Advancing Urban Policy:
Environmental Policy  May, 2013
This edition of Advancing Urban Policy, the monthly e-newsletter of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, features research and thought leadership from across the country related to Environmental Policy. It highlights articles on sustainability of water, land, air, and energy sources. Future editions will feature topics related to Public Finance & Budgeting (June), Economic Development (July), Community Development & Housing (August), Nonprofit Management (September), and City Management (October). We welcome your ideas and submissions. They may be sent to: --Edward (Ned) W. Hill, Ph.D., Dean

Edward (Ned) W. Hill, Ph.D., Dean



On March 20, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to the Senate floor. The 284-page bill guides general decision making, and authorizes -- but does not actually fund -- roughly $20 billion to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for water-resources projects, including flood prevention, river and harbor management, and ecosystem restoration. Among the projects and programs within the WRDA is the WIFIA program. WIFIA is a program that was enacted with the purpose of assisting water infrastructure projects across the country. The WRDA extensively covers a lot of the most pressing water infrastructure issues facing the country. According to Xylem, a global water technology company, in the U.S alone, broken and leaking pipes lead to a loss of 1.7 trillion gallons of water a year.This act would work to remedy such problems by providing new ways for local governments to fund infrastructure projects, including incentives for private-sector involvement and a pilot $50 million annual program to state and local government water-supply, wastewater, and flood-control projects.

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) commended the U.S. Senate Committee for passing legislation that would create the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Authority (WIFIA). AWWA has described WIFIA as pivotal to confronting America's trillion dollar water infrastructure challenge, and is urging water utilities and businesses across the water sector to actively support the bill as it heads to the full Senate. "Today [3/20/13] represents a pivotal moment in assuring America's water infrastructure challenge is no longer buried," said AWWA Executive Director David LaFrance. "WIFIA would help communities repair more critical water infrastructure at a lower cost. Ultimately, WIFIA would benefit everyone who pays a water bill." Founded in 1881, the American Water Works Association is an international, nonprofit, scientific and educational association committed to the safety and improvement of water quality and supply. 

Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, in conjunction with The Earth Watch Institute, will begin a project called NYC Sustainable Urban Water Quality through January, 2017. Critical to this project is understanding Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO), the process by which untreated wastewater and storm water are released into nearby water bodies at permitted discharge locations throughout the city when it rains.  Even smaller storm events can trigger CSO and overwhelm the water treatment systems due to the abundance of impervious surfaces in cities. The project hopes to provide an increased dataset of bacteria concentration throughout the city in order to aid in the mayor's long-term $2.9 billion Plan NYC project, which includes a proposal to reduce CSOs by 8l.2 billion gallons per year over the next 20 years. Gathering more and improving data will lead to an increased understanding of the environmental impact of the CSO, making it possible to better assess the effectiveness of various measures addressing the problem. The project also aims to establish a baseline of change in bacteria resulting from rainfall in order to be able to quantify the positive effects of CSO prevention efforts.



The Alliance for Our Water Future, a new Cleveland-based organization, aims to leverage the city's expertise in water technology. The organization seeks to spur innovative solutions to freshwater issues locally and globally. Members will focus their attention in the areas of economic development, public education and outreach, research, and public policy. Success will be demonstrated by fostering a local culture around water, by creating solutions to solve water issues, and by cultivating economic growth and prosperity in the region. Northeast Ohio's troubled relationship with the Cuyahoga River has meant that the region has learned how to capitalize on its work with water to spur new technologies to treat, conserve, and utilize water. Water technologies have become a component of Northeast Ohio's economy -- creating new industries and jobs, while simultaneously protecting the region's precious water assets.




The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative that will support both clean energy and manufacturing competitiveness by promoting greater energy efficiency in the U.S. production sector. The initiative advances the nation's energy and manufacturing strategies. It also reflects a welcome new spatial and geographic emphasis for the DOE. The initiative marshals a number of DOE offices, research institutions, and private sector partners to map out and implement networks that promote clean energy production and energy-efficient manufacturing. Key to the effort is that this new push -- like the Obama administration's  National Network for Manufacturing Innovation  proposal -- takes a regional approach to innovation and the diffusion of next-generation technologies.



According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) production is also playing a role in America's much talked about hydrocarbon resurgence. The EIA reports that total domestic NGL production increased from just over 1.7 million barrels per day (mmbd) in 2005 to nearly 2.5 mmbd in October, 2012. By 2025, the EIA estimates that NGLs will account for roughly one-quarter of U.S supplies. The authors of the report discuss what NGLs are and why they are important, before exploring some important considerations for policymakers interested in capitalizing on this economic opportunity.

The Western Organization of Resource Councils' (WORC) report,Gone for Good: Fracking and Water Loss in the West, states that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the western United States cannot be maintained because of diminishing water supplies. WORC is a regional network of grassroots community organizations that includes 10,000 members and 35 local chapters. Its report claims that nearly 87 billion to 174 billion gallons of water were used for fracking purposes in the U.S. last year. "With this study, we hope to call attention to a very serious problem growing in our dry Western states," said Robert LeResche, WORC spokesman and Powder River Basin Resource Council vice chair. The report also highlights that, despite concerns raised in the past about environmental issues tied to fracking, the problem of water conservation in the face of continued fracking in states such as North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado, among others, has largely been ignored. 


High costs and the absence of effective sanctions on CO2 emissions limit adoption of Carbon Capture and Storage, says Arnold W Reitze, professor of law at the University of Utah. Under both international law and U.S. domestic law, CO2 is a pollutant, but it cannot be controlled with the techniques used to control traditional air pollution.  One option for preventing CO2 emissions from being released to the atmosphere is to require combustion sources to utilize carbon capture and storage (sequestration) (CCS). This involves capturing CO2, compressing it to a supercritical state, injecting it into an underground geological depository, and managing the site to assure permanent sequestration. Because the electric power industry emits over 40 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions, it is a primary target for government efforts aimed at developing and using CCS. Despite expenditures of about $6.9 billion by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 2005 to develop and commercialize CCS technology, it is still very costly way to deal with CO2 emissions.


Land Conservation, Management & Planning

On March 26, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and The New York Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources, along with a diverse team of state agencies and tribal technical experts (through an MOU with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies), released a report describing the federal government's strategy and implementation plans for proactively dealing with the impacts to species and habitats by climate change. The U.S. National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy provides for habitat conservation and management planning and activities undertaken by government agencies and private landowners to have unified guidance to protect ecosystem function and to reduce climate change stressors. The report also describes five other strategic goals to help communities become more resilient in the face of impacts from a changing climate. The team executed the report under the direction of legislation and conference recommendations set forth in 2009 and 2010. According to some sources, the work represents a compilation of the best science surrounding impacts, current resiliency, and conservation efforts; it also outlines successful inter-agency and partnership cooperation, which will be imperative in implementing these strategies.


Interdisciplinary Paleoecological, archaeological, and historical study challenges the notion that human use of land only recently began transforming our ecosystems. The field of global change science has previously only focused on the emergence of industrial processes in the past three centuries. Some feel that, as a result of this emphasis, periods like the Holocene period were ignored. Human populations and their use of land have now transformed ecosystem pattern and process across most of the terrestrial biosphere causing major global changes in biodiversity, biogeochemistry, geomorphic processes, and climate. Together with other anthropogenic changes in the Earth system that may herald the emergence of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, the global changes caused by human use of land are generally portrayed as the result of an unchecked and accelerating process that is mostly recent in origin and therefore presents an impending catastrophe for humanity, the biosphere, and the Earth system in general. This article investigates this hypothesis by assessing whether global changes caused by human use of land are mostly recent and result from processes that are now accelerating. According to authors, processes of land-use intensification, if viewed more broadly as adaptive processes by which human populations systematically adopt increasingly productive land-use technologies, have major implications for understanding the dynamics of land use and its potential impacts over the Holocene, as shown by examining the spatially explicit predictions of two different global models of land-use history.

Advancing Urban Policy: Environmental Policy was created with counsel from Wendy Kellogg, Ph.D., Sanda Kaufman, Ph.D., and Nicolas Zingale, Ph.D.; compiled by Hama Bbela, graduate assistant; edited by Roslyn Miller, consultant.

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