The Environmental Implications of The Election of 2012

How the election results will impact you and your business is at this point, speculation.  But, as we know, political elections always have a direct impact on future environmental policies.  As it relates to environmental issues faced by business owners, senior managers, legal counsel and others, the weeks following an election are a time of cautious consideration.

One indication of future environmental policy might be found in some of the “environmental influencers”; those environmental groups that have supported the President.  To this end, here are a few post-election comments by environmental groups.

From Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael Brune:  “We did it. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the fossil fuel industry dumped into this election to elect Mitt Romney, we proved that corporations are, in fact, not people. There was only one candidate in this race who doubled down on our nation’s clean energy economy. There was only one candidate who consistently fought to hold oil and coal companies accountable and only one candidate who stood up for landmark protections to keep toxins out of our air and water. And there was only one candidate who took historic steps to mitigate the climate crisis.  Because of those positions, President Obama faced an unprecedented assault from deep-pocketed oil and coal execs who inundated the airwaves with millions of dollars in attack ads.

From Environmental Defense Fund President, Fred Krupp: “Congratulations to President Obama on his re-election…As the President declared last night, ‘we want our children to live in an America … that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.’

Exit polls confirm that for millions of American voters, Hurricane Sandy and climate change were decisive factors in this election. As the historic storm just reminded us, we have no time to waste; we must get serious about climate solutions in order to protect our loved ones and communities from terrible impacts — extreme weather disasters, droughts, heat waves, and other dangerous consequences of global warming. Especially in the wake of Sandy, which demonstrated that doing nothing about climate change is much costlier than taking action, this issue clearly should be a top priority for our leaders in government.”

From Friends of the Earth President, Erich Pica: “Congratulations to President Obama on his re-election and thanks for his acknowledgement in his acceptance speech of the ‘destructive power of a warming planet.’ It is ironic that the outcome of a campaign so marked by the climate silence of both candidates would be definitively influenced by Superstorm Sandy, but history will show that the winds of Hurricane Sandy blew President Obama back into office.

Swift and strong climate action is necessary to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and adapt to the new reality of rising seas and melting ice, superstorms and crippling drought. President Obama should use his mandate to:

  1. Repudiate the “all of the above” energy strategy and host a high-level climate change summit of national leaders including business leaders, cabinet officials, and local politicians. The goal of the summit is to agree on a national plan for short-term and long-term courses of action to deal with greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy and to deal with the impacts of climate change.
  2.  Reduce emissions from the electricity sector by implementing robust regulations on existing power plants using current Environmental Protection Agency authority under the Clean Air Act, by making sure that new regulations preclude the construction of any new coal plants in this country, and by putting a price on carbon.
  3.  Reject the Keystone XL pipeline and other infrastructure projects that would bring tar sands oil and other dirty fuels such as liquid fuel to market through the United States and to move us away from our dependence on dirty oil.

If President Obama seizes this moment and leads the way, Friends of the Earth’s members and activists will be there to support and amplify his actions.”

Also from Friends of the Earth: “Tell President Obama to support a Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street” which is a “micro-tax levied on financial transactions — would generate hundreds of billions of dollars in much-needed revenue for health, education and environmental programs.”

How much influence will these groups have on future policies?  Will there be gridlock? How much will Executive Orders be used? Your guess is as good as ours.  However, with the current appetite for more regulation and more restrictions, we cannot imagine that the future will provide a more lenient regulatory climate.  In fact, Dr. Gilbert Ross (American Council on Science and Health President) has expressed concerns for “an accelerated stringent and oppressive regulatory environment.”

What the near term and long term political and regulatory future may hold is not within our control.  However, we will remain committed to sound scientific solutions and helping you save time and money on soil, groundwater and environmental compliance issues.

As always, your comments are welcome.

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Proposed Consent Decree Has a Big Price Tag

On October 25, 2012, the Department of Justice lodged a proposed Consent Decree with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan in the lawsuit entitled United States v. Kellogg USA, Inc., et al., Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-01164.

As printed in the Federal Register, “In a Complaint filed…under the Clean Air Act (Act), the United States seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties regarding the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V provisions of the Act, and PSD provisions of the Michigan State Implementation Plan, for violations at Kellogg’s cereal and snack food manufacturing plants located in Battle Creek, Michigan and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The proposed Consent Decree requires Kellogg to reduce its Volatile Organic Compound permit levels at both facilities, perform a mitigation project (costing more than $435,000) to replace a cooling and dehumidifying system that uses the refrigerant R-22 with a chilled water system that does not use R-22, and pay a $500,000 civil penalty.”

See Federal Register Notice http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-11-01/html/2012-26833.htm

See our Environmental Minute discussing Environmental Compliance & Enforcement 2012.