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Weekly Update Volume 34, Issue 9

03/29/2004

LITIGATION

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

CWA, POINT SOURCE, DISTINCT WATER BODIES:

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the NPDES permit program applies not only to point sources that generate pollutants, but also to point sources that transfer pollutants originating elsewhere. The definition of a point source as a "conveyance" in CWA §112(14) makes plain that the point source need only convey the pollutant to navigable waters. Nevertheless, the Court was unable to determine whether a water district's removal of phosphorus-laden water from a canal into undeveloped wetlands in the Everglades requires an NPDES permit. A district court granted a Native American tribe and an environmental group summary judgment on their claim that the pumping station requires an NPDES permit, and the appellate court affirmed. Both courts rested their holdings on the predicate determination that the canal and wetlands are two distinct water bodies. However, further development of the record is necessary to resolve the dispute over the validity of the distinction between the canal and the wetlands. The case, therefore, was vacated and remanded. After reviewing the full record on remand, it is possible that the district court will conclude that they are not meaningfully distinct water bodies. If it does so, then the pump station will not need an NPDES permit because pumping water from one body of water into the other cannot constitute an "addition" of pollutants within the meaning of the Act. O'Connor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, Parts I and II.A of which were unanimous, and Parts II.B and II.C of which were joined by Rehnquist, C. J., and Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ. Scalia, J. filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians et al., No. 02-626 (U.S. Mar. 23, 2004) (19 pp.).

CWA, DREDGE PERMIT, MAINTENANCE EXEMPTION:

The Seventh Circuit held that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources violated CWA §404 when it discharged dredged material from a supply pond into a river without a permit. The dredging activity did not satisfy CWA §404(f)(1)'s maintenance exemption because a trier of fact could reasonably conclude that the purpose of drawing down the water in the supply pond was not to perform maintenance on either the pump or the dam, but rather to dredge the supply pond. Likewise, a trier of fact could reasonably conclude that the department's actions fall within the CWA's recapture provision and are subject to the §404 permit requirement. The lower court, therefore, erred in granting summary judgment to the department on landowners' CWA claim. But the lower court properly barred the landowners' takings and due process claims because they failed to exhaust possible state remedies. Greenfield Mills, Inc. v. Macklin, No. 02-1863 (7th Cir. Mar. 19, 2004) (51 pp.).

NEPA, MARINE MAMMALS PROTECTION ACT (MMPA):

The Ninth Circuit held that a district court erred in denying an environmental group's summary judgment motion concerning the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' issuance of a permit to extend an existing oil refinery dock. The district court properly held that the environmental group had standing and that its claims are not barred by laches. It erred, however, in denying the group's summary judgment motion on NEPA and MMPA grounds. The court instructed that the matter be remanded to the Corps so it could prepare a full EIS considering the impact of reasonably foreseeable increases in tanker traffic. The Corps must also reevaluate the dock extension's potential violation of the Magnuson Amendment to the MMPA. If the modifications authorized by the permit increase the potential berthing capacity of the terminal for tankers carrying crude oil, then the permit violates the Magnuson Amendment. The district court was also instructed to order an injunction freezing tanker traffic to and from the refinery at pre-2000 levels until the Corps prepares an EIS and reassesses the permit under the Magnuson Amendment. Ocean Advocates v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, Nos. 01-36133, -36144 (9th Cir. Mar. 15, 2004) (40 pp.).

MAGNUSON-STEVENS FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT ACT, STANDING, SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY:

The Fifth Circuit held that a commercial fisherman's association lacked standing when it failed to establish an injury-in-fact from the purported imbalance of commercial fishing representation on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Under §1852(b)(2)(B) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the council must ensure "fair and balanced" representation of commercial and recreational fishing interests. However, a frustrated, generalized interest in the proper application of the representation requirement is not by itself an injury-in-fact for standing purposes. Moreover, §1861(d) does not waive sovereign immunity from this type of suit. The lower court, therefore, properly dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. Delta Commercial Fisheries Ass'n v. Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, No. 03-30545 (5th Cir. Mar. 19, 2004) (10 pp.).

CWA, CITIZEN SUITS, NPDES PERMITS:

A district court ruled that citizen suits under the CWA cannot be used to enforce complaints about odor, noise, or other non-water issues. An environmental group claimed that a city violated its NPDES permit by failing to install odor control filters on its underground sewer vents. After considering extrinsic evidence to clarify an ambiguous clause of the permit, the court concluded that the city had no obligation under its NPDES permit to operate or maintain carbon filters and denied summary judgment. Allowing odor control to be implied into CWA permits would "open the floodgates" to citizen suits over matters that should be enforced, if at all, under state nuisance laws or by other regulatory authorities. American Canoe Ass'n, Inc. v. District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority, No. 99-02798 (HHK) (D.D.C. Mar. 2, 2004) (Kennedy, J.) (31 pp.).

Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC All rights reserved

THE FEDERAL AGENCIES

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

 

AIR:

  • EPA proposed supplemental changes to a proposed rule published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2004, concerning NESHAPs for mercury for new and existing coal-fired electric utility steam generating units, and for nickel for new and existing oil-fired electric utility steam generating units; the changes would modify language, specify state plan approvability criteria and a model cap-and-trade rule, and establish methodologies for measuring mercury from coal-fired units. 69 FR 12397 (3/16/04).
  • EPA delegated authority for implementation and enforcement of certain new source performance standards and NESHAPs to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. 69 FR 15687 (3/26/04).

DRINKING WATER:

  • EPA tentatively approved and requested public comment on revisions to Maryland's public water system supervision program that promulgate new rules lowering the maximum contaminant level for arsenic, seeking to improve control of microbial pathogens in drinking water, establishing new requirements for chemical disinfection byproducts in drinking water, requiring water systems to return recycle flows of plant treatment processes when the flows might compromise pathogen treatment, and establishing a new maximum contaminant level for uranium and revising associated monitoring requirements. 69 FR 12693 (3/17/04).

ENERGY:

  • DOE requested stakeholder comment on the implementation of its American Indian and Alaska Native tribal government policy and the Department's interactions with tribal governments; the request follows a February 23, 2004, summit between DOE and tribal leaders that focused on identifying successes and barriers to communication between the tribal entities and the Department. 69 FR 15824 (3/26/04).

GUIDANCE:

  • DOI announced the availability of its revised departmental strategic plan for FY 2003-2008. 69 FR 15897(3/26/04).

HAZARDOUS AND SOLID WASTES:

  • EPA revised criteria for municipal solid waste landfills to allow states to issue research, development, and demonstration permits for new and existing landfills and lateral expansions. 69 FR 13242 (3/22/04).
  • EPA entered into a proposed settlement agreement under CERCLA with the three parties associated with the Lees Former Impoundment Superfund site in Bunnell, Florida. 69 FR 13838 (3/24/04).
  • EPA entered into a proposed administrative settlement under CERCLA that requires 55 settling parties to perform removal actions costing approximately $900,000 at the Amber Oil site in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and to reimburse the EPA Hazardous Substances Superfund $15,000 for costs incurred before March 31, 2003, for costs incurred between April 1, 2003, and the signing of the consent order, and for EPA's oversight costs. 69 FR 13527(3/23/04).
  • EPA exempted two injection wells drilled by Environmental Disposal Systems Inc. (EDS) in Romulus, Michigan, from land disposal restrictions mandated for underground injection wells by RCRA and its implementing regulations because EDS demonstrated to a reasonable degree of certainty that hazardous constituents from the injection zones will not migrate for as long as the waste remains hazardous. 69 FR 15328 (3/25/04).
  • EPA proposed to exclude on a one-time basis certain solid wastes deposited and/or accumulated on two on-site drying beds and two on-site basins at General Electric Company's RCA del Caribe facility in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, from RCRA requirements for identification and listing of hazardous wastes. 69 FR 12995 (3/19/04).
  • EPA authorized revisions to Arizona's hazardous waste program under RCRA. 69 FR 12544 (3/17/04).

PESTICIDES:

  • EPA published a listing of the emergency exemptions to FIFRA the Agency granted or denied for the control of unforeseen pest outbreaks during the period October through December 2003. 69 FR 12687 (3/17/04).
  • EPA announced that it has developed point of sale notifications concerning the use of pesticide products containing any of seven active ingredients, and is notifying lawn and garden pesticide retailers in any urban areas of California, Oregon, and Washington through which salmon supporting waters pass that these retailers must make point of sale notifications whenever pesticides containing the seven ingredients are sold; the notifications will be distributed to the retailers before April 5, 2004. 69 FR 13836 (3/24/04).

PUBLIC HEALTH:

  • EPA announced the formation of an expert technical review panel intended to guide Agency monitoring of the condition of New York residents and workers affected by the collapse of the World Trade Center; the panel will inform EPA's analysis of any remaining exposures or risks revealed by health surveillance databases and registries, identify unmet public health needs, and recommend any steps necessary to minimize risks associated with the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. 69 FR 12324 (3/16/04).
  • The Department of Health and Human Service's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences requested public comment on four methods for testing ocular toxicity (all four methods involve the use of animals or animal products) and on recommendations developed by an interagency committee coordinating the validation of these methods, and also requested data from completed studies on chemicals and products tested for ocular irritancy using in vitro or in vivo test methods. 69 FR 13859 (3/24/04).

RISK ASSESSMENT:

  • EPA announced the availability of and requested comment on a paper, An Examination of EPA Risk Assessment Principles and Practices, that reviews how risk assessment is conducted at the Agency and presents staff recommendations for strengthening and improving the assessment process. 69 FR 15326 (3/25/04).
  • EPA announced the availability of human health and environmental fate and effects risk assessments developed as part of the re-registration eligibility decision and tolerance reassessment processes for the pesticide formetane hydrochloride, an organophosphate; the EPA announcement begins a 60-day comment period on the assessments.69 FR 13831 (3/24/04).
  • EPA announced the availability of documents developed in the Agency's public participation re-registration process for wood preservatives containing arsenic and/or chromium copper arsenate, ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate, and ammoniacal copper arsenate; this notice begins the 60-day public comment period on EPA's preliminary risk assessment for the preservatives. 69 FR 12653 (3/17/04).

SMCRA PROGRAM:

  • OSM proposed and requested comment on revisions to Iowa's regulatory program under SMCRA. 69 FR 15272(3/25/04).
  • OSM proposed and requested comment on removing a required program amendment from West Virginia's regulatory program under SMCRA. 69 FR 15275 (3/25/04).

WILDLIFE:

    FWS designated critical habitat for the La Graciosa thistle, a plant species listed as threatened under the ESA in 1990 and found in freshwater and brackish marshes and river bottomlands in California. 69 FR 12553 (3/17/04).
  • FWS designated critical habitat for the desert yellowhead, a flowering plant listed in 2002 under the ESA as threatened throughout its range in central Wyoming. 69 FR 12278 (3/16/04).
  • FWS published details of 12 letters of authorization issued for takings of polar bears incidental to oil and gas industry exploration activities in the Beaufort Sea and off the north coast of Alaska. 69 FR 12174 (3/15/04).
  • FWS announced the availability of a draft recovery plan for the Newcomb's snail, a freshwater aquatic snail listed as threatened under the ESA in 2000 and endemic to Hawaii's Kaua'i island. 69 FR 13868 (3/24/04).
  • FWS proposed a regulatory schedule to guide states in selecting their 2004-2005 hunting seasons for migratory game birds, proposed changes to regulatory alternatives for the upcoming duck hunting season, requested proposals for Native American tribes wishing to establish special migratory game bird hunting regulations on federal reservations and ceded lands, requested proposals for the 2004 spring/summer migratory bird subsistence season in Alaska, and announced the availability of an updated cost-benefit analysis of migratory game bird hunting regulations. 69 FR 13439 (3/22/04).
  • FWS found that that a petition to remove the Pacific coast population of the western snowy plover from the ESA list of threatened species suggests that removal could be warranted, and requested information on the status of the population since its original listing under the ESA in 1993. 69 FR 13326 (3/22/04).
  • FWS announced the issuance of three permits for the taking of marine mammals under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. 69 FR 13329 (3/22/04).
  • FWS announced the submission deadlines and public viewing dates and locations for the 2004 Federal Duck Stamp Contest, an annual competition for wildlife artists that culminates in the selection of one artist's design featuring waterfowl being selected as the year's duck stamp and printed on stamps available for purchase around the country; all waterfowl hunters 16 years or older are required by the 1934 Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act to buy one stamp annually. 69 FR 12065 (3/19/04).
  • NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program announced the availability of a draft final reserve operations plan for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve that describes priority issues and actions for the reserve and guidelines for its management. 69 FR 13022 (3/19/04).
  • NOAA announced the availability of the draft NOAA Fisheries Gravel Extraction Guidance and requested public comment on the document. 69 FR 12837 (3/18/04).
  • NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service announced temporary restrictions on lobster trap/pot and anchored gillnet fishing in approximately 1,894 square nautical miles off the coast of Chatham, Massachusetts, for 15 days in April; the regulations are intended to protect an aggregation of North Atlantic right whales and are consistent with the requirements of the Atlantic large whale take reduction plan. 69 FR 13479 (3/23/04).

DOJ NOTICES OF SETTLEMENT:

  • United States v. Adams Family Trust, No. CV 04-1490-RSWL (CWx) (C.D. Cal. Mar. 5, 2004). Thirty-eight settling defendants under CERCLA must pay $1,932,500 plus interest to reimburse costs incurred by EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in response to the release or threatened release of hazardous substances at the El Monte operable unit of the San Gabriel Valley Area 1 Superfund site in Los Angeles County, California; the defendants also must pay all future EPA and DTSC costs relating to the interim remedy for the unit and perform the interim remedy. 69 FR 12866 (3/18/04).
  • United States v. Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing LLC, No. 04-1064-MLB (D. Kan. Mar. 4, 2004). Settling defendants operating in Coffeyville and Phillipsburg, Kansas, who recently acquired a refinery and terminal that failed to meet requirements of the CAA and RCRA for several years must perform CAA injunctive relief at the refinery, and at both facilities must provide financial assurance pursuant to RCRA totaling $15 million, install by 2010 a wet gas scrubber and selective catalytic reduction as best available control technologies for emission reduction, implement interim measures to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, implement a program for controlling benzene emissions, and control emissions of particulate matter and volatile organic compounds. 69 FR 12867 (3/18/04).
  • United States v. Guide Corporation, No. IP00-0702-C-Y/F (S.D. Ind. Mar. 1, 2004). A settling CWA defendant who discharged industrial wastewater into the White River in December 1999 and January 2000, causing a massive fish kill in waters adjacent to Anderson, Indiana, must pay $250,000 into the White River Restoration Fund. 69 FR 12867 (3/18/04).
  • United States v. J.B. Stringfellow, Jr., No. 83-2501 (R) (C.D. Cal. Feb. 19, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA must pay approximately $1.6 million in U.S. response costs associated with remedial activities at the Stringfellow Superfund site in Riverside, California. 69 FR 12868 (3/18/04).
  • In re Washington Group, International, Inc., No. BK-N-01-31627 (Bankr. D. Nev. Mar. 19, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA and associated debtors must allow a general unsecured claim of $30 million, and the United States must receive payments from two insurance companies totaling $4.5 million, subject to the notice provisions of rule 9019(a) of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. 69 FR 15900 (3/26/04).
  • United States v. Sandstone Mining, LLC, No. 7:04-CV-58F (E.D.N.C. Mar. 26, 2004). Settling defendants under the CWA who discharged pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit must pay a civil penalty. 69 FR 15900 (3/26/04).
  • United States v. Atlantic Richfield Co., No. 02-CV-0485E (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 8, 2004). A settling defendant under CERCLA must reimburse $1,834,712 in past U.S. response costs incurred at the Sinclair Refinery Superfund site in Allegany County, New York, and pay all future U.S. oversight costs associated with the site, subject to annual caps. 69 FR 15380 (3/25/04).
  • United States v. Brian Chuchua, No. 3:01CV1479 DMS (AJB) (S.D. Cal. Mar. 8, 2004). One of three settling CWA defendants who discharged pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit must pay a civil penalty. 69 FR 15381 (3/25/04).
  • United States v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, No. 04CV10481-MEL (D. Mass. Mar. 20, 2004). A settling CWA defendant who discharged process wastewater without a permit, violated EPA stormwater permitting requirements, and violated federal bus idling regulations must pay a civil penalty of $328,274, achieve compliance with applicable CWA provisions, spend at least $1,000,000 on supplemental environmental projects, and undertake compliance audits and an environmental management system audit at the defendant's facilities in Massachusetts. 69 FR 15381 (3/25/04).

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

THE CONGRESS
 

CHAMBER ACTION:

  • H.R. 2584 (International Fisheries Reauthorization Act), which would provide for the conveyance to the Utrok Atoll local government of a decommissioned NOAA ship, was passed by the Senate after agreeing to amendments. 150 Cong. Rec. S3115-16 (daily ed. Mar. 24, 2004).
  • H.R. 3724 (Energy Efficient Housing Technical Correction Act), which would amend §220 of the National Housing Act to make a technical correction to restore allowable increases in the maximum mortgage limits for Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages for multifamily housing projects to cover increased costs of installing a solar energy system or residential energy conservation measures, was passed by the Senate, clearing the measure for the President. 150 Cong. Rec. S2824 (daily ed. Mar. 12, 2004).
  • S. 1218 (Oceans and Human Health Act), which would provide for Presidential support and coordination of interagency ocean science programs and development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research and monitoring program, was passed by the Senate after agreeing to a committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. 150 Cong. Rec. S3110-15 (daily ed. Mar. 24, 2004).

BILLS INTRODUCED:

  • S. 2197 (Murkowski, R-Ark.) (Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act), would amend the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to clarify the status of certain communities in the western Alaska community development quota program. 150 Cong. Rec. S2717 (daily ed. Mar. 11, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
  • S. 2201 (Boxer, D-Cal.) (Solid Waste Disposal Act), would amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to provide for secondary containment to prevent methyl tertiary butyl ether and petroleum contamination. 150 Cong. Rec. S2717 (daily ed. Mar. 11, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • S. 2208 (Rockefeller, D-W. Va.) (SMCRA), would amend SMCRA to reduce the amounts of reclamation fees, to modify requirements relating to transfers from the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. S2777 (daily ed. Mar. 12, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2209 (Graham, D-Fla.) (water resources), 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. S2778 (daily ed. Mar. 12, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • S. 2211 (Rockefeller, D-W. Va.) (SMCRA), would amend SMCRA to reauthorize and reform the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. S2778 (daily ed. Mar. 12, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2218 (Domenici, R-N.M.) (rural water supply), would direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish a rural water supply program in the Reclamation States for the purpose of providing a clean, safe, affordable, and reliable water supply to rural residents and for other purposes, would authorize the Secretary to conduct appraisal and feasibility studies for rural water projects, and would establish the guidelines for any projects authorized under this program. 150 Cong. Rec. S2859 (daily ed. Mar. 22, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2221 (Smith, R-Or.) (National Forest System), would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to sell or exchange certain National Forest System land in the state of Oregon, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. S2859 (daily ed. Mar. 22, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2224 (Brownback, R-Kan.) (National Heritage Area), would establish the Bleeding Kansas and the Enduring Struggle for Freedom National Heritage Area, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. S2995 (daily ed. Mar. 23, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2225 (Burns, R-Mont.) (mineral rights), would authorize an exchange of mineral rights by the Secretary of the Interior in the state of Montana. 150 Cong. Rec. S2995 (daily ed. Mar. 23, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • S. 2233 (Voinovich, R-Ohio) (EPA), would amend the Environmental Research, Development, and Demonstration Authorization Act of 1979 to establish in the EPA the position of Deputy Administrator for Science and Technology. 150 Cong. Rec. S3180 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
  • H.R. 3981 (Barton, R-Tex.) (Nuclear Waste Fund), would reclassify fees paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund as offsetting collections, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H1229 (daily ed. Mar. 17, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
  • H.R. 3982 (Cannon, R-Utah) (land conveyance), would direct the Secretary of Interior to convey certain land held in trust for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah to the City of Richfield, Utah, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H1229 (daily ed. Mar. 17, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 3992 (Tancredo, R-Colo.) (NEPA), would amend NEPA to require preparation of statements regarding the environmental impacts of legal and illegal immigration. 150 Cong. Rec. H1229 (daily ed. Mar. 17, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 3997 (Boozman, R-Ark.) (land conveyance), would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to convey to the New Hope Cemetery Association a small parcel of National Forest System land in the state of Arkansas for use as a cemetery. 150 Cong. Rec. H1321 (daily ed. Mar. 18, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture.
  • H.R. 4001 (Latham, R-Iowa) (spongiform encephalopathies), would authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to use the Agricultural Research Service to conduct research regarding the likelihood and risks of the transfer between animal species of the proteinaceous infectious particles, known as prions, that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H1322 (daily ed. Mar. 18, 2004).The bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture.
  • H.R. 4010 (Cubin, R-Wyo.) (National Geologic Mapping Act), would reauthorize and amend the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. 150 Cong. Rec. H1369 (daily ed. Mar. 23, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 4017 (Udall, D-Colo.) (oil and gas; water resources), would assure that development of certain federal oil and gas resources will occur in ways that protect water resources and respect the rights of the surface owners, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H1369 (daily ed. Mar. 23, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
  • H.R. 4027 (Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.) (marine life), would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to make available to the University of Miami property under the administrative jurisdiction of NOAA on Virginia Key, Florida, for use by the University for a Marine Life Science Center. 150 Cong. Rec. H1483 (daily ed. Mar. 24, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.
  • H.R. 4045 (Pombo, R-Cal.) (Mokelumne River), would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a feasibility study with respect to the Mokelumne River, and for other purposes. 150 Cong. Rec. H1592 (daily ed. Mar. 25, 2004). The bill was referred to the Committee on Resources.

 

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, DC All rights reserved.

INTERNATIONAL

GENERAL:

  • Nowhere to Hide: The Trade in Sumatran Tigers, a report published by the monitoring group Traffic and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, asserted that deforestation and trading in body parts has almost wiped out the subspecies. There are only 400-500 of the tigers left on Sumatra Island.
  • Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva announced a U.S. $136 million plan to curtail deforestation in the Amazon through the use of monitoring satellites, criminal investigations, and new legislation to stiffen penalties for violations. The Brazilian Army would participate in implementation. Some environmental groups said that the proposal was too little, too late. "The Lula [President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva] government still hasn't responded to deforestation," said Friends of the Earth's director in Brazil, Roberto Smeraldi. "This gathers a few activities that already existed in ministries and recycles them as if they were something new."
  • A study published in the journal Science reported that 70% of butterfly species in the United Kingdom (U.K.) have shown signs of decline in the past 20 years, as have 28% of plant and 54% of bird species. Seehttp://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1173114,00.html
  • Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United States, and the U.K. all sought exemptions from the ban on methyl bromide set forth in the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
  • The Global Ministerial Environment Forum, meeting in Jeju, South Korea, was expected to concentrate on access to and delivery of clean water supplies.
  • Mexican President Vicente Fox announced that his country will host the fourth World Water Forum in 2006, the first time the meeting has been held in the Americas.
  • The European Union (EU) agreed to set up a special water facility to promote access to clean water and sanitation for people in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. The facility, originally proposed by President Romano Prodi in 2003, could in its first phase be worth up to €500 million and is designed to have a catalytic effect in generating additional funds for water and sanitation. "We launched the EU water initiative in Johannesburg 2002 to ensure a collective and efficient delivery on our engagements," said Prodi. "We have been busy implementing the initiative and we have now created a coherent and cost effective approach to the planning and delivery of our water related programmes that amount to an approximate €1.4 billion a year. Water has been placed firmly on the top of our political agenda. But funds remain scarce. We hope today's agreement on the Water Facility will mark a turning point and will prove a catalyst in generating additional funds for this vital campaign." Seehttp://www.europa.eu.int
  • The United Nations (U.N.) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species gave Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan until mid-June to comply with rules to protect sturgeons. The spring fishing season is the busiest of the year.
  • Recommendations adopted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee included imposing a continent-wide halt in domestic ivory trade in Africa. The recommendations called on all countries in Africa to halt domestic sales of ivory by introducing new laws, or by strengthening existing legislation, to make domestic sales of ivory in all forms illegal. African countries were also called on to instruct all law enforcement and border control agencies to enforce these laws rigorously. These efforts should be supported, the Committee stated, by awareness campaigns on the ban on ivory sales in both producing and consuming countries.
  • Discussions were held at a CITES meeting on how to ensure that Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, and Nigeria adhere to the ban on ivory trading. Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa said they would begin selling their combined 60 metric tons of confiscated ivory in May despite requests from CITES and seven African countries to postpone the sale.
  • The Australian government passed a law banning fishing from 114,000 square kilometers of the Great Barrier Reef-- approximately 33.3% of the reef--beginning July 1 . "It is a quite remarkable advance in protecting the reef against all the pressures to which it's subject," said Environment Minister David Kemp. "This is going to mean more fish on the Barrier Reef, healthier corals--it's going to mean bigger fish for tourists to come and see." Seehttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3566901.stm
  • A study prepared for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation concluded that genetically modified corn exported from the United States to Mexico could contaminate or displace natural corn species.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

  • Scientists at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii said that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have reached record-high levels, to 379 parts per million (ppm) (a 3 ppm increase in a year, compared with a typical annual increase of 1.8 ppm). Economic growth in Asia, particularly in China, was cited as a possible factor.
  • U.N. Environment Program Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, in a statement released on the 10th anniversary of of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), urged additional action on global warming. "The longer we delay, the more costly the price tag of inaction for people across the globe will be," Toepfer said. "So the Kyoto Protocol is not a recipe for economic disaster, quite the contrary. In the long run, it is likely to generate prosperity and financial savings rather than economic suicide." "We are now on the verge of another, separate but related industrial leap forward where the inefficient use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil is being reduced, and where, like the typewriter and the punch card machine of yesteryear, new competition is starting to make its mark," he said.
  • The pending March 31 deadline for the establishment of emissions target allocations by EU members has caused a significant decline in carbon trading in Europe, as power companies (the primary traders) await the allocations.
  • Shortly after the German media reported a breakthrough in talks on emissions trading implementation, seehttp://www.dw-world.de/english/0,,1432_A_1145137_1_A,00.html, Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement rejected a plan that would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions to 499 million tons through 2007. Clement cited concerns about allocations to some industries, such as steelmaking.
  • The Canadian government announced that greenhouse gas emissions reports, when applicable, would be due by June 1, 2005, for the 2004 reporting year. See http://www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/lfeg-ggef/English/reportingvehicle/20040312_en.htm
  • The World Resources Institute (WRI) alleged, despite a decade since the ratification of the UNFCCC, that global warming is becoming worse. "We have not made significant progress in curbing global warming in the last decade. In fact, the latest scientific reports indicate that global warming is worsening," said Jonathan Pershing, director of WRI's Climate, Energy and Pollution Program. "We are quickly moving to the point where the damage will be irreversible. Unless we act now, the world will be locked in to temperatures that would cause irreparable harm. To stabilize the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming, we must ultimately bring net emissions of these gases to near zero." See http://climate.wri.org/newsrelease_text.cfm?NewsReleaseID=277
  • Copyright© 2004, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. 

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