Natural Resources Defense Council News

12 Apr 2018

Ballast Water Regs: Difficult and More Difficult

As the U.S. Coast Guard tightens its BWTS compliance rules and more systems are approved, there are still many unanswered questions for operators finally looking to comply.It’s no secret among marine stakeholders that ballast water regulations remain a top concern at the start of 2018, and a confusing one, to say the least. Hence, if someone offers to sell you a clear, concise and complete ballast water instruction manual, move that email over to your spam filter right away. However…

25 Oct 2017

US Marine Sanctuary Oil Drilling Report Sent to Trump, Not Public

(Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross sent a report to the White House on Wednesday containing recommendations on whether to change the boundaries of 11 marine sanctuaries to allow more oil and gas drilling, but the report was not made public. Commerce reviewed sanctuaries containing 425 million acres of coral reefs, marine mammal habitats and pristine beaches, as part of an administration strategy to open new areas to oil and gas drilling. The goal was to “put the energy needs of American families and businesses first,” according to the order Trump signed in April that triggered it.

21 Dec 2016

Obama Bans New Drilling off Alaska, Part of Atlantic Shore

(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, in a push to leave his stamp on the environment before Republican Donald Trump takes office next month. Obama used a 1950s-era law called the Outer Continental Shelf Act that allows presidents to limit areas from mineral leasing and drilling. Environmental groups said that meant Trump's incoming administration would have to go court if it sought to reverse the move.

31 Jul 2016

U.S. to Crack Down on Ocean Noise that Harms Fish

Richard Merrick, chief science adviser to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Photo NOAA

The ocean has gotten noisier for decades, with man-made racket from oil drilling, shipping and construction linked to signs of stress in marine life that include beached whales and baby crabs with scrambled navigational signals. The United States aims to change that as a federal agency prepares a plan that could force reductions in noise-making activities, including oil exploration, dredging and shipping off the nation's coast. "We've been worried about ocean noise for decades…

24 Nov 2015

The Latest on Ballast Water Mismanagement

Dennis Bryant

On October 5, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a 65-page decision holding that, for the most part, the 2013 Vessel General Permit (VGP) promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was arbitrary, capricious and not in accordance with the law. The court declined, though, to vacate the VGP, but allowed it to remain in effect until the EPA issues a new VGP. The 2013 VGP had adopted, almost completely, the standards established in the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments…

05 Oct 2015

US Orders EPA to Rewrite Ship Ballast Water Dumping Rules

A federal appeals court in New York ordered the government to rewrite its rules regulating the discharge of ballast water by ships, in a victory for environmental groups that said the rules were too lenient and threatened the nation's waterways. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday said the Environmental Protection Agency acted "arbitrarily and capriciously" when it decided in 2013 to follow an international standard governing the discharge of harmful organisms, though technology was available to adopt a higher standard. Writing for a 3-0 appeals court panel, Circuit Judge Denny Chin also said the EPA, using its authority under the Clean Water Act…

30 Jul 2015

Long Beach Port Celebrates Environmental Successes

Companies, organizations were recognized for ‘green’ efforts

Shipping lines, environmental organizations, trucking companies, terminal operators and a railroad were honored today, July 29, by Long Beach Mayor Dr. Robert Garcia and the Port of Long Beach at the annual Environmental Achievement Awards. The awards are an outgrowth of the groundbreaking Green Port Policy, the Port’s commitment to improving the environment. Approved in 2005 by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, the policy put the Port on the path to become a world leader in environmental stewardship.

19 Oct 2014

Can Oil & Gas Superpower Lead on Climate Change?

Reuters Global Climate Change Summit

A day before President Barack Obama addressed the United Nations to declare the nation is "stepping up to the plate" to tackle climate change, nearly 400,000 protesters jammed New York City streets in a climate change march. Many held signs calling for an end to fracking. Environmental activists see the U.S. natural gas and oil production boom, spurred by fracking, as a major contributor to global warming. Obama has lauded the country's shale boom as an economic boon and a geopolitical lever.

02 Jun 2014

Green Groups See Need To Nudge Obama's 'Opening Bid' On Carbon Cuts

President Barack Obama

In large part, the wide-ranging reaction to President Barack Obama's signature effort to cut power plant carbon emissions could have been written months in advance. Key Republicans and many industrial groups decried it as a job-killing war on coal that would drive up power prices; environmentalists and many Democrats hailed it as a landmark measure making good on Obama's pledge to tackle climate change. Behind the bombast, however, more measured voices found a proposal that was not as severe as critics had feared nor as ambitious as proponents had hoped for.

27 May 2014

North American Oil Trains Under Scrutiny

Sheriff Craig Apple assured a room of concerned citizens that county emergency crews were prepared to handle an oil-train accident involving three or four tank cars. Firefighters have been training to combat railcar fires with foam, and evacuation plans are detailed in a 500-page emergency response plan, Apple told residents in a May 12 address. Albany's tracks handle as much as a fourth of the oil pumped from North Dakota's booming Bakken Shale, or up to several 100-car trains per day, each carrying 70,000 barrels. It is one of several spots along North America's new oil-by-rail corridors where residents and officials are restless, following six fiery derailments in the past 10 months.

22 Apr 2014

Obama Stalls Drilling On Federal Lands: Kemp

President  Barack Obama

The White House likes to claim a share of the credit for the drilling revolution that has transformed North America's energy production and security. Except the revolution has largely taken place on private rather than public land, and energy producers feel frustrated about the numerous obstacles and long delays in obtaining permission to drill in areas directly controlled by the administration. "Crude oil production has grown each year President Barack Obama has been in office to its highest level in 17 years," the Council of Economic Advisors wrote back in the summer of 2013.

17 Apr 2014

Beijing's bid to move polluting firms adds pressure on nearby regions

China's capital has ordered more than 50 companies to shut down this year in an effort to cut pollution but pushing factories out could raise objections in surrounding areas reluctant to host Beijing's polluters. Smog-shrouded Beijing and the surrounding province of Hebei have become a front in a "war against pollution" declared by Premier Li Keqiang last month. But experts say efforts to cut coal consumption and industrial output in big cities like Beijing is likely to put pressure on other regions to endure more pollution to keep the economy growing, with overall coal consumption expected to rise by a quarter from 2011 to 2015. "Moving Beijing's plants to Hebei isn't the best way…

17 Jun 2010

Oil Spill & Offshore Drilling Commission Members

•    Frances G. •    Terry D. •    Cherry A. The bipartisan Commission, established through an Executive Order, is tasked with providing recommendations on how we can prevent – and mitigate the impact of – any future spills that result from offshore drilling. The Council is co-chaired by former two-term Florida Governor and former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly. Frances G. Frances Beinecke is currently the President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit corporation that works to advance environmental policy in the United States and across the world. Ms. Beinecke has worked at NRDC for 35 years, serving as executive director, associate director and deputy executive director.

30 Apr 2013

EPA Report Highlights Benefits of Emissions Reduction Program

More than 50,000 older diesel powered engines were upgraded or replaced between 2008 to 2010 because of Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) funding which resulted in major clean air benefits and fuel savings, according a new report issued today - the “Second Report to Congress: Highlights of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “The results outlined in this report demonstrate that the clean diesel retrofit program (DERA) is one the nation’s rarest and best examples of a program that actually works, delivering big and real benefits in fuel savings and cleaner air to all 50 states, said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

27 Jun 2013

Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Power Seaports

Sandia National Laboratories researcher Joe Pratt stands near the Port of Oakland, one of the west coast ports he studied to learn whether hydrogen fuel cells are a viable power source for docked ships. (Photo by Steffan Schulz)

Providing auxiliary hydrogen power to docked or anchored ships may soon be added to the list of ways in which hydrogen fuel cells can provide efficient, emissions-free energy. Hydrogen fuel cells are already powering mobile lighting systems, forklifts, emergency backup systems and light-duty trucks, among other applications. Now, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have found that hydrogen fuel cells may be both technically feasible and commercially attractive as a clean, quiet and efficient power source for ships at berth, replacing on-board diesel generators.

02 Apr 2004

NRDC Says Ports Are Largest Urban Polluters

U.S. seaports are the largest and most poorly regulated sources of urban pollution in the country, according to a report released by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Coalition for Clean Air. Harboring Pollution: The Dirty Truth about U.S. Ports grades the ten biggest seaports for their impact on air and water quality, land use, and nearby communities. The report finds that despite the availability of technology to cut pollution, major seaports are emitting ever-larger amounts of toxic diesel exhaust and other contaminants that damage public health, disrupt local communities and harm marine habitats. With cargo volume at some ports expected to triple in the next twenty years, the report urges quick action by port operators and policy-makers to implement cleaner practices.

16 Sep 2011

Long Island Offshore Wind Project: $2.7 to $4.7B

An offshore wind farm proposed to deliver 350 to 700 MW is proposed for the scenic shores of Long Island.(Photo: Greg Trauthwein)

The Long Island–New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative, consisting of Consolidated Edison Company of New York (Con Edison), the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) filed a lease application with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). This application furthers Governor Cuomo’s clean energy agenda. Earlier this year, the Governor announced the latest awards under New York's Renewable Portfolio Standard program, providing contracts valued at $191 million to 17 renewable energy projects statewide.

15 Feb 2008

Senate Hearing on Emission Reductions

Pictured is Senator Boxer. On February 14, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works conducted a legislative hearing on the Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2007 (S. 1499). Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) discussed the harmful air emissions from ships and the measures that would be required if her proposed legislation were enacted. Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) pointed out that adoption of MARPOL Annex VI is preferable to enacting unilateral legislation.

29 Jun 2006

Groups Sue to Stop Navy From Using Sonar

According to the Houston Chronicle, environmental groups sued the federal government to prevent the Navy from using active sonar during drills off Hawaii next month, saying the sound could harm whales and other marine mammals. The Natural Resources Defense Council asked a federal court in Los Angeles to issue a temporary restraining order unless the Navy takes "effective measures" to protect marine life when it uses high-intensity, mid-frequency active sonar to hunt submarines in the drills. Navy lawyers haven't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declined to comment, but said the agency was confident the Navy would protect dolphins and whales.

31 Dec 2008

Navy Settles Mid-Frequency Sonar Lawsuit

The Navy and several plaintiffs, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Cetacean Society International, the League for Coastal Protection, the Ocean Futures Society, and Jean-Michel Cousteau, entered into a settlement agreement to resolve a worldwide challenge to the Navy's testing and training with mid-frequency active sonar. The settlement essentially adopts the long range program for environmental analysis and research that the Navy undertook in August 2005, months before this lawsuit was originally filed. The Navy will continue to implement a variety of protective measures previously developed in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

21 Mar 2007

U.S. Navy Asserts State Secrets in Sonar Case

The U.S. Navy on Tuesday said it had asserted the "state secrets" privilege in a lawsuit by environmental groups, a move to keep the military from being forced to disclose classified information about the use of sonar believed to injure whales and other animals. The state secrets privilege, if upheld, renders information unavailable for litigation. It can be challenged, although the federal government often succeeds in asserting the protection. The Navy action is the latest in a string of Pentagon moves to derail the group's lawsuit. The Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups say sonar used in routine training and testing violates environmental laws. They also argue the Navy's sonar injures and kills marine mammals, including whales and dolphins.

23 Mar 2007

Coastal Commission Sues Navy Over Sonar Use

The state Coastal Commission and a national environmental group sued the Navy over its refusal to take certain precautions to protect marine mammals during military training exercises off the coast of San Diego, reported the Union Tribune. While the commission's legal action is a rarity, the Natural Resources Defense Council already had sued the Navy four times over its use of high-intensity sonar. In separate lawsuits filed Thursday, the commission and the council want the Navy to adopt more stringent safeguards for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, which can be injured or killed by sonar. The sound waves, which travel hundreds of miles across water, are used to track submarines and surface ships. Navy officials could not be reached for comment on the lawsuits.

15 Nov 2007

Navy Encouraged by Appeals Court Ruling

Navy officials said they are optimistic that a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Nov. 13 ordered a lower court to rewrite restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar in certain Southern California exercises. That ruling was part of a lawsuit challenging the Navy's ability to train Sailors before they deploy to potential hotspots. The Navy had asked the appeals court to overturn a preliminary injunction that was granted by a U.S. district judge on Aug. 6, 2007, that bars the Navy from using active sonar in certain multi-ship exercises off Southern California through January 2009. That injunction was granted in a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental and animal protection groups.

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