Monsoon Madness

by Robert Verchick | August 28, 2012

NEW DELHI — Here’s what monsoon season looks like in India. This summer, the northern states have been lashed with rain. In the northeastern state of Assam, July rains swamped thousands of homes, killing 65 residents. Floods and mudslides in northeast India sent nearly 6 million people heading for the hills in search of temporary housing (a tarp, a corrugated roof) and government aid (when they can get it). In New Delhi, the monsoon hasn’t caused anything nearly as traumatic. But one cloudburst can easily flood roads and storm canals, sending bubbling streams of grease and sewage across the urban slums.

Haven’t heard about all this? Normally, I wouldn't have either. But this semester I’m living in New Delhi, near one of those storm canals, working as a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar affiliated with India’s Centre for Policy Research (another “CPR”). My plan is to examine the ways in which Indians are adapting to climate change, at the national, regional, and local levels.

Perhaps no country in the world is as vulnerable on so many fronts to climate change as India. With 7,000 kilometers of coastline, the vast Himalayan glaciers, and nearly 70 million hectares of forests, India is especially vulnerable to a climate trending toward warmer temperatures, erratic precipitation, higher seas, and swifter storms. Then there are India’s enormous cities (home to nearly a third of the population), where all of these trends conspire to threaten public ...

Draft Republican Platform Cites Debunked Regulatory Costs Study, Suggests Rules be Only a 'Helpful Guide'

by Ben Somberg | August 27, 2012
A draft of the Republican party platform, posted by Politico on Friday afternoon, reveals that the party has incorporated some of the more absurd claims and proposals on regulations pushed by House Republicans and some more radical trade organizations.  The draft claims regulations cost $1.75 trillion each year – that’s from a discredited study sponsored by the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. It turned out that 70 percent of that figure came from a regression analysis based on opinion ...

New Briefing Paper: States Can Lead the Way to Improved Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards

by Wayland Radin | August 24, 2012
Today CPR releases a new briefing paper explaining how states can spearhead improving energy efficiency standards for home appliances. The paper, States Can Lead the Way to Improved Appliance Energy Efficiency Standards, draws on ideas discussed in Alexandra B. Klass’s article State Standards for Nationwide Products Revisited: Federalism, Green Building Codes, and Appliance Efficiency Standards. I co-authored today’s paper with CPR Member Scholars Klass and Lesley McAllister. Traditionally a strongly bipartisan issue, support for energy efficiency has been eroded by ...

The Romney-Ryan Energy Plan: Back to States' Rights

by Joseph Tomain | August 23, 2012
Based on what the Romney-Ryan team has said so far on energy, I expected their energy plan today would be something like the National Energy Policy of 2001, delivered by Vice President Dick Cheney four months after George W. Bush’s inauguration.  I thought that their energy plan would simply be a retread of old thinking, much like their education policies.  But today’s plan goes to a whole new level. The 2001 plan, famously developed behind closed doors, predicted a 30% ...

Can Clean Energy Campaigns Stop Climate Change?

by Frank Ackerman | August 23, 2012
Cross-posted from Triple Crisis. Can we protect the earth’s climate without talking about it – by pursuing more popular policy goals such as cheap, clean energy, which also happen to reduce carbon emissions? It doesn’t make sense for the long run, and won’t carry us through the necessary decades of technological change and redirected investment. But in the current context of climate policy fatigue, it may be the least-bad short-run strategy available. You may have lost interest in climate change, ...

DC Circuit's Cross-State Decision: A Nearly Inescapable Straitjacket for EPA

by Thomas McGarity | August 22, 2012
Yesterday afternoon, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited decision on the validity of EPA’s “Cross-State” rule governing interstate transport of pollution.  The EPA has been trying for more than two decades to come up with a solution to the vexing interstate transport problem, but every attempt has failed. The court has now vacated EPA’s most recent (and most ambitious) attempt to protect the residents of “downwind” states (primarily in New England and the mid-Atlantic) from two pollutants ...

Energy Policy and the 2012 Presidential Campaign

by Joseph Tomain | August 21, 2012
Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee reported out a bill that would extend production tax credits for the wind industry, in addition to providing other tax benefits for the construction of new energy-efficient homes, energy efficient appliances, and biofuels.  These are all positive efforts that serve as investments in the necessary transition to a clean energy future.  Yet meanwhile, the Presidential campaign rhetoric on this issue, and on energy policy more broadly,  is as predictable as it is disappointing. ...

New CPR Paper Examines Potential for Nutrient Trading in the Chesapeake Bay to Disproportionately Impact Poor and Minority Communities

by Nicholas Vidargas | August 16, 2012
Around the country, a disproportionate number of facilities and operations that discharge sewage, process hazardous waste, and emit toxic air pollution are located in areas with high poverty rates or large minority populations.  Environmental regulation that has reduced overall pollution has often failed to do so equitably, leaving (or in some cases even increasing) environmental risks in certain neighborhoods.  These communities suffer from environmental harms in far greater numbers than the general population as dirty air, polluted water, and contaminated ...

Obama Campaign Inches Closer to Asserting that Coal Does Not Kill People

by Ben Somberg | August 15, 2012
Last week, President Obama’s campaign earned green criticism for airing a radio ad in Ohio that portrayed the President as pro-coal, and Mitt Romney as anti-coal. The ad asserted that Obama has been good for the coal industry, and then said: And Mitt Romney? He’s attacking the president’s record on coal. But here’s what Romney said in 2003, at a press conference in front of a coal plant: “I will not create jobs or hold jobs that kill people. And ...

Governor Romney's Illegal Proposal for REINS-Lite -- Presidents Don't Get to Use Executive Orders to Rewrite Statutes

by Richard Murphy | August 07, 2012
Governor Romney claims that burdensome regulations are an immense but hidden tax holding back the American economy. As proof for this proposition, he cites the study on regulatory costs sponsored by the Small Business Administration – a study that’s been debunked by a CPR white paper, the Congressional Research Service, and others. Romney lays out some solutions to this supposed problem in Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth, issued in September of last year.  One of these ideas is ...

EPA's New Framework for Human Health Risk Assessment: Clean Science Versus Dirty Costs and Benefits

by Matt Shudtz | August 06, 2012
Last month, EPA published for public comment a draft “framework” for human health risk assessment.  It is the culmination of years of work done by EPA staff who are part of the Risk Assessment Forum, a select team of experts from various offices throughout the agency whose efforts were overseen by the Office of the Science Advisor.  Billed as a response to the National Research Council’s Science and Decisions:  Advancing Risk Assessment (a.k.a. the “Silver Book”), the Framework really only ...

Cass Sunstein's Departure

by Rena Steinzor | August 03, 2012
The White House today announced the departure of Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. CPR President Rena Steinzor issued the following statement:   Cass Sunstein brought impressive credentials and a personal relationship with the President to his job as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. But in the final analysis, Sunstein has continued the Bush Administration’s tradition of using the office to block needed health and safety protections disliked by big ...

The Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act, as Critiqued by Co-Sponsor Susan Collins and Me

by Rena Steinzor | August 01, 2012
Talk about trying to fix the wrong problem: Senators Mark Warner, Rob Portman, and Susan Collins have introduced a bill today that seeks to move the rulemaking process further away from agency experts and transparency and more toward hidden corners of the White House, where well-heeled industries can buy access and push political operatives to block rules. The bill at hand is the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act. In a press release and accompanying fact sheet today, the senatorial trio ...

Romney's Views About Climate Policy: A Detailed Timeline

by Daniel Farber | July 31, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. There has been considerable discussion of Governor Romney's views about the causes of climate change and about policies such as cap and trade.  It's not easy, however, to find detailed documentation.  For that reason, I've assembled as much information as I could find about what Romney has said and done over the years, with links to sources (including video or original documents when I could find them). Jan. 2003.  Romney takes office as Governor of Massachusetts. ...

New White Paper: How Should Government Facilitate Climate Change Adaptation Efforts in the Private Sector?

by Yee Huang | July 31, 2012
Today CPR releases a new briefing paper exploring how the government can encourage, facilitate, and even demand actions from the different parts of the private sector to adapt to the changing climate. The paper is based on ideas discussed at a workshop CPR co-sponsored earlier this year at the University of North Carolina School of Law, which brought together academics, non-profit and business representatives, and government officials to wrestle with how government might positively shape the private sector response to ...

Planting the Seeds of the Future: The Plant Genetic Resources Treaty

by John Knox | July 26, 2012
a(broad) perspective Today’s post is the sixth in a series on a recent CPR white paper, Reclaiming Global Environmental Leadership: Why the United States Should Ratify Ten Pending Environmental Treaties.  Each month, this series will discuss one of these treaties.  Previous posts are here. International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization on November 3, 2001 Entered into Force on June 29, 2004 Number of Parties: 127 Signed by the United ...

Member Scholar John Knox Appointed to United Nations Post on Human Rights and the Environment

by Rena Steinzor | July 25, 2012
CPR Member Scholar John Knox has been appointed the U.N. Human Rights Council’s first Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment. The position was created in March with a mandate to study the relationship of human rights and the environment, and prepare a series of reports to the Human Rights Council over the next three years. The mission will be to “identify, promote and exchange views on best practices relating to the use of human rights obligations and commitments ...

The Conundrum of Responding to Crippling Drought: Help Now or Reduce Future Vulnerability?

by Robert Adler | July 24, 2012
The relentless heat wave that has plagued much of the country this summer, along with an accompanying paucity of rain, have plunged vast swaths of the United States into the most crippling drought in decades. Corn crops and now soy crops are withering, and commodity prices have risen dramatically. That could signal a sharp rise in domestic food prices just as the elections approach this fall, shocks to world grain markets fueled in large part by U.S exports, and significant ...

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