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Business Voice for the Environment
April 30, 2009
Tuesday, June 26, 2018 (5:30 PM - 7:30 PM Mountain)
EcoSalon read more >

- Celebrating 20 years
- Daily Green's lifetime achievement award
- Identifying habitat-compatible sites
- Green Week reaches extensive fanbase
- Populations important to ecology, tourism
- Coal mines must clean up act
- Opportunity and Risk for U.S. Climate Policy
- First of its kind in the nation
- Rocky Mountains update
- Members go to state house
- Screening of first ocean acidification documentary
- Northern California focus meetings
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  On the way to meet Nancy Sutley (from left): E2 member Joel Serface; NRDC Affiliate Advocacy Coordinator Richie Ackerman; E2 members John Cheney, Barry Dicker, John Harper; E2 Climate Campaign Director Diane Doucette; and E2 member Berl Hartman. (Click on photo for larger version.)
We have witnessed a true sea change in the nation’s capital. President Obama is committed to moving the country toward a clean energy future as one of his top three priorities, and the No. 1 agenda item in Congress is to reverse the economic crisis that erupted last fall. In this context, the 2009 E2 delegation of 18 members from around the country went to Washington on April 21 and 22 prepared to promote a federal cap on carbon emissions and complementary energy and transportation polices as drivers of economic growth and job creation. Our message - that a new, robust, low-carbon energy economy will emerge with the right policies in place - was highly relevant to this Congress, which is urgently committed to finding solutions to the recession and putting Americans back to work. While many legislators are now more open than ever before to considering the potential of a carbon cap and related energy policies as vehicles for economic recovery, there remains a significant contingent who argues that the nation cannot "afford" this change. The E2 delegation was ideally qualified to address these issues with authority, and to provide real-world evidence of the economic opportunities under a carbon cap.

The State of Play in Washington

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Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) at center with E2 members (from left) Bob Epstein, Chris Arndt, David Noble, Robert Keith, John Cheney and Steve Cowell. (Click on photo for larger version.)  
We arrived at a moment of intense activity on climate and energy policy in Congress and the Administration. The House Energy and Commerce Committee had just released its draft climate legislation, the American Clean Energy and Security Act authored by Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA). The Committee was holding hearings throughout the week as part of their timetable to pass the bill out of committee by Memorial Day. Though they have not yet written a climate bill, several Senate committees were also holding hearings on climate policy, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and even the Senate Intelligence Committee. The Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), are both planning to introduce policies addressing carbon emissions and the nation’s energy portfolio.

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  Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality: "It was a pleasure meeting with E2 during their recent visit to Washington. Our economic and environmental interests should always be closely aligned so I commend E2’s business leaders for their work. President Obama’s environmental and energy policies are driven by a fundamental principal that a strong, sustainable economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand."
Perhaps the most significant development was the long-anticipated "endangerment finding" by the Environmental Protection Agency , which establishes under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution and therefore endanger public health and welfare.

The significance of the EPA’s endangerment finding is huge, representing the Administration’s "big stick" to promote President Obama’s agenda to transition the country to a low-carbon energy economy. While a number of legislators (and industry lobbies) have spent the last few years hoping to forestall meaningful action on carbon policy, the specter of having the EPA regulate economy-wide carbon emissions, as it is authorized to do, has changed the attitude of those on the Hill from one of denial to one of forced engagement. Members of Congress, no matter how far apart on the topic of climate change they may be, are unified on one theme: they would rather work on a national carbon policy through legislation than have the EPA impose regulation upon them.

It was in this highly charged atmosphere that our E2 delegation conducted meetings with members of Congress, the Administration and also the press.

Our Delegation

E2 members on the 2009 team are entrepreneurs and investors, all of whom offered significant first-hand testimony about the flow of capital, innovation and economic growth that will result from a nation-wide cap on global warming emissions. Collectively, these delegates are growing businesses and creating jobs in 39 states. The geographic and professional diversity of our team was a significant factor in helping us to get meetings with legislators from all regions of the country, including those from agricultural, manufacturing and coal states.

Policy Ping-pong on Carbon Legislation

"I probably learned as much from my E2 colleagues on the tour as I did from the discussions with the House, Senate, DOE, CEQ and DOL offices. The debate in DC has moved from ’Do we need to do this?’ to ’How do we do this in an economically positive way’ and ’How do we sell this to our constituents?’"  
Tim Connor (Boulder, CO)  
Our strategy on Capitol Hill was to meet with "swing" legislators, those who have not yet declared themselves to be either in favor of nor strongly opposed to carbon and related energy policy. Many of these key legislators are engaging in serious negotiations on carbon policy for the first time, and their votes will determine the outcome of the debate. A striking difference from our 2008 trip was the change in leadership roles on this issue between the two chambers. Last year it was the Senate that introduced the first-ever comprehensive carbon bill, the Climate Stewardship Act sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (D-VA), while the House failed to produce a companion bill. This year, under the emphatic leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Waxman, and Congressman Markey, the House is leading the way on climate issues by introducing the draft American Clean Energy and Security Act. However, the Senate is now more scattered on the issue than before, with no clear protocol or schedule for a carbon bill and a number of prior supporters of the Lieberman-Warner bill now voicing reservations about the economic impact of carbon policy, and cap-and-trade specifically.

Our Hill Meetings and What We Learned

Including briefings we were invited to do for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, we met with the following 68 offices:

Steven Chu (staff) Administration
Hilda L. Solis (staff) Administration
Nancy Sutley Administration
Brian Baird (D - WA) House
John Barrow (D - GA) (staff) House
Mary Bono Mack (R - CA) (staff) House
G.K. Butterfield (D - NC) (staff) House
Lois Capps (D - CA) House
Susan A. Davis (D - CA) (staff) House
Diana DeGette (D - CO) (staff) House
Mike Doyle (D - PA) (staff) House
Donna Edwards (D - MD) (staff) House
Gene Green (D - TX) House
Deborah Halvorson (D - IL) House
Mazie K. Hirono (D - HI) (staff) House
Rush Holt (D - NJ) House
Steny H. Hoyer (D - MD) (staff) House
Jay Inslee (D - WA) House
Dennis J. Kucinich (D - OH) (staff) House
Steven C. LaTourette (R - OH) (staff) House
Doris Matsui (D - CA) (staff) House
James P. McGovern (D - MA) (staff) House
Michael McMahon (D - NY) (staff) House
Jerry McNerney (D - CA) House
Charlie Melancon (D - LA) (staff) House
John Mica (R - FL) (staff) House
James L. Oberstar (D - MN) (staff) House
Ed Perlmutter (D - CO) (staff) House
Chellie Pingree (D - ME) (staff) House
Mike Ross (D - AR) (staff) House
Zack Space (D - OH) (staff) House
Fortney "Pete" Stark (D - CA) (staff) House
Betty S. Sutton (D - OH) (staff) House
Paul Tonko (D - NY) House
Fred Upton (R - MI) (staff) House
Chris Van Hollen (D - MD) (staff) House
Max Baucus (D - MT) (staff) Senate
Evan Bayh (D - IN) (staff) Senate
Mark Begich (D - AK) Senate
Jeff Bingaman (D - NM) (staff) Senate
Barbara Boxer (D - CA) (staff) Senate
Sherrod Brown (D - OH) Senate
Sam Brownback (R - KS) (staff) Senate
Maria Cantwell (D - WA) Senate
Benjamin L. Cardin (D - MD) (staff) Senate
Kent Conrad (D - ND) Senate
Byron L. Dorgan (D - ND) Senate
Russell Feingold (D - WI) (staff) Senate
Kirsten Gillibrand (D - NY) (staff) Senate
Kay Hagan (D - NC) Senate
Tom Harkin (D - IA) (staff) Senate
Tim Johnson (D - SD) (staff) Senate
Amy Klobuchar (D - MN) (staff) Senate
Carl Levin (D - MI) (staff) Senate
Blanche Lincoln (D - AR) (staff) Senate
Claire C. McCaskill (D - MO) (staff) Senate
Lisa Murkowski (R - AK) (staff) Senate
Ben Nelson (D - NE) (staff) Senate
John D. Rockefeller IV (D - WV) (staff) Senate
Jeanne Shaheen (D - NH) (staff) Senate
Arlen Specter (R - PA) (staff) Senate
Debbie A. Stabenow (D - MI) (staff) Senate
Jon Tester (D - MT) Senate
Mark Udall (D - CO) (staff) Senate
Tom Udall (D - NM) (staff) Senate
John W. Warner (R - VA) (staff) Senate
James Webb (D - VA) (staff) Senate
Ron Wyden (D - OR) Senate

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  E2 members briefing the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. From left: Nicole Lederer, Steve Cowell, Jack Oswald, Dan Goldman, Marc Porat, Paul Zorner and Nancy Floyd. (Click on photo for larger version.)
The recurring themes in these meetings included:
  • A concern that no one region of the country be disproportionally impacted by carbon policy,
  • A desire to better understand the opportunities for individual states and districts to attract new businesses under a carbon cap,
  • A concern that consumers be protected from rising electricity prices resulting from a cap,
  • A concern that carbon-intensive industries should not be placed at a disadvantage in global trade with countries that do not have carbon restrictions, and
  • The need for investment in and development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for coal-fired electric generation
All of these issues will have to be addressed before a meaningful carbon policy can be passed in Congress.

The Administration Seeks Support for Carbon Policy from the Business Community

"The opportunity to persuasively make a case from the business perspective - supported by clear facts - of the need for carbon legislation was a tremendous and unique endeavor, and I think we dramatically moved the ball forward in this regard. Our ability to engage with members and staff as business professionals was clearly appreciated by those with whom we met."  
Dan Goldman (Newton, MA)  
Our delegation also met with Administration officials to promote E2 as a resource for business support for the President’s agenda to promote a new energy economy. We met with the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), as well as with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

At DOE, Senior Advisor Matt Rogers and Renewable Energy Grants Advisor Sanjay Wagle asked for help identifying qualified experts to assist with the allocation of stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act via the grant review process. DOL Senior Advisor Oscar Ramirez was very interested in our message regarding clean energy jobs, especially since it was delivered by those who are creating many of those jobs right now. In the White House, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the CEQ, offered to deliver a message from E2 to President Obama. Our suggestions included that the President should reach out to utilities and their regulators in Southern and Midwestern states about the benefits of strong carbon legislation and renewable energy standards to their regions, and that stable funding sources should be provided to help new low-carbon technologies expand from the demonstration phase to full deployment and plant construction.

The Press Meets with E2

  "There was excellent targeting of swing-state members, so that in virtually every meeting our members were actually influencing votes. We felt that our meetings really could impact the votes of genuinely undecided members - who wanted to do the right thing but needed the arguments in their states to do so."
  Berl Hartman (Cambridge, MA)
Thanks to the efforts of NRDC’s Washington Communications team, E2 team members were able to meet with reporters from six major news sources: The Washington Post; Reuters; NPR; McClatchy; The Wall Street Journal; and Dow Jones.

As a result of this and other media interactions, E2 members appeared in several publications during the timeframe of our Washington visit:
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From left: E2 members Jack Oswald, Barry Dicker, Tim Connor, Nicole Lederer and Marc Porat. (Click on photo for larger version.)  

The recession is the elephant in every meeting room in Washington , DC . Every policy under discussion is being evaluated first and foremost for its ability to grow the economy and create jobs. In this sense, though the economic downturn is providing our opponents with the opportunity to argue that the nation cannot "afford" a change in our energy profile, it is also providing advocates of a low-carbon energy economy with a singular opportunity. The fact is the E2 message appears to be the only real economic growth story in town right now - creating new companies and hiring people in every region of the country, even in this recession and in the face of policy uncertainty. Our delegates spoke compellingly about the enormous economic engine that a price on carbon emissions will create and the growth and jobs that will result.

Nevertheless, there are real concerns about how the transition to a low-carbon energy economy will impact consumers in the short term, how workers will transition from carbon-intensive industries and how certain regions of the country will take part in a new low-carbon economy. Federal legislators voiced a need for more specific state- and district-level information about the opportunities for their constituents. At this point, we risk a chicken-and-egg dynamic - legislators may be reluctant to enact carbon policy without advance proof of job creation and a "soft landing," but without the federal policies in place and a clear market signal on carbon, an American low-carbon technology sector may lack the power to achieve lift-off.

  "This year’s trip was the most organized, most supported and widely received of any trip I’ve taken. I truly bask in the knowledge, passion and success of my fellow delegates. I do think we bring a special voice to the Hill."
  Nancy Floyd (Portland, OR)
E2 will remain very active on these issues in the coming months. We thank the 18 member volunteers who formed the 2009 E2 DC delegation for their time and efforts, and the excellent NRDC DC staff for their strategic guidance and support.

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On April 23 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) overwhelmingly approved the nation’s first Low Carbon Fuel Standard that will reduce carbon pollution and provide cleaner air for Californians (see E2’s support letter). The new standard will cover emissions from “well to wheels," meaning pollution must be accounted for at all stages of fuel production – extracting, growing or refining. It is expected to give Californians new choices for low carbon fuels, such as advanced biofuels and electricity for plug-in hybrids. Already 14 other states are poised to follow California’s lead, representing roughly 40 percent of the U.S.

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E2 Rocky Mountains sent two action alerts this month asking members to call Colorado State House Representatives to urge the passing of two bills:
  • HB 1126 (Encourage Solar Thermal Installations) allows local governments to provide the same incentives for solar thermal installations as may now be provided for solar electric installations. The bill adds a corresponding exemption from state sales and use tax. As of the writing of this newsletter, the bill has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee for review.

  • HB 1323 (Coop Electric Association Energy Efficiency Program) directs cooperative electric associations serving 100,000 or more customers to engage in conservation and energy efficiency programs and to save an amount of electricity equal to 2% of 2008 sales by 2012, 5% of 2008 sales by 2015, and 10% of 2008 sales by 2020, which savings are a result of conservation and energy efficiency programs implemented starting in 2009. The bill requires periodic reports from the utilities to the governor’s energy office. The bill also specifies that the act does not extend the authority of the public utilities commission. As of the writing of this newsletter, the bill is stuck on the House floor.
Chapter Leader Andrew Currie and a team of E2 members expect to meet with staff members in U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s office in early May. If you are an E2 member and are interested in attending this meeting to represent E2 and the business voice, please email us at E2RockyMountains@gmail.com.

E2 Rox will host a social networking event for E2 members on May 14. With close to 20 new members in recent months, this will be a great opportunity to meet the new faces of E2 Rox and network with your fellow members. Invitations for this event have been emailed.

As always, if you have questions, please contact us at E2RockyMountains@gmail.com or 303-902-4525.

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According to the Boston Globe, an internal transit authority budget document predicted that the “MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) would halt all evening and weekend commuter rail service, eliminate six Green Line stops, discontinue lightly used bus routes, and lay off 805 employees if the agency does not get legislative help with its $160 million deficit.” On March 26, against this backdrop, E2 members Chris Kaneb, Tedd Saunders, Jonathan Meltzer and Berl Hartman met with Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Chair of the Massachusetts Senate Environment Committee, and Maggie Atanasov, Legislative Assistant to Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo.

Our message was clear: Good public transit is essential to the economic health of the Commonwealth and the fairest, most equitable way to close the funding gap is via a substantial increase in the gas tax.

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Click image for larger version  
Chris Kaneb, a commercial real estate developer, emphasized that public transit is key to the state’s economic survival. Berl Hartman discussed the huge debt facing the state and showed the graph at left (“Transportation Finance in Massachusetts: An Unsustainable System”; findings of the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission; March 28, 2007) demonstrating that Massachusetts faces by far the largest transit debt of any state. Jonathan Meltzer pointed to the increase in the value of business property based on availability of public transit, citing the 34 percent increase in the value of Somerville’s Davis Square business property compared to rest of Somerville since the MBTA Red Line extended its service there. Tedd Saunders emphasized the importance of good transit options for the leisure and hotel business.

Senator Petruccelli encouraged E2 to continue the dialogue and reach out to other members of the House and Senate.

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On April 16, NRDC and E2 members in New York City attended a special screening of “A Sea Change: Imagine a World Without Fish,” the first documentary about ocean acidification, one of the most devastating, yet often hidden, impacts of global climate change. Director Barbara Ettinger, along with her husband and the film’s co-producer and protagonist Sven Huseby, were on hand to share their experience and answer questions. NRDC’s Sarah Chasis, Ocean Initiative Director, and Lisa Suratoni, Senior Scientist, discussed how combating acidification requires reducing carbon dioxide emissions and improving the health of the oceans. The same strategies needed to fight global warming on land can also help in the seas. Creating marine protected areas and stopping destructive fishing practices would increase the resiliency of marine ecosystems and help them withstand acidification. Ultimately, though, they said reducing the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed into the oceans may be the only way to halt acidification. NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner also briefed guests on the status of the hotly debated climate legislation in Congress, on which NRDC experts testified before Congress the week of April 20.

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On April 10, E2 Norcal members gathered in Palo Alto and San Francisco for focus meetings to discuss "Making Carbon Policy a Reality - Challenges to Overcome on the Path to Carbon Trading." NRDC’s Felicia Marcus, Western Regional Director, and Kristin Grenfell, Legal Director for Western Energy and Climate Projects, laid out the political landscape in both California and Washington, DC, set the context for how environmental policy will play out, and fielded questions about the nuances of cap-and-trade and the carbon tax debate.

Felicia addressed the practical and political challenges of getting a robust energy policy in place, referencing the political "ego-system" that E2 and NRDC have to work around. She also described the debate around allocations, auctions vs. free market, the complexity of the energy issues rolling through Congress, and what current economic uncertainty and fear means for carbon policy. "The U.S. public doesn’t trust ’trading’ or ’traders’ right now and this is a key issue that we will have to address." However, Felicia also felt the recent McKinsey Report findings on Greenhouse Gas Emissions could potentially "change the world" by communicating the results of energy efficiency solutions and the relatively low cost to the economy.

Kristin gave a very compelling overview of "cap-and-invest" vs. a carbon tax, and why the former is preferable: "A carbon tax is volatile, as it could change with every election, whereas with cap-and-invest, businesses can pick a trajectory, so it is better for business, and better for business planning." Kristin also talked about the strengths and weaknesses of the Waxman-Markey draft climate bill and how energy efficiency and decoupling incentives are working in California.

E2 thanks Bain & Company for their continued generosity in hosting our Palo Alto meetings; thanks also to Felicia and Kristin for spending a day with E2 members and providing an informative and stimulating set of focus meetings.

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  From left : NRDC Southern California Trustees Robert Redford, Laurie David, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jill Tate Higgins, Peter Morton, Elizabeth Wiatt and Alan Horn. Photo credit: Alex Berliner © Berliner Studio/BEImages
On April 25, NRDC celebrated its 20th anniversary in Southern California with a star-studded celebration at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. NRDC supporters from the business, entertainment, and philanthropic community attended, helping us raise over $2 million. Chaired by Colleen and Bradley Bell, Dayna and Steven Bochco, and Kelly and Ron Meyer the evening was a fun-filled celebration honoring NRDC’s Southern California Trustees: Laurie David, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jill Tate Higgins, Alan Horn, Peter Morton, Robert Redford and Elizabeth Wiatt.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus was emcee and highlighted NRDC’s many accomplishments in Southern California over the last 20 years. The evening included a special performance by Grammy Award-winning band Maroon 5, and culminated with an after-party featuring special guest DJ Rosanna Arquette.

Our special thanks to the many E2 members whose generous support helped make this fantastic event possible. To view photos from the benefit, please click here.

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NRDC President Frances Beinecke was the recipient this month of The Daily Green’s “Heart of Green Lifetime Achievement Award” for 2009, an honor recognizing her three successful decades at NRDC working to protect the planet. The announcement from the popular digital publication includes a profile of Frances’ career, starting with her first internship with NRDC in the Catskill Mountains, and her pioneering innovation in helping NRDC, and the environmental movement as a whole, reach the levels it has today. Congratulations, Frances!

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A new online mapping tool created jointly by NRDC and The National Audubon Society will provide industry, conservationists and policy-makers a much-needed guide in the effort to move forward with innovative renewable energy development while protecting the environment. With support from Google.org’s Geo Challenge Grants, new maps in Google Earth of 13 Western states can help identify land that is both legally open to development and optimal to utilize from an environmental standpoint. It takes into consideration critical habitat that might be adversely affected by the building and presence of infrastructure for energy development, such as wind turbines. As the U.S. seeks to tap into the immense potential for domestic green energy, these new tools will greatly help streamline the siting process. Learn more about this project.

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In partnership with NRDC, the National Basketball Association (NBA) celebrated its first-ever Green Week 2009 from April 2 through April 10, spreading awareness and generating funding for environmental protection through special on-court apparel, community service projects, the launch of a new webpage and many more initiatives across the country. The highly-publicized event was kicked off with the launch of a PSA featuring NRDC Trustee Robert Redford and helped highlight ways the league is committed to reducing its energy use and waste production, and the ease and importance of incorporating green habits in daily life. NRDC’s Allen Hershkowitz, Darby Hoover, Coretta Anderson and Jessica Esposito spearheaded this exciting partnership.

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This month NRDC and a coalition of conservation groups announced a legal challenge to the recent delisting of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the Endangered Species list. The Department of the Interior will now have to defend its decision to allow killings of wolves in Montana and Idaho, despite science that shows the need for a national wolf recovery plan recognizing the need for large populations of wolves capable of moving across state borders. The ecological benefits of improved wolf populations, plus the economic benefits of the related increase in tourism, have been highly evident in the region since the wolves first starting making a comeback, but the renewed vulnerability due to proposed hunts threatens to undo the hard-fought achievements (see more information). NRDC’s Louisa Wilcox, Andrew Wetzler and Sylvia Fallon have all been instrumental on this issue.

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A federal court decided March 31 to stop the dumping of surface coal mining waste into U.S. waters, following a lawsuit brought by NRDC, Appalachian Center for the Economy & the Environment, and Public Justice. The Army Corps of Engineers had been allowing waste material from surface coal mining, including mountaintop removal, to be dumped into streams and other bodies of water. The court found that the Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by deciding not to prepare environmental impact statements for the discarding of waste. Furthermore, the Corps assumed - without justification - that the detrimental effects of the waste were adequately offset through "mitigation" measures, such as building man-made drainage channels to replace the destroyed natural streams. John Devine, Senior Attorney for NRDC, was instrumental in this victory.

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