National Wildlife Federation. April 2013.
Three years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and dumped more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, wildlife and wetlands are still recovering. This report gives a snapshot view of six wildlife species that depend on a healthy Gulf and the coastal wetlands that are critical to the Gulf’s food web. It describes different sources of restoration funding and provides initial suggestions as to how this funding can be used to improve the outlook for the species discussed in the report. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Wildlife/2013_NWF_Restoring_Gulf_Report_FINAL.pdf [PDF format, 15 pages].
Congressional Research Service. January 23, 2013.
The adequacy of the science supporting implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has received considerable congressional attention over the years. While many scientific decisions pass unremarked, some critics accuse agencies responsible for implementing the ESA of using “junk science,” and others counter that decisions that should rest on science are instead being dictated by political concerns. This report provides a context for evaluating legislative proposals through examples of how science has been used in selected cases, a discussion of the nature and role of science in general, and its role in the ESA process in particular, together with general and agency information quality requirements and policies, and a review of how the courts have viewed agency use of science.
https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32992.pdf [PDF format, 33 pages].
Congressional Research Service. January 8, 2013.
In the United States, desalination and membrane technologies are increasingly used to augment municipal water supply, to produce high quality industrial water supplies, and to reclaim contaminated supplies (including from oil and gas development). Desalination processes generally treat seawater or brackish water to produce a stream of freshwater, and a separate, saltier stream of water that requires disposal (often called waste concentrate). Wider adoption of desalination is constrained by financial, environmental, and regulatory issues. Emerging technologies (e.g., forward osmosis, nanocomposite and chlorine resistant membranes) show promise for reducing desalination costs. Research to support development of emerging technologies and to reduce desalination’s environmental and social impacts is particularly relevant to the debate on the future level and nature of federal desalination assistance. The federal government generally has been involved primarily in desalination research and development (including for military applications), some demonstration projects, and select full-scale facilities. For the most part, local governments, sometimes with state-level involvement, are responsible for planning, testing, building, and operating desalination facilities. Some states, universities, and private entities also undertake and support desalination research. While interest in desalination persists among some Members, especially with drought concerns high, efforts to maintain or expand federal activities and investment are challenged by the domestic fiscal climate and differing views on federal roles and priorities.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40477.pdf [PDF format, 18 pages].
Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. October 5, 2012.
Since Barack Obama was sworn in as President in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed and promulgated numerous regulations implementing the pollution control statutes enacted by Congress. Critics have reacted strongly. Many, both within Congress and outside of it, have accused the agency of reaching beyond the authority given it by Congress and ignoring or underestimating the costs and economic impacts of proposed and promulgated rules. Environmental groups and others disagree that the agency has overreached, and EPA states that critics’ focus on the cost of controls obscures the benefits of new regulations, which, it estimates, far exceed the costs; and it maintains that pollution control is an important source of economic activity, exports, and American jobs. This report provides background information on recent EPA regulatory activity to help address these issues. It examines 45 major or controversial regulatory actions taken by or under development at EPA since January 2009, providing details on the regulatory action itself, presenting an estimated timeline for completion of the rule (including identification of related court or statutory deadlines), and, in general, providing EPA’s estimates of costs and benefits, where available.
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41561.pdf [PDF format, 46 pages].