Natural resources (201 - 250 of 495 items)
Wildland Fires: Better Information Needed on Effectiveness of Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Treatments
GAO-03-430: Published: Apr 4, 2003. Publicly Released: May 7, 2003.
Wildfires burn millions of acres annually. Most burnt land can recover naturally, but a small percentage needs short-term emergency treatment to stabilize burnt land that threatens public safety, property, or ecosystems or longer-term treatments to rehabilitate land unlikely to recover naturally. The Department of the Interior (Interior) and the Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Forest Service-...
Environmental Contamination: DOD Has Taken Steps to Improve Cleanup Coordination at Former Defense Sites but Clearer Guidance Is Needed to Ensure Consistency
GAO-03-146: Published: Mar 28, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 28, 2003.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is in charge of addressing cleanup at the more than 9,000 U.S. properties that were formerly owned or controlled by the Department of Defense (DOD) and have been identified as potentially eligible for environmental cleanup. The Corps has determined that more than 4,000 of these properties have no hazards that require further Corps study or cleanup action. H...
South Florida Restoration: Task Force Needs to Improve Science Coordination to Increase the Likelihood of Success
GAO-03-345: Published: Mar 18, 2003. Publicly Released: Mar 26, 2003.
Restoration of the South Florida ecosystem is a significant federal and state priority, requiring the development and use of extensive scientific information. GAO was asked to report on the funds spent on scientific activities for restoration, the gaps that exist in scientific information, and the extent to which scientific activities are being coordinated.From fiscal years 1993 through 2002, fede...
Environmental Protection: Recommendations for Improving the Underground Storage Tank Program
GAO-03-529T: Published: Mar 5, 2003. Publicly Released: Mar 5, 2003.
Nationwide, underground storage tanks (UST) containing petroleum and other hazardous substances are leaking, thereby contaminating the soil and water, and posing health risks. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which implements the UST program with the states, required tank owners to install leak detection and prevention equipment by the end of 1993 and 1998 respectively. The Congress aske...
Water Quality: Improved EPA Guidance and Support Can Help States Develop Standards That Better Target Cleanup Efforts
GAO-03-308: Published: Jan 30, 2003. Publicly Released: Feb 13, 2003.
Water quality standards are composed of designated uses and criteria. These standards are critical in making accurate, scientifically based determinations about which of the nation's waters are in need of cleanup. To assess EPA and states' actions to improve standards, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment asked GAO to determine the extent to which (1) states are chan...
National Park Service: Opportunities to Improve the Administration of the Alternative Transportation Program
GAO-03-166R: Published: Nov 15, 2002. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 2002.
In light of the increasing significance and potential costs of dealing with transportation in the national park system, we reviewed the Park Service's administration of the Alternative Transportation Program. Specifically, we are reporting on the Park Service's processes for (1) ensuring that alternative transportation projects are needed and cost-effective, and (2) evaluating the performance of t...
Environmental Contamination: Corps Needs to Reassess Its Determinations That Many Former Defense Sites Do Not Need Cleanup
GAO-02-658: Published: Aug 23, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 23, 2002.
The Department of Defense (DOD) estimates that cleaning up contamination and hazards at thousands of properties that it formerly owned or controlled will take more than 70 years and cost as much as $20 billion. These formerly used defense sites (FUDS), which can range in size from less than an acre to many thousands of acres, are now used for parks, farms, schools, and homes. Hazards at these prop...
Alaska's North Slope: Requirements for Restoring Lands After Oil Production Ceases
GAO-02-357: Published: Jun 5, 2002. Publicly Released: Jul 9, 2002.
This report discusses the nature and extent of dismantlement, removal, and restoration requirements for oil industry activities that are occurring on both federal and state lands located on the North Slope of the state of Alaska. The state of Alaska, which owns the lands where most of the North Slope's current oil production occurs, has adopted general dismantlement, removal, and restoration requi...
Wildland Fire Management: Reducing the Threat of Wildland Fires Requires Sustained and Coordinated Effort
GAO-02-843T: Published: Jun 13, 2002. Publicly Released: Jun 13, 2002.
The over accumulation of vegetation is a serious problem, particularly in the interior West, where it is causing an increasing number of uncontrollable and destructive wildfires. The policy response to this was the development of the National Fire Plan--a long-term multibillion dollar effort to address wildland fire threats. GAO's work on wildland fires identified three needs: (1) a cohesive strat...
Nuclear Waste: Uncertainties About the Yucca Mountain Repository Project
GAO-02-539T: Published: Apr 18, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 18, 2002.
As required by law, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been investigating a site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, to determine its suitability for disposing of highly radioactive wastes in a mined geologic repository. If the site is approved, DOE must apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for authorization to construct a repository. If the site is not approved for a license application, or if...
Environmental Cleanup: Better Communication Needed for Dealing with Formerly Used Defense Sites in Guam
GAO-02-423: Published: Apr 11, 2002. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 2002.
Chemical testing kits from World War II containing diluted mustard gas and other chemicals have been discovered on Guam. The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for identifying and cleaning up contaminated military sites throughout the United States and its territories. In the mid-1990s, DOD scaled back its identification efforts nationally and focused its attention on Guam. It now relies o...
Agricultural Conservation: State Advisory Committees' Views on How USDA Programs Could Better Address Environmental Concerns
GAO-02-295: Published: Feb 22, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 25, 2002.
Private landowners own more than two-thirds of the continental United States' 1.9 billion acres. Recognizing the critical role that private landowners play in managing soil, water, and wildlife habitat, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve stewardship practices on these lands. USDA currently has more than 70 million acres of privately-owned land enrolled in progra...
Environmental Protection: Observations on Elevating the Environmental Protection Agency to Cabinet Status
GAO-02-552T: Published: Mar 21, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 2002.
This testimony comments on legislation that would elevate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Cabinet status. Today, EPA's mission, size, and scope of responsibilities place it on a par with many Cabinet departments. The United States is the only major industrial power without a Cabinet-level environmental organization. It is important to consider that (1) environmental policy be given ap...
Recreation Fees: Management Improvements Can Help the Demonstration Program Enhance Visitor Services
GAO-02-10: Published: Nov 26, 2001. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2001.
Congress authorized the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program to help federal land management agencies provide high-quality recreational opportunities to visitors and protect resources. The program focuses on recreational activities at the following four land management agencies: the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service. Under...
Defense Environmental Issues: Improved Guidance Needed for Reporting on Recovered Cleanup Costs
GAO-02-103: Published: Oct 26, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 26, 2001.
The cleanup of contaminated Department of Defense (DOD) sites could cost billions of dollars. Private contractors or lessees that may have contributed to such contamination may also be responsible for cleanup costs. DOD and other responsible parties either agree to a cost sharing arrangement with the responsible parties conducting the cleanup or DOD conducts the cleanup and attempts to recover the...
Land Management Agencies: Restoring Fish Passage Through Culverts on Forest Service and BLM Lands in Oregon and Washington Could Take Decades
GAO-02-136: Published: Nov 23, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 23, 2001.
The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service manage more than 41 million acres of federal lands in Oregon and Washington, including 122,000 miles of roads that use culverts--pipes or arches that allow water to flow from one side of the road to the other. Many of the streams that pass through these culverts are essential habitat for fish and other aquatic species. More than 10,000 culverts...
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Information on Oil and Gas Activities in the National Wildlife Refuge System
GAO-02-64R: Published: Oct 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2001.
This report provides information on oil and gas activities in the National Wildlife Refuge System. GAO focuses on (1) how many units produced or had oil or gas activities on their lands in 2000, (2) why these activities took place in these units, (3) the number of these units for which the federal government owned the oil and gas mineral rights, (4) resources available to these units to manage oil...
Environmental Protection: Improved Inspections and Enforcement Would Ensure Safer Underground Storage Tanks
GAO-02-176T: Published: Nov 1, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 2001.
Contaminated soil or water resulting from leaks at underground storage tanks can pose serious health risks. In 1984, Congress created the Underground Storage Tank (UST) program to protect the public from potential leaks. Under the program, the Environmental Protection Agency required tank owners to install new leak detection equipment and new spill-, overfill-, and corrosion-prevention equipment....
Recreational Fee Demonstration Program Survey
GAO-02-88SP: Published: Nov 1, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 2001.
The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program authorizes four land management agencies-- the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Forest Service--to establish, charge, collect, and use fees at a number of sites. The program's goals are to (1) enhance visitor services, (2) address a backlog of needs for repair and maintenance, and (3)...
National Parks: Significant Progress Made in Preserving the Presidio and Attaining Financial Self-Sufficiency
GAO-02-87: Published: Oct 4, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 4, 2001.
The Presidio Trust--a wholly owned government corporation--was created in 1996 to manage a large part of the Presidio grounds using sound principles of land use planning and management while maintaining the area's scenic beauty and historic and natural character. The Trust is responsible for leasing, maintaining, rehabilitating, repairing, and improving the property it controls. The Trust must bec...
Hazardous Waste: EPA's National and Regional Ombudsmen Do Not Have Sufficient Independence
GAO-01-813: Published: Jul 27, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 2001.
Through the impartial and independent investigation of citizens' complaints, federal ombudsmen provide the public with an informal and accessible avenue of redress. Ombudsmen help federal agencies be more responsive to persons who believe that their concerns have not been dealt with fully or fairly through normal problem-solving channels. A national hazardous waste ombudsman was established at the...
BLM and the Forest Service: Federal Taxpayers Could Benefit More From Land Sales
GAO-01-882: Published: Jul 23, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2001.
Since 1781, the federal government has transferred or sold about 1.1 billion acres to nonfederal entities--such as state and local governments, businesses, nonprofit groups, and individual citizens--under various initiatives that promoted general economic development, developed transportation systems, supported public schools, and encouraged settlement of the western frontier. Today, the Bureau of...
Environmental Contamination: Cleanup Actions at Formerly Used Defense Sites
GAO-01-557: Published: Jul 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Sep 5, 2001.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that it will spend as much as $20 billion to clean up contamination at thousands of properties that were once owned, leased, or operated by the Defense Department (DOD). These properties contain hazardous, toxic, and radioactive wastes in the soil and water or in containers, such as underground storage tanks. The Corps is responsible for cleaning up the h...
Environmental Contamination: Cleanup Actions at Formerly Used Defense Sites, an E-supplement to GAO-01-557 (July 2001)
GAO-01-1012SP: Published: Jul 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 31, 2001.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) estimates that it will spend at least $15 billion to $20 billion to clean up contamination and other hazards (hereafter hazards) at thousands of properties formerly owned, leased, possessed, or operated by the Department of Defense (DOD) or its components. These properties, located throughout the United States, are known as formerly used defense sites (FUD...
Environmental Protection: Wider Use of Advanced Technologies Can Improve Emissions Monitoring
GAO-01-313: Published: Jun 22, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 2001.
To protect human health and safeguard the environment,the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates pollution generated by sewage treatment plants, power generation plants, chemical manufacturers, and pulp and paper mills. Monitoring is a key component of these efforts. Many of the technologies that are now being used to monitor environmental conditions have been in existence for decades. In...
EPA's Science Advisory Board Panels: Improved Policies and Procedures Needed to Ensure Independence and Balance
GAO-01-536: Published: Jun 12, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 16, 2001.
This report reviews whether the policies and procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board ensure that (1) its peer review panelists are independent and the panels are properly balanced and (2) the public is sufficiently informed about the points of view represented on the panels. GAO found that the policies and procedures used by the staff office to ensure the indepen...
Nuclear Waste: Agreement Among Agencies Responsible for the West Valley Site Is Critically Needed
GAO-01-314: Published: May 11, 2001. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 2001.
The West Valley nuclear facility in western New York State was built in the 1960s to convert spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors into reusable nuclear fuel. New York State, the owner of the site, and the Atomic Energy Commission--the predecessor of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE)--jointly promoted the venture. However, the timing of the venture wa...
Environmental Protection: Improved Inspections and Enforcement Would Better Ensure the Safety of Underground Storage Tanks
GAO-01-464: Published: May 4, 2001. Publicly Released: May 9, 2001.
The states and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot ensure that all active underground storage tanks have the required leak-, spill-, and overfill-protection equipment installed, nor can they guarantee that the installed equipment is being properly operated and maintained. Although the states and EPA regions focus most of their limited resources on monitoring active tanks, empty or ina...
Air Pollution: EPA Should Improve Oversight of Emissions Reporting by Large Facilities
GAO-01-46: Published: Apr 6, 2001. Publicly Released: May 7, 2001.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) performs limited oversight of states' processes for verifying the accuracy of large industrial facilities' emissions reports. EPA's data show that most emissions determinations from large sources are based on generic emissions factors. Although EPA allows facilities to estimate their emissions in this manner, EPA officials generally consider direct methods...
Bureau of Land Management: Improper Charges Made to Mining Law Administration Program
GAO-01-356: Published: Mar 8, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 29, 2001.
The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Mining Law Administration Program (MLAP) is responsible for managing the environmentally responsible exploration and development of locatable minerals on public lands. The program is funded through mining fees collected from the holders of unpatented mining claims and sites and by appropriations to the extent that fees are inadequate to fund the program. Congr...
Environmental Protection: Information on EPA Project Grants and Use of Waiver Authority
GAO-01-359: Published: Mar 9, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 9, 2001.
This report provides information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) management and oversight of project grants. Specifically, GAO examines (1) the dollar amounts of project grants EPA awarded in fiscal years 1996 through 1999 and the program activities they funded, by grantee type; (2) how the activities funded by the project grants align with the Government Performance and Results Act...
Superfund: EPA's Contract Cost-Estimating Initiatives Show Promise and Should Be Monitored
GAO-01-302: Published: Mar 2, 2001. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2001.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which manages the cleanup of the nation's most hazardous abandoned sites through the Superfund program, relies heavily on contractors to conduct its cleanup activities. Currently, EPA spends about 50 percent of its approximately $1.5 billion annual Superfund budget on contractors. With so much at stake, it is critical that the government get the best cont...
Fish and Wildlife Service: Challenges to Managing the Carlsbad, California, Field Office's Endangered Species Workload
GAO-01-203: Published: Jan 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2001.
The Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) Carlesbad office is developing a computerized project-tracking system for its consultation and habitat conservation planning (HCP) projects. This system, if properly implemented, should improve the office's record keeping and its ability to track the status of projects and help determine why they are in that status. The new system could also improve project ma...
Brownfields: Information on the Programs of EPA and Selected States
GAO-01-52: Published: Dec 15, 2000. Publicly Released: Jan 16, 2001.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and several states reviewed by GAO have established financial assistance programs to encourage the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of brownfields. The programs run by EPA and the states differ in certain aspects, however. Namely, there are differences in the forms of assistance provided, the eligibility criteria, and overall strategies. From fiscal...
Forest Service: Consolidation of the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station With the Intermountain Research Station
GAO-01-53R: Published: Nov 16, 2000. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 2000.
The Forest Service consolidated its Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station with its Intermountain Research Station. The resulting consolidated station was renamed the Rocky Mountain Research Station and was relocated to Fort Collins, Colorado. The Forest Service originally proposed consolidating the two stations in 1992 but delayed taking any action until it completed its reorganizatio...
Land Management Agencies: Ongoing Initiative to Share Activities and Facilities Needs Management Attention
GAO-01-50: Published: Nov 21, 2000. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2000.
The colocation of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) units provides the best opportunity for the agencies to jointly serve the public, effect operational efficiencies, and improve land management. The Service First Initiative is designed to improve the operations of these two agencies by combining resources and providing "one-stop shopping" services for the public. Since th...
National Park Service: Agency Should Recover Costs of Validity Examinations for Mining Claims
RCED-00-265: Published: Sep 19, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 19, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the federal costs of conducting validity examinations at three California Desert parks, focusing on whether: (1) data are available on the National Park Service's costs of conducting validity examinations at these parks since 1994; and (2) the Park Service recovers the costs of such examinations from claimants.GAO noted that: (1) the...
Federal Lands: Agencies Need to Assess the Impact of Personal Watercraft and Snowmobile Use
RCED-00-243: Published: Sep 15, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 18, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the use of personal watercraft and snowmobile use on federal lands, focusing on: (1) the extent to which personal watercraft and snowmobiles are used in federal units that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Forest Service; (2) the bases for agency decisio...
Environmental Protection Agency: Use of Precautionary Assumptions in Health Risk Assessments and Benefits Estimates
GAO-01-55: Published: Oct 16, 2000. Publicly Released: Oct 16, 2000.
Some of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations set standards that limit environmental contaminants to levels that are determined, in large part, on the basis of the health risks they pose. When EPA assesses the health risks of contaminants, however, the agency is faced with uncertainties and gaps in scientific knowledge and data. This report summarizes GAO's findings on whether EP...
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan: Additional Water Quality Projects May Be Needed and Could Increase Costs
RCED-00-235: Published: Sep 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army Corps of Engineers' Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.GAO noted that: (1) the Plan provides a conceptual framework for improving the quality, quantity, timing, and distribution of water in the South Florida ecosystem; (2) 24 of the Plan's 66 projects are intended, among other things, to improve the quality of water in the natural a...
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan: Additional Water Quality Projects May Be Needed and Could Increase Costs
T-RCED-00-297: Published: Sep 20, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 20, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Army Corps of Engineers' Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, focusing on: (1) the role of the Corps' Plan in addressing the major water quality concerns in Florida's ecosystem; and (2) modifications that may be needed as the Corps implements the Plan after it has been authorized by Congress.GAO noted that: (1) the Corps' Comprehensive E...
Hazardous Waste: EPA Has Removed Some Barriers to Cleanups
RCED-00-224: Published: Aug 31, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to remove barriers to hazardous waste cleanup, focusing on: (1) cleanups of remediation waste at sites subject to the three Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements; and (2) the management factors that had slowed the pace of cleanups under the corrective action pro...
Environmental Research: STAR Grants Focus on Agency Priorities, but Management Enhancements Are Possible
RCED-00-170: Published: Sep 11, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grants program, focusing on: (1) whether funding amounts awarded for the grants align with EPA's strategic goals, EPA's Office of Research and Development's (ORD) research priorities, and program office priorities; (2) the extent to which the completed focu...
Fire Management: Lessons Learned From the Cerro Grande (Los Alamos) Fire
T-RCED-00-257: Published: Aug 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 14, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the circumstances surrounding the Los Alamos wildfire, focusing on: (1) the events leading up to the prescribed fire and how it was managed; and (2) what fire management policies or practices need to be improved.GAO noted that: (1) the Cerro Grande fire exposed policy implementation issues that need to be addressed for managing prescribed fires; (...
BLM and the Forest Service: Land Exchanges Need to Reflect Appropriate Value and Serve the Public Interest
RCED-00-73: Published: Jun 22, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 12, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) and the Forest Service's land exchange programs, focusing on the: (1) agencies' use of land exchanges since 1989; (2) extent to which the agencies ensure that their land exchanges meet exchange requirements; (3) effect of the agencies' recent efforts to improve the management of their exchange programs; and (4) ext...
Chemical Safety Board: Improved Policies and Additional Oversight Are Needed
RCED-00-192: Published: Jul 11, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board's management problems, focusing on: (1) the status of the Board's organization and operations; (2) the Board's efforts to update and develop plans, policies, and procedures for accomplishing the Board's mission, including those aimed at ensuring the objectivity of its investigative activities; and...
National Fish Hatcheries: Authority Needed to Better Align Operations With Priorities
RCED-00-151: Published: Jun 14, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 22, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) national fish hatcheries, focusing on whether: (1) the activities carried out at the national fish hatcheries are consistent with their statutory authorizations; and (2) changes in existing laws would be appropriate to provide better direction to FWS on which programs to emphasize and to authoriz...
Superfund: Extent to Which Most Reforms Have Improved the Program Is Unknown
RCED-00-118: Published: May 12, 2000. Publicly Released: Jun 8, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund program administrative reforms, focusing on the: (1) reforms' demonstrated results and the performance measures EPA uses to gauge these results; and (2) legislative changes to the program that either EPA or key stakeholders--including, among others, officials representing parties responsible for...
Environmental Protection: Grants for International Activities and Smart Growth
RCED-00-145R: Published: May 31, 2000. Publicly Released: May 31, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) grants for international activities and smart growth, focusing on the: (1) number, dollar amount, and recipients of international and smart growth grants; (2) purposes of and the activities pursuant to the grants; and (3) statutory bases that EPA cites for awarding these grants.GAO noted th...
Park Service: Agency Is Not Meeting Its Structural Fire Safety Responsibilities
RCED-00-154: Published: May 22, 2000. Publicly Released: May 26, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Park Service's (NPS) structural fire safety efforts, focusing on: (1) whether national parks are effectively addressing their structural fire safety responsibilities and if not, what are the main reasons; and (2) what improvements, if any, are under way to address identified problems.GAO noted that: (1) structural fire safety efforts a...