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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Marine Protected Areas: An Overview
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are generally defined as areas reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment. This report identifies a number of issues related to establishing MPAs in the United States. It begins by defining the concept and administrative actions taken to provide spatial protection in marine areas. It then considers some of the key issues and potential benefits and costs of designating additional MPAs. It concludes by considering potential areas of congressional interest for the 111th Congress. Existing federal laws related to the use of MPAs are summarized in the Appendix. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29650/
Regulating Coal Combustion Waste Disposal: Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of the current rulemaking for Coal combustion waste (CCW) and relevant background information that applies to that rulemaking. In particular, the report describes the nature of the waste itself and primary methods of managing it; discusses potential risks associated with its mismanagement, particularly as supported by new data EPA has gathered to support the proposed rulemaking; and provides an overview of EPA's current regulatory proposal. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491656/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance
This report provides background information regarding oil spills in U.S. coastal waters and identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup. Based on data between 1973 and 2009, the annual number and volume of oil spills have shown declines- in some cases, dramatic declines. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc820854/
Clean Air Issues in the 111th Congress
This report provides a brief overview on the issue of climate change as well as other Clean Air Act issues of interest to the 111th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461949/
The 2010 Oil Spill: MMS/BOEMRE and NEPA
This report reviews the environmental procedures required following the explosion of an oil well on a tract leased by BP from the federal government. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491563/
Federal Civil and Criminal Penalties Possibly Applicable to Parties Responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010, Congress has given much attention to the compensatory liability provisions of the Oil Pollution Act and, to a lesser extent, those of the Jones Act and the Death on the High Seas Act. However, federal laws possibly relevant to the oil spill also impose civil and criminal money penalties, which may reach dollar amounts in connection with the Gulf spill greater than those for compensatory liability. This report summarizes selected federal civil and criminal penalty provisions that may be found violated in connection with the Gulf spill and related worker fatalities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490934/
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response
This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues.3 The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, though a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed along with issues that may arise in the years after the leak from the deepwater well is capped. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491294/
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations
This report summarizes congressional authorization and appropriations processes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also discusses agency activities under general authorities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462254/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues. Congressional readers with questions about an issue discussed in this report should contact the author or authors of the section discussing that issue. The authors are identified by footnote at the start of each section. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc93831/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491156/
Issues in Green Building and the Federal Response: An Introduction
This report discusses what the concept of green building means, major federal policies and programs relating to green building, and associated issues, including some that may confront the 111th Congress. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462038/
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and the resulting oil spill began a cascade of effects on the coastal areas of the Gulf and on the wealth of species that inhabit those areas. This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues. The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, although a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed, along with issues that may arise as response and recovery transition to restoration of the Gulf. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490915/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc490886/
Environmental Considerations in Federal Procurement: An Overview of the Legal Authorities and Their Implementation
This report discusses issues about the role of environmental considerations in federal procurement. These include: to what extent do agencies consider environmental factors when procuring goods or services? What legal authorities presently require or allow agencies to take environmental factors into account when acquiring goods or services? digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501539/
EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases: Congressional Responses and Options
This report discusses elements of the greenhouse gas (GHG) controversy, providing background on stationary sources of GHG pollution and identifying options Congress has at its disposal to address GHG issues, including: (1) resolutions of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act; (2) freestanding legislation; (3) the use of appropriations bills as a vehicle to influence EPA activity; and (4) amendments to the Clean Air Act, including legislation to establish a new GHG control regime. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491170/
The 2010 Oil Spill: The Minerals Management Service (MMS) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
This report will review environmental procedures after an exploratory oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 people and causing an oil spill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501823/
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA): Liability of Responsible Parties
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) establishes a framework that addresses the liability of responsible parties in connection with the discharge of oil into the navigable waters of the United States, adjoining shorelines, or the exclusive economic zone. Among other provisions, OPA limits certain liabilities of a responsible party in connection with discharges of oil into such areas. This report addresses liability under OPA for removal costs and damages, and the basic procedure for recovering removal costs and damages from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund in the event that the responsible party fails to settle such claims. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491360/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc491552/
Army Corps of Engineers Water Resource Projects: Authorization and Appropriations
This report summarizes congressional authorization and appropriations processes for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It also discusses agency activities under general authorities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc462052/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501961/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress
This report focuses on oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. The first section highlights background issues, including oil spill statistics and potential environmental impacts. The second section discusses the legal framework that governs oil spill prevention and response. The third section examines the threat of future oil spills in coastal waters and whether response personnel are prepared to respond to a major spill. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501883/
International Agreements on Climate Change: Selected Legal Questions
This report provides background information on global climate change negotiations. The report discuses the United Nations framework for convention for climate change, the Kyoto protocol, and the Copenhagen accord. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501505/
Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress
This report provides an overview of Arctic-related issues for Congress, and refers readers to more in-depth CRS reports on specific Arctic-related issues. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc463454/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc501510/
Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for Disaster Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Projects
This report discusses the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 as it applies to projects for which federal funding to recover from or prepare for a disaster has been requested by local, tribal, or state grant applicants. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc505496/
A U.S.-centric Chronology of the International Climate Change Negotiations
The Copenhagen conference in December 2009 achieved only mandates to continue negotiating toward the next Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Mexico City in December 2010. As a background to these proceedings, this document provides a U.S.-centric chronology of the international policy deliberations to address climate change from 1979-2009. Negotiations underway since 2007 have run on two tracks, the Kyoto Protocol the Convention under the Bali Action Plan. Many in the U.S. Congress are concerned with the goals and obligations that a treaty or other form of agreement might embody. For U.S. legislators, additional issues include the compatibility of any international agreement with U.S. domestic policies and laws; the adequacy of appropriations, fiscal measures, and programs to achieve any commitments under the agreement; and the desirable form of the agreement and related requirements, with a view toward potential Senate ratification of the agreement and federal legislation to assure that U.S. commitments are met. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83887/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc505512/
International Forestry Issues in Climate Change Bills: Comparison of Provisions of S. 1733 and H.R. 2454
This report discusses the allowances and emissions reductions from reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627245/
Cars and Climate: What Can EPA Do to Control Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources?
This report discusses the debate surrounding proposed controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Not all parties are in agreement that controls on GHGs are desirable. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627207/
Status of the Copenhagen Climate Change Negotiations
This report discusses the negotiations among United States and 200 other countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) regarding the climate change. Parties agreed to complete the negotiations by the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-15) from December 7-18, 2009, in Copenhagen. However, some nations' leaders have indicated that the Copenhagen outcome is likely to be a political agreement providing a mandate for a later legally binding, comprehensive agreement. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627180/
Cars and Climate: What Can EPA Do to Control Greenhouse Gases from Mobile Sources?
This report discusses the legislation to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to climate change, and the attention that has focused on "cap-and-trade" legislation. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc627216/
Status of the Copenhagen Climate Change Negotiations
This report evaluates the Copenhagen climate talks, including the status of the negotiations on the key issues under the formal negotiating tracks and the provisions of the Copenhagen Accord, and draws implications for the implementation of actions in developing countries. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc626920/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc505372/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc505606/
Methane Capture: Options for Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction
This report discusses legislative alternatives for addressing methane capture, sources of methane, opportunities and challenges for methane capture, and current federal programs that support methane recovery. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc689409/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress
This report reviews the history and trends of oil spills in the United States; identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup; and examines the threats of future oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc689488/
Perchlorate Contamination of Drinking Water: Regulatory Issues and Legislative Actions
This report reviews perchlorate contamination issues and related developments. Perchlorate is the explosive component of solid rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares, and other products. Used heavily by the Department of Defense (DOD) and related industries, perchlorate also occurs naturally and is present in some organic fertilizer. This soluble, persistent compound has been detected in drinking water supplies, especially in California. It also has been found in milk and many foods. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc689496/
Calculation of Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions for the Renewable Fuel Standard
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA, P.L. 110-140), significantly expanded the renewable fuel standard (RFS) established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005, P.L. 109-58). The RFS requires the use of 9.0 billion gallons of renewable fuel in 2008, increasing to 36 billion gallons in 2022. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87141/
Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)
Carbon capture and sequestration (or storage) - known as CCS - has attracted interest as a measure for mitigating global climate change because large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted from fossil fuel use in the United States are potentially available to be captured and stored underground or prevented from reaching the atmosphere. Congressional interest has grown in CCS as part of legislative strategies to address climate change. The large and rapid influx of funding for industrial-scale CCS projects may accelerate development and deployment of CO2 capture technologies. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26253/
Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action
The debate in Congress over whether and how to address possible future climate change is intensifying. Often, the role of the U.S. agriculture sector is invoked in this debate. Agriculture is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Congress is considering a range of climate change policy options, including GHG emission reduction programs that would either mandate or authorize a cap-and-trade program to reduce GHG emissions. This report discusses this issue in detail, i.e., how the agricultural industry affects GHG emissions and efforts currently underway to combat these negative effects, but it does not address the potential effects of global climate change on U.S. agricultural production. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26255/
Estimates of Carbon Mitigation Potential from Agricultural and Forestry Activities
Numerous theoretical and empirical studies estimate the greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential of farm and forestry activities, and suggest that the potential for carbon uptake in agricultural soils and forest lands is much greater than current rates. Following a discussion of the estimated current emissions and carbon sequestration by the agricultural and forestry sectors, this report presents a brief overview of the available estimates from USDA and EPA carbon mitigation studies, and then discusses some of the limitations of the available data and modeling results. This report is organized into four parts, including a brief overview of the agriculture and forestry sectors within the broader climate change debate, as well as various data and information on potential for carbon storage and mitigation from farming and forestry activities. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26136/
Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America: An Overview and Selected Issues
The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is a trilateral initiative that was launched in March 2005 for the purpose of increasing and enhancing security and prosperity in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This initiative promoted communication and cooperation across several key policy areas of mutual interest, such as improving certain sectors of the economy, developing higher health and safety standards, and addressing environmental concerns. This report describes this initiative in brief detail, including summaries of several SPP-related meetings between the three countries' leaders. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26336/
Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard
This report discusses the environmental activities of the U.S. Coast Guard, which fall within the service's program for protection of natural resources, and consist of maritime oil spill prevention, marine debris, and pollution response preparedness. Protection of living marine resources and fisheries also falls in this category, but is not discussed here. Marine environmental protection is one of six "non-homeland security missions" specified in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700590/
Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress
This report provides background information and issues for Congress on the modernization of the Coast Guard's polar icebreaker fleet, which performs a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc505546/
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress
This report reviews the history and trends of oil spills in the United States; identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup; and examines the threats of future oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc26249/
Climate Change Litigation: A Survey
This report focuses on the legal debate surrounding climate change. Though the first court decision related to climate change appeared 19 years ago, such litigation has proliferated in just the past six. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc700681/
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 11th Congress: Conflicting Values and Difficult Choices
This report discusses U.S. policy toward global climate change, which evolved from a "study only" to a more "study and action" orientation in 1992 with ratification of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc795598/
Agriculture Biotechnology: Background and Recent Issues
This report discusses issues regarding the impacts of GE crops on the environment and food safety, and whether GE foods should be specially labeled. Underlying these issues is the question of whether U.S. regulation and oversight of biotechnology—with responsibilities spread primarily among the U.S. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87293/
Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues
This report describes several scientifically emerging animal biotechnologies that are raising a variety of questions concerning risks to humans, animals, and the environment, as well as ethical concerns. The report examines applications of the technologies and discusses major issues that may arise. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87304/
Nanotechnology and Environmental, Health, and Safety: Issues for Consideration
This report identifies the potential environmental, health, and safety opportunities and challenges of nanotechnology; explains the importance of addressing nanotechnology EHS concerns; identifies and discusses nanotechnology EHS issues; and summarizes options for Congressional action, including the nanotechnology EHS-related provisions of selected legislation. The report also includes two appendices. digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc87352/