Quantifying the Distribution of Environmental Outcomes for Regulatory Environmental Justice Analysis

Via the RFF Library Blog.

US EPA, National Center for Environmental Economics / by Kelly B. Maguire and Glenn Sheriff

[Abstract] Economists have long been interested in measuring distributional impacts of policy interventions. As environmental justice (EJ) emerged as an ethical issue in the 1970s, the academic literature has provided statistical analyses of the incidence and causes of various environmental outcomes as they relate to race, income and other demographic variables. In the context of regulatory impacts, however, there is a lack of consensus regarding what information is relevant for EJ analysis, and how best to present it. This paper helps frame the discussion by suggesting a set of questions fundamental to regulatory EJ analysis, reviewing past approaches to quantifying distributional equity, and discussing the potential for adapting existing tools to the regulatory context.

NNSA’s Supercomputers on Most Energy-Efficient List

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) continues to highlight its advanced supercomputing capabilities this week by featuring the science and technology work done by the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program. This week, NNSA also launched a new and improved ASC webpage.

Today’s feature focuses on NNSA’s energy-efficient supercomputers and highlights its supercomputers ranked in the most recent Green500 list. The work done on the supercomputers housed at NNSA’s national laboratory are a critical part of President Obama’s nuclear security agenda.

The two computers in the top 25 are housed at Los Alamos National Laboratory and six supercomputers housed at NNSA sites were also ranked in the Green500 list. Additionally, the top supercomputer at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York is based on NNSA’s Blue Gene technology.

“Energy efficiency is vital to our enterprise as we invest in the future by building a modern infrastructure that is smaller, safer, more cost effective and more programmatically effective,” said Don Cook, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “The work done by our supercomputer engineers and scientists is a reflection of their commitment in seeking ways to better do business while promoting energy awareness.”

The purpose of the Green500 is to provide a ranking of the most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world. For decades, the notion of performance has been synonymous with speed. This particular focus has led to the emergence of supercomputers that consume large amounts of electrical power and produce heat that requires extravagant cooling facilities to ensure proper operation. The Green500 list encourages supercomputing stakeholders to create systems that are both cutting-edge and energy efficient.

The Green500 2010 list can be found here.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Accountability System (GLAS) Reporting deadline May 9, 2011

The April 2011 data call for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Accountability System (GLAS) is underway.  May 9, 2011 is the deadline
for funding recipients to submit or update information in GLAS.

GLAS has been updated from the version that was used in January 2011.
Training in use of the revised version of GLAS (version 1.1) and GLAS
account maintenance will be provided in webinars.  Please register using
the link below:

GLAS version 1.1 for users
Thu, May 5, 2011 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
Registration Web Link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/148235081

View a video archive of a previous webinar
GLAS v1.1 Public webinar April 25, 2011

National Library of Medicine Haz-Map updated

Haz-Map now  includes 1212 new chemical agents and twelve chemical categories with significance regarding occupational exposure.

The twelve categories of chemical agents include metals, solvents, pesticides, mineral dusts, toxic gases and vapors, plastics and rubber, biological agents, nitrogen compounds, dyes, physical agents, other classes, and other uses.  http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/hazmap_cgi?level=0&tree=Agent

Haz-Map is an occupational toxicology database designed to link jobs to hazardous job tasks which are linked to occupational diseases and their symptoms.

The Haz-Map Jobs table is based on the 1997 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. The Industries table is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). The Diseases table is based on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9).

Information from textbooks, journal articles, and electronic databases was classified and summarized to create the database.

EPA Releases Final Policy for Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final policy on consultation and coordination with Indian tribes.  EPA is among the first of the federal agencies to finalize its consultation policy in response to President Obama’s first tribal leaders summit in November 2009, and the issuance of executive order 13175 to establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have tribal implications.

“EPA is dedicated to strengthening our collaboration with tribes and ensuring that they have a voice and a seat at the table on the issues that touch their health and their economy,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “President Obama has directed agencies across the federal government to revisit and update the ways we work together with tribal nations, a step that is critical to meeting the needs of today and ensuring our communities are cleaner, healthier and more prosperous heading into the future.”

The final policy builds on EPA’s 1984 Indian policy and is intended to make good on the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthen tribal partnerships by establishing clear agency standards for the consultation process, to promote consistency and coordination. The policy establishes a new, broader standard for the types of actions that may be appropriate for consultation and makes clear the two-way nature of government-to-government consultation by inviting tribes to request issues for consultation.  Actions that may be appropriate for consultation include developing standards, guidance, policies, permitting decisions, and activities under international agreements. The policy also establishes a management, oversight and reporting structure that will help ensure accountability and transparency by identifying responsible individuals in each office and requiring EPA program and regional offices to identify actions appropriate for consultation at least twice a year.

More information on the policy: http://www.epa.gov/indian/

Birther Debate dead, Could Climate Change Debate be Next?

Read the full post at Triple Pundit.

Does any rational person on the whole planet really believe that we are not in fact experiencing climate change?  Glaciers are disappearing at faster rates than predicted just a few years ago; consecutive years among the hottest ever recorded; record floods in Pakistan; and record heat waves in Russia all ought to be enough to convince everyone that the climate is changing. Period. Forget what Al Gore says, forget the thousands of Ph.D. trained climate scientists who are in unanimity on the science and the recognition that humans, through our GHG emissions are partially to blame…just look at the evidence.  And no I don’t mean some random cold day in April as some anecdotal “evidence” that climate change is not really an issue, or for that matter, some hacked emails followed by misinterpretation.

Yet, we still have many people buying unsubstantiated justifications about why we are not in fact experiencing climate change. Desmogblog.com and the recent book, Climate Cover-Up, provide significant explanation of this hard to fathom refute of the obvious.

Biochar Video

Watch on YouTube from Biochar Costa Rica.

This video illustrates a new biochar kiln design which we call “hornito”, meaning small oven in Spanish. This kiln is a clean, efficient and inexpensive design for producing high quality biochar using recycled 55 gallon drums. The kiln is in operation in the south of Costa Rica, and was constructed by Biochar Costa Rica located in Puerto Jimenez.

Could Sustainability be Scannable?

Read the full post at Triple Pundit.

This post is part of a blogging series by economics students at the Presidio Graduate School’s MBA program. You can follow along here.

As of three months ago I couldn’t tell you what a QR code was, how to use one, or why I ever needed to.  But, since I finally grabbed a smartphone on Google’s Android network (a true rival to Apple’s iPhone), I am able to play with these emerging technologies.  As Americans, we are often well behind the Asian markets, as they have been effectively using videophones, scannable codes and smartphone for over a decade now.  There are now over 70 million Americansthat have bought smartphones and thus potential emerging new market opportunities around sustainability.

QR codes, short for Quick Reference codes, were developed in Japan by Denso Wave in 1994, originally designed for barcode inventory usage.  These codes are free to create online, (thanks to Kawya.com) and are currently being utilized for mostly marketing purposes… but this is another beginning for the smartphone revolution.

Sprint mobile recently released a Green ID package, which includes a multitude of apps all tailored to a green lifestyle, relevant eco-information and even “Take Action” real-world engagement options.  A mobile sustainability movement has the potential to be effective with two components: accessibility to concise information and an easy user interface.  The growth of new technologies like smartphone apps are exploding exponentially from iPhone’s platform to the potentially monolithic Android platform, now controlling a growing one-third of the market.

The savviest of businesses are catching on fast and we are beginning to see these little square QR codes all over the place. They are intended to quickly link you to detailed product information or online buying websites.  Even some historic and modern buildings in NYC are being tagged, so visitors can learn more about them instantly and for free.

New research may bring solar thermal flat panels home

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Solar thermal energy heats many a home’s water, but someday generating electricity might also appear on its list of household chores. Boston researchers have designed a flat panel that could expand solar thermoelectric power’s reach from the domain of large plants to neighborhood rooftops.

Packaging makeovers pick up pace, priority

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

Noticed two items of interest in the past week when it comes to the development of enhanced sustainability practices for consumer goods packaging.