Thursday, March 30, 2006

President Bush Raises Vehicle Mileage Standards

The Bush administration issued a new rule on March 29, 2006 to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks from the current 21.6 miles per gallon to 24.1 mpg by 2011 in annual steps. The increase will apply to 2008-to-2011 vehicles, The "light trucks" category includes minivans and SUVs. The revised rules include about 240,000 SUVs. It could save an estimated 10.7 billion gallons of fuel over the lifetime of those vehicles.

It is the second time the Bush administration has increased the mileage requirements for these vehicles under the CAFE program. The administration previously raised the target from 20.7 mpg -- where it had been frozen by Congress for almost a decade -- to 22.2 mpg for 2207. These are the most far-reaching changes to fuel economy standards in the 27-year history of the program. The U.S. Department of Transportation manages the CAFE program while the Environmental Protection Agency manages milage estimates.. The rule changes do not apply to passenger cars, which are currently requred to meet a standard of 27.5 mpg.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

EPA Recertifies DOE's Nuke Waste Site

EPA recertified the Department of Energy's (DOE) Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) today, confirming that the facility continues to comply with the agency's radioactive waste disposal regulations. The WIPP is a deep geologic repository for the permanent disposal of radioactivewaste. The WIPP site is located outside of Carlsbad, N.M., where waste is entombed in a 2,000 foot thick layer of natural salt 2,150 feet below the surface. This is the first recertification of WIPP since EPA's initial certification decision in 1998.

Congress requires EPA to recertify that WIPP meets the agency's disposal regulations every five years, following the first receipt of waste, for the operational lifetime of thefacility. The first shipment of waste was received at WIPP in March1999. EPA's WIPP website at: Another permanent repository for nuclear waste is being prepared at Yucca Mountain in Arizona.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Clean Air Litigation Merry-Go-Round Keeps Circling

We hate litigation at AAEA because it does not get scrubbers on power plants. We have witnessed over a quarter century of such litigation and it only serves to delay needed emissions equipment retrofits. We also believe the Clear Skies Initiative would have broken this cycle and would have led to scrubber installations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected EPA's revised New Source Review (NSR) rule whereby a physical change that does not exceed 20% percent of the replacement value of the plant gets excluded from NSR as "routine maintenance" and does not require the installation of expensive new scrubbers. The previous rule triggered NSR if any physical change beynod routine maintenance increased the amount of pollution the plant emited.

So utilities will continue to resist installing scrubbers, environmental groups will continue to sue EPA to enforce the law, EPA will continue to sue the utilities to comply with 'command and control' regulations, consent decrees and other agreements will be negotiated, the process will start all over again, and the air will not be cleaner at the end of the day.

Black Caucus Congress Member Opposes Offshore Drilling

Congressman Bobby Scott (D- VA, 3rd District) supports the federal moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling that must be re-enacted by Congress every year. A bill (Virginia Energy Plan) introduced in the state General Assembly includes a provision calling for Virginia to seek an exemption from the federal moratorium on offshore drilling for natural gas. The offshore drilling provision has no legally binding effect other than encouraging the governor's office to ask Virginia's congressional delegation to seek approval. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Mineral Management Service manages offshore drilling.

Congressman Scott believes the proposal is contrary to the best interests of Virginia. Congressman Scott is particularly concerned about threats to marine mammals, such as dolphins, coastal marine ecosystems, resort beaches in Virginia Beach, the economy of the commonwealth and the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest and most productive estuary. (Hat Tip:

Saturday, March 18, 2006

President Bush Picks New Interior Secretary

Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, right, has been nominated by President Bush to be the next Secretary of the Department of Interior. Governor Dirk Kempthorne, 54, was first elected as Idaho's 30th governor in 1998 following a successful six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He was reelected as Idaho's Governor in 2002. As a Senator, he authored and won passage of two major pieces of legislation: a bill to end unfunded federal mandates on state and local governments and a substantial revision of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act

He was elected as Chairman of the National Governor’s Association in 2003. Governor Kempthorne and his wife Patricia are both University of Idaho graduates and have two grown children, Heather and Jeff.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Orleans Elections Scheduled for Earth Day

It is being reported by BlackAmericaWeb that civil rights leaders and organizations oppose the New Orleans election being scheduled on April 22 because not enough people (black) have moved back to the city. BlackAmericaWeb reports that a demonstration is scheduled for April 1 in New Orleans that has been endorsed by Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Rev. Al Sharpton; Bruce Gordon, president of the NAACP; Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, and the Congressional Black Caucus. Wonder how the mainstream environmental movement feels about this.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton Resigns

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton has announced her resignation after serving for five years. She was the 48th Secretary and first woman to head the 156-year-old department. Secretary Norton focused on restoring the Florida Everglades, reducing the maintenance backlogs on the National Park Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System, and supporting environmentally sensitive energy production on public lands. She helped in creating Colorado's Great Sand Dunes National Park, the new Glacial Ridge National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota and the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Area in Montana.

From 1991 to 1999, she served as Attorney General of Colorado. She also worked as Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and, from 1979 to 1983, as a Senior Attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation. Norton graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver in 1975 and earned her law degree from the same university in 1978. Before becoming Interior Secretary, Norton was senior counsel at Brownstein, Hyatt & Farber, P.C. She is married to John Hughes.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Pre Spring Organic Weeding Report

If you did not hand-pull yard weeds this Winter you are in big trouble. Winter only slowed growth and it was important to bend your back, squat and kneel down to really see and pinch those weeds out by the root with your ungloved index finger and thumb. The true aficionado will reap great rewards and a significant reduction in weed and feed. Diligent winter weeding has its rewards.

Organic weeding enhances mental and physical health because it is so relaxing and provides some exercise. If you have been too busy to scan the front and back yards for juvenile weeds and pluck them, then your life is out of balance. There is still time to regain balance in your life. Just as the daffodils are about to announce Spring by displaying their blossoms, eliminating competition for nutrients by hand pulling weeds will be greatly appreciated by your lawn grass and Mother Nature. Such activity can simulate real outback adventure and provide great communion with nature in a sterile suburb.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

AAEA President Meets With EPA Administrator

AAEA President Norris McDonald recently met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson at the EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC. They discussed local, national and international environmental issues.

AAEA believes that EPA has an excellent team assembled to address planetary environmental issues during the second term of the Bush administration. We will continue to support EPA in addressing innovative solutions to persistent pollution problems at the local, national and international levels.