CPR Archive for Yee Huang

Letting Nature Do Its Thing for Our Benefit

by Yee Huang | April 17, 2013

In the decades since Congress and state legislatures passed most of the nation's most significant environmental laws, our knowledge about ecosystems has increased dramatically. We know much more about the “goods and services” that ecosystems provide—more, for example, about the migratory species that sustain agriculture by functioning as pollinators, and more about how healthy ecosystems help to filter and clean our water. But our policymakers haven’t yet taken advantage of much of that new knowledge. As ecologists learn more about the complex and dynamic interactions that produce these valuable services, decisionmakers and advocates should adopt an ecosystem services approach to implementing laws that affect the environment.

Such an approach to environmental protection focuses policy and decisionmaking on restoring and maintaining the natural infrastructure and resources that the public values. It combines scientific assessment tools to understand both our dependence and impacts on ecosystems and public participation to identify the most important services. The approach sets goals for environmental protection and helps direct policymakers and natural resource managers to identify and apply the legal, regulatory, and market-based tools to achieve them.

An ecosystem services approach integrates advances in ecology with the law. It also fosters creative thinking about how to restructure laws and regulatory programs to mimic the connectedness of ecosystem functions. The approach requires performance-based evaluations to measure success or failure of management decisions, and it depends on public participation to prioritize those services that the public values most, thus ...

New CPR White Paper: How Agricultural Secrecy Gives Agribusiness a Federally Funded Free Ride

by Yee Huang | September 14, 2012
Agricultural producers in the United States receive billions of dollars in federal subsidies, crop insurance, conservation payments, and other grants.  Defying fundamental principles of transparency and openness in a democracy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorized to keep secret much of the basic information that farmers provide to qualify for this public funding.  Congress granted this unprecedented loophole in the nation’s sunshine laws by inserting section 1619 into the 2002 Farm Bill and later amending it in the ...

New White Paper: How Should Government Facilitate Climate Change Adaptation Efforts in the Private Sector?

by Yee Huang | July 31, 2012
Today CPR releases a new briefing paper exploring how the government can encourage, facilitate, and even demand actions from the different parts of the private sector to adapt to the changing climate. The paper is based on ideas discussed at a workshop CPR co-sponsored earlier this year at the University of North Carolina School of Law, which brought together academics, non-profit and business representatives, and government officials to wrestle with how government might positively shape the private sector response to ...

New CPR Report Assesses the CAFO and Animal Agriculture Programs in Maryland, Pennsylvania

by Yee Huang | June 05, 2012
Today CPR releases Manure in the Bay: A Report on Industrial Animal Agriculture in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The paper provides a snapshot of the federal Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) permit program under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and how these states are implementing this program.  The report provides recommendations for strengthening these programs to curb pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and provides a brief glimpse at the broader animal agricultural and manure management programs work in these states. The ...

The Cost of Delay: Stormwater Rule Postponed Again

by Yee Huang | December 21, 2011
Whoever accused the EPA of running amok is surely chagrined by the news last week that the agency is behind (again) on another important rule, this one to regulate the stormwater that pollutes many waterbodies across the United States.  Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, told a House Subcommittee last week that the agency would be missing another deadline for proposing the rule. "We're continuing to work on those …  We are behind schedule," she said, according to ...

New CPR Briefing Paper: Maryland Should Update Laws to Better Enforce Environmental Protections

by Yee Huang | October 21, 2011
Maryland has a long-held reputation as a regional and national leader in environmental protection. But in some areas, especially enforcement, that reputation warrants scrutiny, says a CPR briefing paper released today. For example, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) cannot by law assess fees for issuing and administering permits for municipalities for water pollution, despite the many resources required to regulate and monitor the pollution. The state’s penalties for violating the Clean Water Act have remained chronically below the level ...

CPR to Co-Host Forum on Chesapeake Bay Restoration Accountability

by Yee Huang | October 20, 2011
It’s no secret that past efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay have suffered from a lack of accountability. And so as the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay states, and the District of Columbia engage in their current effort to restore the health and water quality of the Bay, getting accountability right is extremely important. This theme is the focus of this year’s Ward Kershaw Forum, which CPR and the UMaryland Carey School of Law will co-host at the law school in ...

New CPR Report Proposes Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation in the Puget Sound

by Yee Huang | June 10, 2011
The scope of climate change impacts is expected to be extraordinary, touching every ecosystem on the planet and affecting human interactions with the natural and built environment. From increased surface and water temperatures to sea level rise and more frequent extreme weather events, climate change promises vast and profound alterations to our world. Indeed, scientists predict continued climate change impacts regardless of any present or future mitigation efforts due to the long-lived nature of greenhouse gases emitted over the last century.  The ...

Making Good Use of Adaptive Management

by Yee Huang | April 12, 2011
Today CPR releases Making Good Use of Adaptive Management, a white paper explaining the basic principles of adaptive management and highlighting best practices for implementing and applying it to natural resources management.  Over the last two decades, natural resource scientists, managers, and policymakers have employed adaptive management of land and natural resources. The approach calls for resource managers to design management actions as structured and iterative scientific experiments. Resource managers monitor the results of a particular experiment and then adjust future management ...

Location, Location, Location: Assisted Migration May be Coming Closer to a Reality as a Response to Climate Change

by Yee Huang | February 01, 2011
a(broad) perspective While discussion of adapting to climate change is finally beginning to take off in the United States, other governments from Bangladesh to the Netherlands have already laid the foundation to develop concrete policies and implement strategies to address the impacts. Last week, a report released by the UK’s Environment Agency specifically identified relocation of coldwater fish as a possible direct response to the effects of climate change. We're going to be hearing a lot more in the coming years about ...

An Environmentally Disastrous Year

by Yee Huang | December 30, 2010
a(broad) perspective In 2010, natural (and unnatural) environmental disasters around the world killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions more, and caused significant air and water pollution as well as human health catastrophes. Insurance giant Swiss Re estimated that these disasters caused an estimated $222 billion in losses. Disasters are overwhelming to begin with, but for countries with limited infrastructure and capacity to respond, these disasters also show that the human rights consequences of an environmental disaster can be severe. Despite the ...

EPA's TMDL for the Chesapeake: One Giant Step Toward a Restored Bay

by Yee Huang | December 29, 2010
Today EPA released the final Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which is a cap or limit on the total amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment that can enter the Bay from the District of Columbia and the six Bay Watershed states: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Bay TMDL culminates years of cooperation between EPA and these Bay jurisdictions in working toward a new plan to restore the Bay, a vital economic, recreational, and aesthetic ...

EPA to Issue Bay TMDL Wednesday, 12/29

by Yee Huang | December 28, 2010
Tomorrow, the Environmental Protection Agency will issue its final Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Chesapeake Bay, setting a pollution cap for the Bay that is comprised of 92 individual caps for each of the tributary segments that flow into the Bay.  The Bay TMDL represents another important milestone in the long-running effort to clean up the Bay, the largest estuary in North America, and return it to health.  Part of EPA’s release will include its response to the ...

The 111th Congress and the Chesapeake Bay

by Yee Huang | December 28, 2010
The 111th Congress saw two attempts to provide legislative impetus to restore the Chesapeake Bay.  Now that the lame duck session has ended, the results are in: The Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Protection Act, S. 1816.  Introduced in October 2009 by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the bill would have reiterated EPA’s authority to establish a Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).  This TMDL, which EPA is promulgating on schedule as required by consent decrees and an Executive Order ...

Maryland Submits Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan; Here's A First Look

by Yee Huang | December 03, 2010
Maryland submitted its final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plan for Chesapeake Bay restoration this afternoon. It's the strongest blueprint of any of the states, and if implemented and funded sufficiently would allow Maryland to achieve its needed share of pollutant reductions. Maryland has pledged to implement, by 2017, the pollutant controls necessary to achieve 70% of its needed reductions, and to an accelerated timeline by implementing all necessary pollutant controls by 2020. The plan has the most promise of any ...

Double Duty: Will the Montreal Protocol Some Day be Used to Combat Climate Change?

by Yee Huang | December 02, 2010
a(broad) perspective In 1974, atmospheric scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were causing the alarming depletion of the protective ozone layer that shields all life on Earth from the harmful ultra-violet radiation from the sun. These CFCs were present as propellants in aerosol cans and also used as refrigerants. The global scientific consensus and the severity of ozone depletion motivated the international community to establish the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol), one of the most successful international ...

Most Chesapeake Bay Watershed States Submit Cleanup Plans; A First Look at Virginia's

by Yee Huang | November 30, 2010
Yesterday was the deadline for Bay states and the District of Columbia to submit their final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans (WIP). These WIPs are roadmaps that describe how Bay jurisdictions will meet their pollutant reduction obligations under the Bay TMDL. Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia submitted their plans by the deadline, while Maryland expects to submit in the coming days. New York, which has taken a position essentially in opposition to the Bay TMDL, has not said ...

CPR Submits Comments to States on Chesapeake Bay Restoration Plans

by Yee Huang | November 04, 2010
Today CPR President Rena Steinzor and I submitted comments to EPA and each Chesapeake Bay Watershed jurisdiction regarding their draft Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans. The states, we find, need to improve their plans significantly. After more than 20 years of haplessly stumbling toward restoration, often in fits and starts, EPA and the Bay jurisdictions—Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia—have finally agreed on a final destination: the Bay TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load). ...

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