Location, Location, Location: Assisted Migration May be Coming Closer to a Reality as a Response to Climate Change

by Yee Huang | February 01, 2011

a(broad) perspective

While discussion of adapting to climate change is finally beginning to take off in the United States, other governments from Bangladesh to the Netherlands have already laid the foundation to develop concrete policies and implement strategies to address the impacts. Last week, a report released by the UK’s Environment Agency specifically identified relocation of coldwater fish as a possible direct response to the effects of climate change. We're going to be hearing a lot more in the coming years about assisted migration like this—the intentional relocation of flora or fauna to a new region as a climate change impacts occur. 

As a climate change adaptation strategy, assisted migration engenders significant controversy among scientists and policymakers alike. The clear benefit, and intended purpose, is to prevent the extinction of a species that can no longer survive in a changed climate. However, assisted migration raises serious questions about which species to relocate and to where they should be moved. The relocated species are effectively invasive species, which may introduce new diseases, pests, or other unintended consequences. Along with habitat degradation, invasive species are the biggest threat to biodiversity and endangered species. In addition, relocated species may not survive in isolation, so simply moving one targeted species may not ensure its survival. 

In the UK, the Environment Agency is "exploring" moving thousands of vendace and schelly, both freshwater white fish, from the northern Lake District in England to cooler waters in ...

The President Muffed it on Salmon

by Dan Rohlf | January 28, 2011
In his State of the Union speech to Congress Tuesday night, President Obama suggested that reducing inefficient federal bureaucracy can help reduce federal spending and promote economic growth. Stretching to find a lighthearted example of government ineptness, the President quipped that “the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked." This remark may have elicited ...

The GOP Majority Weighs in on Regulatory Reform

by Rena Steinzor | January 26, 2011
On Capitol Hill this morning, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing on what it describes as the “Views of the Administration on Regulatory Reform.” The star witness will be Cass Sunstein, head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, better known as the “regulatory czar” of the Obama Administration. As you might have read already in this space, last week the President launched a new regulatory initiative in which ...

New CPR Report says State Plans for Chesapeake Bay Restoration Not Strong Enough to Get the Job Done

by Ben Somberg | January 25, 2011
Momentum for Chesapeake Bay restoration has advanced significantly in the past two years, shaped by the combination of President Obama’s Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order and the EPA’s Bay-wide Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process. These federal initiatives, taken in partnership with the Bay states, required the Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) to demonstrate how they will meet the pollution targets in the applicable TMDLs. In August, CPR sent the ...

The BP Oil Spill and the Disappearing Louisiana Coast

by Daniel Farber | January 24, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. In his book Bayou Farewell, Mike Tidwell tells some haunting stories about the rapid disappearance of the Louisiana coast from his time with Cajun fisherman.  Here’s one story: “We all pile into the crab boat and Tim tells his son to head down the bayou. A few hundred feet away . . . Tim points toward a watery stretch of march grass oddly littered with bricks and concrete. “’It’s a cemetery,’ he says. “There, shockingly, along ...

Sunstein: No Additional Agency Funding Expected for Regulatory Look Back

by Ben Somberg | January 19, 2011
In case anyone thought the White House would seek additional appropriations to hire new agency staffers to do the regulatory look back work, it sure sounds like a no. Here's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein speaking on Federal News Radio: "Agencies are in the best position to make choices about which rules to review and justify whether they need to be modified" he said. "The Executive Order makes clear that the look back process will occur ...

The Problem with Saccharin

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
President Obama’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this morning touted EPA’s “deregulation” of the artificial sweetener saccharin as a positive development for America. Inadvertently, the president made EPA look silly for having regulated the stuff in the first place. The use of this example was also unfortunate because EPA’s decision to deregulate had little consequence. Here’s the back story. Beginning in the 1970s, scientists discovered that if you feed large quantities of saccharin to rats, they develop cancer. As a result, products containing ...

President Obama Moves to the Right on Regulation; Appeasing Business Has Real Life Costs

by Rena Steinzor | January 18, 2011
Sixteen months ago, President Obama stood in the well of Congress and issued a ringing call for a progressive vision of government. Working to persuade Members of Congress to adopt health care reform, he said that “large-heartedness…is part of the American character.  Our ability to stand in other people's shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand.” Many took comfort from that vision, the ...

The REINS Act: The Latest Conservative Plan to Gum Up the Regulatory Works

by Sidney Shapiro | January 14, 2011
Republican legislators have been scheming for years about ways that they can slow down, if not stop, needed health, safety and environmental regulations. But their latest effort, though creative, is perhaps their most ill-conceived. They’re calling it   “The REINS Act” (in the last Congress, H.R. 3765 sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), S. 3826 sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)), and, if adopted,  no new "economically significant" regulations would take effect unless affirmatively approved by Congress, by means of a joint congressional resolution of approval, ...

EPA Vetoes Mountaintop Removal Mining Permit

by Holly Doremus | January 13, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. If EPA is afraid of the new Congress, you wouldn’t know it from today’s news.  Assistant Administrator Peter Silva issued the Obama administration’s first veto of a Clean Water Act section 404 permit. This veto, which has been working its way through the cumbersome process for more than a year (see here, here, here, and here), is only the 13th in agency history, the second since 1989, and the first to be issued after a permit ...

Missing the Lessons of the BP Spill

by Alexandra Klass | January 13, 2011
The report of the President’s Gulf Oil Spill Commission answered some questions and raised others. But one thing still puzzles: Why didn’t the Gulf Oil Spill start a national conversation about our dependence on oil development and the need for renewable energy? At first, it appeared it might, but the focus quickly turned to reforming the regulatory agency with oversight for the spill and fixing the technical failures that caused the well blowout in the first place. Both were important ...

Deepwater Horizon Spill Commission Waivers on Self-Regulation, Endorses Wrong-Headed British 'Safety Cases' System

by Rena Steinzor | January 11, 2011
Despite its strong condemnation of the industry-wide problems that caused last year’s BP Oil Spill, the report today from the President’s commission waivered on a crucial subject: it significantly embraced the essentially self-regulatory British "Safety Case" model of regulation that industry and its consultants have been promoting. So while the commission has done some terrific work, one of its key recommendations is very disturbing.  The safety case approach ultimately leaves to the oil companies, rather than regulators, the difficult but crucial work ...

Six Myths About Climate Change and the Clean Air Act

by Daniel Farber | January 10, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. It’s often said that the Clean Air Act is an inappropriate way to address climate change.  It would undoubtedly be desirable for Congress to pass new legislation on the subject, but the Clean Air Act is a more appropriate vehicle than many people seem to realize.  There are six common misconceptions about the statute that have led to confusion: Myth #1:  EPA has made a power grab by trying to use the Clean Air Act. Not ...

Texas is Arguing that EPA Acted Faster than It's Allowed in Air Permitting Move. Texas is Wrong.

by Victor Flatt | January 06, 2011
On Dec. 30, the EPA announced that it was partially disapproving the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) that would not allow it to issue PSD permits for greenhouse gases that were now “subject to regulation.” Continuing its resistance to all things EPA, Texas filed a request for an emergency stay of the disapproval in the DC Circuit. This follows Texas’s request for an emergency stay on the rulemaking which declared GHGs subject to regulation under PSD in the DC Circuit, and later ...

Darrell Issa Struggling to Get his Anti-Regulatory Message Straight

by Ben Somberg | January 05, 2011
Representative Darrell Issa, the incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has made his views on regulations fairly clear. Earlier this week, for example, he scored headlines when his office gave out a document publicizing the issues his committee will take up. From the document: "The committee will examine how overregulation has hurt job creation..." No surprise; that's about the line we'd expect from Issa. But someone in Issa's office must have recognized a problem: Won't the ...

David Driesen Takes a Bite out of the REINS Act in Post-Standard Op-Ed

by Matthew Freeman | January 05, 2011
One of the top agenda items for the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will be pressing an anti-regulatory bill they're calling the REINS Act. The bill would subject newly minted regulations protecting health, safety, the environment and more to a requirement that  Congress adopt resolutions of approval within 90 days of the date that the regulatory agency finishes its work.  It's a miserable idea for a number of reasons, many of which CPR Member Scholar David Driesen details ...

What to Expect This Year in Terms of Climate Action

by Daniel Farber | January 04, 2011
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Although there will be many flashing lights and loud noises, 2011 will primarily be a year in which various events that are already in play evolve toward major developments in 2012. Litigation. The one exceptional major development in 2011 will be American Electric Power (AEP) v. Connecticut, the climate nuisance case that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear.  The odds are good that the Court will throw out the case, the interesting question being what ...

An Environmentally Disastrous Year

by Yee Huang | December 30, 2010
a(broad) perspective In 2010, natural (and unnatural) environmental disasters around the world killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions more, and caused significant air and water pollution as well as human health catastrophes. Insurance giant Swiss Re estimated that these disasters caused an estimated $222 billion in losses. Disasters are overwhelming to begin with, but for countries with limited infrastructure and capacity to respond, these disasters also show that the human rights consequences of an environmental disaster can be severe. Despite the ...

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