Jump to Content

Weekly Update Volume 34, Issue 14

05/17/2004

LITIGATION

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

CWA, LABORATORY ERROR DEFENSE, PENALTY ASSESSMENT:

The Third Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded in part a district court order finding a company liable and assessing penalties against it for violating the CWA at five of its manufacturing facilities. Contrary to the district court's holding, the laboratory error defense--where the error resulted in overreporting--is not inconsistent with the CWA's regime of strict liability. Rather, inasmuch as the penalty imposed is for an unlawful discharge and not for faulty reporting, deprivation of the defense would not advance the purpose of the CWA and it would be grossly unfair, especially in view of the presence of companion provisions of the CWA imposing liability for monitoring and reporting violations. In addition, the district court's application of a 12.73% interest rate to calculate the company's economic benefit was an abuse of discretion because the court's calculation of the company's weighted average cost of capital was unsupported by the evidence. Last the court held that district courts have discretion to determine how many violation days should be assessed for penalty purposes for the violation of a monthly average limit, based on whether violations are already sufficiently sanctioned as violations of a daily maximum limit. Because the district court did not have the benefit of this standard, its penalty assessment was remanded for further proceedings. United States v. Allegheny Ludlum Corp., No. 02-4346 (3d Cir. Apr. 28, 2004) (35 pp.).

CAA, SIP :

The Ninth Circuit held that a state's general permit rule for agricultural emissions constituted best available control measures (BACM), and that EPA properly considered technological and economic feasibility of various control measures in determining whether the state satisfied most stringent measures (MSM). The court remanded to EPA whether using reformulated diesel fuel as an emissions control measure satisfied BACM and MSM but determined that EPA's approval of the state plan to include diesel emissions in the on-road and non-road emissions significant source category was proper. EPA did not abuse its discretion when it granted the state a five-year extension of the statutory attainment deadline because the state satisfied BACM, but the extension issue was remanded insofar as that question depends on EPA's determination regarding MSM.Vigil v. Leavitt, No. 02-72424 (9th Cir. May 10, 2004) (33 pp.).

PRECONSTRUCTION PERMIT, MAJOR STATIONARY SOURCE:

The Eleventh Circuit held that EPA acted arbitrarily and capriciously in failing to object to a state preconstruction permit for a new "power block" at a Georgia power plant. Georgia's preconstruction permit rule prohibits the state from granting permits to applicants that own or operate noncompliant major stationary sources. Here, the applicant owns part of a noncompliant major stationary source. The state rule is not clear regarding how to treat a partial owner of a noncompliant major stationary source. Although the court would ordinarily defer to EPA's reasonable interpretation, the Agency failed entirely to address or explain this problem in deciding not to object to the permit. EPA implicitly assumed that a major stationary source can be broken into parts with compliance determined individually for purposes of the Georgia rule. Without explanation or acknowledgment, the Agency gave the term "major stationary source" two different meanings in a single regulatory sentence. The court therefore vacated and remanded EPA's order denying an environmental group's petition for review. Sierra Club v. Leavitt, No. 03-10266 (11th Cir. May 5, 2004) (18 pp.).

ENDANGERED SPECIES, TRADE, VALID EXPORT PERMITS:

The D.C. Circuit held that the U.S. detention of several shipments of bigleaf mahogany from Brazil was authorized by the ESA and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The USDA detained the shipments after Brazil's Management Authority informed it that the specimens may not have been legally obtained. The corporate consignees of the disputed shipments filed suit arguing that because the export permits accompanying the shipments were signed and issued by Brazil’s Management Authority, the USDA's detention of the shipments was arbitrary and capricious. Although 50 C.F.R. §23.14(a) requires that an export permit be issued and signed by the foreign Management Authority in order to be accepted, it does not say that these requirements are the only conditions that an agency may lawfully require before accepting a permit. Here, the ESA, CITES, and the applicable regulations support the view that more than a facial satisfaction of §23.14(a) is required where the United States has reason to doubt whether the export permits in question were issued in compliance with CITES.Castlewood Products, Ltd. Liability Corp. v. Norton, No. 03-5161 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 30, 2004) (16 pp.).

FLPMA, NEPA, FOREST AND RANGELAND RENEWABLE RESOURCES PLANNING ACT (FRRRPA):

A district court reversed a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to renew a special use permit without a bypass flow condition from a reservoir that failed to minimize damage to downstream fish and aquatic habitat as required by FLPMA §505. In so doing, the Forest Service rejected its own environmentally preferred planning alternative which included a bypass flow requirement in the permit to approximate the creek's natural flows. The Forest Service did not violate NEPA because information missing from the EIS was not essential to a reasoned decision, nor was a supplemental EIS necessary since changes to the permit did not significantly affect the environment. Moreover, the Forest Service had authority to amend the forest plan to renew the permit under the FRRRPA, and thus did not act arbitrarily in treating the amendment as a nonsignificant change.Trout Unlimited v. U.S. Department of Agriculture, No. 96-WY-2686-WD (D. Colo. Apr. 28, 2004) (Downes, J.) (38 pp.).

ESA, MARINE MAMMAL PROTECTION ACT (MMPA), APA, JURISDICTION, MOOTNESS:

A district court dismissed ESA and MMPA claims filed against the FWS by individuals seeking permits to construct docks and other structures on Florida waterways, but gave the individuals leave to file an amended complaint. The individuals sought review of agency action, therefore, they are subject to the jurisdictional and judicial review limitations of the APA. The individuals' claims for declaratory relief that the FWS should not apply the MMPA to their pending and future permits were dismissed because they seek review of non-final agency action. No biological opinion (BO) has been rendered by the FWS as to these permits. The individuals, however, may file an amended complaint under the APA once the FWS renders a BO. In addition, the individuals' remaining claims that the FWS failed to timely complete consultations and render BOs under the ESA are moot because the FWS has rendered BOs on these permits. The individuals failed to show a likelihood that the FWS will in the future fail to meet the statutory deadline for conducting consultations or rendering BOs. Hence, the capable-of-repetition-yet-evading-review exception does not apply.Florida Marine Contractors v. Williams, No. 2:03-cv-229-T-30SPC (M.D. Fla. Apr. 22, 2004) (Moody, J.) (12 pp.) (defense counsel included Mark A. Brown of the U.S. DOJ in Washington, D.C.).

INSURANCE, ABSOLUTE POLLUTION EXCLUSION:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed, without opinion, an appellate court's decision that an absolute pollution exclusion unambiguously bars coverage for injuries caused by gasoline that leaked from an underground gas line at a service station. The policyholder argued that the exclusion should not be applied to bar coverage for a gasoline leak where the central business of the policyholder involved gasoline. The appellate court disagreed, holding that once the gasoline was introduced into an environment in which it does not belong, in this case, the surrounding soil and groundwater, it is an excluded pollutant. It also rejected the policyholder's argument that the unequal bargaining power between the policyholder and the insurer warranted departure from the policy's plain language. Wagner v. Erie Insurance Co., No. J-118-2003 (Pa. Apr. 29, 2004) (1 p.) (counsel for amicus curiae included Laura Foggan of Wiley, Rein & Fielding L.L.P. in Washington, D.C.).

PROPERTY LAW, ZONING VARIANCE:

New York's highest court held that a local zoning board of appeals did not abuse its discretion in denying a landowner's application for an area variance to build a house. The board's denial of the variance was neither an abuse of discretion nor irrational under the circumstances presented. Nor did the board base its decision on generalized community objections. The board reasonably considered all of the factors delineated in Town Law §267-b and weighed the owner's interest against the interest of the neighborhood. Local zoning boards have broad discretion in considering applications for area variances, and it was well within this board's discretion to deny a variance that would have allowed the owner to take advantage of an illegally nonconforming parcel by erecting a dwelling upon it. Pecoraro v. Board of Appeals of Town of Hempstead, No. 59 (N.Y. May 4, 2004) (10 pp.).

Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved

THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

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

AGRICULTURE:

  • USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation, which provides funding for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), adopted as final an interim rule for that program published on May 8, 2003 (68 FR 24830); the final rule, which made no changes in the interim rule, revises regulations associated with the CRP in order to cost-effectively target the program to more environmentally sensitive acreage and comply with amendments made by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 104-171).69 FR 26755(5/14/04).
  • USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced the availability of proposed changes to two conservation practice standards contained in the field office technical guide for the Service's operations in Indiana; the changes concern cover crop and fish pond management practices that can be used in conservation systems to treat highly erodible land and/or wetlands.69 FR 25058(5/5/04).
  • NRCS and USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation announced the process for determining priority watersheds and details of enrollment categories that will be used in the FY 2004 sign-up for the Conservation Security Program, a voluntary financial and technical support program that assists private and tribal agricultural producers who implement certain environmental conservation and improvement measures on their lands.69 FR 24560(5/4/04).

AIR:

  • EPA announced the availability of and requested comment on new data concerning carbon dioxide total flooding fire extinguishing systems, which currently are listed as acceptable substitutes for halon 1301 (an ozone-depleting substance) under the CAA Significant New Alternatives Policy Program.69 FR 26059(5/11/04).
  • EPA announced the availability of FY 2003 grant performance reports for Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, and some local agencies within those states; the evaluations, required by EPA's grant regulations, assess the state and local agencies' performance with respect to grants awarded by EPA under CAA §105.69 FR 26093(5/11/04).
  • EPA updated fee regulations associated with certain CAA compliance programs, including those for light-duty vehicles and trucks, heavy-duty highway vehicles and engines, and highway motorcycles; EPA also added fee requirements to compliance programs affecting certain non-road engines and vehicles for which emission standards have been finalized.69 FR 26221(5/11/04).
  • EPA requested applications for critical use exemptions from the phaseout of methyl bromide scheduled to occur by January 1, 2005; the exemptions are designed to allow continued production and import of methyl bromide after the phaseout for uses that have no technically and economically feasible alternatives.69 FR 25570(5/7/04).
  • EPA proposed guidelines for implementing best available retrofit technology (BART) requirements and making BART determinations under the regional haze rule, and amended that rule to conform to new statutory deadlines created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108–109).69 FR 25183(5/5/04).

DRINKING WATER:

  • EPA tentatively approved a revision to Arkansas' public water supervision program that adopts the "long term 1" enhanced surface water treatment rule to improve control of microbial pathogens (specifically, the protozoan cryptosporidium) in drinking water supplied by public water systems serving 10,000 people or fewer.69 FR 24598(5/4/04).

HAZARDOUS AND SOLID WASTES:

  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative settlement under CERCLA concerning the Tyler Refrigeration Pit Superfund site in Smyrna, Delaware, that requires the setting party to pay $49,429 in past EPA response costs.69 FR 26603(5/13/04).
  • EPA announced the availability of and requested comment on DOE documents characterizing transuranic radioactive waste currently located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and proposed for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a facility located near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico that is being developed as a deep geologic repository for such waste.69 FR 26351(5/12/04).
  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative settlement under CERCLA concerning the Mineral County Memorial Airport site in Creede, Colorado; the settling respondent must provide EPA and the state access to the site, perform cleanup activities at the site pursuant to plans approved by the state's voluntary cleanup program, and place land use controls on the site.69 FR 26389(5/12/04).
  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative order on consent under CERCLA with six potentially responsible parties associated with the PCB Treatment Inc. Superfund site in Kansas City, Missouri.69 FR 25578(5/7/04).
  • EPA proposed to approve Missouri's application to operate an underground storage tank program under RCRA in lieu of the federal underground storage tank program, and requested public comment on the state's application.69 FR 25053(5/5/04).
  • EPA entered into an administrative order on consent under CERCLA concerning the Gem Park Complex/Old Vermiculite Mine site in Fremont County, Colorado; the settling parties must pay $2,500 to the EPA Hazardous Substances Superfund and allow the Agency access to the site for one year.69 FR 24156(5/3/04).

INFORMATION:

  • DOI's Geological Survey announced the availability of and requested comment on guidelines concerning the identification of sensitive contents of geospatial data sets and how organizations should decide the extent of access to such data they can provide while protecting information potentially relevant to security concerns.69 FR 24182(5/3/04).

INTERNATIONAL:

  • The Department of State announced the certification, pursuant to §609 of Pub. L. 101-162, of 14 nations that have adopted programs for reducing the incidental capture of sea turtles in their shrimp fisheries comparable to the program in effect in the United States; shrimp imports from any nation without certification were prohibited as of May 1, 2004.69 FR 26916(5/14/04).

OVERSIGHT:

  • NOAA announced the availability of and requested public comment on the draft final report of the research review team commissioned by the U.S. House and Senate appropriations subcommittees to review the Administration's research generally while focusing on the work of the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research specifically, and to comment on how NOAA should improve management of its research to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness.69 FR 26809(5/14/04).

PESTICIDES AND TOXIC SUBSTANCES:

  • EPA announced the availability of a new public participation process that will be used in pesticide tolerance reassessment and re-registration processes; the process was first proposed by EPA and USDA in March 2000 (65 FR 14199), after a two-year pilot program.69 FR 26819(5/14/04).
  • EPA announced the availability of and requested comment on human health and environmental fate and effects risk assessments and related documents developed during the Agency's re-registration eligibility decision and tolerance reassessment process for cycloate, a broad-spectrum herbicide used to control annual grasses and broadleaf weeds.69 FR 26382(5/12/04).
  • EPA published a list of requests for emergency exemptions to FIFRA the Agency granted or denied during the period from January 1, 2004, through March 31, 2004, for the control of unforeseen pest outbreaks; the requests were submitted by various states and mainly concerned methods for controlling varroa mites and small hive beetles.69 FR 25107(5/5/04).
  • EPA required manufacturers (including importers) of 15 chemicals to report certain unpublished health and safety data concerning the chemicals to EPA; the Interagency Testing Committee, established under the TSCA, recommended that these chemicals be considered for priority testing, and EPA accordingly added them to the TSCA priority testing list and promulgated today's rule requiring additional data reporting.69 FR 24517(5/4/04).

PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION:

  • The President issued Executive Order No. 13,337 (April 30, 2004), intended to expedite the review and issuance of permits for energy production and transmission projects and facilities for motor and rail vehicle and other land transportation operations at U.S. border crossings; the order affects projects and operations that do not require construction or maintenance of facilities connecting the United States with a foreign country, and is meant to accelerate the completion of such projects and operations while maintaining safety, public health, and environmental protections.69 FR 25299(5/5/04).

PUBLIC HEALTH:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced the establishment of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR); the board was established as a result of a recent consolidation of the ATSDR and the offices of the director of the NCEH.69 FR 25396(5/6/04).

SMCRA PROGRAM:

  • OSM did not approve an amendment to the Kentucky regulatory program under SMCRA that would have allowed the June 19, 2003, transfer of $3,000,000 from the state's bond pool fund, which finances reclamation activities in the event of bond forfeiture and covers administrative costs, audits and actuarial studies, and operating and legal expenses associated with the commonwealth's general fund for SMCRA activities and the bond pool commission, to the commonwealth's FY 2002–2003 general fund, and also would have allowed the March 1, 3004, transfer of $840,00 from the bond pool to the general fund; however, because these transfers already occurred, Kentucky now has 60 days to either put $3,840,000 into the bond pool fund or provide OSM a written plan detailing how the commonwealth will accomplish this action.69 FR 26500(5/13/04).
  • OSM proposed to approve revisions to West Virginia's regulatory program under SMCRA that make the program consistent with federal requirements; the changes specifically affect provisions intended to promote reclamation and husbandry techniques conducive to the development of productive forestlands and wildlife habitat after mining.69 FR 26340(5/12/04).

WATER QUALITY:

  • The Federal Interagency Mitigation Workgroup, a collaborative effort among EPA, USDA and NRCS, DOD and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOT, the DOI and FWS, and the Department of Commerce and NOAA to meet requirements of the National Mitigation Action Plan (signed in December 2002), announced the availability of a requested comment on a draft technical resource document intended to assist with stream mitigation,Physical Stream Assessment: A Review of Selected Protocols for Use in the Clean Water Act Section 404 Program.69 FR 26823(5/14/04).
  • EPA published a list of discrete coastal recreation waters adjacent to beaches and similar points of access used by the public, per requirements of CWA §406(g) as amended by the Beach Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act; this national list of beaches is based on information states provided EPA as of December 2003.69 FR 24597(5/4/04).

WILDLIFE:

  • FWS issued four permits authorizing the taking of marine mammals after determining that each petition would not disadvantage an endangered species and would be consistent with the purposes and policies of the ESA.69 FR 26045(5/12/04).
  • NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service announced that it has received and is reviewing applications from two Mexican fishing vessels to engage in the transportation of fish products within the boundaries of a U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); this public notification is required by the the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The fishing vessels would operate in Pacific waters of a U.S. EEZ and transfer live tuna from U.S. purse seiners to an aquaculture facility in Baja California, Mexico.69 FR 25882(5/10/04).
  • NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service prohibited the use of all pound net leaders set with inland leader ends more than 10 horizontal feet from the mean low water line in Virginia waters of the mainstem Chesapeake Bay annually from May 6 through July 15; outside the specific waters detailed in the notice, the prohibition on leaders with more than or equal to 12 inches of stretched mesh and leaders with stringers (restrictions established in an interim final rule in June 2002) will apply annually over the same period.69 FR 24997(5/5/04).
  • NOAA published annual management measures and sport fishing requirements promulgated as regulations by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and accepted by the U.S. Secretary of State.69 FR 24524(5/4/04).
  • FWS published the 2003 Candidate Notice of Review, an updated list of plant and animal species the Service has proposed for federal protection under the ESA or considers candidates for ESA protection as endangered or threatened species; the Service requested status information on the listed species and on additional species that should be included in future list updates.69 FR 24875(5/4/04).
  • FWS revised regulations concerning the enhancement of survival permits issued under the ESA (permits to take ESA-listed species or to engage in other activities prohibited by the Act in order to enhance the propagation or survival of a listed species) to make two types of such permits, Safe Harbor Agreements and Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, easier to understand and implement.69 FR 24084(5/3/04).

DOJ NOTICE OF SETTLEMENT:

  • United States v. Keysor-Century Corp., No. 04-2823-CAS (RCx) (C.D. Cal. April 22, 2004). A settling defendant who committed numerous violations of the CAA, CWA, EPCRA, and RCRA at the defendant's polyvinyl chloride manufacturing and resin compounding plant in Saugus, California, must pay (pursuant to the defendant's Chapter 11 bankruptcy liquidation proceedings) $307,000 in administrative expenses, allow a subordinate general unsecured claim of $735,420, and allow a general unsecured claim of $168,855; the defendant also must halt discharges of pollutants from the plant, certify that the plant has been shut down and will not be re-opened, demonstrate compliance with all provisions of the previously violated Acts, and agree that emission reductions resulting from the plant's shutdown will not be banked or otherwise used as emission reduction credits by other facilities in the court district.69 FR 26617(5/13/04).
  • United States v. Koch Industries, Inc., No. 6:04-cv-01134-MLB-KMH (D. Kan. April 29, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA must pay $250,000 plus five percent of any EPA response costs that exceed $5,097,435; the settlement concerns costs associated with the 57th and North Broadway Superfund site in Wichita, Kansas.69 FR 16618(5/13/04).
  • United States v. Madison County, No. No. 4:02 CV 215 SPM/WW (N.D. Fla. April 16, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA must reimburse outstanding past EPA response costs of $797.19 incurred at the Madison County Sanitary Landfill Superfund site in Florida, and pay future oversight costs associated with the remedial action currently being performed by Madison County and the City of Madison pursuant to a unilateral EPA order.69 FR 16618(5/13/04).
  • United States v. City of Monroe, No. 04-0944 (W.D. La. April 27, 2004). A settling defendant who violated the CWA by allowing sanitary sewer overflows and other violations of the defendant's national pollutant discharge elimination system permit must carry out specific projects to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant and sewage collection system, identify and make other upgrades as necessary to that collection system, prepare and implement a sewage collection system preventative maintenance plan, prepare and implement a sewage treatment plant preventative maintenance plan, pay a civil penalty of $235,000 ($165,500 to the United States and $70,500 to the state of Louisiana), and, as a supplemental environmental project, spend at least $500,000 maintaining for five years a public waste disposal facility at a boat dock at Forsythe Point in Monroe, Louisiana.69 FR 26618(5/13/04).
  • United States v. Precision National Plating Services, Inc., No. 3:04 CV 936 (M.D. Pa. April 29, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA must pay $800,000 in past EPA response costs incurred at the Precision National Plating Services Superfund site in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania.69 FR 26619(5/13/04).
  • United States v. True Manufacturing Co., No. 4:04CV495-JCH (E.D. Mo. April 28, 2004). A defendant who violated the CAA by constructing and operating various modifications at a refrigeration manufacturing plant without first obtaining a construction/operating permit as required by the state's federally approved new source review rules, operating the plant without first applying for or obtaining a operating permit required by the state's federally approved Title V provisions, violating a federally approved state rule that requires training for all persons involved in solvent metal cleaning or degrading at installations that emit volatile organic compounds from solvent metal cleaning or degreasing operations, and allegedly also violated the CWA and RCRA, must play a civil penalty of $1,500,000, remove from the plant the equipment not covered by required permits, replace all solvent-based ink presses in the plant with presses the use ultraviolet light to cure ink, install three silk-screen cleaning machines that are enclosed systems and provide for solvent recovery, and install a water filtration system.69 FR 26619(5/13/04).
  • United States v. Glidden Co., No. 1:02CV2447 (N.D. Ohio April 21, 2004). A settling party under CERCLA must pay $343,000 of approximately $502,316 in unreimbursed past EPA response costs incurred at the Ohio Drum Superfund site in Cleveland, Ohio; if such payment is not received when due, the settling defendant must pay an additional $500 per day until payment is made.69 FR 25414(5/6/04).

Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

THE CONGRESS

CHAMBER ACTION:

  • S. 4882 (brownfields), Allard Amendment No. 3118, which would provide for a brownfields demonstration program for qualified green building and sustainable design projects, was adopted by the Senate.150 Cong. Rec. S4894 (daily ed. May 5, 2004).

BILLS INTRODUCED:

  • S. 2387 (Conrad, D-Nev.)(water), would amend the Water Resources Development Act of 1999 to direct the Secretary of the Army to provide assistance to design and construct a project to provide a continued safe and reliable municipal water supply system for Devils Lake, North Dakota. 150 Cong. Rec. S4911 (daily ed. May 5, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • S. 2394 (Santorum, R-Pa.)(remediation costs), would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to expand the expensing of environmental remediation costs. 150 Cong. Rec. S5043 (daily ed. May 7, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.
  • S. 2397 (Boxer, D-Cal.) (forest), would adjust the boundary of the John Muir National Historic Site, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. S5078 (daily ed. May 10, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2406 (Clinton, D-N.Y.)(electricity), would promote the reliability of the electric transmission grid through the Cross-Sound Cable. 150 Cong. Rec. S5227 (daily ed. May 11, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2408 (Burns, R-Mont.)(forest), would adjust the boundaries of the Helena, Lolo, and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests in the State of Montana. 150 Cong. Rec. S5227 (daily ed. May 11, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • H.R. 4291 (Meehan, D-Mass.)(federal lands), would direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a boundary study to evaluate the significance of the Colonel James Barrett Farm in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the suitability and feasibility of its inclusion in the National Park System as part of the Minute Man National Historical Park, and for other purposes.150 Cong. Rec. H2657 (daily ed. May 5, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 4297 (Simpson,R-Idaho )(energy), would provide loan guarantees for renewable energy projects using biomass material. 150 Cong. Rec. H2657 (daily ed. May 5, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture.
  • H.R. 4300 (Issa, R-Cal.)(wastewater), would amend the Reclamation Wastewater and Groundwater Study and Facilities Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to participate in the Eastern Municipal Water District Recycled Water System Pressurization and Expansion Project. 150 Cong. Rec. H2727 (daily ed. May 6, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 4309, (Hill, D-Ind.)(ozone), would amend the Clean Air Act to provide needed flexibility to States regarding the designation of certain counties as nonattainment areas for ozone under the 8-hour ozone standard, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H2727 (daily ed. May 6, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 4332 (Gibbons, R-Nev.) (lands), would provide for the proper development of Federal lands in Clark County, Nevada, to best promote public welfare and economic development consistent with surrounding airport usage. 150 Cong. Rec. H2815 (daily ed. May 11, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 4344 (Foley, R-Fla.)(water), would authorize water resources projects for Indian River Lagoon-South and Southern Golden Gates Estates, Collier County, in the State of Florida. 150 Cong. Rec. H2917 (daily ed. May 12, 2004) to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Copyright© 2004, 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.cfmto view the complete section.

Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL:

  • Scientists from Newcastle upon Tyne and Oxford universities released a study, published in the journalEcology Letters, finding that even small-scale subsistence fishing does substantial damage to coral reefs. Seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/conservation/story/0,13369,1209719,00.html
  • Australia's government said it would cut funding, beginning in 2005, to three cooperative research centers because they have neither gotten significant corporate support nor sought to "commercialize" their findings. Queensland state Premier Peter Beattie criticized the announcement, saying that "what it means in a nutshell is that we're flying blind about the future of the reef and that's the problem. You need to have the science to give us the eyes to see how to protect it. This is really bad news for the reef." Kim Carr, science and research spokesman for the opposition Labor Party, said the research centers, which are cooperative efforts between universities, state governments, and the private sector, are "critical to the health of the reef."
  • The World Fisheries Congress was held in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Portuguese Foreign Minister Teresa Gouveia rejected Canada's contention that two Portuguese trawlers, which were seized off the Grand Banks in the North Atlantic, had been engaged in illegal fishing activity.
  • Kenya said it would switch to unleaded gasoline by 2006. Within Africa, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Eritrea and Mauritius have already made the transition. Only 4% of the fuel currently sold in Kenya is unleaded.
  • The U.K. Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution said that the government was not doing enough to encourage the use of biomass as fuel. Seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3700887.stm
  • Norway kicked off its whaling season by sending a fleet of vessels to the Barents Sea. Seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3701805.stm
  • A joint United Nations World Conservation Monitoring Center and International Network for Bamboo and Rattanreportconcluded that as many as half of the 1,200 bamboo species face extinction due to deforestation.
  • Monsanto said it would not attempt to market the genetically modified wheat ("Roundup Ready") it has developed that is resistant to the Roundup herbicide. Seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3702739.stm
  • Sudanese rebels belonging to the Sudan People's Liberation Army were linked to poachers who have killed elephants for ivory in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3693359.stm
  • Spain said it would use underwater robots to attempt to extract oil from the sunken tankerPrestige. It will be the first time the oil extraction process has been attempted at such a depth (2.5 miles).

CLIMATE CHANGE:

  • U.S. senior climate change negotiator Harlan Watson said his government's position on climate change was "misunderstood." He said the Bush Administration is committed to reduce emissions growth even though it rejected the Kyoto Protocol. "We use every opportunity that we can in many fora around the world to get our message out...We feel that people don't hear all that we are doing."
  • One hundred scientists, meeting under the banner of Australia's Cooperative Research Center for Greenhouse Accounting, issued a statement which concluded that global warming causes increased plant growth, which in turn means increased absorption of pollutants. "Forests, farms and grasslands across the world absorb significant volumes of greenhouse gases. They have the potential to absorb more, ameliorating climate change. Properly managed, they could buy time for the world's people to make the major reductions in greenhouse emissions from power generation, industry and transport that will be required to reduce the damage from climate change."
  • Anarticlepublished in the journalNaturedescribed the analysis of microwave emissions in the atmosphere as a means of proving that global warming is occurring. See alsohttp://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1210617,00.html
  • Professor Alan Thorpe, of the U.K. Centres of Atmospheric Science, said that summer heat in Britain may cause severe ozone pollution. 'Temperatures topped 100F (37.7C) last summer for the first time since UK records began, and similarly intense heatwaves will become increasingly frequent as global warming intensifies. Current projections suggest they could happen ten times more often," he said. Seehttp://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1212727,00.html
  • Dr. Carl Lundin, head of the marine program of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN), said that the Indian Ocean could lose most of its coral reefs within 50 years if global warming trends are not reversed. Already, "a very large region has been affected and an awful lot of damage has been caused by the temperature increases which varied from one to two to generally up to five degrees Celsius." Reefs near the Seychelles' coralline islands of Amirantes, Aldabra, Bird island and Denis island are particularly threatened.
  • Michael Roderick, a climate researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, said that increased air pollution and thicker clouds are causing the Earth's surface to receive about 15% less sunlight than 50 years ago. Beate Liepert, a climatologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said that at least two-thirds of the "global dimming" is caused by water vapor resulting from global warming. "The clouds are optically thicker," she said. "As global warming increases, clouds can hold more water. There's not more rain; it just stays up there.

Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

Note: To order documents or request additional information, please call (800) 433-5120 or (202) 939-3844. Orders may also be sent by e-mail to orders@eli.org or by fax to (202) 939-3817. Please specify the issue of UPDATE about which you are inquiring. In most instances, for the cost of copying and postage, ELR can supply copies of materials cited. Charges for ELR Subscribers are 25 cents/page, $10 minimum; all others, 50 cents/page, $20 minimum. Documents may also be available free or at a nominal charge from the applicable court or agency. Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

ELR STAFF

Leslie Carothers, Publisher
John H. Turner, Editor-in-Chief
Linda L. Johnson, Managing Editor
Rachel Jean-Baptiste, Associate Editor
Caroline Hermann, Assistant Editor
Carolyn Fischer, Editorial Associate
William J. Straub, Desktop Publisher
April King, Editorial Assistant