Opportunities for Bioenergy Production in Every State

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 31 Oct 2007 18:30:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to learn about the extensive biomass resources that are available in every state and region of the country to be tapped for sustainable production of electric power and heat. In 2005, bioenergy was the largest component of renewable electricity production in the nation, comprising 56 percent of all renewable electricity and 1.3 percent of total electricity. This percentage can be increased significantly since each state has important biomass resources that can be utilized sustainably to produce clean, renewable, domestic energy right now. Despite the skepticism of its opponents, bioenergy has the potential to sustainably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, boost rural economies, provide jobs, revitalize rural communities, support farming, and implement sustainable forest stewardship.

Speakers for this event include:
  • Larry Biles, Executive Director, Southern Forest Research Partnership
  • Robert H. Davis, President, Forest Energy Corporation/Member, Future Forest, LLC.
  • Dr. David Bransby, Professor of Energy Crops and Bioenergy, Auburn University
  • Robert E. Cleaves, President, Cleaves and Company/Member, USA Biomass Power Producers Alliance

Assessments have determined that it would be possible to sustainably harvest at least 350 million dry tons of forest biomass, logging debris, and secondary wood residues per year. Additionally, as much as 1 billion dry tons of biomass from agricultural resources, including crop residues, dedicated energy crops, and animal manure could be made available for energy production. Although these resources vary from state to state, no state or region is without a sustainable biomass resource. Energy can be produced from, among other things, the thinnings and low-quality trees harvested as part of fuel reduction and wildfire treatments in the extensive western region, dedicated crops and agricultural residues from the enormous farmland base of the central states, and logging residues and wood waste from the managed forests and forest products industries of the Southeast and the Pacific Northwest. Other sources of useable biomass include clean urban wood waste, livestock manure, food industry residues, and, in some cases, municipal waste. In addition to heat and power, estimates indicate that up to 30 percent of liquid transportation fuels can be produced from the biomass resource.

This briefing will address a number of regionally appropriate technologies and feedstocks, as well as economic considerations. Topics considered will be heat and electric power production, the biorefinery model for production of cellulosic biofuels, integrated production, biomass co-firing, wood pellet technologies, high-efficiency combustion, supply-chains, infrastructure, biomass assessment, and the creation of jobs through emerging industries.

This briefing is open to the public and no reservations are required. For more information, contact Jetta Wong at 202-662-1885 ([email protected]) or Jesse Caputo at 202-662-1882 ([email protected])

Research to Improve Water-Use Efficiency and Conservation: Technologies and Practices 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 30 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

On Tuesday, October 30, 2007 the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology will hold a hearing to receive testimony on H.R. 3957, The Water- Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act of 2007. The purpose of the hearing is to evaluate the need for research and development of technologies and processes to enhance water use efficiency and water conservation. The Committee will also ascertain perspectives on current federal efforts to promote water-use efficiency and conservation through programs such as the WaterSense program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • Glen Daigger, Vice President at CH2MHill
  • Ed Clerico, CEO of Alliance Environmental and Designer at the Solaire Project in NYC
  • Val Little, Director of the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona
  • Ron Thompson, District Manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District
  • John Veil, Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

Need for Legislation

The dwindling supply of water in the United States has created increasing concern at all levels of government. Since 1950, the United States population increased nearly 90 percent. In that same period, public demand for water increased 209 percent. Americans now use an average of 100 gallons of water per person each day. This increased demand has put additional stress on water supplies and distribution systems, threatening both human health and the environment. Approximately 26 billion gallons of water are used every day in the United States and thirty six states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. However, some states are already in the middle of a severe drought. Most of the Southeastern United States, stretching from Tennessee across the Carolinas and into Georgia, is suffering from an exceptional drought, the highest intensity as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The city of Atlanta is bracing as experts argue whether the city water supply will last as few as three months or as many as nine months.

In California, catastrophic fires burned across areas of the southern part of the state this October. Extreme drought conditions over the past two years have played a large role in creating the conditions that made such a disaster possible. More than 500,000 people were evacuated from their homes at height of fires, the largest number in California history. Over 2,000 homes and at least 180 commercial buildings were destroyed or damaged. The drought gripping the West is considered by some experts to be the worst in 500 years, with effects in the Colorado River basin that have been considerably more damaging than during the Dust Bowl years, according to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey. Compounding the problem, the Colorado River had its highest flow of the 20th century from 1905 to 1922, the years used as the basis for allocating the River’s water between the Upper and Lower Colorado Basin states under the Colorado River Compact.

Climate change related effects are expected to exacerbate already scarce water resources in many areas of the country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 assessment states that water stored in glaciers and snow cover is projected to decline, reducing water availability to one-sixth of the world’s population that relies upon melt water from major mountain ranges. The IPCC also predicts droughts will become more severe and longer lasting in a number of regions. Although some water efficiency strategies require an initial capital investment, in the long run, conserving water provides significant cost savings for water and wastewater systems. Water efficiency and re-use programs help systems avoid, downsize, and postpone expensive infrastructure projects, by developing new water supplies.

Introduced by Representative Jim Matheson, H.R. 3957 would establish a research and development program within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to promote water efficiency and conservation. The program would collect and disseminate information on water conservation practices. Through this program, EPA will be able to encourage the adoption of technologies and processes that will achieve greater wateruse efficiency thereby helping to address the water supply shortages in the United States.

H.R. 3957 would expand EPA’s scope and involvement solving the nation’s water crisis by researching innovations in water storage and distribution systems, as well as, behavioral, social, and economic barriers to achieving greater water efficiency. In addition, the program will research technologies and processes that enable the collection, treatment, and reuse of rainwater and grey water, waste water from sinks, baths and kitchen appliances.

Background on EPA’s Current Water Research and Outreach Programs

EPA currently has no research and development effort that addresses water supply issues. In conjunction with its statutory responsibilities to ensure water quality under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA has a program of research and development on water treatment technologies, health effects of water pollutants, security from deliberate contamination, and watershed protection. Current annual funding for these activities is approximately $50 million. EPA does not have a research and development program to address water-use efficiency or conservation.

In June of 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency created a voluntary program entitled WaterSense, which focuses on educating consumers about available choices to save money and conserve water. Similar to Energy Star ratings, the WaterSense label indicates the performance of an appliance or product with respect to its water-use efficiency. Products displaying a WaterSense label must achieve water use reductions of at least 20 percent over similar appliances and products. In FY 07, EPA obligated $2.4 million in funding for the WaterSense program.

Under the program’s structure, manufacturers certify that products with the WaterSense label met EPA criteria for water efficiency and performance. Currently, the program has reviewed High-Efficiency Toilets, and plans on expanding its scope to include bathroom faucets, weatherbased irrigation controllers, commercial toilets and faucets, and autoclave water valves. EPA estimates that if all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars per year. In addition, the average American household could save 20,000 gallons of water per year if it installed an inexpensive low-flow showerhead. A low-flush toilet could reduce their water use by an additional 34 percent.

At present, there is a lack of significant federal research and development aimed at addressing water-use efficiency and conservation, especially focused on residential and commercial uses. Because of the agency’s complementary work on water quality, the EPA is the logical federal entity to complete this research due to the important relationship between water supply and water quality.

Current State Initiatives on Water Efficiency

Many states and local governments are taking action to promote greater water-use efficiency and conservation including metering and sub-metering, offering rebates for purchase of water efficient products, promoting processed water use, promoting greater grey water and rainwater utilization, correcting leaks, and promoting use of drought tolerant landscaping. Because water supplies are controlled by local, regional and state government, a variety of approaches are being tested and implemented. While there are many benefits to having a diversity of creative efforts, the establishment of a central repository for information on the approaches and their costs and benefits is lacking. H.R. 3957 directs EPA to gather this information and provide a central location for distributing information about successful projects that have been implemented by communities across the country to achieve greater adoption of technologies and policies on water conservation.

Listed below are some examples of such efforts.

  • The city of Tucson, Arizona has been active in the promotion of xeriscaping: a practice of landscaping which does not require supplemental irrigation. Common plants used in this practice include agave, cactus, lavender, juniper, sedum and thyme. Each year, a xeriscaping conference is held in Tucson, as well as a contest awarding the best xeriscaping project. City policy prevents the use of municipal groundwater supplies for irrigating areas within public rights-of-way unless the landscaping uses plants from a low water-use list.
  • The State of New York passed legislation to establish a Green Building Tax Credit, which allows building owners and developers to deduct expenses associated with the design and construction of “green” buildings, which includes a number of water-use efficient practices.
  • The city of Austin, Texas has instituted a highly successful appliance replacement rebate plan to encourage consumers to purchase water-use efficient toilets, clothes washers, and irrigation equipment. Austin’s Water Conservation Program has contributed to a substantial reduction in per capita water use. In 2006, the Austin City Council formed the Water Conservation Task Force to find ways to implement a June 2006 directive to implement aggressive water conservation measures. The anticipated recommendations include changes to the plumbing code, a retrofit on resale for inefficient plumbing fixtures, mandatory irrigation analyses for large commercial properties, and stricter summer watering regulations. Together, the measures should result in peak-day water savings of nearly 33 million gallons per day at an average cost of roughly $1.13 per gallon, one-third the cost of building new treatment capacity.
  • The Santa Rosa Subregional Reclamation System in Northern California is one of the largest recyclers of water in the world. Last year 6,400 acres of farmlands, vineyards, and public and private urban landscaping was irrigated with recycled water. Of that, 85 percent was used for agricultural purposes. The irrigation system is supported by storage reservoirs that can hold over 1.45 billion gallons of water. The Subregional System serves the cities of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Cotati, the South Park Sanitation District, and some unincorporated parts of Sonoma County. In addition, the Subregional System pipes its treated wastewater to a geothermal energy plant to be used as re-injection fluid, thereby prolonging the life of the reservoir while recycling the treated wastewater. The addition of wastewater produces close to 85 megawatts of electricity a day, enough to supply the residential energy needs of Santa Rosa.
  • The Pennsylvania Water Conservation Leak Detection Program is a joint effort of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association (PRWA). PRWA uses set-aside funds to provide two circuit riders to conduct water audits and perform leak detection for small systems (serving fewer than 10,000 persons). Despite the time-consuming nature of the project, the circuit riders have detected 594 leaks and saved over 1.4 billion gallons of water and $1.36 million annually. From June 2001 to July 2002, 24 systems underwent water audits. A total of 152 leaks were detected, which saved systems over 396 million gallons of water from 36 percent to 9 percent.

Witnesses Dr. Daigger is a Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for CH2M Hill. He received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kappe and Freese Lectures and the Harrison Prescott Eddy, Morgan, and the Gascoigne Awards from Water Environment Federation. A member of a number of professional societies, Dr. Daigger is also a member of the National Academy of Engineers. Mr. Clerico is a licensed professional engineer and licensed wastewater operator in NY, NJ, and PA and is an accredited LEED professional. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Bio-Ag Engineering from Rutgers University. He was the founder and president of Applied Water Management, Inc. before holding executive roles with American Water as Technical Development Director and VP Strategy. Presently, he operates his own consulting business, Alliance Environmental, and focuses on initiatives that involve integrated water management, including the Solaire project in New York City. Ms. Little is the director of the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona. In addition, she serves as a Principal Research Specialist at the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. She received her A.B. in Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. Mr. Thompson is the District Manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1971 with a degree in Accounting and received his law degree from the University of Utah in 1974. Mr. Thompson is a past president of the Utah Water Users Association, vice-chairman of the Resolutions Committee for the National Water Resources Association, and vice-chairman of the Resolutions Committee for the Colorado River Water Users. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Utah Water Finance Agency, State of Utah Drinking Water Board, and serves as the Utah representative for the National Water Resources Endangered Species Task Force. Mr. Veil is the manager of the Water Policy Program for Argonne National Laboratory in Washington, DC, where he holds the rank of senior scientist. He analyzes a variety of energy industry water and waste issues for the Department of Energy. Mr. Veil has a B.A. in Earth and Planetary Science from Johns Hopkins University, and two M.S. degrees, in Zoology and Civil Engineering, from the University of Maryland. Before joining Argonne, Mr. Veil managed the Industrial Discharge Program for the State of Maryland government where he had statewide responsibility for industrial water pollution control permitting through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Underground Injection Control (UIC), and oil control programs.

Section by Section description of H.R. 3957

Title: Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act 2007

Purpose: To increase research, development, education, and technology transfer activities related to water use efficiency and conservation technologies and practices at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Section 1: Short Title

The Water-Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act.

Section 2: Findings

Section 2 includes the Congressional findings and defines the need for expanding the scope of research and development conducted by the Environmental Protection agency to include wateruse efficiency and conservation to address the problems of increasing water shortages across the country.

Section 3: Research Program

Section 3 directs the Assistant Administrator to establish a research, development, and demonstration program within the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development to promote water-use efficiency and conservation. The bill provides examples of several areas the program should address including water storage and distribution systems; and behavioral, social, and economic barriers to achieving greater water-use efficiency. In addition, the bill states the program should research technologies and processes that enable the collection, treatment, and reuse of rainwater and greywater. The specific projects selected for funding through the program should reflect the needs identified by local and state water managers.

Section 4: Technology Transfer

Section 4 directs the Assistant Administrator to collect and disseminate information on current water-use efficient and conservation technologies and practices to facilitate their adoption. This information should include incentives and impediments to development and commercialization, best practices, and anticipated increases in water-use efficiency resulting from the implementation of these processes.

Section 5: Report

Section 5 directs the Assistant Administrator to report to Congress on the progress being made by the Environmental Protection Agency with regard to the research projects initiated, and the outreach and communication activities conducted through the program.

Section 6: Authorization of Appropriations

Section 6 provides a five year authorization of the program with such sums as necessary to carry out the program.

Climatically-Induced Increases in Water Vapor and Precipitation: Causation and Implications

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 29 Oct 2007 16:00:00 GMT

Moderated by Dr. Anthony Socci, Senior Science Fellow, American Meteorological Society

  • Dr. Brian J. Soden, Associate Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science, Miami, FL
  • Frank J. Wentz, Remote Sensing Systems, Santa Rosa, CA
  • Dr. Francis Zwiers, Director, Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Dr. Benjamin D. Santer, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA

The Role of Water Vapor in Climate: The Outlook from Models, Observations and Theory

Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas, the most important gaseous source of infrared opacity in the atmosphere. As the concentrations of other greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, increase because of human activity, it is centrally important to predict how the water vapor distribution will be affected. To the extent that water vapor concentrations increase in a warmer world, the climatic effects of the other greenhouse gases will be amplified. Models of the Earth’s climate indicate that this is an important positive feedback that increases the sensitivity of surface temperatures to carbon dioxide by more than a factor of two.

Prevailing evidence strongly suggests that the increased water vapor resulting from the warming effect due to CO2 and other greenhouse gases does serve to significantly amplify climate warming as models predicted. In addition, observationally-based estimates of the strength of this climate amplification are in agreement with model predictions. In other words, the warming due to the increase in greenhouse gases is driving the increase in water vapor which, in turn, is significantly amplifying the climate warming.

Water Vapor, Precipitation and Evaporation – The View from Satellites

Water vapor is a natural greenhouse gas that is very important to the climate. It can be measured by satellites more accurately than most other climate variables. Satellite observations show that water vapor has increased by 2.4% during the last 20 years. Satellites can also measure the temperature of the atmosphere, but not as accurately as water vapor. The satellites indicate the troposphere has warmed by 0.4 C during the last 20 years, which is in general agreement with surface thermometers. Thus the water vapor has increased at a rate of 6% per degree of global warming. Climate models predict a similar rise with temperature. There is no serious discrepancy between the satellite observations and the climate models with regards to the increases in water vapor and temperature.

Satellites also measure global precipitation and evaporation, although for the evaporation estimates additional surface observations are required. When averaged over the globe, evaporation must equal precipitation. This equality provides us with a useful consistency check. We find that the precipitation and evaporation trends do agree; they both indicate an increase of 6% per degree of warming, the same as water vapor. This observational result disagrees with climate models, which indicate a smaller increase of 1-3%. This is a significant discrepancy that needs to be resolved.

Have Humans Affected 20th Century Precipitation Trends?

Models suggest that anthropogenic forcing should have caused a small increase in global mean precipitation over the 20th century. However, human influence on global mean precipitation has been difficult to detect, partly because changes in precipitation in different regions cancel each other out and thereby reduce the strength of the global average signal. Models further suggest that anthropogenic forcing should have caused a latitudinal redistribution of precipitation, increasing precipitation at high latitudes, decreasing precipitation at sub-tropical latitudes, and possibly changing the distribution of precipitation within the tropics by shifting the position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. The 20th century instrumental precipitation record, which represents changes over land, indicates a latitudinal redistribution of precipitation with increasing precipitation at high latitudes, decreasing precipitation at northern sub-tropical latitudes, and increasing precipitation in southern subtropical latitudes.

Analysis of multiple climate models indicates that the observed changes in latitudinally averaged land precipitation are best explained by anthropogenic forcing (i.e, humans), and that they cannot be explained by internal climate variability or by the combined effect of natural solar and volcanic forcing of the climate system. We therefore estimate that anthropogenic forcing contributed significantly to the observed increases in precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, drying in the Northern Hemisphere subtropics and tropics, and moistening in the Southern Hemisphere subtropics and deep tropics. The observed changes, which are larger than estimated from model simulations, may have already had significant effects on ecosystems, agriculture and human health in regions that are sensitive to changes in precipitation.

Searching for Human “Fingerprints” in Atmospheric Water Vapor Changes

“Fingerprinting” involves searching for a computer model-predicted pattern of climate change (the “fingerprint”) in observed climate records. Fingerprint techniques allow researchers to make rigorous statistical tests of different possible explanations for an observed climate change. Most fingerprint work has focused on temperature changes at the Earth’s surface, in the free atmosphere, or in the oceans. Recently, a number of new studies have applied fingerprint methods to changes in the cycling of moisture between atmosphere, land, and ocean.

One recent fingerprint study looked at the possible causes of the increase in the total amount of atmospheric moisture over oceans. As noted above, satellite measurements indicate that the total amount of water vapor has increased by roughly 2.4% since 1988. Results from 22 different computer models show that this increase is consistent with the simulated climate response to human influences. This model-data consistency holds for both the overall size and the complex fingerprint pattern of water vapor changes. Climate models suggest that the main driver of the observed water vapor increase is the human-caused increase in well-mixed greenhouse gases. The observed atmospheric moistening cannot be explained by current model estimates of natural climate variability, and is highly unlikely to be due to the effects of solar variability or recovery from the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.


Dr. Brian J. Soden is an Associate Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Soden specializes in the use of satellite observations to test and improve computer model simulations of climate change. During the past 15 years he has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers on a variety of topics, but most often related to the response of the atmospheric hydrological cycle to global warming. He recieved his B.S. degree from the University of Miami, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. Before returning to the University of Miami, Dr.Soden was a Visiting Scientist at Princeton University, and a Physical Scientist with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ.

Dr. Soden also served as a Lead Author of the chapter on atmospheric observations for the 2007 IPCC Report. His awards include the AMS Henry G. Houghton Award, the National Space Club’s David S. Johnson Award, and several outstanding research paper awards from NOAA and NASA.

Frank J. Wentz is the Director of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), a research company specializing in microwave remote sensing. Over the last 25 years, he has been one of NASA’s leading principal investigators. He obtained a B.S. and M.S. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His early research focused on radiative transfer models that relate satellite observations to geophysical parameters, with the objective of providing research-quality geophysical data sets to the Earth science community. As a member of NASA’s SeaSat Experiment Team (1978-1982), he pioneered the development of physically based retrieval methods for microwave scatterometers and radiometers. In 1987, he took the lead on providing the community with high-quality ocean products derived from a new generation of satellite microwave imagers: the SSM/I. Since then, observations from many more satellite sensors have been added to the RSS climate archive, which now includes data from over 20 satellites spanning the period for 1979 to present. Mr. Wentz has served on many NASA review panels and several NRC committees. He has a long list of about 100 publications in the peer-reviewed literature on remote sensing and its application to oceanography, hydrology, and climate.

Dr. Francis W. Zwiers is the Director of the Climate Research Division of Environment Canada. Dr. Zwiers is recognized as a world leader in developing and implementing statistical tools for the study and prediction of climate change. His work is being applied to determine and understand changes in the climate that may be resulting from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Author of more than 50 research papers in the past decade, he has also co-authored the chapter on the “Detection of climate change and attribution of causes” in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2001 Assessment Report. He recently served as a convening lead author of the chapter “Understanding and Attributing Climate Change” in the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, which has just been published, and he currently serves as a lead author of the CCSP Synthesis Product 3.3 report entitled “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate”. In addition, he has co-authored the textbook Statistical Analysis in Climate Research, considered to be the standard reference for the application of statistical methods in climate science.

Dr. Zwiers received his PhD in Statistics from Dalhousie University in 1980. He was appointment as a research scientist with Environment Canada in 1984, and has subsequently fulfilled increasingly responsible roles, progressing to the level of senior scientist in 2002. He served as Chief of the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis in Victoria, B.C., from 1997 to 2006, before being appointed to his current position. Dr. Zwiers is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Dr. Benjamin D. Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). His research focuses on such topics as climate model evaluation, the use of statistical methods in climate science, and identification of natural and anthropogenic “fingerprints” in observed climate records. Dr. Santer holds a doctorate in climatology from the University of East Anglia in England, where he studied under Prof. Tom Wigley. After completion of his Ph.D. in 1987, he spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, where he worked with Prof. Klaus Hasselmann on the development and application of climate fingerprinting methods. In 1992, Dr. Santer joined the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison at LLNL.

Dr. Santer served as convening Lead Author of the climate change detection and attribution chapter of the 1995 IPCC report, an experience best described as “character building”. His awards include a MacArthur Fellowship (1998), the Norbert Gerbier-MUMM international award from the World Meteorological Organization (1998), the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award (2002), and a U.S. Dept. of Energy Distinguished Scientist Fellowship (2005). Dr. Santer has over seventy publications in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, and has contributed to ten books.

White House Censors CDC Climate Health Testimony

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Oct 2007 21:55:00 GMT

In a story reported by Associated Press (see Washington Post, ED, WattHead, CQ), Barbara Boxer revealed that CDC director Julie Gerberding’s written testimony (uncensored version) at Tuesday’s EPW hearing on global warming impacts on health was dramatically cut by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget after questions were raised by John H. Marburger III, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Six of the deleted pages detailed how global warming might affect Americans and they included a section with the title, “Climate Change is a Public Concern.”
On Wednesday, House Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Brad Miller sent a letter to Marburger formally requesting all documents related to the matter by next Monday:
We expect our government researchers and scientists to provide to both Congress and the public the full results of their taxpayer-supported work without the filter that those of opposing views might like to impose. Otherwise, we cannot have a full and free scientific debate.
Marburger released a statement today (from Andy Revkin’s NYT Dot Earth blog), claiming:
Those commentators have missed or ignored several nuanced but important differences between the I.P.C.C. report’s findings and the draft testimony.
Barbara Boxer responsed:
Dr. Marburger’s statement is a lame defense of the White House action to censor information the American people deserve to know about the dangers of global warming.
DeSmogBlog shows what was cut from the report, saying:
These were not minor edits the White House PR spin machine would like us to believe. The word-count for the CDC Director’s Senate testimony went from 3,107 to 1,500 after the White House got through with it.

Whole sections on health related effects to extreme weather, air pollution-related health effect, allergic diseases, water and food-borne infectious diseases, food and water scarcity and the long term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects were completely wiped out of the testimony.

Rep. Markey on Wildfire-Climate Connection 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 26 Oct 2007 20:35:00 GMT

Last week, Markey sent this dear colleague letter (forwarded to Hill Heat) on the connection between wildfires and global warming, the subject of a Global Warming Committee hearing next week:

Record-Breaking Forest Fires in Western United State Increasingly Fueled By Global Warming

October 19, 2007

Dear Colleague,

Evidence shows that as a result of global warming, forest fires in our western states are burning more frequently and with greater intensity than we have ever seen before. Last year was the worst fire season in recorded history and this season is already second, with eight million acres burned.

What has brought this change about? A study published in the journal Science in 2006 revealed the frightening conclusion that global warming is contributing to the increased loss of our forests to fire. This publication revealed the impact of global warming, even while controlling for land use and management practices which also effect forest fires.

According to the Science paper, “Wildfires have consumed increasing areas of western United States forests in recent years, and fire-fighting expenditures by federal land-management agencies now regularly exceed US$1 billion/year. Hundreds of homes are burned annually by wildfires, and damages to natural resources are sometimes extreme and irreversible.” [1]

Global Warming’s impact on fires in the West and the threat that an increasing number of wild fires pose will be featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. 60 Minutes will speak with author Tom Swetnam, an author on the 2006 Science paper, on the role global warming has played on the frequency and intensity of these mega-fires. I encourage you watch this program to learn more about this important issue.


Edward J. Markey

Member of Congress

[1] C. Whitlock, Nature 432, 28 (2004).

See also Is Global Warming Causing More, Larger Wildfires? (Running, Science v313. no.5789, pp. 927-928) and Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity (Westerling et al., Science v313 no.5789, pp. 940-943)

Future of Biofuels

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Oct 2007 13:30:00 GMT

  • Adam Gardner – Guster guitarist, singer and founder, Reverb
  • Don Endres – CEO, VeraSun
  • Steve Gatto – CEO, Bioenergy LLC
  • Nathanael Greene – senior policy analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council

Nathanael Greene posts on the hearing:

As I said I would in my last post, I testified yesterday before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming as part of a hearing on biofuels. And Adam Gardner of Guster was sitting there on the witness panel with me. In fact he spoke first and probably the most eloquently.

Adam and his wife started Reverb, a non-profit that helps bands green their tours by helping them use biodiesel in their buses, offsetting carbon emissions, setting up educational eco-villages outside of concerts, and other cool stuff. During his oral testimony, he talked about about how people from band members to students were getting inspired and taking action but also looking to Congress for leadership. I would assume that the transcript of this statement and his written testimony will be available on the Committee web site (link above) soon, I would recommend them to anyone worried about “kids these days” or generally feeling pessimistic.

(If you’re feeling down, don’t read the latest Global Environmental Outlook from UNEP. Here’s a quote from the press release:

It salutes the world’s progress in tackling some relatively straightforward problems, with the environment now much closer to mainstream politics everywhere. But despite these advances, there remain the harder-to-manage issues, the “persistent” problems. Here, GEO-4 says: “There are no major issues raised in Our Common Future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable.”

In addition to Adam's testimony you could also read my recent post on optimism and environmentalism.)

The human health impacts of global warming

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Oct 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Contact Bettina Poirier, Democratic Staff Director at 202-224-8832

  • Julie Louise Gerberding – director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Howard Frumkin – director, National Center for Environmental Health, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
  • Susan R. Cooper – commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health
  • Michael McCally – executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Don Roberts – professor emeritus, The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Archive Webcast

Update: Geberding’s written testimony was censored by the White House; see this post for more.

Solar Decathlon Awards Ceremony

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 19 Oct 2007 18:00:00 GMT

The winner of the Solar Decathlon will be announced at the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the Engineering judging.

The Solar Decathlon competition is being held on the National Mall, Washington D.C., from October 12-20, 2007.

Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States (House briefing)

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 19:00:00 GMT

On Thursday, October 18, 2007, the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) will hold a House briefing on the release of the third in a series of 21 reports to advance climate science research. Coordinated by the U.S Department of Energy (DOE), this Synthesis and Assessment Product report, numbered 4.5 and titled “Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States,” summarizes what is known about potential effects of climate change on energy production and use in the United States.

  • Dr. William J. Brennan, Acting Director of the Climate Change Science Program
  • Dr. Jeffrey S. Amthor, DOE Office of Science, Coordinator of CCSP Report 4.5
  • Dr. Thomas J. Wilbanks, CCSP 4.5 Report Lead Author, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Science parks, focusing on bolstering United States competitiveness

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Oct 2007 18:30:00 GMT

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