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The Cutting Edge
Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2009
The Evolution and New Directions in Environmental Auditing and Compliance Management
Environmental auditing started in the late 1970s in response to the wave of high-impact environmental legislation enacted by Congress during that decade. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and other laws spawned complex federal and state regulatory requirements carrying civil penalties of up to $25,000 per day of violation plus criminal penalties and jail time for knowing noncompliance. Companies unable to keep track of a rapidly expanding regulatory landscape were hit with notices of violation, enforcement actions, and citizen suits. They needed a reliable process for identifying the applicable requirements and getting into compliance.
Ridgway M. Hall, Jr.
Green Nanotechnology: Straddling Promise and Uncertainty
Nanotechnology has been called the second Industrial Revolution. Its seemingly limitless potential will continue to inspire innovations in a dizzying array of beneficial applications and briskly transform society. Despite the hope and promise nanotechnology brings, engineered nanoparticles, the tiny engines driving this new transformative technology, also generate a palpable apprehension due to their largely unknown implications on human health and the environment. Enter green nanotechnology, an approach to managing the potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks associated with the manufacture and use of nano-enabled products while fostering their responsible development and application.
Barbara P. Karn and Lynn L. Bergeson
The Clean Water Act on the Cutting Edge: Climate Change and Water-Quality Regulation
On January 16, 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to address the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD’s) December 2007 petition requesting that EPA revise, pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251–1387, its water-quality criteria for marine pH to reflect current knowledge about ocean acidification. Letter from Benjamin H. Grumbles, U.S. EPA, to Miyoko Sakashita, CBD, dated Jan. 16, 2009, at 1, available at www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_acidification/
Robin Kundis Craig
Better Living through Green Chemistry
To paraphrase Plato, necessity is the mother of invention. A prime example is the green chemistry movement embraced by the European Union (EU) and California. green chemistry, as the name implies, is part of the “greening” of corporate practices that has monoliths like Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., touting “earth-friendly” products. It is an approach to product manufacturing that seeks to reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and application of chemical products.
Lee A. DeHihns III, Megan Hey, and C. Max Zygmont
Two Tribes Embrace Green Development Practices for Off-Reservation Projects
The rising demand on our natural resources and greater protection of the environment through legislation and litigation has created a demand for ways to reduce our impacts on the environment. Sustainable or “green” development has begun to gain approval as a legitimate tool for communities to further protect their environment, including Native American tribes.
Michelle Diffenderfer and Julia L. Jennison
Have “Green” U.S. Automobile Drivers Made an Impact on Greenhouse Gases?
In the United States, carbon dioxide (CO
2) from fossil fuel combustion has accounted for nearly 80 percent of global warming potential emissions since 1990 and the transportation activities of conventional petroleum fueled vehicles have accounted for the second largest portion of these emissions. In an effort to reduce CO
2 emissions and increase the use of cleaner energy sources within the United States, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) have been considered as one of the most viable solutions to mitigating the environmental impacts of tailpipe emissions. This article will focus on the transportation sector as related to greenhouse gas emissions and examine the actual and potential environmental impacts of alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles on CO
Jennifer D. Roberts
The Past, Present, and Future of Green Building
In today’s volatile and unstable economy, people across all industries are looking for a way to stimulate the economy or find the next lucrative opportunity. One way to distinguish your law firm or practice, your business or brand, or yourself, is to tap into the benefits of green building. Green building quickly became the wave of the future and is no longer an abstract theory or idea, but a realization that is becoming common throughout the United States and much of the world.
Marc Erpenbeck and Colleen Schiman
Environmental Due Diligence—Counting Carbon
In winter 2006, Natural Resources & Environment published an article we wrote entitled “Transactional Environmental Due Diligence: What Diligence is Due?” Our basic thesis was that parties to transactions involving real estate should consider all pertinent environmental factors and not simply apply the Superfund “all appropriate inquiry” standard prescribed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 40 C.F.R. pt. 312. Since that time, more and more public attention has been focused on climate change and control of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and our society is becoming “carbon constrained.”
Jeff Civins, Mary Mendoza, and Adam Sencenbaugh
Financing and Licensing Nuclear Energy Parks
Growing fears in the United States of the potential adverse effects of climate change have prompted many to consider lower carbon-emitting technologies for power generation. Nuclear power is becoming an attractive alternative because it offers clean, reliable baseload electricity. But solving the nuclear waste issue is a political challenge. Any proposal to increase power generation by building or expanding nuclear power plants must present a safe and politically viable option for managing nuclear waste.
Patricia L. Campbell and Jim Haried