Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments

Wastewater Infrastructure: Overview, Funding, and Legislative Developments. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jonathan L. Ramseur. May 22, 2018

The collection and treatment of wastewaterwastewater remains among the most important public health interventions in human history and has contributed to a significant decrease in waterborne diseases during the past century. Nevertheless, waste discharges from municipal sewage treatment plants into rivers and streams, lakes, and estuaries and coastal waters remain a significant source of water quality problems throughout the country.  The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes performance levels to be attained by municipal sewage treatment plants in order to prevent the discharge of harmful wastes into surface waters. The act also provides financial assistance so that communities can construct treatment facilities and related equipment to comply with the law. Although approximately $104 billion in CWA assistance has been provided since 1972, funding needs for wastewater infrastructure remain high. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the nation’s wastewater treatment facilities will need $271 billion over the next 20 years to meet the CWA’s water quality objectives.

[PDF format, 19 pages].

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Is Climate Restoration an Appropriate Climate Policy Goal?

Is Climate Restoration an Appropriate Climate Policy Goal? RAND Corporation.  Robert J. Lempert et al. April 6, 2018

 Since the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, society has organized efforts to limit the magnitude of climate change around the concept of stabilization — that is, accepting some climate change but holding it within acceptable bounds. This report offers an initial exploration of the concept of climate restoration — that is, approaches that seek to return atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to preindustrial levels within one to two generations. Using a simple integrated assessment model, the analysis examines climate restoration through the lens of risk management under conditions of deep uncertainty, exploring the technology, economic, and policy conditions under which it might be possible to achieve various climate restoration goals and the conditions under which society might be better off with (rather than without) a climate restoration goal. This report also explores near-term actions that might help manage the risks of climate restoration. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 51 pages].

Highlights from the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate

Highlights from the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate. Brookings Institution. David G. Victor et al. March 2018

 Led by Co-Chairs Bruce Jones, Vice President of Foreign Policy, and David Victor, Professor at UC San Diego, the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate mobilizes a core group of scholars with expertise in energy geopolitics and markets, climate economics, sustainable development, urban sustainability, and climate governance and regulation. With overseas centers in China, India, and Qatar, Brookings has experts in parts of the globe that encompass two-thirds of humanity, and three-quarters of the world’s energy production and global emissions.

Brookings has compiled a set of recent scholarship from across several research areas in “Highlights from the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate,” which explores the latest updates on key pressing issues in energy and climate. Topics include the future of climate diplomacy, enhancing innovation in clean technologies, carbon pricing, and the latest updates in global energy markets, among others. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 48 pages].

EPA’s Wood Stove / Wood Heater Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions

EPA’s Wood Stove / Wood Heater Regulations: Frequently Asked Questions.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. James E. McCarthy, Kate C. Shouse. March 12, 2018.

 On March 7, 2018, the House passed H.R. 1917, a bill that would delay for three years the implementation of more stringent emission standards for new residential wood heaters. The emission standards were promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015, and are becoming effective through a two-step process. Step 1 standards took effect on May 15, 2015; unless delayed, more stringent Step 2 standards will become effective on May 15, 2020. EPA’s action revises standards for wood stoves and pellet stoves that were set in 1988, and establishes standards for other types of wood heaters, principally forced air furnaces and hydronic heaters, for the first time.

 [PDF format, 14 pages].

Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change

Evolving Assessments of Human and Natural Contributions to Climate Change. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Jane A. Leggett. February 1, 2018

 This CRS report provides context for the Administration’s Climate Science Special Report (October 2017) by tracing the evolution of scientific understanding and confidence regarding the drivers of recent global climate change.

 [PDF format, 25 pages].

The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity

The Business of Planting Trees: A Growing Investment Opportunity. World Resources Institute. Sofia Faruqi et al. January 2018      

In recent years, hundreds of companies have entered the restoration industry. They represent a wide range of business models that deliver financial returns for investors while restoring forests and agricultural lands. This report profiles 14 businesses that are part of an emerging restoration economy. It highlights four promising investment themes in land restoration: technology, consumer products, project management, and commercial forestry. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 66 pages, 5.8 MB].

EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions

EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. James E. McCarthy et al. December 19, 2017

 On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama Administration rule that would limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The action came in response to Executive Order 13783, in which President Trump directed federal agencies to review existing regulations and policies that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources. Among the E.O.’s specific directives was that EPA review the CPP, which was one of the Obama Administration’s most important actions directed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 [PDF format, 60 pages].