July 2017 Tied for Warmest Month on Record; Gives Further Support to Recently Released Climate Change Special Report

Following the release by the New York Times of a draft copy of a Climate Change Special Report (CSSR) prepared to provide the scientific basis of the upcoming 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment—as if perfectly planned for maximum effect, according to an analysis released on August 15 by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)— July 2017 was the warmest July on record (since 1880), and statistically tied with the warmest month on record of August 2016.  (GISTEMP Team, 2017: GISS
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Court Rejects the EPA’s Efforts to Stay the Methane Gas Rule

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency implemented a rule for fugitive methane gas and other greenhouse gasses to reduce pollution. Methane gas is considered a greenhouse gas because in the air, unused methane absorbs the heat from the sun and poses a global warming potential that is about 21 times greater than carbon dioxide. The Methane Gas Rule imposed “new source performance standards” on the oil and gas industry. The new performance standards, which were effective as of August 2, 2016, required the oil and gas industry to conduct an initial monitoring survey and identify and repair any methane leaks by June 3, 2017. Just
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Massachusetts Steps Up its Game on Climate Regulation

Last Friday, August 11, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection published expansive new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The regulations will affect a broad range of stakeholders within the state, including new requirements for power generators, electric utilities, natural gas distributors, government, and the transportation sector. The new regulations are the latest step in an arduous process the state has undertaken to combat climate change. In 2008, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Global Warming
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How Long Should We Wait for Those Good Things They Say are Worth Waiting For?

On July 25, 2017, the EPA’s recently created Superfund Task Force released a number of recommendations on how to “streamline and improve the Superfund program.” These recommendations (e.g., recommendation number one is “Target NPL Sites That Are Not Showing Sufficient Progress Towards Site Cleanup and Completion”) were generated after the EPA director criticized the cleanup time involved in the Superfund process. Has the process been taking too long? The Superfund program involves both an identification and investigation process that’s been time consuming. To start the process, EPA identifies the potentially contaminated site and
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Growing Illegal Marijuana in California Threatens Polluting the Golden State’s Waterways and Forests

Even as California prepares to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana next year, experts remain concerned that new laws and regulations still fall short in combating the thousands of illegal marijuana farms that threaten federal forest land in California. In 1996, California was not surprisingly the first to legalize medical marijuana, and last year, it became the fifth state to legalize recreational marijuana. Right now, it’s legal to use recreational marijuana, while the sale of recreational marijuana is anticipated to be
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Illinois Digs Nuclear? Federal Court Upholds Illinois State Subsidies to Nuclear Power Plants

The State of Illinois recently passed the Future Energy Jobs Act and created a “zero emission credit” program to subsidize nuclear power generation and corresponding sales of nuclear power in the energy market. The statute grants zero emission credits to certain qualifying energy-generating facilities, specifically, several nuclear power plants owned by Exelon in Illinois. Utilities that sell electricity to consumers must purchase zero emission credits from the qualifying power plants, and those utilities then pass the costs of the zero
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Recent Efforts in California to Address Climate Change – New Twists on Established Strategies

As the world continues to confront the reality of a changing climate resulting from anthropogenic (human caused) releases of greenhouse gasses since the dawn of the industrial age, efforts to slow the increase of average global temperatures and combat the worst effects of that temperature rise have taken various tracks — from large-scale international agreements such as the Paris Accord (COP23) and the Kyoto Protocol, to legislative attempts such as cap-and-trade programs, to lawsuits based on international, federal, and state
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The EPA’s Action Plan to Restore a Cornerstone of its Mission

In May, E. Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, issued a memo about prioritizing the Superfund Program and establishing a commission to expedite the identification and revitalization of superfund sites. CERCLA created the Superfund Program in 1980, but efforts to revitalize superfund sites have lately been delayed by red tape, funding issues, bankruptcies, and court proceedings. In his memo directed to the deputy administrator, the inspector general, assistant administrators, and other high level personnel, Pruitt vowed that “the EPA’s Superfund land and
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Does this Water Taste … Nuclear to You? Florida Power Company Granted Permission to Store Wastewater from Proposed Nuclear Reactors Beneath Miami’s Drinking Water Aquifers

After a months-long battle, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently granted Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) application to: (1) build two new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point Generating Station; (2) store wastewater from the proposed nuclear reactors under Miami’s drinking water aquifers; and (3) eventually store nuclear waste near the same site. This application was granted despite previous citations issued to FPL for its leaks of saltwater into drinking water and wastewater into Biscayne Bay that were from
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How Will Businesses and the Insurance Industry Respond to the Growing Threat of Climate Change?

The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks likely will be significantly impacted by climate change in coming years. The ClimateWise report recently confirmed that since the 1950s the frequency of weather-related catastrophes has increased six-fold. As these risks occur more often, previously insurable assets are becoming uninsurable, and those already underinsured are further compromised. The overall consequences can be far reaching and as yet, we are not able to comprehend the vast nature of the risk.
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