Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Battery Recycling, EPA Climate Plan, Ocean Commission

by | Feb 11, 2013

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US companies are sending spent lead batteries to recycling plants in Mexico that do not meet American environmental standards, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an environmental agency created under NAFTA, said. The commission found lapses in regulation and enforcement environmental agencies in the US and Mexico, but notes that the US does not fully follow common procedures that treat international battery shipments as hazardous waste, the New York Times said.

The EPA has released its Draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan in response to a directive from Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality. The report, which is open for a 60-day comment period, calls for the agency to amend operations to account for rapid global warming. By 2015 the EPA will integrate climate change science trend and scenario information into its rule-making processes. The agency also will factor global warming in its grant and loan programs and contract decisions by that year, The Hill said.

President Obama did not cover energy policy during a 20-minute address to the Democratic caucus last week, spending more time on fiscal issues, guns and immigration. Obama has vowed to make global warming a priority during his second term. Environmental advocates are looking to Obama’s State of the Union speech for direction on the climate agenda, The Hill said.

An EU budget emerged late Friday with deep cuts into a new transportation and energy fund. Spending for cross-border transport, energy and telecoms projects was reduced to $40.14 billion from a proposed $50 billion. The Commission has estimated €100 billion ($134 billion) is needed just to improve the energy transmission lines for a connected European energy market that integrates renewable power. The budget does, however, require that 20 percent of all EU spending over the budget period (2014-20) would have to have a beneficial effect on the climate, Reuters said.

A new global group – the Global Ocean Commission – has formed with the goal to begin advising the United Nations on global governance of oceans by 2014. David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary, will co-chair the commission with former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres and Trevor Manuel, a minister in the South African cabinet in charge of planning, Reuters said.

A Duke University survey found that the majority of US adults, 64 percent, are “strongly or somewhat” in favor of the government regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and cars and requiring utilities to generate more power from low-carbon sources. Only 29 percent backed fighting climate change with taxes on fossil fuels. Half of respondents said they are convinced that solid evidence of global warming exists, and 34 percent said that proof “probably exists,” The Hill said.

A special UNEP envoy met with the Nigerian government to discuss major oil contamination in the Ogoniland region of the country. An independent, 14-month assessment showed greater and deeper pollution than previously thought, requiring an initial sum of $1 billion to cover the first five years of clean-up operations. In July 2012, the Nigerian government announced its Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, designed to fully implement UNEP’s recommendations to clean up the area, the UN said.

The Department of Interior will offer 38.6 million acres for oil and gas development in the Central Gulf of Mexico. Lease Sale 227 auctions all unleased areas from three to 230 miles offshore of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, and could lead to the production of about one billion barrels of oil and 4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The sale will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on March 20, DOI said.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said in a report that Japan props up its whaling industry with $400 million in tax money, and increased subsidies even as consumption of whale meat declined. The group challenges the notion that whaling is a national tradition in Japan, and says it is struggling industry employing fewer than 1,000 people and dependent on public handouts, the New York Times said.

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