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Weekly Update Volume 32, Issue 36

12/23/2002

LITIGATION

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

NEPA, NATIONAL FORESTS, ROADLESS RULE, INTERVENTION, STANDING, INJUNCTIONS:

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded a district court injunction prohibiting the implementation of a U.S. Forest Service rule that restricts road building in national forests. Landowners, corporations, Native American tribes, and recreational groups challenged the Forest Service's implementation of the Roadless Rule, alleging that it violated NEPA. Environmental groups intervened as defendants. The district court issued an order finding that the challengers had shown a likelihood of success on the merits and, thus, granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting the implementation of the Roadless Rule. After the Forest Service failed to appeal the injunction, the environmental groups appealed. The challengers argued that the district court erred in allowing the groups to intervene and that the groups lacked standing to appeal. The district court did err in granting intervention as of right under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a) because a private party is not a proper NEPA defendant and, therefore, the groups did not have a significant protectable interest necessary for intervention as of right. But the district court did not err in granting permissive intervention under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b). The groups asserted an interest in the use and enjoyment of roadless lands and the conservation of forest lands, and, with the federal government absent on appeal, the groups' asserted defenses significantly contributed to the case's equitable resolution. Moreover, the groups had standing to pursue the appeal without the government as an appellant because they demonstrated injury-in-fact stemming from the injunction of the Roadless Rule. Likewise, the challengers had standing to challenge the Roadless Rule's rulemaking. Nevertheless, the district court erred in issuing a preliminary injunction against the Roadless Rule. The district court held that the challengers showed probable success on the merits of the claim that the Forest Service violated NEPA by failing to provide adequate public participation and by failing to consider a reasonable range of alternatives. However, the Forest Service's failure to provide maps of the proposed roadless areas does not demonstrate probable success on the merits. Further, although the Forest Service did identify an additional 4.2 million acres of roadless area between the rule's draft EIS and the final EIS, the Forest Service's failure to prepare an EIS for the additional acreage does not invalidate the entire rule. Moreover, the district court found the 69-day public comment period for the rule grossly inadequate, but 69-days is more than 50% beyond the NEPA-required 45-day minimum for public comment. Considering the number of public meetings held and the number of comments received it cannot be reasonably concluded that the public was deprived of a meaningful dialogue or input in the rulemaking process. Likewise, the Forest Service's draft EIS and final EIS for the Roadless Rule analyzed an adequate range of alternatives, and the Forest Service adequately evaluated the cumulative effects of the rule. In addition, the district court's balance of hardships analysis failed to properly weigh the public interest in preserving the national forests in their natural state. Because the challengers no longer have a strong likelihood of success on the merits, a preliminary injunction should not issue under the balance of hardships. Kootenai Tribe of Idaho v. Veneman, Nos. 01-35472, 35539 (9th Cir. Dec. 12, 2002) (55 pp.).

INSURANCE, CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE, FUEL STORAGE:

The Sixth Circuit affirmed a district court judgment finding an Ohio oil tank maintenance company liable for the damages from a fuel leak that occurred after it negligently cut holes in an oil company's storage tank, but the oil company's failure to test the tank prior to filling rendered it contributorily negligent. The district court held that the maintenance company was 60% liable and that the oil company was 40% liable. The oil company appealed, arguing that it was not liable because its failure to test the tank did not occur until after the maintenance's company's negligent acts were complete, the only injury caused by the maintenance company was the hole in the tank, and the leak represented damages flowing from that injury. Thus, the oil company argued that there is a bright line between contributory negligence and mitigation of damages based on the timing of the parties' unreasonable acts. However, no precedent supports such a conclusion, and Ohio laws indicates that the basic principles of causation and injury govern the decision. Therefore, the district court's instruction properly stated that the oil company is contributorily negligent if its unreasonable acts combined and concurred with the maintenance company's negligence and contributed to the injury as a proximate cause and as an element without which the injury would not have occurred. The oil company did not seek to recover damages from the maintenance company for negligently damaging its tank. It sued for negligently causing the leak that resulted in the damages from the outflow of the fuel. The maintenance company alone caused the hole in the fuel tank, but the fuel leak and other injuries associated with it were the products of mixed causes, one of which was the oil company's failure to test the tank before use. Thus, based on the evidence, a jury could have found that the oil company contributed to the relevant injury--the fuel leak--by failing to test the tank, and the jury's apportionment of liability was proper. The district court also did not err in refusing to reduce the judgment against the maintenance company by the amount of the settlement reached between the oil company and the maintenance company's insurer. The oil company had filed a separate claim against the insurer and the insurer did not share liability with the maintenance company. In addition, the accrual of post-judgment on the amount owed by the maintenance company to the oil company stopped when the maintenance company attempted to make payment but was refused by the oil company. BP Exploration & Oil Co. v. Maintenance Services, Inc., Nos. 01-3137 et al. (6th Cir. Dec. 18, 2002) (7 pp.).

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, EQUAL PROTECTION, TRASH COLLECTION:

The Third Circuit affirmed a district court decision that a city's trash collection ordinance did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The ordinance stated that the city would provide trash removal services to all residential property owners except those whose property required more than the equivalent of 6 30-gallon containers of rubbish per week. Under the ordinance, the city does not provide trash removal services to multi-unit condominiums, apartments, or mixed-use commercial and apartment buildings. Several owners of condominium complexes, apartment buildings, and mixed use commercial and apartment buildings filed suit challenging the ordinance on Equal Protection grounds. The district court correctly concluded that the owners' equal protection challenge to the ordinance is subject to the rational basis standard of constitutional review. The ordinance does not draw a distinction based on a suspect classification, nor does it implicate a fundamental right. Under the rational basis test, an ordinance is constitutional if it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end. Here, the ordinance's limits on waste removal are based on economic considerations. The city has a finite budget, and trash removal costs money. Although trash removal is beneficial to health and safety, the city is forced to divide its budget among various expenditures. By limiting trash removal the city is able to spend tax dollars elsewhere. Such an economic rationale is a legitimate basis for the ordinance. Moreover, the owners' challenge to the city's refusal to provide services to individual condominiums is not a federal constitutional challenge within the scope of the appeal. In addition, the district court did not err in refusing the owners' request for leave to amend their complaint. The owners never filed a motion to amend nor provided the district court with a proposed amendment. The owners' only mention of a request to amend came in the last sentence of its motion to oppose the city's Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion. Such a single sentence, lacking a statement of the grounds for amendment, does not rise to the level of a motion to amend. Ramsgate Court Townhome Ass'n v. West Chester Borough, No. 01-2905 (3d Cir. Dec. 16, 2002) (6 pp.).

CERCLA, INFORMATION REQUESTS, CIVIL PENALTIES:

A district court ordered the imposition of a CERCLA §104(e)(5)(B) civil penalty against the president of an oil refining company who refused to respond to repeated EPA information requests regarding the disposal of oil refinery byproducts at a company site. EPA attempted to send the request to the president at three different addresses by mail, by courier, personally by an EPA employee, and finally by U.S. Marshals. Until service by the Marshals, the president rejected receipt of the requests. Eventually, the president responded but with an evasive and incomplete letter causing EPA to seek another response, which was also not entirely responsive. EPA then instituted a CERCLA §104(e)(5)(B) civil penalty action for failure to comply. The president was found liable and ordered to pay a civil penalty, and he appealed. However, EPA's requests were reasonable and, thus, valid and enforceable. Congress authorized EPA pursuant to CERCLA §104(e)(2) to make information requests relevant to EPA investigations. The scope of the request was narrowly tailored, and the requests comported with CERCLA's legislative purposes. Further, the president unreasonably failed to comply with the requests and failed to offer any valid explanation justifying his lack of response. Thus, a civil penalty was appropriate. To fashion the award, the court reviewed several factors. The president demonstrated bad faith in failing to respond timely and sufficiently to the information requests. His failure to comply with the requests injured the public by impeding EPA's investigation and increasing response costs. He had the ability to pay a substantial civil penalty, and he benefitted somewhat from his delayed requests. And a substantial civil penalty would vindicate EPA's authority to solicit information. Therefore, the court imposed a civil penalty of $1,908,000. United States v. Gurley, No. 93-2755 (W.D. Tenn. Nov. 27, 2002) (Donald, J.) (10 pp.).

LAND USE, SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY, STANDING:

The Fifth Circuit held that Texas' doctrine of sovereign immunity does not render the city of Dallas immune from a suit by the heirs of a landowner who bequested land to the city for use as a park. Under the bequest to the city, if the land was not used as a public park or if the park name was changed, the land reverted to the landowner's heirs. The city used the land as a public golf course. In 1998, the city renovated the golf course, raised green fees, and changed the course name. The heirs filed suit seeking reverter of the land because the green fees were so high the course was no longer a public park and because the park name had change. The city moved for summary judgment, but the district court denied the motion. The city appealed claiming that the heirs lacked standing and that they were barred by sovereign immunity. The heirs, however, have standing. As heirs under the deed of the land, they have a personal stake in seeing that the city adheres to the restrictions on the land. The city's failure to operate the land in accordance with the deed injured the heirs, and reverter of the lands will redress that injury. Moreover, the city has waived its immunity from suit and is not exempt from suit by the heirs. Under Texas law, immunity from liability and immunity from suit are two distinct principles. Immunity from liability protects the state against judgment even if its has consented to suit, and immunity from suit bars an action against the state unless the state expressly consents. The city conceded it waived immunity from liability by accepting the deed-restricted conveyance of the land, but it argued that it had not waived immunity from suit. However, the city charter states that the city may sue or be sued, and under Texas Supreme Court precedent, such language constitutes an express waiver of immunity from suit. Webb v. City of Dallas, No. 01-11398 (5th Cir. Dec. 16, 2002) (20 pp.).

FEDERAL POWER ACT (FPA), CWA, ANNUAL LICENSING:

The Ninth Circuit denied an environmental group's petition for review of a FERC order denying the group's request for a rehearing and revocation of an annual FPA license issued to a California hydroelectric project that lacked state water quality certification pursuant to the CWA. Prior to expiration of the project's 50-year FPA license in 1996, the project applied for a new license and a state water quality certification. The state denied the certification, and the project asked that the matter be held in abeyance in order to address water quality issues. Subsequently, when the project's 50-year license expired, FERC issued the project an annual license that renewed automatically each year until the project received a new FPA project license. In 2000, the group petitioned FERC for a rehearing of FERC's issuance of an annual license to the project. The group argued that under the CWA, a license cannot be issued unless the project has a state water quality certification. FERC issued an order denying the group's request for rehearing and its request to revoke the project's annual license. The group appealed. FERC argued that the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the challenge to the project's annual license because the group failed to seek rehearing of the project's annual license when it was first issued in 1996. However, the annual issuance of a license is the functional equivalent of an order and is subject to review from year to year. Thus, the court has jurisdiction to review the group's challenge to the project's annual license. However, annual licenses are not subject to the CWA §401(a)(1) requirement that any applicant for a federal license obtain state water quality certification before a new license is issued. The issuance of an annual license under the FPA is a nondiscretionary act that FERC has no choice but to issue to existing licensees. Only where the original licenses contain provisions allowing FERC to introduce new conditions does FERC have the authority to add license conditions, such as the state water quality certification. The project's original license contained no such reservation. Moreover, the revocation of an annual license for lack of water quality certification would contradict the legislative purpose of annual licenses, which were fashioned to prevent the abrupt termination of a power project. In addition, when Congress required applicants for licenses to provide state certification, it intended to give states control over new or altered projects not to the continued operation of a lawfully licensed project. Thus, an annual license can be issued without state water quality certification as long as FERC is proceeding in good faith with hearings necessary for renewal of a project license. California Trout, Inc. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 01-70787 (9th Cir. Dec. 16, 2002) (15 pp.).

CWA, NPDES PERMITS, STANDING:

A district court granted summary judgment to a Minnesota city sued by two environmental organizations under the CWA citizen suit provision for allegedly discharging pollutants through its storm sewer system and for violating the terms of its NPDES storm sewer permit. The city's NPDES permit required it to file an annual report. The groups claimed that the city's 2001 annual report violated its NPDES permit and that the city had discharged high concentrations of pollutants to several bodies of water. The groups lacked standing to prosecute the alleged reporting violations because the affidavits that the plaintiffs have submitted by group members do not present evidence of actual injury as a result of the alleged reporting violations. The groups have standing to sue for alleged effluent violations because alleged city pollution discharges directly affected their recreational interests and the requested injunction of city discharges would decrease the complained of pollution. However, the groups' claim that the city violated water quality standards in its permit fails. The city's NPDES stormwater permit does not require that the city comply with water quality standards. Unlike industrial dischargers, municipal dischargers do not need to comply with water quality standards. Instead, municipal storm water dischargers must reduce discharged pollutants through best management practices and other control techniques. Moreover, the state environmental agency, which has jurisdiction over the state CWA program, has the discretion to impose water quality standards for municipal storm water dischargers. For the city, the agency decided water quality standards were not feasible. In addition, the cover page of the city's permit did not require compliance with water quality standards, and the state agency's incorporation of federal regulation does not impose a substantive requirement that the city ensure compliance with water quality standards. Mississippi River Revival, Inc. v. City of St. Paul, No. 01-1887 (DSD/SRN) (D. Minn. Dec. 2, 2002) (Doty, J.) (17 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 proposed NESHAPs for the lime manufacturing source category. 67 FR 78045 (12/20/02).
  • EPA proposed NESHAPs for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines with a manufacturer's nameplate rating of above 500 brake horsepower located at major sources of hazardous air pollutants. 67 FR 77829 (12/19/02).
  • EPA proposed NESHAPs for taconite iron ore processing plants. 67 FR 77561 (12/18/02).
  • EPA announced the availability of a draft of its pending technical support document on the design of air permits for the printing sector. 67 FR 77785 (12/19/02).
  • EPA expanded the list of acceptable substitutes for ozone-depleting substances under EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy program. 67 FR 77927 (12/20/02).
  • The State Department announced that the International Joint Commission invites public comment on progress by the United States and Canada in reducing transboundary air pollution under the 1991 Canada-United States Agreement on Air Quality. 67 FR 78036 (12/20/02).
  • EPA announced its intent to grant a co-exclusive, royalty-bearing revocable license to Sensors, Inc., and Horiba Instruments, Inc., for two patents entitled "Real-time On-road Vehicle Exhaust Gas Modular Flowmeter and Emissions Reporting System" that were issued November 21, 2000, and May 7, 2002, and for a patent entitled "Real-time Exhaust Gas Modular Flowmeter and Emissions Reporting System for Mobile Apparatus" issued October 29, 2002. 67 FR 77256 (12/17/02).
  • EPA proposed to redesignate the Indian Wells Valley planning area in California from nonattainment to attainment for the NAAQS for particulate matter having an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns or less. 67 FR 77196 (12/17/02).

DRINKING WATER:

  • EPA announced that it intends to approve revisions to Tennessee's public water system supervision program. 67 FR 77271 (12/17/02).

HAZARDOUS & SOLID WASTES:

  • EPA entered into a proposed settlement under CERCLA §122(h) in connection with the Escambia Wood Preserving site in Brookhaven, Mississippi. 67 FR 77785 (12/19/02).
  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative settlement for removal action under CERCLA §122(i) in connection with the Picillo Farm Superfund site in Coventry, Rhode Island. 67 FR 77785 (12/19/02).
  • EPA proposed to grant an exemption from the ban on disposal of hazardous wastes through injection wells to Environmental Disposal Systems, Inc., of Birmingham, Michigan. 67 FR 77981 (12/20/02).
  • EPA approved revisions to New Jersey's hazardous waste program under RCRA. 67 FR 76995 (12/16/02).

NATIONAL FORESTS:

  • The U.S. Forest Service proposed to amend the rule adopted in 1994 for the notice, comment, and appeal procedures for projects and activities implementing land and resource management plans on National Forest System lands. 67 FR 77451 (12/18/02).

NATURAL RESOURCES:

  • FWS announced the availability of the revised assessment plan for the natural resource damage assessment at the St. Louis River/Interlake/Duluth Tar Superfund site. 67 FR 77287 (12/17/02).

PESTICIDES:

  • EPA announced the availability of the interim risk management decision document for the organophosphate pesticide naled. 67 FR 77783 (12/19/02).
  • EPA announced the availability of the interim risk management decision document for tetrachlorvinphos. 67 FR 77491 (12/18/02).

TRANSPORTATION:

  • The Department of Commerce announced the availability of its alternative fuel vehicle reports for fiscal years 1999, 2000, and 2001. 67 FR 77743 (12/19/02).
  • The Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration announced that they are proposing a nationwide programmatic U.S. Department of Transportation Act §4(f) evaluation for use in certain federally assisted or direct federal transportation improvement projects where the use of land from a §4(f) park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge, or historic property will result in a net benefit to the §4(f) property. 67 FR 77551 (12/18/02).

WATER QUALITY:

  • EPA Regions 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 proposed NPDES general permits for discharges from large and small construction activity. 67 FR 78115 (12/20/02).
  • EPA announced that it is issuing final NPDES general permits for reject water from reverse osmosis units to certain waters in the state of Massachusetts. 67 FR 77258 (12/17/02).
  • EPA proposed to assess a class II administrative penalty under CWA §309(g) of up to $137,500 against a company for various discharges from an inactive copper mine and copper ore processing facility, known as the Christmas Facility, located near Winkelman, Arizona, to Dripping Springs Wash in violation of its NPDES permit and for various violations of reporting requirements of that permit. 67 FR 77786 (12/19/02).
  • EPA announced the availability of the administrative record file and the calculations for one total maximum daily load (TMDL) prepared by EPA Region 6 for waters listed in the Ouachita river basin in Louisiana under CWA §303(d). 67 FR 77994 (12/20/02).
  • EPA announced final agency action on 37 TMDLs prepared by EPA Region 6 for waters listed in the state of Arkansas under CWA §303(d). 67 FR 77492 (12/18/02).
  • EPA announced the availability for comment of the administrative record file for 12 modified TMDLs and the calculations for these TMDLs prepared by EPA Region 6 for waters listed in the Mermentau and Vermilion/Teche river basins in Louisiana under CWA §303(d). 67 FR 77257 (12/17/02).

WILDLIFE:

  • The State Department issued the full text of the conservation measures adopted at the Twenty-first Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources held in Hobart, Tasmania, October 21 to November 1, 2002. 67 FR 77875 (12/19/02).

WORKER SAFETY:

  • OSHA is delaying the effective date of three provisions of the Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements rule published January 19, 2001 (66 FR 5916-6135). 67 FR 77165 (12/17/02).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENTS:

  • United States v. Potomac Electric Power Co., No. AW 02-4013 (D. Md. Dec. 11, 2002). A settling Oil Pollution Act defendant must pay approximately $2.7 million for natural resource damages arising from an April 7, 2000, spill of oil from the rupture in an oil pipeline at the Chalk Point Generating Station near Aquasco, Maryland, and must pay approximately $318,000 for remaining unpaid damage assessment costs. 67 FR 77804 (12/19/02).
  • United States v. Western Processing Co., Nos. C83-252M, C89-214M (W.D. Wash. Nov. 25, 2002). Settling CERCLA defendants must pay $474,447.16 in past U.S. response costs incurred at the Western Processing Superfund site in Kent, Washington, between January 1, 1997, through June 30, 1998; must pay $100,000 in past response costs to the state of Washington; and must pay 95% of all remaining response costs incurred by the United States and the state after June 30, 1998; five minor generators of hazardous substances must pay the defendants $450,000 to resolve their liability for past and future response costs at the site; and the United States, on behalf of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, and Navy, must pay the defendants $118,000 to resolve any remaining liability it may have at the site. 67 FR 77805 (12/19/02)

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

Click on a state name below to see its information in ELR UPDATE. Or go to http://www.elr.info/State/stateupdate.cfm to view the complete section.

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

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL:

  • The Australian Institute of Marine Science issued a report which noted progress in reducing the extent of bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef. While nearly 60% of the reef was affected after the 1997-98 El Nino weather event, today only 6% of the 1,200-mile reef system is affected, according to the Institute. See http://www.aims.gov.au/index-ie2.html, http://www.guardian.co.uk/australia/story/0,12070,861814,00.html, and http://www.unesco.org/bpi/eng/unescopress/2002/02-107e.shtml
  • The United Nations (U.N.) Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals endorsed a new program on chemical safety that includes measures on proper management, hazard classification, and pictogram labeling, in order to implement Agenda 21 of the 1992 Rio summit (U.N. Conference on Environment and Development). See http://www.unece.org/press/pr2002/02trans07e.htm
  • The U.N. General Assembly passed several resolutions dealing with issues arising from the sinking of the Prestige. See http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2002/GA10122.doc.htm
  • The European Commission, in a press release, stated that it had "presented an ambitious proposal for WTO negotiations on agriculture, calling for improved market opening and reduction of trade distorting support. The key elements in the Commission paper are proposals to cut import tariffs by 36%, to slash export subsidies by 45%, and to reduce trade distorting domestic farm support by more than half (55%)--providing there is fair burden sharing from other developed countries in particular. The proposal also contains specific actions to give developing countries a better deal: duty-free and quota-free access for all farm exports from the world's poorest countries; rich countries to give access at zero duty to at least 50% of their imports from developing countries; and a "food security box" including measures to facilitate development and preserve key food security crops through a special safeguard. The proposal also re-emphasises the importance of non-trade concerns such as the environment, rural development and animal welfare." European Union (EU) farm commissioner Franz Fischler said: "Today the Commission has delivered. We stick to the Doha timetable, we stick to our promises. Unlike other proposals, ours is not tactical. It meets the objectives agreed at Doha. It is pragmatic but wide-ranging and ambitious. We go for an approach which does not put the burden of liberalisation only on others, but leads to a fair burden sharing among developed countries. All the developed countries have to move. The EU is ready to do its part. Our willingness to cut trade distorting farm subsidies by half, to abolish export refunds for certain products and slash them for others should not be underestimated. Developing countries need not just rhetoric but real benefits from the North. There is also something in it for our farmers, who will get better access to the world markets." See http://www.europa.eu.int
  • The European Parliament and the Council agreed on wording of a new directive that will implement part of the Aarhus Convention into European legislation. Commissioner Wallström said that "this Directive brings us one step further in implementing the Aarhus Convention. In practice, it will enable European citizens to take part more effectively in environmental decision-making which affects them. If the public is aware of environmental issues, and involved in decisions, then the decisions are likely to be of a better quality, because relevant information and interests will have been taken into account. And those decisions are also likely to be better implemented and respected, because stakeholders will have been involved in the decision." According to the European Commission, "the new Directive establishes basic procedures for public participation in important plans and programmes relating to the environment, in the sectors of waste, air pollution and protection of water against nitrate pollution. The Directive also introduces for the first time public participation in the decision-making on environmentally significant projects. To do so, it amends the Directives on environmental impact assessment and integrated pollution prevention and control. It also establishes access to justice, giving the public a possibility to challenge the legality of decisions, acts or omissions subject to the public participation provisions. Within the framework of the Directive, Member States will have to establish the practical arrangements to provide for effective and early participation." See http://www.europa.eu.int
  • Basel Convention members announced an agreement with 10 cellular phone makers--LG, Mitsubishi, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Matsushita, Motorola, NEC, Philips and Siemens--to foster increased recycling and safe disposal of cell phones. More than a billion phones are currently in use. See http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=5628&Cr=hazardous&Cr1=waste
  • The World Bank said it might suspend or cancel a $350 million loan to Pakistan because of its failure to implement environmental controls in association with construction of a hydroelectric power facility.
  • The Asian Development Bank gave Indonesia a $161 million loan to support renewable energy projects. See http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2002/nr2002260.asp
  • Costa Rican Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said that an additional $70 million had been pledged toward the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, bringing the total commitment to over $470 million over the next 5 years. The Corridor, which goes from southern Mexico to Panama, is home to 8% of the Earth's biodiversity.
  • A commentary published in the Daily Nation of Kenya said Kenya's Lake Naivasha, which was designated as significant under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, could be destroyed within 20 years due to overfishing, pollution, invasive species, and water diversion. See http://www.nationaudio.com/News/DailyNation/Today/Comment/Comment161220020.html

CLIMATE CHANGE:

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that data maintained by its members suggest that 2002 will be the second-warmest year on record, behind 1998. The Earth's mean surface temperature for 2002 will be about 0.5 degrees Celsius above the 1961-90 average; the 10 warmest years in the 1860-to-present recording period have occurred since 1987. "Clearly, for the past 25 or 26 years, the warming is accelerating....The rate of increase is unprecedented in the last 1,000 years," WMO climate chief Kenneth Davidson said. WMO Assistant Secretary General Hong Yan added that "if no very effective measures are taken for preventing further release of greenhouse gases, then the trend will continue." See http://www.wmo.ch/web/Press/Press684.pdf
  • NASA scientists agreed, saying that the Earth's average temperature for 2002 was 58.35 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with 58.12 degrees in 2001 and 58.41 degrees in 1998.
  • Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia and Jonathan Patz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health published a report in Nature suggesting that increases in malaria rates in eastern Africa may be due, at least in part, to global warming. "In principle, there could well be a connection between a warming of climate and an extension of malaria incidence in a population," Hulme said. "At the moment, we can't rule it out. We're not trying to say we have convincing and conclusive proof that climate change is causing malaria, but equally, we don't agree with the previous authors," Hulme noted. "We want to keep the door open that climate change might be causing the malaria increase." See http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=healthNews&storyID=1892309
  • Atle Christiansen of PointCarbon said there could be an eight billion euro ($8.07 billion) emissions trading market in Europe by 2007.
  • Switzerland's Senate voted in favor of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. See http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=113&sid=1512811
  • Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien signed an instrument of ratification following last week's passage in the House of Commons. Ratification by Russia is now needed for the Protocol to go into effect, due to the United States' decision not to participate. "Go ...to the United Nations and you say to them that Canada is a good citizen of the world," said Chretien in handing off the ratification instrument to David Anderson, Environment Minister.
  • European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "I warmly welcome Canada's decision to ratify. I am aware that this decision has been taken after long and difficult discussions in Canada. But now Canada has joined the European Union in showing leadership in the fight against climate change. The Kyoto Protocol is the only international framework that allows the world community to join forces to fight climate change. I look forward to continue our co-operation with Canada on what is perhaps the biggest threat to global sustainable development." The Protocol has been ratified by 97 countries. The European Union called on Russia to ratify as well.
  • Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal promised Canada's energy industry that emissions from oil and gas facilities will be "at a level not more than 15 per cent below projected business-as-usual levels for 2010." See http://www.co2e.com/News/story.asp?StoryID=948
  • Canadian Alliance member Bob Mills, who party voted against ratification, said the controversy wasn't over. "We will be watching this government at every budget to examine how much it wastes chasing this potential economic disaster. We'll also keep their feet to the fire in seeing how they actually live up to Kyoto. Article 3 of the accord says each signatory party 'shall by 2005, have made demonstrable progress in achieving its commitments,'" he said. See http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2002/12/17/7558-cp.html

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

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