Environment

How walkable is the area where you work or live? Walkability, the term used to evaluate the ease of walking in a location, is an important item to be considered in deciding where you live. Communities with inadequate walkable structures such as sidewalks, proper lighting, and bicycle paths have higher rates of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Today the EPA announced proposed standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. The move was hailed by environmental groups and it is expected to largely impact the construction of new coal-fired power plants by essentially requiring their emissions output to mirror those of efficient natural gas units - either through capture or storage of CO2 emissions. Industry advocates opposed the new rule because of cost impacts to states heavily reliant on coal for electricity production and that the Administration is essentially mandating new technology which is not yet commercially feasible. 

On February 10, several states filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in New York to require the EPA to issue more stringent air quality requirements for soot emissions. The states filed their suit in response to the agency missing an October 2011 deadline to update its standards for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) or soot, which is produced by diesel vehicle emissions and power plants. Many health problems are linked to particulate matter emissions such as respiratory illness, heart disease, and asthma. 

Water Smart Homes, water-conserving appliances, and changing landscaping practices can help people to conserve water and save on their water bills.

On February 1st, Texas will join a growing list of states that require drilling operators to disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing processes. The pending rule by the Texas Railroad Commission mirrors other states like Montana, Louisiana, Colorado, and North Dakota which require disclosure of well-by-well data on the website FracFocus.org.

Last Friday President Obama rolled out a proposal to reorganize and streamline various agencies and roles within the sprawling reach of the Department of Commerce. One aspect of the plan would move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior. The move has sparked debate over reducing the federal government's size and concern that key functions of national fisheries and oceans policy will be diminished.

Few issues generate as much passion as those surrounding energy and environmental policy. In  2012, states and territories (“the states”) will continue to grapple with the challenges, opportunities and benefits of new Clean Air regulation and historic expansion of domestic energy production. Expect the focus of energy and environmental policy debates to become more granular and focused at the state level as election-year politics in Washington likely will produce little federal legislation. States will have added pressure and face new complexities to incentivize alternative energy as weak economic recovery persists and public opinion has hanged substantially on the proper and best role of government involvement in supporting renewable energy development. Here are the top five energy and environment issues states will face in 2012:  

Few issues generate as much passion as those surrounding energy and environmental policy. In 2012, states and territories ("the states") will continue to grapple with the challenges, opportunities, and benefits of new Clean Air regulation and historic expansion of domestic energy production. Expect the focus of energy and environmental policy debates to become more granular and focused at the state level as election-year politics in Washington will likely produce little federal legislation. States will have added pressure and face new complexities to incentivize alternative energy as weak economic recovery persists and public opinion has changed substantially on the proper and best role of government involvement in supporting renewal energy development. Below is a brief snapshot of the major energy and environment issues states will face in 2012:

The political, environmental and economic battle over the future of laws and regulations governing ballast water discharges has taken some new turns during the latter half of 2011.

TransCanada has faced many hurdles in its multi-year effort to get a new 1,700-mile oil pipeline built. But this fall, the energy infrastructure company ran up against perhaps its stiffest opposition yet — from concerned residents and lawmakers in the state of Nebraska.

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