The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to consider reducing the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set air quality standards, leaving intact a tough new limit on sulfur dioxide emissions in a victory for the Obama administration. Without comment, the court decided not to hear an appeal by Grupo Mexico SAB’s Asarco LLC unit of a lower court ruling that upholds a 2010 EPA rule limiting sulfur dioxide in the air to 75 parts per billion over one hour. Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide has been linked to respiratory problems. (http://www.epa.gov/air/sulfurdioxide/).
The New York Times
President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition.
The central place he gave to the subject seemed to answer the question of whether he considered it a realistic second-term priority. He devoted scant attention to it in the campaign and has delivered a mixed message about its importance since the election.
On the heels of the Wallow Fire, which burned nearly 539,000 acres in four days and was the largest forest fire in state history, representatives of The Nature Conservancy’s Arizona chapter are making efforts to protect forest habitats from wildfires before it’s too late.
To fight back against intense wildfires, the organization is collaborating with conservation partners, the private sector and government agencies to implement innovative new programs – beginning with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the largest forest thinning program in the history of the U.S. Forest Service and one that Nature Conservancy officials say could be used to prevent severe fires in dry forests across the western U.S.
The number of initiatives that protect and restore forests, wetlands, and other water-rich ecosystems has nearly doubled in just four years as governments urgently seek sustainable alternatives to costly industrial infrastructure, according to a new report from Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace.
The report, State of Watershed Payments 2012, is the second installment of the most comprehensive inventory to date of initiatives around the world that are paying individuals and communities to revive or preserve water-friendly features of the landscape. Such features include wetlands, streams, and forests that can capture, filter, and store freshwater.