Posts Tagged ‘CO2 emissions’


The EPA should be contributing to public health, sustainability, education on complex environmental concerns, and related issues. I know that its members work hard to do so, but they are often thwarted by management. Bob Grant of The Scientist.com wrote about criticism from Congress over the EPA shutting down or limiting access to important libraries (note, free registration may be necessary to view this and other articles linked to below below that are found on The Scientist.com) .

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) closure of several of its research libraries is flawed, unjustified and is depriving academics, government employees, and the public of crucial environmental data, according to a Congressional report released yesterday (Mar. 13).

Of the EPA’s 26 libraries, six libraries have changed their hours of operation, and four others have been shut since 2006. These include its Office of Environmental Information headquarters library and the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Chemical library, both in Washington, DC.

The report, issued by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO),…

Since I know EPA staff and scientists who are dedicated to making information available to researchers, State and Local governments, and the public, I can only speculate that these unfortunate plans must come from a combination of EPA’s politically-appointed “leadership” and budget cuts imposed by the will of the Bush White House.

In what may be a closely related story, Christopher Lee of the Washington Post reported that:

Unions at the Environmental Protection Agency have pulled out of a long-standing partnership with management, saying Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has failed to deal in good faith on issues such as scientific integrity and job evaluations.

In a Feb. 29 letter to Johnson, 19 union leaders, who represent 10,000 EPA employees, complained that he and other top managers have ignored the advice of unionized workers and the agency’s own principles of scientific integrity. They cited issues that include fluoride drinking-water standards, a California bid to limit greenhouse gases, and mercury emissions from power plants.

It is important to note what Mr. Lee reports about the scientific integrity agreements between EPA management and employees:

The agency’s scientific-integrity principles, jointly developed by unions and managers during the Clinton administration, call for employees to ensure that their scientific work is of the highest integrity, and to represent it fairly, acknowledge the intellectual contributions of others and avoid financial conflicts.

We see yet more examples of how the Bush White House has weakened the EPA in times of great environmental turmoil, when data and public understanding of data are critically important. At a time when the US needs public trust in the EPA, the actions of political appointees involved with environmental decision-making continue to erode that trust. Specific examples include denial of the requested changes to California automotive CO2 emissions standards, registration of toxic and highly carcinogenic methyl iodide as a fumigant, refusal of the Federal government to obey court orders to uphold the Endangered Species Act and related denial of scientific data that was later overturned by the courts.

From NPR:

The chief of the Environmental Protection Agency has authority to set the air quality standards to protect public health and the environment. But the White House is now interfering with new efforts by EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Ignoring scientists is nothing new for Bush, but in this case he also ignored the U.S. Supreme Court. The EPA wanted to include a tougher secondary standard during growing seasons, designed to protect forests, crops and other plants from ozone, which retards plant growth and depletes soil moisture. Alarmed at the costs this would exact on polluters, the White House Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson saying the EPA couldn’t impose such limits without considering their economic effect. This is flatly untrue; a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 2001 held that the EPA did not have to consider the costs of its clean-air regulations, only their scientific basis. When the EPA still refused to back down, the White House sent a curt letter saying the agency had been overruled by the president: The secondary standard was out.

© James K. Bashkin, 2008

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From the New York Times, by Bloomberg News:

“The Environmental Protection Agency ignored the advice of its employees in rejecting California’s request to set rules on automotive (CO2) emissions”.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D, California): “It’s clear that E.P.A.’s own experts told Administrator S. Johnson that California’s case … is solid”

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Accounting for 12% of CO2 emissions in the US, emissions from aircraft are significant. As reported by Earthjustice and Climate of Our Future, environmental groups are teaming with cities and states to demand rules from EPA to reduce this CO2 impact or an explanation of why the EPA is failing to act.

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Japan reduced CO2 emissions by about 1.4 million tons last year, in part by cutting back on air conditioning. This was made more comfortable by dispensing with the business suit and tie culture.

However, extensive commercial building and increases in transportation are making it difficult for Japan to meet its promises for the future.

Also in Japan, the solar energy industry is turning a profit, but remains expensive- this is keeping some consumers from switching to a solar system.

The above three articles from NPR (National Public Radio) shed light on progress and difficulties in a country that long ago recognized the Kyoto Accord and subsequent Kyoto Protocol, which address CO2 emissions, greenhouse gases and global warming.

Meanwhile, Diane Rehm‘s 10 am October 2, 2007, show on NPR dealt with rising food costs and the effect of corn-ethanol on the environment and society. While I didn’t hear the whole show yet, I did not find myself agreeing with some of the guests’ support for corn ethanol and its supposed economic benefits. In particular, one guest seemed to be skirting the issue by talking about reduced CO2 emissions instead of total energy costs when comparing the use of corn-derived ethanol (mixed with gasoline/petrol) in an automobile vs. gasoline/petrol alone. However, I still need to do more reading of current research before giving a complete answer.

© James K. Bashkin, 2007

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