Jenner & Block

Corporate Environmental Lawyer Blog

December 28, 2010 UN Seeks Comments On New Water Report

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

The United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), formed in 2000 as an entity within the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is the lead agency for the UN-Water initiative. The WWAP monitors freshwater issues around the world in order to provide recommendations, develop case studies, enhance assessment capacity and inform the UN decision-making process on these matters. One of WWAP's key efforts is the creation and update of the World Water Development Report (Report)—a periodic, comprehensive evaluation of the state of the world's freshwater resources. WWAP now is working on the fourth edition of this report.

CATEGORIES: Climate Change, Hazmat, Sustainability, Water

November 29, 2010 UN Climate Change Conference Opens Today in Cancun

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

An estimated 15,000 people, including officials and environmental leaders from 194 countries, will attend the UN's Climate Change Conference starting today at the Moon Palace Hotel in Cancun, Mexico.  The 12-day conference and associated meetings will seek to revive international efforts to slow global warming.

CATEGORIES: Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas, Sustainability

November 22, 2010 More Green, Sustainable Cleanups Anticipated

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

Green and sustainable remediation is a rapidly growing field of interest to all stakeholder groups including governmental agencies, corporations, environmental consultants and public interest groups. According to EPA, green remediation is the practice of considering all environmental effects of cleaning up a contaminated site and incorporating options to minimize the environmental footprint of cleanup actions.

One such organization, The Sustainable Remediation Forum (SURF), started in 2006 to promote the use of sustainable practices during remedial action activities with the objective of balancing economic viability, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity and the enhancement of the quality of life in surrounding communities. SURF's primary objective is to provide a forum for various stakeholders in remediation – industry, government agencies, environmental groups, consultants, and academia – to collaborate, educate, advance, and develop consensus on the application of sustainability concepts throughout the lifecycle of remediation projects, from site investigation to closure.

Advocates agree that standards are needed in this area to promote and encourage more green cleanup. The ASTM is working to develop the Guide for Green and Sustainable Site Assessment and Cleanup which may be available as early as 2011. SURF also is working on its SURF Framework for Integrating Sustainability Into Remediation Projects also anticipated in mid-2011.

Significant information about green remediation can be found at EPA's Contaminated Site Clean-up Information website, commonly referred to as CLU-IN. SURF's 2009 White Paper on sustainable remediation also provides helpful insight into this developing field and is available at http://sustainableremediation.org/.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, RCRA, Sustainability, Water

November 12, 2010 National Wildlife Federation Encourages Climate Ready Practices For Great Lakes

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

A new report developed by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recommends government action in response to climate change impacts on the Great Lakes including higher temperatures, lower water levels and changes in wildlife migration patterns. In its report titled Improving the Odds: Using Climate Change Readiness to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes Ecosystem, the NWF concludes that being ready for and coping with the inevitable effects of climate change is emerging as the next step for Great Lakes protection.

These efforts are referred to by NWF as climate change adaptation or climate-readiness. NWF identifies the following opportunities in the report for climate-ready action.

  1. Taking adaptation from the planning stage to on-the-ground action. One way to act on-the-ground is via "climate-smart" restoration practices.
  2. Funding sources for effective adaptation and/or innovative ways to budget that allow for adaptation.
  3. Integrate climate change into all issues and sectors and weave it into everything we do.
  4. Perhaps knowledge sharing could be a role of or by the U.S. Interagency Adaptation Task Force.

According to the NWF, to provide the best possible chance of conserving Great Lakes resources in a rapidly changing climate and in the context of other stressors, it is important for managers, planners and policy makers to have the ability to both identify what we need to do differently as well as understand which strategies and activities continue to make sense from a climate adaptation perspective.

To learn more about NWF's work related to global warming concerns, visit http://www.nwf.org/.

CATEGORIES: Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas, Sustainability, Water

November 5, 2010 New Ceres Report Highlights Water Scarcity As Financial Risk

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

A new report by Ceres finds that water scarcity may present a hidden financial risk for investors who buy water and electric utility bonds. The report titled The Ripple Effect: Water Risk in the Municipal Bond Market, evaluates and ranks water scarcity risks for public water and power utilities. According to the report, the most stressed areas include Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas and Atlanta.

"Water scarcity is a growing risk to many public utilities across the country and investors owning utility bonds don't even know it," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which authored the report. "Utilities rely on water to repay their bond debts. If water supplies run short, utility revenues potentially fall, which means less money to pay off their bonds. Our report makes clear that this risk scenario is a distinct possibility for utilities in water-stressed regions and bond investors should be aware of it."

This research follows an earlier report issued by Ceres titled Water Scarcity and Climate Change: Growing Risks for Business and Investors (February 2009, Ceres and Pacific Institute). In that report, Ceres identified water scarcity as a potential financial risk to companies who have historically taken clean, reliable and inexpensive water for granted.

Water scarcity is continually emerging as a critical climate change-related impact that businesses, governmental authorities and the public need to address now. While water scarcity is a concern now in many areas, such risks will be exacerbated around the U.S. by climate change warming trends. The Natural Resources Defense Council in its recent report, Evaluating Sustainability of Projected Water Demands Under Future Climate Change Scenarios (July 2010), predicts over 1,100 U.S. counties will see greater risks of water shortages due to climate change.

CATEGORIES: Climate Change, Sustainability, Water

November 2, 2010 November 10th Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

On November 10, 2010, Jenner & Block, in cooperation with the Alliance for the Great Lakes, will host a special program featuring guest speaker, Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the U.S. EPA Administrator. The program titled "The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: A Year of Progress and the Mission Ahead" will address the latest developments and updates on the Agency's work with the Great Lakes. Joel Brammeier, President and CEO, of the Alliance for the Great Lakes will provide the opening remarks for this special program.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, Hazmat, Sustainability, Water

October 18, 2010 EPA Issues RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative Plan

Grayson_Lynn_COLORBy E. Lynn Grayson

 

EPA recently released a draft plan that describes the actions the Agency will undertake to progress the 2008 initiative aimed at preserving green space. EPA's RE-Powering America's Land: Siting Renewable Energy on Potentially Contaminated Land and Mining Sites takes a multi-pronged approach to site cleanup and development of renewable energy production facilities on contaminated lands. The Agency launched this initiative to determine the feasibility of renewable energy production on Superfund, brownfields and former mining sites as opposed to green space.

CATEGORIES: Cercla, Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas, Hazmat, RCRA, Sustainability, Water