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Category Archives: Emerging Policy

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Governor Inslee Issues His Policy Brief on Updating Washington’s Water Quality Standards

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Legislation

Governor Inslee held a press conference yesterday morning, where he presented his policy brief on Washington’s ongoing efforts to update its water quality standards to account for higher fish consumption rates. This has been a long time coming, and is a significant development on what is arguably the most important environmental rulemaking effort Washington has… Continue Reading

What Can Washington Learn from Plastics in the Pacific and Mercury in the Midwest?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Public Health Policy, Water Quality

Two different scientific papers caught my eye this past week. Neither involve research conducted in the Pacific Northwest, but both are worth reviewing in light of the fish consumption debate raging in Washington right now. The first is an upcoming article by a group of Spanish researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences… Continue Reading

Fact Check: Are Carbon Emissons Contributing to Acid Rain?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Geeky Science Stuff, Ocean Acidification, Water Quality

This morning’s twitter feed brought me the latest from Crosscut on Governor Inslee’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce. The most important part of the article was the announcement that the next Taskforce meeting (on July 29th) will include a rollout of a draft plan to meet the goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state… Continue Reading

Guest Post from Integral Consulting: Integral Continues the Conversation Related to Doug’s Posts on Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note: This is the second guest post by Integral on this subject, it is also worth reviewing their prior post from February on this topic. In addition to the updated national recommended water quality criteria discussed by Doug on May 20, EPA has recently released another document with implications for selection of an appropriate fish… Continue Reading

Friday (the 13th) Morning Link Roundup: EPA Administrator Snubbing Press, Canada’s Attention Shifts to Coal Exports, Fish Consumption and More from the Wild Fish Conservancy

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Water Act, Cleanup & Superfund, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Fish Consumption

A quick roundup of some of the articles that caught my eye on Twitter in the past week or so: First, U.S. News‘ Washington Whispers page has a report out on EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy seemingly snubbing the press after a private event at the National Press Club yesterday where she gave a presentation on… Continue Reading

Bike to Work Month May Be Over, but the Wheels Keep Turning

Posted in Emerging Policy

I know this blog is about the intersection of science, law and the environment, and it has largely adhered to typical topics that you expect to meet at that intersection. But today I’m excited about a different kind of intersection, specifically a study (long and the first of its kind) of protected bike lane intersections in five… Continue Reading

EPA’s Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule: Implications for Washington State?

Posted in Clean Air Act, Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy

EPA released a draft of its Clean Power Plan Rule yesterday, a topic that dominated my Twitter feed all day and already is sharpening the debate on the use of policy and the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon emissions. Our first reaction to the rule was that it likely will have little impact on carbon… Continue Reading

EPA’s Updated National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health: Implications for Washington State’s Fish Consumption Dilemma?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption

Last Tuesday, EPA published its draft of the latest update to the National Recommended Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Human Health. These recommended criteria are developed under Section 304(a)(1) of the Clean Water Act, and provide guidance to states and tribes that promulgate criteria under delegated programs. Importantly, they are not binding requirements… Continue Reading

Governor Inslee Signs Executive Order 14-04, Washington’s Carbon Pollution Reduction and Clean Energy Action Plan

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Conservation, Energy Policy, Fuel Efficiency

On April 29, 2014, Governor Inslee signed Executive Order 14-04, titled “Washington Carbon Reduction and Clean Energy Action.” This order supersedes two orders by Washington’s prior governor (EO 07-02 and EO 09-05) and will serve as the framework for Governor Inslee’s actions on climate change. EO 14-04 is a dense nine pages long, and was informed… Continue Reading

First Reaction to EPA’s Just-Released Draft of the Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Rule Making, Water Quality

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released a preview of the long-awaited proposed rule updating the definition of “Waters of the United States” yesterday morning. The proposed rule will soon be published in the Federal Register, but the unofficial version of the rule is available now. My initial reaction is that this rule—while being… Continue Reading

What an Astronaut Can Teach Us about Risk Communication: Chris Hadfield’s TED Talk and Lessons for Assessing Environmental Risk

Posted in Emerging Policy, Geeky Science Stuff

I watched Commander Chis Hadfield’s TED talk this weekend. He is an astronaut that gave a very compelling talk on perception of risk and how humans respond to that risk, and how we can condition ourselves to change that response. If you haven’t seen it, it is absolutely worth 18 minutes of your life. He… Continue Reading

Particulate Emissions from Trains in Washington: A Cause for Concern?

Posted in Clean Air Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff

Last week, Dan Jaffe’s atmospheric research group at the University of Washington released the results of a study of particulate emissions associated with rail traffic here in Seattle and along the Columbia River. That study was motivated by the controversy over coal exports, and was funded by contributions from the Sierra Club and through crowdfunding…. Continue Reading

Breaking: Judge Coughenour Denies BNSF’s Motion to Dismiss in Suit Alleging CWA Violations for Discharge of Coal from Trains

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Water Quality

Yesterday, Judge Coughenour denied BNSF’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by various environmental groups under the Clean Water Act that alleges that BNSF has been discharging coal from rail cars without an NPDES permit. He did so without oral argument, finding that the 60 day notice letter sent by the plaintiffs to BNSF and others… Continue Reading

EPA’s Initiation of a Clean Water Act Section 404(c) Review for the Mining of the Pebble Deposit: What is the History of EPA’s Other 404(c) Determinations?

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Uncategorized, Water Quality

Last Friday, EPA announced that it is initiating review of the proposed mining of the Pebble deposit in Alaska under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act, a little-used part of the CWA that allows EPA to “veto” Section 404 permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. As we briefly discussed over on Graham… Continue Reading

Breaking: Puget Soundkeeper Moves for Summary Judgment in Suit Against EPA Alleging Failure to Promulgate Water Quality Standards for Toxics in Washington

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Water Quality

This week saw two important developments in the lawsuit brought by Puget Soundkeeper and other environmental organizations against EPA Region 10 seeking to force EPA to promulgate new water quality standards for Washington that account for higher fish consumption rates: The first is that the court, not surprisingly, granted Ecology’s motion to intervene earlier this week…. Continue Reading

Guest Post: Integral Consulting’s Perspective on Washington’s Current Water Quality Standard Rulemaking Efforts

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Environmental Risk, Geeky Science Stuff, Guest Posts, Water Quality

Note from Doug Steding: This post came about when Randi Wexler from Integral Consulting Inc. sent me an email saying they were working on a comment to one of my previous fish consumption posts. Integral has been tracking this issue closely for a number of years, and I was excited to be able to offer… Continue Reading

Elwha Dam Removal Update, February 2014: What Remains of the Dams?

Posted in Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species, Geeky Science Stuff, Natural Resources and Environment

It has been a while since my last dam removal update, and there is a lot to report. At the one year mark (September 2012), the lower dam had already been removed. Since that time, the area surrounding the dam has continued to be re-vegetated and the difference between September 2011 and September 2013 is… Continue Reading

The Courts Exit the Debate Over Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Environment, Project Permitting, Sustainability

Last week, when the Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing en banc of the decision in Washington Environmental Council v. Bellon, it took what may be the final step to limit the role of courts in the debate over regulation to restrict carbon emissions. Bellon held that environmental plaintiffs do not have standing to sue to compel the Northwest… Continue Reading

(Almost) Live Blogging: Ecology’s Delegates Table Meeting on Water Quality Criteria Revisions to Account for Higher Fish Consumption Rates

Posted in Clean Water Act, Emerging Policy, Fish Consumption, Geeky Science Stuff, Water Quality

I spent much of this morning listening in on the Department of Ecology’s latest Delegates’ Table meeting regarding the ongoing efforts to revise Washington’s Water Quality Standards to account for higher fish consumption rates. The meeting included an update on where Ecology is in the process, Ecology’s current thinking on where the rule making may… Continue Reading

Keystone XL Pipeline EIS: Implications for the Pacific Northwest

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, SEPA

My partner Diane Meyers posted recently on the approval of the Keystone XL EIS, and that led me to thinking about the implications of this document with respect to the Pacific Northwest. The Keystone XL EIS may be an important precedent for energy projects in the Pacific Northwest, notably the efforts to export coal from… Continue Reading

Wild Fish Conservancy Sends 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue the Department of Fish and Widlife Over Agency Practice of Planting Hatchery Steelhead in Puget Sound Rivers

Posted in Emerging Policy, Endangered/Threatened Species

Late last week, the Wild Fish Conservancy sent notice of intent to sue under the federal Endangered Species Act to the members of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, alleging that WDFW’s longtime Chambers Creek steelhead hatchery program violates Section 9 of the ESA by causing take of Puget Sound Chinook, Puget Sound steelhead, and… Continue Reading

Keystone Pipeline (Part 2) Receives U.S. State Department’s “Blessing”

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, NEPA, Project Permitting, Regulatory

The U.S. State Department issued its final environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. The study, which raised no major concerns, clears the way for the 875-mile pipeline project to proceed and, as some have noted, gives President Obama some political latitude to endorse it. The route has changed since the State Department’s… Continue Reading

Washington’s 2014 Legislative Session: Early Developments on Fish Consumption, Nuclear Power and More

Posted in Climate Change, Emerging Policy, Energy Policy, Fish Consumption, Uncategorized, Water Quality

We’re just over a week into the 2014 legislative session, and there are already some interesting developments. In no particular order, here is what is catching my eye: First, the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee held a work session on the fish consumption issue last week. The Association of Washington Business just posted an… Continue Reading

Washington Legislature Wades Into Oil Transport Issues

Posted in Emerging Policy, Energy Policy

For those of you tracking developments in the crude oil transportation world, you may have seen an uptick in activity recently. At the beginning of the year — following the collision of two oil trains in North Dakota on December 30 — the federal government (the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) issued a rare safety alert about… Continue Reading