Delhi Blues

by Robert Verchick | November 13, 2012

Last weekend my son took part in a set of Boy Scout activities with his local Delhi scout troop. On the grounds of the former residence of the U.S. ambassador, the boys prepared a kabob lunch, practiced fire making, and even built a Medieval-style trebuchet. But all I could think about were the little striped mosquitoes that seemed to follow the kids everywhere—Asian Tiger mosquitoes, to be exact, the kind that carry dengue fever

In New Delhi, dengue (DEN-gay) has reached epidemic proportions. The scouts, I’m happy to say, completed their tour without infection, thanks to lots of lotion, spray, and smoky coils. But not everyone has been so lucky. I know at least five people who have been confined to bed for two weeks of fever, headaches, and joint pain. (My medical traveler’s guide says it feels as if  “knitting needles have been driven into every joint of [your] body.”) The New York Times reported last week that Delhi hospitals “are overrun and feverish patients are sharing beds and languishing in hallways.” The illness, which in extreme forms can require blood transfusions and even kill, is breaking out all over the country. Official reports say that this year 30,002 people in Indian have fallen ill with dengue through October. But experts believe the real number is around 37 million.

And last week, we had what I call the “Monster Smog,” a week-long haze of smoke ...

(Puget) Sound Science

by Catherine O'Neill | November 08, 2012
The current debate surrounding Washington State’s sediment cleanup and water quality standards provides another example of regulated industry calling for “sound science” in environmental regulation, yet working to undermine it.  Industry has worked to delay updates to water quality standards based on the most recent scientific studies, despite the fact that the current standards are based on decades-old data  and don’t adequately protect human health.  Most recently, industry has sought to weaken any forthcoming standards by misrepresenting scientific studies of ...

Obama 2.0: Looking Forward, Mindful of the Past

by Rena Steinzor | November 07, 2012
President Obama’s reelection holds the possibility of great progress for public health, safety, and the environment — if, and only if, he recognizes the importance of these issues and stops trying to placate his most implacable opponents. The weeks leading up to the election brought powerful reminders of two of the challenges at hand:  rising sea levels and more severe storms that scientists say we should expect as a result of unchecked climate change, and a meningitis outbreak that sickened ...

The Ugly Side of Interagency Review: Non-Expert Federal Agency Commenters Tried to Tell Expert EPA That Ozone Doesn't Actually Kill People

by James Goodwin | November 05, 2012
Internal EPA emails obtained by CPR though a FOIA request reveals that representatives from one or more of the EPA’s peer agencies second-guessed a critical scientific finding undergirding the EPA’s then-pending draft final rule to tighten the ozone standard, claiming that ozone is not associated with mortality impacts. The EPA’s final proposal rightly disregarded the unsound comments and included information on how reducing ozone pollution saves lives.  The rule, estimated to save thousands of lives, was later blocked by the ...

Obama on Clean Energy: Actions Speak

by Lesley McAllister | November 02, 2012
Cross-posted from Environmental Law Prof Blog. Unlike climate change, clean energy policy has received a fair bit of attention in the presidential campaign. Obama made clear that he supports renewable energy as part of his "all of the above" approach, while Romney would end an important federal subsidy for wind power and otherwise increase reliance on coal, oil and gas. But for those who are disappointed that Obama didn’t say more about our need to transition away from fossil fuel ...

Gotham Gets It: Mayor Bloomberg Calls for Government Action on Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | November 02, 2012
The most solemn commitment borne by an elected official is to promote the public welfare and keep the citizenry safe. As New York City struggles to rebound from one of the fiercest storms in memory, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg rose to that occasion with an urgent call for government at all levels to forcefully address climate change.    Yes, folks, Gotham gets it. In an editorial for Bloomberg View, the mayor wrote: The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New ...

Comments on Five IRIS Assessments Show Industry Clogging up Process with Not Relevant Information

by Ben Somberg | November 01, 2012
One of the biggest challenges for the EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), a database for toxicological information and human health effects data that plays a role in many regulatory safeguards, is how slowly it produces chemical assessments. One of the reasons: chemical industry interests have flooded the comments on many IRIS assessments with pages of non-germane information for EPA to wade through. In a letter today to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, CPR President Rena Steinzor and Policy Analysts Wayland ...

Redeeming FEMA: How the Agency has Been Strengthened Since Katrina

by Daniel Farber | October 31, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Today’s FEMA is a lot different from the organization that flubbed the Katrina response. There have been a number of positive changes, mostly during the past four years. First, as the Washington Post explains, FEMA’s authority has expanded: Congress has broadened FEMA’s authority so that the agency can respond in advance of major storms, instead of waiting for governors to request federal aid after a disaster strikes. The measures earned plaudits from then-Gov. Haley Barbour (R) ...

Romney's Opposition to Federal Emergency Assistance in Disasters

by Daniel Farber | October 29, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. The federal role in disaster response dates back to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when General Funston sent troops from the Presidio to deal with the city’s desperate emergency. Governor Romney seems dubious about this century-old federal role. During one of the GOP primary debates, Governor Romney was asked what he thought about the idea of transferring FEMA’s responsibilities to the states. This is what he said: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take ...

A Climate-Ready City for India?

by Robert Verchick | October 26, 2012
If you like sparkling diamonds and saffron saris, you will love Surat, India’s bustling, no-nonsense city, some 250 kilometers north of Mumbai, near the Arabian Sea. If you’re wearing a new diamond, there’s an 80% chance its was shaped by Surati hands (and laser beams too). And nearly every Indian has something in the closet from Surat—which is what you’d expect from a city whose clattering looms churn out 30 million meters of raw fabric a day. But Surat, with ...

It's Time to Regulate Energy Drinks

by Thomas McGarity | October 25, 2012
In the week before Christmas last year, 14-year-old Anais Fournier went to Valley Mall in Hagerstown, Maryland with some friends.  While there she purchased and consumed a 24-ounce can of an energy drink manufactured by the Monster Beverage Corporation.  She returned to the mall the next day and consumed another Monster energy drink.  Later that evening, while she was watching a movie at home with her boyfriend, she went into cardiac arrest. She died four days later on the day ...

The Bizarre Story of the Phantom Job Gains from Romney's Deregulation Plan

by Daniel Farber | October 24, 2012
Cross-posted from Legal Planet. Deregulation is one of Mitt Romney’s five steps in his plan to add jobs.  But how do we supposedly know that deregulation will add jobs?  It’s a fascinating story, featuring a Nobel laureate’s economic model.  The model is very fancy, lots of complex math, but it’s justified on the basis of a discredited study. The story begins with a new white paper from the Romney campaign. Four leading economists attempt to provide an explanation of the ...

Clean Water Act at 40, Roundup Edition

by Ben Somberg | October 19, 2012
Here’s a final compilation of our posts on the Clean Water Act at 40: William Andreen: The Clean Water Act at 40: Finishing a Task Well Begun Dan Tarlock: Forty Years Later, Time to Turn in the CWA Clunker for Something Suited for the 21st Century Robin Kundis Craig: The Clean Water Act at 40: Up to the Challenge of the Climate Change Era? Robert Adler: The Clean Water Act at 40: Can We Renew the Vision? Robert Glicksman and ...

Why the Entergy Decision Shouldn't Hobble the Clean Water Act's Future

by Amy Sinden | October 18, 2012
The Clean Water Act turns 40 today.   One of the remarkable things about those four decades is the extent to which the Act has largely withstood repeated attempts by industry to water down its technology-based standard-setting provisions with cost-benefit analysis.   Just three years ago, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, environmentalists largely lost one skirmish in this ongoing war, but the legacy of that opinion may actually be less harmful to the statute’s ability to protect ...

ACUS Must Ensure Neutrality and Cease Close Alliances with Industry Groups, Member Scholars Say in Letter

by Michael Patoka | October 18, 2012
CPR President Rena Steinzor and Member Scholar Thomas McGarity sent a letter this morning to Paul Verkuil, Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS), taking the independent federal agency to task for its increasingly apparent bias toward the views of industry groups and its troubling alliance with current and former officials at the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA).  By repeatedly partnering with groups engaged in destructive battles with the agencies that write protective ...

On the Farm and Looking to the Future of the CWA

by Aimee Simpson | October 18, 2012
Last week I visited a dairy farm with my two year-old son.  Complete with hayrides, homemade ice cream, cows mooing, and a bluegrass band, the fall festival provided us with some good, wholesome entertainment.  My son giggled as the baby cows licked his hand, oohed and awed at the fluffy baby chicks, and, of course, consumed the decadent ice cream as if I had not fed him in weeks.  It was a memorable scene for us city-dwellers, but as my ...

The River Ganges Meets Climate Change

by Robert Verchick | October 17, 2012
VARANASI -- We slip into the river at night, and with an easy stroke, our oarsman moves our boat across the chestnut waters of “Mother Ganga,” India’s Ganges River. Spiritual life in Varanasi (also called Benares) is a passion. Hindus all over India save their money for the chance to visit this holy city and bathe in Ganga’s purifying waters. At sunrise, along the string of bathing steps called “ghats,” you’ll see hundreds of people of all shapes and sizes ...

The CWA's Antidegradation Policy: Time to Rejuvenate a Program to Protect High Quality Water

by Sandra Zellmer | October 16, 2012
This post was written by CPR Member Scholars Robert Glicksman and Sandra Zellmer. Visual images of burning rivers, oil-soaked seagulls, and other grossly contaminated resources spurred the enactment of the nation’s foundational environmental laws in the 1970s, including the Clean Water Act (CWA). Similarly, evocative prose like Rachel Carson’s description of the “strange blight” poisoning America’s wildlife due to widespread use of pesticides played a critical role in alerting policymakers and the public to the need for robust legal protections ...

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