Red Lodge Clearnignhouse
The Supreme Court today upheld U.S. EPA’s policy for regulating stormwater runoff on logging roads in the Pacific Northwest. The 7-1 ruling in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center backed EPA’s policy that logging roads are not industrial point-source pollution and consequently don’t require Clean Water Act permits.
The decision is a blow to environmental groups like the Portland, Ore.-based NEDC, which argued that the channeled runoff carries sediment and other contamination into forest streams, polluting their ecosystems. It was widely welcomed, however, by the timber industry. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the court’s opinion, noted that days before the court heard arguments on the case in December 2012, EPA amended its policy and formally said the logging roads are not an industrial activity — and thus do not require the permits.
The global dialogue around climate change tends to focus on energy policy. But there are issues beyond energy. Forest loss is now responsible for almost one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions — more than all global transportation combined. Fortunately, real progress on this issue is within our reach. We now have a number of tools to prevent forest loss and keep the oceans at bay. One of the least appreciated is community management of forests, a proven approach that can help turn the tide.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether environmental groups can challenge a federal government plan that has led to increased logging in California forests throughout the Sierra. The plan was adopted in 2004 by President George W. Bush’s administration for 11 national forests covering 11.5 million acres. In February 2012, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the government had failed to analyze the potential impact of more tree-cutting and road-building on fish in the mountain streams. Nine species of fish in those streams are listed as threatened or endangered.
The Supreme Court put that ruling on hold Monday and granted review of an appeal by the Obama administration, which argued that the suit was premature because the overall forest management plan did not authorize any specific logging projects.
Summit County Citizens Voice
At least 80 percent of the precipitation that falls in the hot and dry American Southwest is lost to evapotranspiration, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said in a new report that will help resource managers plan for the future. The study, published in the Journal of the American Water Resources, is the first to map average evapotranspiration rates across the continental United States. Knowing those rates is important because ir’s part of the equation for determining the amount of water available for people and ecosystems.
To arrive at their findings, the scientists compared total annual average precipitation with the long-term discharges from 838 watersheds across the U.S. Then they plugged other climate data into the equation to determine the evapotranspiration rates.
The Georgetown Public Policy Review
From a whimper to a bang, climate change is back on the agenda. President Obama must play the jobs card if he wants to win this time around. If climate change legislation is to succeed in the current political landscape, the President will need to reframe the debate around the jobs already lost, or severely at risk, because of the impact of climate change today.
Unfortunately, examples abound. According to the New York State Labor Department, Hurricane Sandy destroyed nearly 30,000 jobs in and around New York City. Ocean acidification—caused by increased atmospheric carbon—is seriously threatening commercial fishing along the US coastline. Oyster harvests in the US Pacific Northwest—worth over $110 million annually—have rapidly declined over the last five years, with thousands of jobs on the line.