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A greenhouse gas emissions inventory was conducted for Chicago and its metropolitanregion for the years 2000 and 2005. Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride totaled 34.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) in Chicago in 2000 with 91 percent of emissions attributable to the indirect emissions associated with electricity consumption, the direct emissions of natural gas use, and the direct emissions of the transportation sector. A portfolio of 33 potential emissions reduction strategies was analyzed that, implemented together, could meet Chicago’s target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The largest potential for reduction is found in the areas with the largest emissions—energy use in buildings and transport. Compared to its metropolitan region, Chicago is found to have existing transportation efficiencies on a per household basis that can be an example for other communities.
On June 24, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 which gave up to $4,500 to owners of vehicles with poor fuel economy who trade them in for more efficient new vehicles. This \"cash-for-clunkers\" program was touted as meeting three objectives: increasing vehicle sales, at a time when the U.S. auto industry is struggling; reducing fuel use; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This column examines the workings of the program as well as describes what kinds of vehicles can be turned in and purchased under it. The column then assesses how well the program meets its stated objectives. In conclusion, the authors found that the program will chiefly benefit the vehicle manufacturers as there is such a narrow differential in mileage between traded-in and new vehicles eligible for credit that the resulting reductions in fuel usage and GHG emissions will be modest. In addition to this, they found that the energy cost of building new vehicles must be factored into the equation as the carbon dioxide payback time for manufacturing vehicles can take several years. Lastly, the column points out that the program greatly affects income distribution as it encourages old cars to be crushed and shredded, thus reducing the supply of old cars and presumably raising the price of those that remain, in turn hurting lower income people.
In recent years the frequency and severity of heavy precipitation and floods in parts of the United States have been increasing to a statistically significant degree, and this trend is expected to worsen. This article summarizes some of the liability issues that result from floods, and efforts to control them. Under governmental liability, the author highlights multiple participating factors including sovereign immunity, structural measures, nonstructural measures, flood-related regulations, and land use regulations. Under private liability, the column points to issues regarding neighboring property owners, dams and other obstructions, overflow, insurance, utilities, and design professionals. Lastly, the author draws upon the Hurricane Katrina Case where the U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in an important case on flood liability.
Numerous federal and state judicial decisions have established that environmental impact statements under the National Environmental Policy Act and its state equivalents should examine the impact of proposed projects on emissions of greenhouse gases. Administrative agencies and court settlements are now establishing the guidelines for the conduct of these examinations. This column surveys the emergence of these new guidelines, which is occurring against a backdrop of accelerated activity in both Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, leading towards federal regulation of GHGs. The column looks at these guidelines on the federal level as well as within New York, California, Massachusetts, Washington, and Hawaii.
This annual survey describes new environmental laws that were signed into law in 2010 in New York, as well as two executive orders issued by Governor David A. Paterson and important new regulations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation concerning endangered and threatened species. The new laws discussed in this survey include the following topics: Air Quality, Brownfields, Endangered Species, Energy, Emissions/Climate Change, Green Jobs, Hazardous Substances, Land Use, Pesticides, Public Health, Recycling, State Environmental Quality Review Act, Solid Waste, Transportation, Wetlands, and Wildlife.
The central purpose of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is to improve governmental decision making by making relevant information available to officials and by ensuring that everyone affected by the decisions is given a voice. In this article, Michael Gerrard focuses on the effect of NEPA on decisions. First, Gerrard discusses the effect that NEPA has had on internal decision making. Then, he delves into the accuracy of predictions in environmental impact statements. Lastly, Gerrard analyzes what happens to environmental impact statements after the record of decision is issued.
Understanding the effect of flooding on Great Lakes cities and identify strategies to manage the problem of urban flooding. The effects of urban flooding—sewer backups, basement seepage, property damage, and street ponding—collectively cause millions of dollars of damage each year, the survey encourages collaboration among utilities and municipalities, partners and investors in Great Lakes cities.
A guide to the Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard for municipalities interested in sustainability and struggling with existing infrastructure and stormwater management needs.
In this piece, Michael B. Gerrard comments on an article by Thomas D. Peterson, Robert B. McKinstry Jr., and John C. Dernbach which held two central insights: (1) Any serious national effort to control emissions of greenhouse gases must continue to leave important roles to the states; and (2) It would be a mistake to put too many eggs in the cap-and-trade basket. Although Gerrard agrees with these insights, he has reservations about the authors\' proposal to use the mechanism of national ambient air quality standards and state implementation plans as a way to give states the vital roles they deserve. In discussing alternative methods to this, Gerrard delves into the topics of state action, the national ambient air quality standards, state implementation plans, and lastly, alternative approaches to state roles.
While climate change legislation was mired in Congress, several units in the Obama administration had used their existing statutory authority to adopt rules or guidance requiring extensive disclosure about greenhouse gases in a wide variety of contexts. Every registered public company, the operators of many industrial facilities, and those involved in significant federal actions are now or will soon be covered by one or more of these requirements. In this article, the author explains different disclosure requirements, including the GHG reporting rule, securities disclosure, and lastly, the National Environmental Policy Act.