Category Archives: Publications

Fish Lose Fear of Predators with Elevated CO2

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Higher carbon dioxide emissions that eventually find their way into ocean waters could cause fish to lose their fear of predators, potentially damaging the entire marine food chain.

A study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims), James Cook University and the Georgia Institute of Technology found the behavior of fish would be “seriously affected” by greater exposure to CO 2.

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Climate change, Publications, Wildlife


White Papers on Methane and VOC Emissions : US EPA

On April 15, 2014, EPA released for external peer review five technical white papers on potentially significant sources of emissions in the oil and gas sector. The white papers focus on technical issues covering emissions and mitigation techniques that target methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). As noted in the Obama Administration’s Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (PDF) (15pp, 1.9 MB), EPA will use the papers, along with the input we receive from the peer reviewers and the public, to determine how to best pursue additional reductions from these sources. Read a summary of the white papers (PDF) (2pp, 282k)

The five white papers cover:

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Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Oil and gas industry, Publications


Made in America: Staggering amounts of toxic chemicals

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Recent spills in West Virginia and North Carolina cast a spotlight on toxic hazards in our midst. But as bad as they are, these acute incidents pale in scope compared to the chronic flow of hazardous chemicals coursing through our lives each day with little notice and minimal regulation. A new report by EDF, “Toxics Across America,” tallies billions of pounds of chemicals in the American marketplace that are known or strongly suspected to cause increasingly common disorders, including certain cancers, developmental disabilities and infertility.

While it’s no secret that modern society consumes huge amounts of chemicals, many of them dangerous, it is surprisingly difficult to get a handle on the actual numbers. And under current law, it’s harder still to find out where and how these substances are used, although we know enough to establish that a sizeable share of them end up in one form or another in the places where we live and work.

The new report looks at 120 chemicals identified by multiple federal, state and international officials as known or suspected health hazards. Using the latest, albeit limited, data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EDF identifies which are in commerce in the U.S.; in what amounts they are being made; which companies are producing or importing them; and where they are being produced or imported. An interactive online map accompanying the report lets the user access the report’s data and search by chemical, company, state and site location.


Petroleum Refining: Industry’s Outlook Depends on Market Changes and Key Environmental Regulations

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Stakeholders GAO contacted and information reviewed by GAO identified the following three major changes that have recently affected the domestic petroleum refining industry:

  • Increased production. U.S. and Canadian crude oil production have increased, leading to lower costs of crude oil for some refiners. After generally declining for decades, monthly U.S. crude oil production increased over 55 percent compared with average production in 2008.
  • Declining consumption. Domestic consumption of petroleum products declined by 11 percent from 2005 through 2012, resulting in a smaller domestic market for refiners.
  • Key regulations. Two key regulations—the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and Department of Transportation’s (DOT) coordinated fuel economy and greenhouse gas (GHG) vehicle emission standards, as well as EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS)—have contributed to declining petroleum-based fuel consumption. For some refiners, compliance with the RFS increased costs in the first half of 2013, though costs have since declined to some degree from their peak. According to some stakeholders GAO contacted, this was primarily due to RFS requirements exceeding the capability of the transportation fuel infrastructure to distribute and the fleet of vehicles to use renewable fuels. Moreover, EPA has missed the statutory deadline to issue regulations establishing annual RFS blending standards since 2009. EPA has not systematically identified the underlying causes of these delays or changed its approach in order to avoid them. A late RFS contributes to industry uncertainty, which can increase costs because industry cannot plan and budget effectively, according to some stakeholders…

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that EPA identify the underlying causes of delays in issuing RFS standards and implement a plan to issue RFS standards on time. EPA generally agreed with GAO’s findings and recommendations.

Recommendations for Executive Action
Recommendation: To improve EPA’s ability to meet the annual statutory deadline for issuing annual RFS standards, the Administrator of the EPA should assess past experience to identify the underlying causes of delays in issuing annual RFS standards.
Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency
Status: Open
Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
[From, sub. req'd]  EPA Agrees With GAO Call For Plan To End Annual Delays In Issuing RFS — EPA is agreeing with the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) call to develop a plan for ending annual delays in issuing renewable fuel standard (RFS) production targets, with GAO noting that some refiners are warning that a late RFS creates industry uncertainty and increases costs because refiners cannot plan fuel production effectively…

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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Oil and gas industry, Publications


Study: Vehicle pollution greater in minority neighborhoods

Read the full story from MPR News.

People of color tend to live in neighborhoods that have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide from vehicles, power plants and other sources than white people, according to new research by the University of Minnesota.

View the data set at


National Environmental Policy Act: Little Information Exists on NEPA Analyses

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Governmentwide data on the number and type of most National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses are not readily available, as data collection efforts vary by agency…

Little information exists on the costs and benefits of completing NEPA analyses. Agencies do not routinely track the cost of completing NEPA analyses, and there is no governmentwide mechanism to do so, according to officials from CEQ, EPA, and other agencies GAO reviewed…

Some information is available on the frequency and outcome of NEPA litigation. Agency data, interviews with agency officials, and available studies show that most NEPA analyses do not result in litigation, although the impact of litigation could be substantial if a single lawsuit affects numerous federal decisions or actions in several states…

NEPA requires all federal agencies to evaluate the potential environmental effects of proposed projects–such as roads or bridges–on the human environment. Agencies prepare an EIS when a project will have a potentially significant impact on the environment. They may prepare an EA to determine whether a project will have a significant potential impact. If a project fits within a category of activities determined to have no significant impact–a CE–then an EA or an EIS is generally not necessary. The adequacy of these analyses has been a focus of litigation.

GAO was asked to review various issues associated with completing NEPA analyses. This report describes information on the (1) number and type of NEPA analyses, (2) costs and benefits of completing those analyses, and (3) frequency and outcomes of related litigation. GAO included available information on both costs and benefits to be consistent with standard economic principles for evaluating federal programs, and selected the Departments of Defense, Energy, the Interior, and Transportation, and the USDA Forest Service for analysis because they generally complete the most NEPA analyses. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed individuals from federal agencies, academia, and professional groups with expertise in NEPA analyses and litigation. GAO’s findings are not generalizeable to agencies other than those selected.

This report has no recommendations. GAO provided a draft to CEQ and agency officials for review and comment, and they generally agreed with GAO’s findings.


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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Environmental law, Publications



Streamer is a new way to visualize and understand water flow across America. With Streamer you can explore our Nation’s major streams by tracing upstream to their source or downstream to where they empty. In addition to making maps, Streamer creates reports about your stream traces and the places they pass through. Streamer is fueled by fundamental map data for the United States at one million-scale from the National Atlas.

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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Maps, Water, Web resources


3 magic words to mute ‘sustainababble’

The latest P2 Impact column is now available at John Mulrow of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center explains how three magic words can mute “sustainababble” and clarify the progress that organizations are making to become more sustainable.

Read previous P2 Impact columns at


The Emerging Arctic: A CRF InfoGuide Presentation

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The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

But the region’s warming will also bring new security and environmental complications, particularly for the five Arctic Ocean coastal states—the United States, Russia, Denmark (Greenland), Canada, and Norway…

The “Emerging Arctic” InfoGuide includes:

  • an overview video with insights from Scott Borgerson, CEO, CargoMetrics and Cofounder, Arctic Circle; Michael Byers; Heather Conley, senior fellow and director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; and Marlene Laruelle, research professor of international affairs at George Washington University;
  • a timeline highlighting commercial, political, and environmental milestones in the Arctic;
  • infographics detailing the region’s demographics, oil and gas potential, and ships and shipping routes;
  • an interactive diagram showing the intersecting affiliations of Arctic Council member states; and
  • policy options for a stable and sustainable future in the Arctic.
  • an interactive map showcasing the receding sea ice, regional oil and gas resources, areas of diplomatic dispute, seasonal shipping routes, and the five Arctic Ocean coastal states

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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Climate change, Publications


Unlikely Pesticides Found in Alaskan Fish

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

Alaskan fish are showing traces of pesticides that likely were never used in the state, according to new research.

A study by the National Park Service found the chemicals in fish at three Alaska parks — Lake Clark National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Katmai National Park. The contaminants are carried from distant points on atmospheric currents, then brought down to earth with precipitation.

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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Ecotoxicology, Publications, Wildlife


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