Environmental Law News

Category Archives: Sustainability Policy

Subscribe to Sustainability Policy RSS Feed

Business Group Says Climate Change is Risky Business

Posted in Climate Change, Natural Resources, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
Contingency planning and risk management are important to any business, but have you thought about including climate change among the risks to consider in those plans? A group including business leaders and former government officials released an analysis of the possible impacts that climate change may have on business in the United States, titled Risky … Continue Reading

Cooperative Community Efforts for Renewable Energy

Posted in Climate Change, Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Green Building, Solar Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
An article from the New York Times highlights the innovative approaches that some states and communities are taking to develop solar energy resources.  High cost and lack of space for installation hinder many people who would like to install solar panels to produce electricity.  The article by Diane Cardwell describes how cooperative ventures can help overcome those obstacles. State action … Continue Reading

EPA Reports on The Importance of Water to the U.S. Economy

Posted in Agriculture and Food, EPA, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Water
Water and Economy Cover Page  EPA issued a new report synthesizing initial analyses on the broad impact that water quantity, quality, reliability, location, and timing have on our nation’s economy.  The report is relatively short (less than 30 pages), but the EPA’s resource web page has links to the technical report document and research studies that have been developed as part … Continue Reading

Looking for Energy Education and Sustainability Events in Tennessee?

Posted in Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Tennessee
TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs has launched the Tennessee Energy Education Initiative with the mission to provide “training, tools, and local events to help organizations in Tennessee take control of their energy usage. By connecting you with the right resources, expertise, peer experience, and potential funding options, the Tennessee Energy Education Initiative provides a roadmap to successfully … Continue Reading

Happy Earth Day 2013

Posted in EPA, Natural Resources, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
Happy Earth Day 2013! April 22, Earth Day, is a day dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of environmental issues around the world.  Want to know more about its origins? Check out this article on How Earth Day Got Its Start, plus Bill Penny’s post with a good history of the day. Earth Day events are coordinated globally by the Earth Day … Continue Reading

Tennessee AG Opines on Valuation of Property Generating Electricity from ‘Green’ Energy Sources

Posted in Energy, Solar Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Tennessee
Two recent opinions from the office of Tennessee’s Attorney General defend the constitutionality of proposed amendments setting forth guidelines for “establishing lower values for property that generates electricity using geothermal, hydrogen, solar, or wind energy sources due to the intermittent nature of these energy sources that results in a restricted use of the property.” As … Continue Reading

FTC Approves First Settlement Under the Revised Green Guides: Implications for Other Marketers

Posted in Green Building, Green Infrastructure, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
On March 6, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission approved final orders settling charges that Sherwin-Williams and PPG Architectural Finishes had made false and unsubstantiated claims that some of their paints contained zero volatile organic compounds (VOCs) after tinting. These cases are the first applying the revised version of the FTC’s Green Guides. And while these … Continue Reading

Another Cautionary Tale for “Green” Marketers

Posted in Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
A Florida businessman was fined $350,000 for, among other things, exaggerating the environmental benefits and capabilities of his products. Edward Sumpolec sold insulating products that promised to reduce roof temperatures by as much as 95 degrees and would, allegedly, save his customers up to 60 percent on their energy bills. The Federal Trade Commission reported … Continue Reading

Sustainable Communities Require Emergency Preparedness

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Green Infrastructure, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Transportation, Water
Dramatic images from Hurricane Sandy remind us of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Photographs of a darkened lower Manhattan prove that even the mightiest of cities is just a storm away from paralysis.  Typhoons, tornados, earthquakes, droughts, and floods change lives in instants all across North America and the world. Our ability to … Continue Reading

What Do You Do With an Old Power Plant?

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Sustainability Policy, Waste, Water
During the next few years over 600 coal-fired power generating units may shut down. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) reports the announced retirement by the year 2020 of units with a total of over 24 gigawatts capacity. The units, with average age of 54 years, are located primarily in the mid-south and southeastern United … Continue Reading

Want Better Water? Then Know What’s In It!

Posted in Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Water
Corvallis, Oregon, is using innovative, real-time monitoring equipment to detect pollutants in wastewater 24-hours/day.  Lisa Tedder reports in The Corvallis Advocate about the use of equipment produced by Zap Technologies that allows a triage of wastewater influent so that operators can apply the most effective and efficient treatment. The equipment, called the LiquID Station, uses … Continue Reading

Yum! Brands Moves Boldly Toward Sustainability

Posted in Agriculture and Food, Energy, Sustainability Policy, Waste, Water
Roger McClendon, Chief Sustainability Officer of Yum! brands, recently spoke at a meeting of  our firm’s Sustainability & Emerging Technologies group. McClendon,who reports directly to the company’s Chairman and CEO, described Yum!’s goal to “become The Defining Global Company that Feeds the World.” The company’s food business includes well-known brands KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. … Continue Reading

U. S. May Lose Sources Equal to 10% of Electricity Consumption

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Sustainability Policy
A November 2012 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that over 600 coal-fired generators at power plants across the United States could (or should) stop operations. The authors concluded that as many as 353 coal-fired plants are less economically-viable than their natural gas-fired competitors and should be retired. This number, when added to … Continue Reading

Kentucky Research on Algal Fuel Production

Posted in Agriculture and Food, Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Sustainability Policy
Kentucky scientists are investigating methods to make algal and plant-based biofuels sustainable alternatives to traditional petroleum-based fuels and chemical feedstock. Engineering and biological/genetic processes are central elements of these efforts. Rodney Andrews of the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research is working with an electric utililty to install algal photobioreactors at a coal-fired … Continue Reading

Is Production of Biofuels from Algae Sustainable?

Posted in Energy, Sustainability Policy
The National Research Council has taken a hard look at biofuels produced from algae to ask whether Sustainable Development of Algal Biofuels is possible. The group of 15 experts concluded that several issues must be addressed to ensure that algal-derived biofuels are produced in a sustainable manner. The key technical issues include the required amounts … Continue Reading

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Continue to Rise

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Sustainability Policy
The latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.pdf by the World Meteorological Organization reports data showing that the worldwide concentrations of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have continued to rise and “reached new highs in 2010″ with reported averaged values of 389.0 ppb, 1,808 ppb, and 323.2 ppb, respectively. The following illustration shows that although annual growth rate (ppm/year) varies widely (lower graph), the … Continue Reading

Solar Energy Can Be Sustainable Part II: Environmental Impact

Posted in Energy, Solar Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Waste, Water
The environmental impact of solar energy systems includes the energy (and resulting GHG emissions) needed to produce and install the systems, the impact of mining raw materials and producing the systems, the environmental disruption of the installations, and, finally, the wastes generated when they no longer function.  These factors must be considered, and the adverse imacts … Continue Reading

Solar Energy Can Be Sustainable Part I: Costs

Posted in Energy, Solar Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
Two factors control sustainable implementation of solar energy systems: (1) cost per kWh of the systems and (2) their long-term environmental impact. This post focuses on costs. Without tax incentives and other government subsidies, many current solar systems cannot compete with the costs of traditional energy sources. However, developing solar energy systems with longer usable lives could shift … Continue Reading

Solar Energy is Not Sustainable, Yet

Posted in Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
Prices of installed photovoltaic cells (PV) continue to drop, but the industry must change to make the technology economically-feasible as a sustainable source of electricity. In its most recent study of U.S. PV installations, Tracking the Sun IV, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) found the capacity-weighted average cost of installed PV systems in 2010 was … Continue Reading

Kentucky City Invites Public Comment on Plan to Reduce Energy Use and Improve the Environment

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Kentucky, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy, Water
A community-wide working group spearheaded by the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) has released a draft plan, Empower Lexington, to reduce energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. About 100 stakeholders in this central Kentucky community met over a two-year period to produce the draft plan, which is available for public comment. Download a copy of … Continue Reading

From 2008 to 2035 World Energy Use to Increase 53 %; Carbon Dioxide Up 43 %

Posted in Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Sustainability, Sustainability Policy
In its International Energy Outlook 2011, the U. S. Energy Information Administration predicts that from 2008 to 2035, worldwide energy consumption will increase 53 percent to a total of 770 quadrillion Btu in 2035.  The largest class of energy sources are liquid fuels, including fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal-to-liquid and renewable fuels like … Continue Reading

Water Resources: What California Can Teach the East

Posted in Agriculture and Food, Sustainability Policy, Water
California’s size, diversity of environments, population distribution, and history of water management issues make it a microcosm of what works, and what doesn’t work, in managing water resources. The Public Policy Institute of California recently released its exhaustive review, Managing California’s Water From Conflict to Reconciliation. The almost 500-page book details the history of California’s … Continue Reading

Cellulosic Biofuels an Important Footnote in Obama Administration’s 2012 Budget

Posted in Agency News, Climate Change and Greenhouse Gases, Energy, Federal, Sustainability Policy
The Obama administration’s budget for fiscal year 2012 proposes over $6 billion to support clean energy.  But it appears that only about $340 million of this investment is planned for sustainable biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. Erin Voegele has reviewed the budget request by Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu.  The budget request includes $10 million … Continue Reading

Businesses Increase Commitment to Sustainability

Posted in Agriculture and Food, Energy, Sustainability Policy
In Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage, a report issued by the MIT Sloan Management Review, 68% of the companies surveyed said they intended to increase their commitment of investment and management on sustainability in the coming year.  The level of commitment to sustainability is up from 25% reported in 2009 and 59% in 2010. The most common … Continue Reading