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2016 Democratic Party Platform: Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice

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By Allison Torrence

 Last week, we examined the key environmental issues raised in the 2016 Republican platform. Now that the political focus has shifted from Cleveland to Philadelphia, where Democrats are holding their convention, we will examine what the Democratic Party has to say about its environmental priorities in the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. One of the Democratic Party platform’s 13 main sections is entitled “Combat Climate Change, Build a Clean Energy Economy, and Secure Environmental Justice.” Environmental issues are also raised in the section titled “Confront Global Threats”, which discusses “Global Climate Leadership.”

In the platform’s preamble, the Democrats state that:

Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.

Other key positions from the Democratic environmental platform include: 

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2016 Republican Platform – A Focus on American Natural Resources

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By Allison Torrence

On Monday, Republicans gathered in Cleveland to kick off the Republican National Convention and adopt the official 2016 platform of the Republican Party. One of the platform’s six main sections is titled “American Natural Resources: Agriculture, Energy, and the Environment.” Republicans summarize their environmental platform by stating:

“We firmly believe environmental problems are best solved by giving incentives for human ingenuity and the development of new technologies, not through top-down, command-and-control regulations that stifle economic growth and cost thousands of jobs.”

Key positions from the Republican environmental platform include: 

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New Focus on Health and Safety of Infill Associated With Synthetic Turf Fields

SirosBy Steven M. Siros

NTPThe National Toxicology Program (“NTP”) recently announced that it intends to join the crowded playing field (pun intended) of state, federal, and international agencies that are evaluating the potential human health risks associated with synthetic turf fields. Synthetic turf fields have been the subject of ongoing assessment by U.S. EPA, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and the European Union’s chemicals agency. However, the NTP intends to focus specifically on the tire crumb rubber used in those turf fields and to conduct short-term in vivo and in vitro toxicology studies on the crumb rubber. 

As more schools and other public facilities install synthetic turf fields, the potential health effects of the infill is an issue that is attracting increased attention. The NTP believes that its proposed study will help to fill what it views to be an important data gap. Although existing health study have not identified an elevated health risk from playing on artificial turf fields, these studies have generally focused on the potential health effects of exposure to lead other materials released from the artificial grass blades and/or exposure to possible emissions associated with the turf field in its entirety.   NTP and U.S. EPA have noted that there are limited studies on the effects of exposure to the tire crumb materials specifically which will be the focus of the NTP study.     

Please click here to go the NTP press release concerning its study.

Jenner & Block CLE Webinar: "Climate Change Law at the Close of the Obama Administration: Understanding the Past and Implications for the Future"

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

Jenner & Block Partner Gabrielle Sigel will discuss the development of climate change law under the Obama Administration and how that law may affect future efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. She will provide a framework for understanding some of the most complex and dynamic legal decisions regarding administrative and environmental law since the Clean Air Act was enacted. Titled “Climate Change Law at the Close of the Obama Administration: Understanding the Past and Implications for the Future,” this CLE webinar will be held from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm on May 12, 2016, at the firm’s Chicago office, 353 N. Clark Street.

Ms. Sigel is co-chair of the firm’s Climate and Clean Technology Law Practice and a founding member of the firm’s Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety Law Practice. She publishes extensively and is a frequent speaker on environmental law, climate change, and workplace health and safety issues.

Please click here to RSVP for attend the program in person or via a webinar.

Climate Action Summit Brings Together Climate Leaders in Wake of Paris Agreement Signing

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By Allison Torrence

Approximately 700 participants, including leaders from government, business, finance, academia, philanthropy and civil society, will meet in Washington, DC on May 5-6, to attend the Climate Action 2016 Summit. Seven organizations have come together to jointly co-host the summit, providing this diverse group with the information, connections and tools they need to lead effective implementation in a new climate regime.

The co-hosts of the Summit are:

  • E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group
  • Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change; Founding Partner, Compact of Mayors
  • Naoko Ishii, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility
  • Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Peter Bakker, Chief Executive Officer, World Business Council on Sustainable Development
  • Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business
  • Wallace Loh, President, University of Maryland

The goal of the Summit is to strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to climate implementation. The summit will address how to deliver on climate commitments and embed the transformation agenda across the globe in government, key sectors and among the general population. At the same time, the summit will focus on near-term implementation actions and long-term implementation needs. These will focus on City and Sub-national implementation; Transport; Land-use; Energy; Resilience/Adaptation; and Analysis and Tools to Support Decision Making.

More information about Climate Action 2016 is available here.

More Than 150 Countries to Sign the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day

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By Allison Torrence

EDThe United Nations has announced that up to 155 countries, including the United States, are planning to sign the Paris Climate Agreement at the Ceremony for Opening Signature, on Earth Day, April 22, 2016. The ceremony will take place at UN headquarters in New York. With over 150 world leaders set to sign the Paris Climate Agreement, the signing is expected to be the largest single signing of an international agreement in world history.

For more information about the signing ceremony and the Paris Climate Agreement, visit the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website.

What is Your Global Footprint?

SirosBy Steven M. SirosEarth Day 2016 J&B and earthday-org

As part of our ongoing focus on Earth Day 2016, I found an interesting tool that allows one to measure one’s global footprint. The Earth Day Network has put together a Ecological Footprint Calculator that allows one to input specific parameters and determine how much of an impact each one of us has on the planet as a whole.  At least for me, the results were somewhat sobering. Please click here  to use the calculator to measure your impact.

Earth Day: Climate Change Attitudes and Perceptions

GraysonBy E. Lynn Grayson

Earth Day 2016 J&B and earthday-orgOne of the most significant environmental and energy policy issues today is climate change. One of the biggest events of the past year in environmental and energy policy was the Paris COP21 talks. More countries than ever have pledged to significant carbon cuts, yet in many people’s views, those pledges fall short of what a lot of scientists say is necessary. A recent interview of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Kimberly Strassel, a member of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board, highlights some of the challenges.

The WSJ found that attitudes toward climate change differ markedly by region of the world and by political affiliation:

WSJ

The U.S. has a plan to reduce emissions by 28% but the proposal is the subject of ongoing litigation. In his interview, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the impact internationally if the U.S. cannot obtain approval to meet its commitments to reduce GHG. President Obama has said that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism and when asked if he agreed, the Secretary-General noted that “….longer term, it is a much, much more serious issue....concluding that climate change does not respect any borders. It affects a whole humanity, it affects our planet Earth.”

Earth Day 2016 Special Series: April 18–22, 2016

SirosBy Steven M. Siros

Earth Day 2016 J&B and earthday-org
In celebration of Earth Day 2016, the Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog will host a special campaign April 18-22 featuring unique news and stories about Earth Day events and activities taking place around the world, in addition to important developments in environmental law. As environmental lawyers, this is a good day for us to remember the contributions our clients and friends make to improving the environment in the communities where we live and work.

The theme for Earth Day 2016 is Trees for Earth.  In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, planting trees is the first of five major goals that will highlighted in each of the next five years.   The Earth Day Network challenges the world to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020. 

You are invited to follow and participate in our Earth Day special series next week at http://environblog.jenner.com/ and follow us on Twitter @JennerBlockEHS.

If you have any questions about our Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog or this special series, please feel free to contact me at ssiros@jenner.com or 312-923-2717.

Can A Smartphone Be Used To Verify Compliance With My Air Permit—Surprisingly, the Answer Soon May Be Yes—and Other New Enforcement Initiatives

EPA Next Gen Smart Phone CitiSense Sensor

SirosBy Steven M. Siros

In an effort to capitalize on what U.S. EPA characterizes as the successful integration of its Next Generation Compliance strategy into its enforcement arsenal, U.S. EPA recently confirmed that it intends to incorporate Next Generation Compliance into future environmental settlements. For those unfamiliar with the strategy, U.S. EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy is intended to achieve a higher rate of compliance and reduce pollution through the use of advanced monitoring and information technologies. For example, through the use of Electronic Discharge Monitoring Reports to monitor compliance with Clean Water Act NPDES permits, U.S. EPA is able to more readily identify and prosecute permit violations. Moreover, since much of this information is then publicly available, environmental organizations and citizen groups are more readily able to identify violators, which could result in an increased frequency of citizen suits and/or increased pressure being brought to bear on the regulators to enforce against repeated violators. 

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