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Renewable Natural Resources Foundation

Planning for Coastal Inland Resilience: Keeping Toxic Substances Out of the Water and Avoiding Unwise Development

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In the United States, 110 million tons of coal ash are generated every year and much of it is stored in giant impoundment ponds. The current tally of coal ash sites is roughly 1,400 in 47 states. Harrison noted that this estimate is likely far too low since many older coal ash sites have been forgotten and are uncounted. The majority of these sites are located in the Southeast and the Ohio River Valley and are typically located in floodplains, or flood-prone areas.

Regarding regulation of coal ash impoundments in floodplains, Harrison noted that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) contains a provision that could apply to coal ash since it applies to all solid waste dumps (40 C.F.R. 257.3-1). Harrison explained that this RCRA provision is rarely enforced because the language is arguably vague and difficult to implement.

In 2015, the EPA finalized a rule that specifically applied to coal ash impoundments and coal ash landfills. Harrison pointed out that this 2015 regulation excludes any coal ash impoundments or landfills at inactive coal-fired power plants. Meaning, power plants not generating electricity after 2015 are not subject to the regulation. Additionally, Harrison explained that the 2015 rule can only be enforced through lawsuits, either by a citizen or a state, or by state adoption of the rule. A state may adopt the rule and codify it under state law to be enforced by the state. When asked about state regulation of coal ash, Harrison noted that the Illinois legislature had recently passed such legislation. For more information about the Illinois action click here.

Harrison illustrated the dangers of siting coal ash impoundments in floodplains by describing the events that took place at the Duke Energy Sutton Plant on the Cape Fear River, in North Carolina. In 2018, Hurricane Florence brought the most severe flooding in the river’s history. As a result, the flood waters broke through the dams surrounding the Sutton Plant impoundments and released several thousand tons of coal ash into the surrounding waterways, wetlands and a popular nearby fishing lake, Lake Sutton. Harrison noted that effective cleanup of coal ash contamination was difficult and that Duke Energy did not recover any of what was spilled during Hurricane Florence.

Duke University recently released a study on the sediment in Lake Sutton that documented the presence of coal ash solids. For more information on this Duke University study click here. Harrison believes that there has not been an adequate evaluation of the dangers of contaminants in Lake Sutton and that more investigation is warranted.

Harrison also discussed the potential beneficial uses for coal ash. Coal ash can be used as structural fill material in concrete for road construction projects including in roadbeds and interstate off ramps. Harrison pointed to several potential drawbacks to using coal ash this way. He noted that there are no requirements that the structural fill be monitored over time and that coal ash can be radioactive.

Overall, Harrison focused on the fact that the location of unlined coal ash impoundments in floodplains poses significant risks to human and environmental health. He observed that these risks will likely be exacerbated by more frequent and more severe storms that are predicted to occur as a result of changing climate patterns.

To access Pete Harrison’s PowerPoint presentation click here.

PetersonJeff Peterson, formerly with EPA’s Office of Water and CEQ, discussed the dangers posed by ignoring the risks associated with rising sea levels and intensifying natural disasters to those living along the coasts. He began his talk with a broad overview of the challenges facing American coasts due to intensifying storms, like Hurricane Florence, and discussed the obstacles of planning and developing coastal communities in the times of sea-level rise.

One critical issue with more intense storms is the resulting storm surge. As sea levels rise, storm surges will increase and push water farther inland, flooding more expansive areas. Peterson explained that not only do more extensive areas flood due to storm surges, but recent research on these intensifying storms has found that they move slower, release more precipitation and intensify more rapidly than previous storms.

Peterson noted that the latest climate models indicate that approximately one foot of sea-level rise by the year 2100 is essentially a certainty. Estimates of three feet in sea-level rise globally are also a reasonable possibility according to Peterson. The U.S. coasts, particularly the East Coast, are more vulnerable to sea level rise than the rest of the world. It has been estimated that parts of the American coasts are likely to see sea-level rise of up to 30% greater than the global average. This vulnerability is due to a combination of geography, ocean currents and land subsidence in the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico regions.

Using the three feet of sea level rise estimate, scientific studies have identified 12,000 sq. miles of current American coastline likely to be inundated by 2100. Peterson acknowledged that this estimate covers three and a half million people and hundreds of communities that will be impacted by sea-level rise.  Additionally, the EPA anticipates losses of roughly $3 trillion due to coastal storms and sea-level rise based upon current population growth and assets.

Peterson contended that current federal policies give coastal inhabitants a misimpression regarding the risks associated with living in coastal areas. Namely, he pointed to the National Flood Insurance Program and federal appropriations for disaster relief. He argues that, in effect, the flood insurance program encourages people to live in flood prone areas because the federal government covers those financial losses. Peterson emphasized that this program is not financially sustainable and is losing over $1 billion a year. He also argued that federal disaster relief appropriations incentivize people to rebuild their damaged properties in these risky areas.

To help curb the impacts of sea-level rise, Peterson posed the following potential approaches. He proposed a long-term phase out of the flood insurance program that could take place over a 30-year period. He also suggested that Congress reevaluate its disaster relief policies and shift its emphasis to funding preemptive disaster planning rather than reactionary rebuilding post-disaster. The prospect of requiring upfront financial assurances for the decommissioning costs of properties built in coastal areas was also posited. Lastly, Peterson proposed implementation of a permit program, similar to the wetlands permitting program under the Clean Water Act, that could be instituted to determine if people should be building in these high-risk areas.

The majority of sea-level rise mitigation planning is happening at the state and local levels. Peterson advocates for significant federal government involvement in the planning process. He argues the federal government has the resources, most current science, and ability to avoid inconsistent plans among communities. Overall, Peterson emphasized that sea-level rise is not something in the distant future, it is happening now.
Madeline Voitier, RNRF Sr. Program Mgr.

RNRF Meeting: Deep Seabed Mineral Mining and the U.S.

On May 29, 2019, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) presented a meeting titled "Deep Seabed Mineral Mining and the U.S.: Diplomatic, Legal, and Environmental Aspects," hosted by the American Geophysical Union in its newly renovated headquarters in Washington, D.C. Speakers were Greg O'Brien, U.S. Department of State; Kerry Kehoe, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and David Diamond, U.S. Geological Survey. They described how the U.S. is participating in deliberations of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the U.N organization that is writing the rules for exploring and exploiting mineral resources beneath the "high seas."

OBrienGreg O'Brien, a foreign affairs officer in the State Department’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, has led the U.S.’s observer delegation to the ISA since 2015, and spoke about the role of the U.S. in the rulemaking process.

Part XI of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines the "Area" that the treaty has the authority to regulate. This includes all seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil outside of national jurisdictions. UNCLOS gives the ISA the authority to establish the rules and regulations governing exploration and exploitation of the resources found in the Area. Membership in the ISA mirrors signatories of UNCLOS, including 168 countries. Since the U.S. is not a party to the convention, it sends a delegation to attend meetings as an observer state.

Despite this non-member status, the U.S. has an interest in development of ISA regulations because of significant mineral resources in the Area. O'Brien stated that our main focus in our engagement is to ensure that regulations that have been developed for exploration and the regulations under development for exploitation are consistent with applicable law, particularly as reflected in the convention. If the U.S. were to ratify UNCLOS, it would be the only country with a permanent seat on the council of ISA, meaning that it would have the authority to veto any regulations or proposals counter to its interests

Even as an observer state, the U.S. does play a role in the rulemaking process. O'Brien noted that they work closely with other delegations, usually in the margins between sessions. The secretariat, which is the primary rulemaking body of the ISA, has also reached out to the U.S. delegation informally for collaboration in developing some parts of the regulations. Recently, ISA has reached out to the Department of the Interior about the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the development of its standards and guidelines. Regulation of deep seabed resource exploitation is relatively unprecedented, so there is a demand for expertise from existing regulatory frameworks. In that regard, O’Brien said that the U.S. has developed the gold standard. In the Q&A session after his talk, O'Brien noted that no public input on the process of drafting exploration or exploitation rules has been solicited by the U.S. delegation or government. Also, prospective mining contractors are providing technical expertise to the ISA because of its limited technical resources.

ISA rulemaking is very important because it is thought that the Area contains significant critical minerals, including rare-earth minerals. While they are unsure of the exact amount of resources on the deep seabed, many scientists (including some from the U.S. Geological Survey) believe that the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), located west of Mexico and southeast of Hawaii, holds three times the amount of certain rare earth minerals than all terrestrial deposits combined.

As a party to UNCLOS, the U.S. could sponsor companies to have mining rights in the CCZ and other areas of the international deep seabed. However, the U.S. cannot currently do this, and companies will not take the risk of mining without the legal certainty that having a sponsor affords them.

O'Brien described some issues that the ISA is currently facing in its rulemaking process. First, environmental assessment and risk management are of great concern, but there is currently much that is not known about biodiversity and the environmental baseline in the Area. This dearth of information makes it far more difficult to craft effective environmental regulation. The U.S. delegation is also advocating for heightened cognizance of other uses of the deep seabed, namely underwater telecommunications cables. Since there are such cables running through the CCZ, it is important that this be considered when crafting regulations.

Royalty payments to the ISA for mining activities are also under discussion. The U.S. is helping with this process – MIT's policy research lab has been working with the ISA secretariat for two years about options for what the formula for royalties would be and when such a policy would take effect. Overall, O'Brien says, the U.S. wants ISA to adopt policies that are friendly to enterprise and place no greater regulatory burden on mining companies than current terrestrial mining regulations.

KehoeKerry Kehoe, a federal consistency specialist in the Office for Coastal Management at NOAA, spoke about managing the Deep Sea Hard Mineral Resources Act (DSHMRA). The act established the domestic authority for regulation of deep-sea mineral mining.

DSHMRA was enacted in 1980 before the adoption of UNCLOS and the establishment of the ISA. It established the requirements for U.S. citizens engaged in exploration or mining in international waters. Mining in domestic waters is administered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. DSHMRA was drafted as an interim measure pending U.S. ratification of UNCLOS. However, since UNCLOS has not been ratified, DSHMRA remains in place.

For U.S. citizens, a license is required for exploration and a permit is required for mining activities in international waters. There are numerous environmental and other compliance regulations that may apply to these activities, like the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act. Presently, there are only two ongoing exploration licenses from the U.S., and both of them belong to Lockheed Martin. While these contracts are extended every five years, no permits have been issued for mining.

Kehoe continued by discussing the interests that the U.S. has in continuing to be engaged with the ISA even without membership. He emphasized that the first companies to successfully mine the deep seabed will likely dominate the market. Just because the U.S. cannot sponsor contractors does not mean that U.S. companies cannot be involved in deep seabed mining. U.S. companies bring an abundance of expertise to the table, and so there are opportunities for them to be involved.

DiamondDavid Diamond, deputy associate director for energy and minerals at USGS, spoke about the survey's role in conducting seabed ecosystem research and informing international policymakers of scientific advances that could affect rulemaking deliberations.

Diamond provided background on the policy impetus for USGS's actions regarding deep sea minerals. In 2017, an executive order was signed establishing a federal strategy to ensure reliable supplies of minerals considered critical for various reasons. USGS produced a list of 35 minerals it deemed critical, and Diamond noted that close to half of them could be found from marine sources.

On the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), still within U.S. territory, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has jurisdiction over mineral mining activity. It has a two-stage leasing process – prospecting and leasing – and lacks the authority to lease off  the shores of U.S. Territories and Possessions. This is important because much of the most valuable areas for marine mineral mining under U.S. jurisdiction, such as Guam and Northern Mariana, are not U.S. states.

USGS has worked with the ISA since 2000, and has worked with it through the Department of State since 2007. It provides science to inform decision-making and participates in workshops defining mineral classifications and discussing environmental considerations.

For the U.S. government, USGS conducts resource evaluation and identification activities to survey areas for marine mineral deposits and collecting and analyzing samples. It also play a role in informing environmental regulations by conducting important basic research.

Diamond noted that currently the majority of interest in deep seabed mining seems to be centered around polymetallic nodules. These small nodules lay on the surface of the sea floor and are of interest because they contain numerous types of minerals. Also, falling under ISA regulation for licensing are ferromanganese crusts and polymetallic sulfides.

Diamond finished his presentation by discussing the environmental considerations of deep seabed mining. He noted that the possibility of deep seabed mining has created both the need and the means for more extensive baseline characterization of the oceans, and deeper insight into ocean processes. There are multiple, different considerations for nodules, sulfides, and crusts, including the removal of substrates and fauna, the creation of plumes, and the release of oxides and substrate particles. USGS is collaborating with academia, industry, and government to better understand these impacts and how to address them. —Stephen Yaeger, RNRF Program Mgr.

To access Kerry Kehoe's PowerPoint presentation click here.

To access David Diamond's PowerPoint presentation click here.

Bill Moran Speaks on Open Access at RNRF Round Table

MoranBill Moran, publisher of the Science family of journals of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), hosted the Washington Round Table on Public Policy of the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) on May 6, 2019. He spoke about issues and recent developments related to implementing Open Access to research published in scientific journals.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and 30 representatives of scientific societies and publishers were present. Holt supplemented Moran’s presentation with some observations, and attendees asked numerous probing questions.

Moran began with a description of Open Access, emphasizing that in many cases, the adoption of the OA model is a fundamental change to publishing business models. Adopting an OA policy means that all articles are available openly and at no cost, under a Creative Commons license, allowing for the greatest degree of adaptation and reuse. However, this means that publishers no longer charge subscription fees, instead collecting an Article Processing Charge (APC). These charges are covered by authors, their institution, or research funders, in contrast to publishing costs being covered by subscribers under traditional subscription-based models.

There are three different types of OA models. In Green OA, an author self-archives a version of their paper in a repository, keeping it subject to their own copyright and re-use terms. This type of OA is mandated by most funders and many institutions. Gold OA is when journals make final versions of their article fully accessible with few restrictions. In these cases, APCs are paid upon an article’s acceptance to the journal. Journals that use Hybrid OA models offer a Gold OA option, alongside a traditional subscription-based option.

The global policy landscape for Open Access publishing is in a state of flux, largely due to the EU’s recent adoption of Plan S, which was created to require that all scientific research that results from public grant funding be published in Open Access journals or platforms. Under this plan, authors will retain copyright, and publishing fees will be paid by funders or universities, not by individual researchers. There will also be a three- to four-year transitionary period when Hybrid OA models will be acceptable, after which all journals will be fully OA. However, Hybrid models were not originally allowed, and policies still may be changed. Plan S is supported by 15 national funders (cOAlition S) and five charitable funders.

Moran listed a series of concerns with the Plan S model. Primarily, he said that AAAS is concerned about quality. In an Open Access journal, APCs cause revenues to rise if more articles are published, since the journal is receiving a fee for every article they publish. Therefore, OA journals can easily become more concerned with quantity than quality when evaluating articles for publishing. 

Another concern with Plan S is that it uses Gold OA as its standard, when Green OA is a more common policy in the rest of the world. Additionally, it mandates that authors and publishers relinquish control of publication rights, including commercial use and adaptations of their work. It also can stifle international cooperation on science. Overall, Plan S undermines the existing publishing system without having a comprehensive plan on how to replace it.

Plan S currently only applies in EU countries, and The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has indicated that it has no intention of following suit with an OA mandate. However, some American publishers are exploring OA options for their journals regardless of OSTP pronouncements. This takes place in the form of transformative agreements being executed, new journal launches that are fully OA, flipping existing subscription journals to OA, and adding additional revenue sources through submission fees.

Libraries and consortia have also been taking action: The University of California system recently terminated its subscriptions with Elsevier in support of Open Access for publicly funded research. Additionally, some funders are beginning to publish research themselves. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has created a platform called Gates Open Research which allows Gates-funded researchers to rapidly publish research results. The NIH, in contrast, has a Green OA mandate that requires papers resulting from NIH funding to be made available within 12 months of publication through PubMed Central. Many other funders in the United States have policies very similar to this one, mandating that research be made Open Access on a delayed basis.

Moran also discussed the OA landscape in China. While China has expressed support for Plan S, they have been unclear as to what their own OA policy will be moving forward. Under an OA model in China, total costs would be substantially higher than subscription fees under the current model. Moran also emphasized that China has already passed the US in number of submissions, and as their acceptance rate increases, we will see more research being published out of China.

Overall, the landscape for Open Access publishing is rapidly evolving, both in Europe and in the United States. Moran emphasized the importance of publishers and society members staying up-to-date on Open Access and create new partnerships to collaborate on these issues and communicate thoughts and concerns.

To access Bill Moran's PowerPoint presentation click here.

Additional information about Horizon 2020 can be found here and here.

AAAS's official comments on Plan S can be found here.

American Geophysical Union


On February 12, 2019, AGU announced the launch of the AGU Ethics and Equity Center (the Center). The Center aims to tackle the issues of bias, harassment, and discrimination in science by fostering safe work environments and working to ensuring that researchers, students, and institutions have access to leading practices and tools to address harassment and achieve inclusive excellence. AGU was one of the first scientific societies to recognize sexual harassment as scientific misconduct—akin to plagiarism and falsification of data—that harms the individual and the entire scientific enterprise. In addition to providing access to a wealth of professional ethics-related resources, a key unique feature of the Center is to provide access to consultation with a legal advisor, available to AGU members and members of partner organizations, their students, postdocs, and untenured faculty members experiencing harassment, bullying, discrimination, retaliation or other misconduct. This service will empower individuals to make informed decisions with confidence, educate individuals about formal and informal and internal and external remedies, promote effective communication, and offer guidance in charting a successful course forward.

The Center will be regularly updated with professional development and ethics-related resources designed to support individual scientists at all career stages, as well as information for organizations and institutional leaders that are looking to implement leading practices in ethics or equity related topics. It will also be a home for information on upcoming workshops on a variety of related topics, as well as a place where interested parties can request custom workshops tailored to their own specific needs.

Read the full press release here.

American Meteorological Society

New Minds for New Science: The Forecast for Work in Weather, Water, and Climate

As society goes through a period of rapid technological and societal change, only a small fraction of the current workforce is trained to take full advantage of machine learning, quantum computing, next generation satellites, and new sensor technologies. That same workforce, if it is to benefit society, must also master the formidable array of social skills needed to build diversity and inclusion, foster effective teamwork, and collaborate with outside groups. There is tremendous opportunity to advance weather, water, and climate science and apply the resulting information for the benefit of society in the coming decades. To meet these demands, our workforce must evolve.

However, employers face challenges in attracting sufficient talent in these developing fields, in part because students and early career scientists struggle to receive adequate training. At the same time, large numbers of government employees are expected to retire over the next ten years leaving leadership with the task to replace experience with the skill set required for decades to come. As societal demands on our community become enhanced, we must navigate a complex landscape in workforce evolution while increasing participation of women and minorities, striving to improve education at all levels and aligning incentives of career development with workforce needs.

Bringing together scientists and managers from public, private and academic institutions and from across the United States, this workshop will mark the beginning of a series of discussions on issues related to workforce in Weather, Water and Climate. The 1.5 days will focus on 3 topics:

1) How will new technologies affect society and the workforce overall?

2) How will these changes translate to the Weather, Water and Climate community?

3) How do these changes affect the knowledge, abilities and skills required to succeed in our community?

The workshop will take place on April 29-30, 2019 at the AAAS Building, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009. For more information, click here.


The U.S. Northern Plains and East Africa droughts of 2017, floods in South America, China and Bangladesh, and heatwaves in China and the Mediterranean were all made more likely by human-caused climate change, according to new research published December 10, 2018, in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

The seventh edition of the report, Explaining Extreme Events in 2017 from a Climate Perspective, also included analyses of ocean heat events, including intense marine heatwaves in the Tasman Sea off of Australia in 2017 and 2018 that were "virtually impossible" without human-caused climate change. Also included are analyses of Australian fires and Uruguay flooding.

This is the second year that scientists have identified extreme weather events that they said could not have happened without warming of the climate through human-induced climate change.

"These attribution studies are telling us that a warming Earth is continuing to send us new and more extreme weather events every year," said Jeff Rosenfeld, Editor in Chief of BAMS. "The message of this science is that our civilization is increasingly out of sync with our changing climate."

The report presents 17 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2017. It features the research of 120 scientists from 10 countries looking at both historical observations and model simulations to determine whether and by how much climate change may have influenced particular extreme events.

BAMS Special Editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA research meteorologist, said that while the events studied in this issue spanned six continents and a calendar year, what became clear is they are intimately connected.

"These studies confirm predictions of the 1990 First IPCC report, which foresaw that radical departures from 20th century weather and climate would be happening now," Hoerling said. "Scientific evidence supports increasing confidence that human activity is driving a variety of extreme events now. These are having large economic impacts across the United States and around the world."

Read the entire press release, along with some findings from the studies, here.

American Society of Civil Engineers


U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Inspiring New STEM Professionals by Investing in Renovation of Education Spaces (INSPIRES) Act December 20, 2018. The INSPIRES Act would increase educational and career opportunities for students attending rural and remote middle and high schools, community colleges, and other education institutions by providing funds to modernize, renovate, or repair STEM facilities.

"We are continuing to see STEM job growth outpace all others, but because of a lack of resources, rural and remote schools have a harder time keeping up with the demand," said Sen. Schatz. "The federal government can do more to help local governments provide better learning environments to help students achieve their full potential. The INSPIRES Act would give schools resources to modernize their facilities and expand access to STEM education so that our students have greater opportunities to succeed."

"With our global competitors investing in STEM, it’s critical that we ensure American students have the resources they need to remain competitive," said Sen. Brown. "This bill will help empower our students to become the next generation of researchers, statisticians, and engineers."

With the STEM job market expected to continue its rapid growth, the INSPIRES Act aims to improve the quality and availability of STEM and career and technical education instruction by providing grants to rural and Native-serving local educational agencies (LEAs) and community colleges for improvements to facilities.

Organizations endorsing the INSPIRES Act include the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE).

Read more here.

Visit the ASCE website here.

American Society of Landscape Architects Fund


The following is a statement by ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, regarding the proposed rule issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to alter the definition of "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act in such a way that severely threatens the quality of drinking water and community health and well-being nationwide.

The Trump administration's proposed rule redefining the term "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) within the Clean Water Act is a direct assault on the health and well-being of American communities nationwide. The proposed definition severely limits which waterways and wetlands are protected from pollutants, and could have catastrophic effects on the quality of the nation’s water, human health, the economies of communities, and the viability of wildlife populations.

ASLA supports having one clear and consistent definition of WOTUS that balances the need to have safe, healthy bodies of water with commerce and sound development practices. The proposed rule change significantly alters that balance, endangering communities and ecosystems while allowing polluters to adversely affect communities and ecosystems well beyond the boundaries of their property.

The fact is, clean water is good business and polluted water is not. A WOTUS Rule should ensure healthy drinking water, reduce adverse health consequences, bolster communities reliant on tourism and recreation, and facilitate place-making for coastal communities. This irresponsible rule change will undermine those goals. It is particularly regrettable that this rule would go into effect at a time when climate change is already wreaking havoc with fragile environments, particularly those in flood-prone areas. Increasingly frequent and intense storms will, by definition, affect the dry riverbeds and isolated wetlands that this new rule would exempt from protection. This rule would make a bad situation even worse.

Landscape architects work at the nexus of the built and natural environments, and are at the forefront of planning and designing water and storm-water management projects that help to protect and preserve our nation's water supply and enrich the lives of communities. The administration’s replacement rule would be a drastic step backward from the commitment to clean water for all Americans that is at the heart of the original Clean Water Act and the WOTUS rule, and ASLA will work to oppose this proposal.

Visit the ASLA website here.

American Water Resources Association


AWRA's Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Dresden Farrand joined the association as its executive vice president effective January 2, 2019.

"Dresden's ability to capture a vision and see it through is one reason why she has been chosen to lead the American Water Resources Association into the future," noted AWRA President Brenda Bateman. "As a well-credentialed expert in association management, she will partner with the board, staff and members to help AWRA continue to thrive. We are delighted to have her on board."

Prior to joining the AWRA team, Farrand was the vice president of membership and chapter development for the Independent Electrical Contractors Association (IEC), a national trade association, where she created strong new sources of revenue and organizational growth. Her other association successes include building programs and services, increasing membership and fostering high performing teams that put members at the center of their work. She is a certified association executive (CAE), and holds a masters degree in public administration from University of Missouri-Columbia and a masters degree in public policy from St. Louis University.

"With the addition of Dresden, we are confident that the organization will continue to grow and provide meaningful services to our members and stakeholders," noted AWRA President-Elect Lisa Beutler. "We welcome Dresden and look forward to her professional stewardship." Farrand succeeds Ken Reid, who retired on January 4, 2019, after serving AWRA as executive vice president for 37 years.

Visit the AWRA website here.

Geological Society of America

GSA tomorrow: an open challenge to promote the future of geoscience

An article posted in GSA Today's "Groundwork" series entitled "GSA Tomorrow: An Open Challenge to Promote the Future of Geoscience" issued a call to action for geoscientists to openly discuss how their work and profession impacts society. The article concludes with:

"Make a difference, get involved, and expand geoscience appreciation! If geoscience is vital to the betterment, sustainability, and continuity of humankind and society, it is our responsibility as geologists to educate the non-geologists who don’t agree or understand why. We invite you to contribute to this discussion by coming up with your own succinct, measurable, and clear reasons on the importance of your specific discipline in how it affects all aspects of society. Unconventional and unusual reasons are encouraged, and "succinct" is key: we ask you to add your thoughts to our challenge by sending a two-sentence e-mail to or, for those so inclined, posting your answer in a single Twitter or Instagram post. Be sure to tag @geosociety and #geotomorrow so that your responses may be collected. Responses will be made available for our geoscience community to use, adapt, and advocate with as we continue into the future. As the voice of the Geological Society of America, you are responsible to initiate a surge in geoscience appreciation and understanding. We know what GSA Today is—what is GSA Tomorrow?"

Read the full article here.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry


SETAC places emphasis on basic applied sciences such as environmental chemistry, toxicology and ecology. The primary goal of this joint conference with the Society of Risk Analyses (SRA) is to illustrate how these sciences relate to using health and environmental risk analyses within Africa. The long-term goal is supporting the eventual use of risk analyses and related sciences in policy making and regulatory development.

The conference is three days, from 6–8 May 2019, and will include daily plenary panels, joint SRA and SETAC sessions, platform and poster sessions and special symposia.

The program will blend health, environmental and risk sciences from SRA and SETAC as well as abstracts from members from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), who plan to be a conference sponsor.

SRA and SETAC have identified topics for which there are invited speakers. In keeping with the spirit of gender, geographic and sector diversity, these are leading experts in their respective fields selected to provide a diversity of opinion. Topics for which SRA and SETAC are combining sessions include:

• Advancing holistic risk approaches: OneHealth and the interconnectivity of ecosystem services
• Toxicology across the taxonomic spectrum
• Addressing legacies of contaminated lands
• Dealing with complex risk issues: Malaria and vector control
• Evaluating and ensuring food safety
• Climate change and information systems
• Public health and emerging disease
• Environmental and social impacts of mining and extraction industry
• Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals
• Migration and resilience across systems
• Risk communication

Read more at the conference website here.

International News

UN Environment

World Takes a Stand Against Powerful Greenhouse Gases with Implementation of Kigali Amendment

The world has taken an important step on the road to drastically reduce the production and consumption of powerful greenhouse gasses known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and limit global warming, with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer coming into force on 1st January 2019.

If fully supported by governments, the private sector and citizens, the Kigali Amendment will avoid up to 0.4°C of global warming this century while continuing to protect the ozone layer. The amendment will substantively contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement. HFCs are organic compounds frequently used as refrigerants in air conditioners and other devices as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol. While HFCs themselves do not deplete the ozone layer, they are extremely potent greenhouse gases with global warming potentials that can be many times higher than carbon dioxide.

The parties to the amendment have put in place practical arrangements for its implementation, including agreements on technologies for the destruction of HFCs and new data reporting requirements and tools. The amendment comes with provisions for capacity-building for developing countries, institutional strengthening and the development of national strategies to reduce HFCs and replace them with alternatives. Phasing down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment may also open a window to redesign cooling equipment that is more energy efficient, further increasing the climate gains.

Implementation of new targets set out in the amendment will be done in three phases, with a group of developed countries starting HFCs phase-down from 2019. Developing countries will follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024 and with a few countries freezing consumption in 2028.

Ratified by 65 countries so far, the Kigali Amendment builds on the historic legacy of the Montreal Protocol agreed in 1987. The Protocol and its previous amendments, which require the phasing out of the production and consumption of substances that cause ozone depletion, have been universally ratified by 197 parties.

The broad support for and implementation of the Montreal Protocol has led to the phase-out of more than 99 per cent of nearly 100 ozone-depleting chemicals and significantly contributed to climate change mitigation.

Evidence presented in the latest Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion shows that the ozone layer in parts of the stratosphere has recovered at a rate of 1-3% per decade since 2000. At projected rates, Northern Hemisphere and mid-latitude ozone is scheduled to heal completely by the 2030s followed by the Southern Hemisphere in the 2050s and polar regions by 2060.                                   

Read the press release from UN Environment here.

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