rehabilitation of Degraded Rangelands in the Arid Zone of Africa project got underway. See http://www.bw.undp.org/environment_projects_high.html#vege
  • Negotiators met to discuss a protocol to the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe's 1998 Aarhus Convention. The protocol would require that member countries collect and distribute a list of dangerous substances and establish national registers of industrial pollutants released into the water, air, and soil. The proposal, expected to be finalized next May, also covers the disposal, storage, recycling, or treatment of dangerous materials such as minerals, metals, fertilizers, and hydrocarbons.
  • Representatives to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification concluded a two-week meeting in Rome. See http://www.unccd.int/cop/cric1/menu.php
  • The group Redefining Progress issued a report, Ecological Footprint of Nations, which concluded that humans are overcomsuming the Earth's biological capacity by 20%. "The global Ecological Footprint in 1999 (the latest year for which data is available) is 5.6 global acres, while the Earth's biocapacity was 4.7 global acres. The United States recorded an Ecological Footprint of 24.0 global acres, nearly doubling its national biocapacity of 13.0 global acres." See http://www.rprogress.org/media/releases/021125_efnations.html

CLIMATE CHANGE:

  • The Bush Administration held a three-day climate change meeting, which highlighted the U.S. government position that additional research is needed. The government issued a five-year plan calling for additional study. See http://www.climatescience.gov/events/workshop2002/default.htm
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chairman R.K. Pachauri, while noting that existing research shows the reality of the problem, stated that "science in the U.S. can make a major contribution to science globally in this particular area." World Meteorological Organization Secretary General G.O.P. Obasi said that "the existence of . . . uncertainties does not also imply that there is total lack of knowledge on the subject." He added that "while recognizing that a great deal still needs to be done in terms of systematic observations, scientific research and policy development, implementation and strengthened international collaboration in these areas, we should nevertheless acknowledge that much has already been achieved on the assessment of the impacts of climate change variability and potential climate change on human systems."
  • The French government's climate change commission said that it was unclear whether France would satisfy its Kyoto Protocol obligations through existing standards and programs. An environmental group said that existing emission reduction requirements would go only 10% of the way.
  • The New York Times ran another editorial urging the United States to act on, rather than study, climate change. See http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/03/science
  • Prices in the United Kingdom carbon exchange market fell slightly after several weeks of steady advances.
  • The Business Council of Australia considered supporting Kyoto ratification. See http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/s732777.htm
  • Debate began in Canada's Parliament over Kyoto ratification, while provincial premiers canceled a conference call with federal officials over lingering concerns. Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert explained that the provinces first needed to review a newly released proposed implementation plan "so that our ministers will be informed for real debate and discussion about an implementation plan." Opposition parties tried to block or delay debate, but ratification is considered likely. See http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/1038222808405_56/?hub=CTVNewsAt11

Copyright© 2002, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

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