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Robust Technical Analysis Supports Leaving Carbon Pollution Standards for Cars and Light Trucks in Place Through 2025, EPA Administrator Finds
By U.S. EPAAutomakers on track to meet standards at lower than expected cost
Based on extensive technical analysis that shows automakers are well positioned to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for model years 2022-2025, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy today proposed leaving the standards in place, so the program that was established in 2012 will stay on track to nearly double fuel economy, dramatically cut carbon pollution, maintain regulatory certainty for a global industry, and save American drivers billions of dollars at the pump.
“Given the auto industry’s importance to American jobs and communities and the industry’s need for certainty well into the future, EPA has reanalyzed these clean car standards and sought further input,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It’s clear from the extensive technical record that this program will remain affordable and effective. This proposed decision reconfirms our confidence in the auto industry’s capacity to drive innovation and strengthen the American economy while saving drivers money at the pump and safeguarding our health, climate and environment.”
Today’s proposed determination is based on years of technical work, including an exhaustive technical report released earlier this year, and the agency’s thorough review and consideration of comments received on that report. This extensive body of analysis shows that manufacturers can meet the standards at similar or even a lower cost than what was anticipated in the 2012 rulemaking, and that the standards will deliver significant fuel savings for American consumers, as well as benefits to public health and welfare from reducing the pollution that contributes to climate change. Full implementation of the standards will cut about 6 billion metric tons of GHG emissions over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold in model years 2012-2025. Cars and light trucks are the largest source of GHG emissions in the U.S. transportation sector.
Although EPA’s technical analysis indicates that the standards could be strengthened for model years 2022-2025, proposing to leave the current standards in place provides greater certainty to the auto industry for product planning and engineering. This will enable long-term planning in the auto industry, while also benefiting consumers and the environment.
Today’s announcement builds on years of success under EPA’s vehicle emission standards. Auto manufacturers are innovating and adopting fuel economy technologies at unprecedented rates. Car makers have developed more technologies to reduce GHG emissions, and these technologies are entering the fleet faster than expected. These technologies include gasoline direct injection, more sophisticated transmissions, and stop-start systems that reduce idling fuel consumption. At the end of 2015, all large automakers were in compliance with the standards. In fact, automakers on average out-performed the model year 2015 standards by seven grams per mile. These gains are happening at a time when the car industry is thriving, and domestic vehicle sales have increased for six consecutive years, while maintaining consumer choice across a full range of vehicle sizes and types.
As part of the rulemaking establishing the model year 2017-2025 light-duty vehicle GHG standards, EPA committed to conduct a Midterm Evaluation of standards for model years 2022-2025. The public comment period for this action begins today and will end on December 30, 2016. After the comment period has ended and consideration of the input, the Administrator will decide whether she has enough information to make a final determination on the model year 2022-2025 standards.
For more information on today’s announcement, go to: https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/midterm-evaluation-light-duty-vehicle-greenhouse-gas-ghg.
To provide comment on today’s proposed determination, go to Docket EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0827 at www.regulations.gov.
kelps are doing better than other key coastal ecosystem-forming species
Like all marine ecosystems around the world, kelp forests are threatened by human activities. However, a new study reports that kelp ecosystems are in fact faring relatively well in the face of those dangers.
A working group from UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological
Analysis and Synthesis collected nearly all of the existing kelp-monitoring data sets from
around the world and analyzed them to identify long-term trends. The researchers,
including UCSB marine ecologists Jennifer Caselle and Daniel Reed sought to determine
whether kelp forests — like corals, sea grasses and other key coastal ecosystem-forming
species — are in decline. The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences.
“We were surprised to discover that while one-third of the kelp regions for which
we had data are in decline, one-quarter of them are increasing in size,” said Caselle, a
research biologist at UCSB’s Marine Science Institute and lecturer in the Department of
Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology. “For the remainder we were unable to detect a
signal. This shows that we simply cannot understand how global change will affect
globally distributed taxa without understanding how global stressors interact with local
human pressures and environmental conditions.”
The international team of 37 scientists analyzed trends in kelp abundance from 34
regions of the globe, representing 1,138 sites that had been monitored over the past half
century. Despite amassing such a comprehensive database, the scientists found little to no
data for many regions of the globe, making it impossible to determine whether kelp
abundance is on an increasing or decreasing trajectory in those areas.
The investigators reported that while kelp in 38 percent of the analyzed regions
showed clear declines, 27 percent of regions posted increases and 35 percent had no net
change. However, the range of trajectories seen across regions far exceeded a small rate
of decline — 1.8 percent per year — at the global scale.
The research team suggests that this variability reflects large regional differences
in the drivers of local environmental change and that global factors associated with
climate change vary by region, depending on the kelp species, the local environmental
conditions and other sources of stress. This contrasts with many other species, such as
corals and seagrasses, whose abundances are declining on the global scale. According to
the scientists, this difference is likely in part due to the unique capacity of kelp to recover
quickly from disturbances.
“Kelp is a rock star of resilience; in many places, it’s managed to hold its own
against environmental change,” said co-author Jarrett Byrnes, a former postdoctoral
associate at NCEAS, now at the University of Massachusetts Boston. “Kelps may well
not be the canary in the coal mine for the effects of global environmental change for our
oceans. Rather, their loss may be a sign that we have finally tipped over the edge of a
The team’s findings highlight the importance and opportunity for managing kelp
forests on a local scale. Indeed, regions where declines were documented were often
those experiencing multiple local and global stressors acting together to harm forests.
These sometimes included the combination of fishing and climate change.
“Kelp forests support an incredible diversity of species and are of rich economic
and cultural value to humans,” said lead author Kira Krumhansl of Simon Fraser
University in British Columbia. “Our study highlights that maintaining the health of kelp
forests relies on understanding what is happening on local scales. Each region is unique.
In fact, each forest is unique. Managing stressors on local scales has a key role to play in
maintaining the health of kelp ecosystems in the face of increasing global pressures.”
By Teresa Bui
Californians Against Waste
Californians have voted to enact a state law to ban plastic shopping bags, the first state in the nation to do so.
Proposition 67, the referendum on the state law (Senate Bill 270) passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2014, is leading by 52-48 percent. The law had been challenged by the out-of-state plastic bag industry, which spent more than $6 million to defeat it. The plastic bag manufacturers have issued a statement conceding.
Proposition 65, another measure put on the ballot by the plastic bag industry, was defeated by a 10-point margin, 55-45%.
“California voters have taken a stand against a deceptive, multi-million dollar campaign by out-of-state plastic bag makers,” said Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, co-chair of the campaign. “This is a significant environmental victory that will mean an immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that are polluted in California every day, threatening wildlife.”
“This is a tremendous victory for California,” said Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Director Julie Packard. “We were pleased to stand in support of Proposition 67. Despite the millions of dollars that out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers spent to defeat the measure, Californians stood together and prevailed. Now, California can finally implement its first-in-the-nation law to reduce a source of plastic pollution—and protect our ocean, coast and marine wildlife.”
“This is a victory for our oceans and marine life, and for communities all over California dealing with the blight of plastic pollution in their neighborhoods,” said Marce Gutiérrez-Graudiņš, Founder of Azul. “Latino/a communities have a culture of conservation, and a long tradition of using reusable bags. We are excited to see voters’ support for banning plastic bags once and for all.”
“The passage of Prop 67 sends a powerful message to out-of-state plastics manufacturers that California’s environmental protections are not for sale,” said Sarah Rose CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters. “Once again Californians voiced their strong support for bold environmental leadership to move our state and our country forward.”
The law will take effect immediately. It was originally designed to take effect on July 1, 2015 for grocery stores and July 1, 2016 for other retailers.
More than 151 California communities already have local plastic bags in place. The passage of Prop 67 extends the ban to the remainder of the state.
The Yes vote on Prop 67 was backed by a diverse coalition of more than 500 organizations, ranging from environmental groups to business organizations and dozens of cities and counties. They included: Environment California, Heal the Bay, the NAACP, Save the Bay, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the California League of Cities, Azul, and the California Labor Federation. The Yes campaign also received the support of more than 40 newspapers.
“This is also an important victory for the grass roots, said Murray, who noted the Yes campaign was outspent by more than 4-1 ($6.1 million to $1.5 million). “Special interests are losing their ability to use big money to deceive California voters at the ballot box.”
More than 40 percent of California communities are already living without plastic shopping bags through local ordinance.
“Consumers have demonstrated they love this policy,” said Murray. “In the 12 California Counties that have already banned plastic bags, support was most overwhelming, with better than 66% of voters saying yes to Prop 67, and an end to polluting plastic shopping bags.”
More than 70 percent of the Yes on 67 campaign’s funding came from environmental contributors. More than 4,000 individual contributors donated to the campaign. The plastic bag industry had just four contributors.
Environmental activist and Academy Award®-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens premier their documentary film, Before the Flood, a compelling account of the powerful changes occurring on our planet due to climate change.
Before the Flood will appear in theaters in NYC and LA starting October 21, and air globally on the National Geographic Channel starting October 30.
Leonardo DiCaprio, President Barack Obama and Texas Tech University climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe discuss climate change, prior to a premier screening of “Before the Flood”.
By The EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today launched a new online portal that will provide local leaders in the nation’s 40,000 communities with information and tools to increase resilience to climate change. Using a self-guided format, the Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X) provides users with information tailored specifically to their needs, based on where they live and the particular issues of concern to them.
Recent statistics from the Office of Management and Budget show the federal government has incurred more than $357 billion in direct costs due to extreme weather and fire alone over the last 10 years. Climate change is also expected to pose significant financial and infrastructural challenges to communities in coming decades. EPA designed ARC-X to help all local government official address these challenges – from those with extensive experience and expertise dealing with the impacts of climate change, to those working in underserved communities who are just beginning to meet those challenges.
“From floods and droughts to dangerous heat islands and other public health effects, communities are facing the very real impacts of climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “ARC-X is a powerful new tool that can help local governments continue to deliver reliable, cost-effective services even as the climate changes.”
Building on climate adaptation training for local governments EPA launched last year, ARC-X provides another important resource for building climate resiliency. The system guides users through all steps of an adaptation process, providing information on the implications of climate change for particular regions and issues of concern; adaptation strategies that can be implemented to address the risks posed by climate change; case studies that illustrate how other communities with similar concerns have already successfully adapted, along with instructions on how to replicate their efforts; potential EPA tools to help implement the adaptation strategies; and sources of funding and technical assistance from EPA and other federal agencies.
To access ARC-X: www.epa.gov/ARC-X
For climate adaptation training: www.epa.gov/communityhealth/local-government-climate-adaptation-training
By Lauren McCauley
Marking a troubling development in the crisis of pollinator decline, the first species of bees were added to the Endangered Species List.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced the determined status on Friday for seven types of yellow-faced bees found in the Hawaiian islands.
It comes after a multi-year effort by the invertebrate conservation organization The Xerces Society to gain federal recognition and protection for the threatened bees.
Xerces communication director Matthew Shepard hailed the development as “excellent news for these bees,” but added that “there is much work that needs to be done to ensure that Hawaii’s bees thrive.”
“Unfortunately,” he lamented, “the USFWS has not designated any ‘critical habitat,’ areas of land of particular importance for the endangered bees.”
The endangered genus, Hylaeus, commonly called yellow-faced, are the only genus native to Hawaii. Their failure comes amid a national crisis of declining bee populations, including colony collapse disorder, which is attributed to an array of causes, including habitat loss, infection, and the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
As Shepard wrote earlier, “Hawai’i’s yellow-faced bees face many threats, from the loss of habitat due to land conversion, development, and recreation…to the negative impacts of nonnative species, such as wild pigs, bigheaded ants, and invasive plants. Climate change also poses a threat to small populations of these bees.”
He further noted that the bees are “critical pollinators of many endangered native Hawaiian plants and the decline of these bees could lead to the extinction of the plants that rely upon them.”
The announcement came a week after the USFWS proposed for protection the first bee in the continental U.S., the rusted patched bumble bee, typically found in the upper midwest and northeast.
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By Joel Bahr
A new study co-authored by UC Berkeley professor Michael Manga confirms that earthquakes in America’s oil country — including a 4.8 magnitude quake that rocked Texas in 2012 — are being triggered by significant injections of wastewater below the surface of the Earth.
While there has been plenty of speculation that the alarming increase in seismic activity in states like Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas were a result of human activity, the study — which appears in the journal Science — fingers deep wastewater injections as the culprit.
“The proximity of the earthquake clusters to the injection wells suggests a link between them,” researchers explain in the report. “As wastewater is injected into the disposal formation, it increases pore pressure within the system… The increase in pore pressure caused by the injection of fluids decreases the effective normal stress on faults, bringing them closer to failure.”
The study details how Manga and his colleagues used interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and GPS to detect small — no more than a few millimeters — but significant increases in surface elevation near four wells in East Texas. The surface uplift is likely the product of an increase in pore pressure — the pressure of fluids in the soil or rock below ground — caused by wastewater injections.
Wastewater injection wells exist because processes of extracting oil and natural gas from the Earth also yields a tremendous amount of water as well, sometimes exceeding 10 times more water than oil. The water that is extracted is saline and contaminated, and safe disposal of it is somewhat challenging. The water is too toxic to be introduced back into the water table, so the current disposal solution is re-injecting it back underground through these disposal wells. The four wells observed in this study became functional between 2005 and 2007 and have injected roughly 1 billion gallons of water back below ground.
“One way to think of it is like having a balloon underground,” said Manga. “As water is injected below the surface, the balloon expands, which increases the pressure that plays a role in triggering earthquakes.”
The study examined two wells that injected water a little more than a mile below ground, and two that injected water at about half that depth. The depth that the wastewater is disposed of, or the placement of the pressure balloon, plays a significant role in seismic activity.
Researchers found that there was detectable ground uplift in the area surrounding the two shallower wells where the water was being injected above a large, impermeable layer of rock. The increase in pressure was enough to distort surface elevations, but did not clearly factor in triggering earthquakes.
The two deeper wells injected water below this layer. Hundreds of millions of gallons of water were injected below this layer band of impermeable rock, ultimately having an impact on the pressure of “basement rock,” an area more than a mile below the surface where earthquakes form. As pore pressure rose, it sparked activity on an old fault in 2012. Tremors subsided by the end of 2013, when wastewater injections were reduced significantly.
“The findings are significant because they help us understand where earthquakes will happen, why they happen in some places and not others, and when they’ll happen again in the future,” said Manga.
By Amanda Froelich
On September 4, 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that populations of the giant panda have increased enough for the species’ status to be downgraded to “vulnerable.” In 2004, there were only 1,596 bears in the wild. Now, according to a 2014 nationwide census, there are now 2,060 in China.
This positive news is a result of conservationists employing a number of different tactics to protect the beloved species – specifically protecting the creatures’ habitat and initiating reforestation programs. It also helped that poaching of giant pandas was banned (as their hides were considered a commodity).
China’s panda reserve system also deserves credit, considering it helped to increase the bears’ habitats. At present, there are 67 reserves which protect approximately 5,400 square miles (14,000 sq kilometers) of habitat, reports CNN. That’s approximately 67% of the panda population!
The IUCN wrote in its assessment:“The decision to downlist the giant panda to ‘vulnerable’ is a positive sign confirming that the Chinese government’s efforts to conserve this species are effective.”
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – which has used the panda in its logo since 1961 – released a statement concerning the positive news:“For over fifty years, the giant panda has been the globe’s most beloved conservation icon as well as the symbol of WWF. Knowing that the panda is now a step further from extinction is an exciting moment for everyone committed to conserving the world’s wildlife and their habitats.” “The recovery of the panda shows that when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together, we can save wildlife and also improve biodiversity.”
The giant panda isn’t completely in the clear, however. The IUCN warns that the gains made in the past few decades could be reversed by climate change and decreasing bamboo availability. The organization relays that the panda’s bamboo habitat could disappear in the next 80 years.
Joe Walston, Vice President of Conservation Field Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society, told Live Science:“It is a real concern, and this is emblematic of what species are facing globally with regard to climate change. The most important thing we can do at the moment is to be able to grow the extent and range of that habitat and by doing that you allow pandas to move across landscapes.”
In result, conservation efforts will continue to ensure the species does not go extinct during any of our lifetimes.
This article (Great News! The Giant Panda Is No Longer Endangered) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
In 1872, the Congress established Yellowstone National Park — the first park of its kind anywhere in the world. Decades later, the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906 created our first national historic preservation policy. Under this new authority, and heavily inspired by his time in nature with conservationist John Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt set aside 18 new monuments and landmarks, adding to the scattered collection of existing parks throughout our country. One decade later, in order to provide the leadership necessary for maintaining our growing system of parks, the Congress passed monumental legislation — which President Woodrow Wilson signed on August 25, 1916 — to create the National Park Service (NPS). All existing National Parks were placed under the management of the NPS, ushering in a new era of conservation, exploration, and discovery — and securing, throughout the century that would follow, the profound legacy of an interconnected system of natural wonders.
Over the course of the past 100 years, our national park system has grown to include more than 400 locations across our country. Ranging from seashores to waterfalls, winding trails to rugged mountains, historic battlefields to monuments and memorials, every treasured site under the NPS is uniquely American. Our parks play a critical role in environmental stewardship, ensuring that precious wildlife can thrive and that ecosystems can provide the many benefits on which we depend. They have sustained the stories and cultures that define the American experience, and they embody the people and movements that distinguish our Nation’s journey.
As we reflect on the many natural and cultural gifts that our National Parks provide, we must also look to the next century and pledge to secure our precious resources. That is why my Administration has protected over 265 million acres of public lands and waters — more than any Administration in history — and worked to save endangered and vulnerable species and their vital habitats. Climate change poses the biggest threat to our planet and our parks and is already dangerously affecting park ecosystems and visitor experiences. It is imperative that we rise to meet this challenge and continue leading the global fight against climate change to ensure that our parks remain healthy for all who will come after us.
Often called “America’s best idea,” our National Parks belong to Americans of all ages and backgrounds. NPS sites and their recreational, educational, and public health benefits are our American birthright. Last year, these sites welcomed more than 300 million visitors, and my Administration is committed to helping all our people access and enjoy these public lands and waters. Through our “Every Kid in a Park” initiative, we have made our National Parks free to fourth grade students and their families so that more children, from any community or walk of life, can spend time being active in our outdoor spaces while learning about these natural treasures — something that First Lady Michelle Obama has also advocated for through her Let’s Move! initiative. And through the Joining Forces initiative that she and Dr. Jill Biden have championed, more of our troops and military families can enjoy our National Parks. We must expand on these programs and increase opportunities for people in underserved communities to experience the great outdoors as well. The second century of the NPS will rely on the support and engagement of young people who are visiting more parks through the “Find Your Park” campaign, and we must encourage this rising generation of Americans by inviting them to make their own personal connections to the places that have shaped our history.
NPS parks and programs strive to tell our diverse stories, allowing us to learn from the past and help write our country’s next great chapters. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, let us thank all those who — through their dedication to the mission of the NPS — help our country build on the legacy left by all those who came before us. As we look to the next century and embrace the notion that preserving these public spaces in ways that engage, reflect, and honor all Americans has never been more important, let us summon the foresight and faith in the future to do what it takes to protect our National Parks for generations to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 25, 2016, as the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. I invite all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that recognize the National Park Service for maintaining and protecting our public lands for the continued benefit and enjoyment of all Americans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-second day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
By Nike Knight
Parts of Louisiana’s disastrous, ongoing flooding has been upgraded by meteorologists to once-in-1,000-years rainfall, with other areas classified as 500-year and 100-year events, nola.com reported Monday, as scientists warn that such storms are growing more and more frequent as the planet heats up.
“On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the U.S. in little over 12 months,” the Guardian reports:
Since May of last year, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland. NOAA considers these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years.
The Louisiana flooding has been so exceptional that some places in the state experienced storm conditions considered once-every-1,000-year events. Close to 2ft of rain fell over a 48-hour period in parts of southern Louisiana, causing residents to scramble to safety from flooded homes and cars.
And nola.com reported that the flooding “was triggered by a complicated, slow-moving low-pressure weather system that dumped as much as two feet of rain on parts of East Baton Rouge, Livingston and St. Helena parishes in 48 hours.”
“The record two-day rainfall in those areas had a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in any year, the equivalent of a ‘1,000-year rain,’ according to the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center, based at the Slidell office of the National Weather Service,” the local outlet wrote.
The flooding has caused the death of eight people and affected 40,000 homes and businesses, according to the Associated Press.
The floods have indeed been devastating, with many last-minute evacuations forcing residents to leave their houses with nothing. And although both the federal and state governments have now declared states of emergency, in many areas people have been forced to take search-and-rescue efforts into their own hands, the Guardian writes:
The scale of the flooding was beyond the reach of any government agency, though. So from the bayous and swamps emerged something locals are calling the “Cajun navy.” Thousands of hunters and fishermen from throughout the region arrived in boats and organized themselves into search-and-rescue parties.
Brittany Cuccia, a college student from Thibodeaux, joined one 10-boat fleet Monday as it moved from house to underwater house. “I’d say we’ve pulled out 50 people at least,” she said.
Residents who needed help were stuck in homes with no power, she said. They had no way to call for help, and so they retreated higher and higher into their homes, praying for rescue.
And with even some coffins being uprooted and photographed eerily floating down residential streets, at least one local described the disaster as “worse than Hurricane Katrina.”
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