Please continue reading Text of legislation
Mar 8, 2014
Please continue reading Text of legislation
Bloomberg: A 40-foot trailer loaded with 25 tons of liquid metals may be the solution to the renewable-energy industry's biggest challenge: making sure electricity is available whenever it's needed.
A Boston-area startup founded by MIT researchers is working to turn this new concept into a commercially viable product, liquid-metal batteries that will store power for less than $500 a kilowatt-hour. That's less than a third the cost of some current battery technologies.
The technology promises an alternative to the massive pumped-water systems that make up 95 percent of U.S. energy-storage capacity. At that price, developers will be able to build wind and solar projects that can deliver power to the grid anytime, making renewable energy as reliable as natural gas and coal without the greenhouse-gas emissions.
"If we can get liquid-metal batteries down to $500 a kilowatt-hour, we'll change the world," Donald Sadoway, chief scientific adviser at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ambri Inc., said in an interview.
Power storage will compensate for the intermittent nature of renewable energy. Batteries can store energy when the wind blows at night, and then send electricity to the grid the next day when it's needed. Please continue reading at Bloomberg
Mar 6, 2014
Appalachian coal firm to pay $27.5 million for water pollution, largest civil penalty ever levied by EPA
As part of the agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bristol, Va., company will also be required to improve its water treatment practices, Ward writes. It will spend $200 million "to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and to implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce discharges of pollution from coal mines."
Other plans "include building new treatment facilities, but others would piggyback on treatment operations already underway as a result of previous court settlements with citizen groups," Ward writes. "The deal also involves some locations where Alpha will deal with selenium by pumping contaminated water into old underground mines."
"Monitoring records attached to the complaint show that in some cases, the releases exceeded permit limits by as much as 35 times," Allie Robinson Gibson writes for the Bristol Herald Courier.
Robert G. Dreher, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, said "The unprecedented size of the civil penalty in this settlement sends a strong message to others in this industry that such egregious violations of the nation's Clean Water Act will not be tolerated." (Read more)
The EPA was petitioned in 2006 by more than 20 health groups and state attorneys to take action, but it wasn't until 2009 that the agency said "it was starting the rule-making process regarding disclosures of such ingredients," Gilliam writes. Five years later the EPA still hasn't adopted any new rules. The suit claims "There are more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients that can be just as hazardous as active ingredients that are labeled and can comprise up to 99 percent of a pesticide's formulation. Of the common inert ingredients, many are classified as carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic or potentially toxic." (Read more)
Please continue reading post Another Home Aquaponics System for the Beginner: AquaSprouts on Sustainablog.
Science: A new, deadly H5N8 strain of avian influenza penetrated the biosecurity defenses of a National Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) campus near Seoul, prompting authorities to cull all of the facility's 11,000 hens and 5000 ducks.
The devastating loss could set back poultry experiments at the NIAS lab for 2 years. "It will likely to take up to 95 weeks to fully rebuild [the flocks] and resume normal research," says Kim Sung-Il, head of the contingency team at the Rural Development Administration, which oversees NIAS. Kim adds that the institute, which studies breed improvement and animal husbandry techniques, will reconstitute its flocks from birds kept at other facilities.
A wild goose that died of the virus was found 10 kilometers from NIAS's Suwon campus, near Seoul, on 1 February. The entire NIAS staff went to work disinfecting and shoeing away wild birds. Despite those efforts, 30 ducks were found dead on 2 March. The next day, authorities confirmed the cause of death as H5N8 avian influenza. NIAS immediately initiated culling, which was completed on 4 March.
Please continue reading Via: Science
Mar 5, 2014
Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term. More research needed into impact of chemical constituents leaching into foodstuffs
Mar 4, 2014
Mar 3, 2014
The following is posted from EPA Newsletter site: To subscribe to this newsletter, go to the Newsletters page.
Listen Now to EPA 's Webcast Series on Communications for Climate and Clean Energy Programs
If you missed our popular December 2013 webcast series on communications strategies for state and local governments, you can listen now to all three online, access presentations, and read audience Qs&As. Over 1,000 state and local staff tuned in to listen to some or all of these webcasts, making it one of our most popular offerings to date.
The structure of the three webcasts parallels the general phases of program development and implementation: attracting stakeholder support and participation, sustaining change, and gaining momentum from program successes. Participants will learn how to design communications strategies to engage and empower stakeholders, use communications methods to instigate and sustain behavior change and foster individual and community solutions, and effectively communicate their programs
New Report on Municipal Energy Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction
This report, drafted by the Environmental Financial Advisory Board, was written to help smaller communities understand the benefits of developing and methods of financing energy efficiency projects. The Board reviewed existing information and distilled it down into this report to help communities, particularly those without dedicated energy staff, decide whether and how to move forward on efficiency measures.
The report is available on EPA�s Environmental Finance site.
EPA Regions and Antioch University-New England to Host Regional Conference, "Local Solutions: Northeast Climate Change Preparedness," May 19-21 in Manchester, New Hampshire
Antioch University-New England and EPA will host a regional conference this May for local planners, decision makers, and educators to understand how to create healthy resilient communities that are better prepared to handle severe weather and climate impacts. The first two days of the conference will focus on the topic of Building Resilient Communities: informing community planners, decision makers, and those responsible for implementing change at the local level how best to identify current and future vulnerabilities, followed by adaptive responses to build resilient communities. The last day of the conference will feature an Educators Summit, which will inform middle and high school teachers how to design a community-based, problem-solving curriculum that will teach students how best to support municipal officials preparing for impacts from a changing climate. For more information and to register, visit the conference website.
USDA Announces Regional Hubs to Help Agriculture, Forestry Mitigate Impacts of Changing Climate
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the creation of the first ever Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change at seven locations around the country. These �Climate Hubs� will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, floods, and droughts on a regional basis, aiming to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management. The Hubs were chosen through a competitive process among USDA facilities. In addition to the seven Hubs, USDA is designating three Subsidiary Hubs (�Sub Hubs�) that will function within the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest. The Sub Hubs will support the Hub within their region and focus on a unique set of issues in that region. The Climate Hubs will build on the capacity within USDA to deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to support decision-making related to climate change across the country. For more information, see the press release.
U.S. Geological Survey Tool Provides County-Level Maps with Historical and Projected Climate Change Data for 21st Century
For the first time, maps and summaries of historical and projected temperature and precipitation changes for the 21st century for the continental United States are accessible at a county-by-county level on a website developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in collaboration with the College of Earth, Oceanic, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. The maps and summaries are based on NASA downscaling of the 33 climate models used in the 5th Climate Model Intercomparison Project and the current Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report. The USGS leveraged this massive dataset and distilled the information into easily understood maps, 3-page summaries, and spreadsheet compatible data files for each state and county in the United States. A similar implementation for the USGS nested hydrologic units will be available in the next month. Other useful tools for characterizing climate change include plots of monthly averages of temperature and precipitation, time-series spanning 1950-2099, and tables that summarize possible changes in the extremes of temperature and precipitation. For more information, see the press release.
Federal Funding Compendium for Urban Heat Adaptation
Given that city residents are particularly vulnerable to the public health and environmental impacts of escalating temperatures, state and local governments are often looking for creative sources of funds to prepare for climate changes.
This compendium, recently released by the Georgetown Climate Center, seeks to provide assistance to local and state governments that are striving to adapt to urban heat islands in their communities. While none of the 44 programs within the compendium were created specifically to address the problem of urban heat, all of the programs allow funds to be used for projects that would provide urban heat relief while also addressing important program objectives, such as promoting economic development and energy efficiency.
The compendium examines each program for its potential to fund urban heat adaptation. For each program, we also include information on the following:
- Who can apply for the funds
- What activities the funds can support
- The amount of money in the program
- The average size of grant
Lessons Learned from Irene: Climate Change, Federal Disaster Relief, and Barriers to Adaptive Reconstruction
A recently released case study by the Georgetown Climate Center examines the challenges encountered by Vermont localities trying to use federal disaster relief funds to rebuild their transportation system to be more resilient to future climate impacts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
Irene dumped more than seven inches of rain on the state over the course of two days, which washed out hundreds of miles of roads and bridges. In the aftermath of the disaster, Vermont chose to rebuild its roads and bridges to higher state standards, but encountered legal barriers when FEMA initially refused to reimburse communities for the added costs. The state appealed the decision and ultimately FEMA allowed one locality to be reimbursed and is considering the appeals of other localities.
The story of the Vermont appeal highlights some of the challenges that states and localities face in trying to adapt to climate changes by rebuilding differently after a natural disaster.
�Beyond the Basics" Website Shares Best Practices in Local Mitigation Planning
The "Beyond the Basics" website is the product of a five-year research study conducted by the Coastal Hazards Center and the Center for Sustainable Community Design at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). As part of this study, researchers at UNC systematically analyzed 175 local hazard mitigation plans drawn from six states to assess their content and quality. Each plan was evaluated using a hazard mitigation plan quality protocol that has been developed, tested, and applied over several projects across the country. The website is designed to help guide the user through the process of developing or updating a local hazard mitigation plan that will meet the requirements for approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To learn more, visit the mitigation guide website.
Adaptation Planning: Kingston Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force
Kingston, New York, has piloted a climate adaptation planning process with several analytical tools and extended citizen engagement in the process. The city unanimously adopted the resulting report through the town council and is pursuing capital improvements, long-term land use planning, and state and federal grants in accordance with the �Planning for Rising Waters� report.
For more information, see the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation�s Climate January 2014 Smart Webinar on Kingston�s Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force.
State and local officials interested in additional information about developing and implementing cost-effective climate and energy strategies that help further environmental goals and achieve public health and economic benefits may visit EPA�s State and Local Climate and Energy Program site.
"The price for cleaning up the environment once this stuff gets out is incalculable,"
RT USA |"Significant construction flaws" have been found in at least 6 of the 28 double shelled radioactive waste storage tanks at the Hanford nuclear waste complex in Washington State, which may lead to additional leaks, documents obtained by the AP say.
After one of the 28 huge underground double shelled tanks was found to be leaking in 2012, subsequent surveys performed for the US Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found that at least six of the other tanks shared the same defects, according to the documents. A further 13 tanks may also be compromised, the inspectors found.
...the six double-walled tanks which have construction flaws similar to those at the leaking tank contain about 5 million gallons of radioactive wastes.
...Hanford is located on the Columbia River in Washington State near the border with Oregon and contains 53 million gallons of high-level nuclear waste from the production of plutonium for the US nuclear weapons program. It was built during World War Two as part of the Manhattan Project to build the nuclear bomb. There are some 177 underground storage tanks on the site, many of which date back to World War Two. These are single skinned and many have already leaked. The 28 double walled tanks were built as replacement between the 1960's and 1980's.
After the AP published its report, Senator Doc Hastings, R-Wash, released a statement saying there is "no new threat to our communities or our environment" and that "new storage tanks will never be a panacea" for the Hanford nuclear waste problem.
The safety debate over plastic products has centered largely on BPA, but many BPA-free items may be exposing us to harmful chemicals with similar effects. Neuroscientist George Bittner and his colleagues tested 455 products, from plastic wrap to food containers, and found that 72 percent leached some amount of synthetic estrogens. Here's a guide to common plastics (often identifiable by the number stamped on them) and the percentage of samples that displayed estrogenic activity.
Mar 2, 2014
Exploiting free, ambient energy is "an interesting idea and you're going to see more applications of it," said Jonathan Koomey, research fellow at Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. But the technology has a long way to go, he said. Constraints on space and the amount of energy that can be gleaned in many settings now limit its use to small, fairly low-power devices. "It's not this magic bullet," Koomey said.
Still, in today's power-hungry world, energy scavenging can help ensure that no watt goes to waste.
"Your computer, hot asphalt, there's a million things that are fairly hot but not really viable for standard thermoelectrics," said Harry Radousky, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California and co-developer of a nanoscale harvester for low-temperature heat, such as exhaust from appliances. In contrast to high-temperature, waste-heat capture systems — in which sources like flue gas provide a steep heat gradient for thermoelectric generators — the small heat differences between low-temperature sources and their surroundings are much harder to convert into electricity. But new low-temperature thermal harvesting technology could turn these overlooked resources into working power.
For instance, Radousky said, "we park our cars in hot parking lots all over the U.S. in the summer, so in principle we could charge batteries in electronic devices, [and] run coolers to keep food cold" with heat from the pavement. Other prospects for reaping low-temperature thermal power include light bulbs, hot ovens, and plastic seats inside cars baking in the sun. "My rule of thumb is that if it is too hot to touch, it's a candidate source," he said. "So we were looking for things that could harvest that low
"Our motto is 'No wires, no batteries, no limits,'" says one expert.quality of heat ... where a small amount of energy can get you a long way."
As energy harvesters become increasingly efficient and cost-effective, a growing number of products such as light switches, thermostats, gas detectors, and avalanche alarms are going off-grid and battery-free.
"Our motto is 'No wires, no batteries, no limits,'" said Graham Martin, chairman of EnOcean Alliance, a California-based consortium of companies promoting a wireless standard for automated building controls that run on scavenged power.
Regulating building heat, cooling, and lights with devices like room occupancy sensors can cut energy use by as much as 40 percent, Martin said. EnOcean Alliance reports that more than 250,000 buildings worldwide contain its energy-scavenging devices, like wireless, battery-free controls with tiny, integrated photovoltaic cells that harvest energy from room lights, or vibrations that agitate a pressure-sensitive material, releasing electrons. Martin estimates that EnOcean devices have saved 50 million batteries, and predicts that 3 billion switches, sensors, thermostats, transmitters, and other low-powered, self-contained gadgets will be in use within five years.
Mar 1, 2014
Quarterman's refusal came one day after the Department of Transportation issued an emergency order requiring oil-train shippers to check their crude for volatility. More crude oil was spilledin U.S. railway accidents in 2013 than in the previous 37 years, and an accident in July in Quebec that left 47 people dead.
"In addition to the safety of crude oil shipments on railroads, the hearing in the House of Representatives subcommittee that oversees railroads also examined recent commuter rail accidents and the problems the industry has meeting a December 2015 deadline to install a collision avoidance system," Tate writes. "Federal regulators and industry officials told lawmakers that commuter and freight railroads will not be able to install the system, called Positive Train Control, by the end of next year. Congress required the system in 2008 after 25 people died in a head-on collision between a commuter train and a freight train in southern California." (Read more)
|Reuters graphic: Site of Jan. 9 spill|
"The Department of Environmental Protection for the first time released lists of storage tanks that could be subject to new rules if lawmakers pass legislation drawn up in response to the January chemical leak on the Elk River," Ward writes. "DEP officials cautioned that they could end up with a final inventory showing even more storage tanks located in or near the 'zone of critical concern' near public water-supply intakes." Inspectors are still visiting sites, "and plan to examine a much larger number -- 600 facilities with an estimated 3,000 tanks -- to confirm locations, double-check the number of tanks and examine the tank contents." The list includes coal-fired power stations, chemical plants, lumber mills, and trucking operations, but does not identify what chemicals are being stored or the amount of chemicals.
"To define tanks that could potentially impact public water systems, DEP officials expanded the area covered by the Bureau of Public Health's 'zone of critical concern'," Ward writes. "The bureau defines the term to cover anything located within five hours upstream and within a 1,000-foot corridor around main-stem water supply streams and 500 feet alongside tributaries. The DEP added 500 feet to the main-stem and tributary zones to be more inclusive, officials said." (Read more)
Nick Statt reports at Cnet that at Apple's annual shareholder meeting Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook shot down the suggestion from a conservative, Washington, DC-based think tank that Apple give up on environmental initiatives that don't contribute to the company's bottom line. The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), hasn't taken kindly to Apple's increasing reliance on green energy and said so in a statement issued to Apple ahead of the meeting. 'We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards,' said NCPPR General Counsel Justin Danhof demanding that the pledge be voted on at the meeting. 'This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.' Cook responded that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues. 'When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind. I don't consider the bloody ROI,' said Cook. 'We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive, We want to leave the world better than we found it.' Danhof's proposal was voted down and to any who found the company's environmental dedication either ideologically or economically distasteful, Cook advised 'if you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.'
Read more of this story at Slashdot
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide.
A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.
Roundup herbicide, Monsanto's flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi's highly fertile Delta agricultural region.
GreenMedInfo reports new research, soon to be published by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal, discovered the traces over a 12-year span from 1995-2007.
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Moreover, Roundup's overuse has enabled weeds and insects to build an immunity to its harsh toxins.
To deal with the immunity issue, Monsanto's solution has been to spray more and stronger pesticides to eliminate the problem.
The health effects of Roundup are also hard to ignore as research has linked exposure to the pesticide to Parkinson's disease and various cancers.
For instance, children in Argentina, where Roundup is used in high concentrations, struggle with health problems, with 80 percent showing signs of the toxins in their bloodstreams.
However, Roundup isn't the only widespread threat to public health. The U.S. Geological Survey, along with others, have identified additional pesticides in the air and water that become more toxic as they mix and come in contact with people.
Please continue reading at: http://ecowatch.com/2014/02/27/monsantos-roundup-found-in-75-of-air-and-rain-samples/
Feb 28, 2014
Hundreds of foods labeled as “healthy,” contain a potentially hazardous industrial plastics chemical
(Reuters) – Nearly 500 foods found on grocery store shelves in the United States, including many foods labeled as "healthy," contain a potentially hazardous industrial plastics chemical, according to a report issued Thursday by a health research and advocacy group.
Azodicarbonamide, also known as ADA, was found as an ingredient in breads, bagels, tortillas, hamburger and hot dog buns, pizza, pastries, and other food products, according to a report by the Environmental Working Group, based in Washington.
California needs rain, and they need it bad. How bad? Just have a look at the GIF above. The first image shows Folsom Lake near Sacramento on July 20, 2011. The second image shows Folsom Lake on January 16, 2014. Notice a difference?
That's what a drought of historic proportions looks like. In fact, 2013 was the driest year California has seen in 119 years, and that's causing some obvious problems. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month, and farmers are scrambling to figure out clever ways to save their crops. California's municipal water system has even announced that it can't get water to farmers, which is particularly bad news in the state that supplies over half of America's fruits and vegetables (and almonds). Even the president's now involved. This month, Obama pledged $183 million in federal funds for drought relief programs.
NASA is also on the case. The space agency recently helped the world visualize the problem with a striking set of satellite images showing the withering effect the drought has had on California. NASA also supplied the images of Folsom Lake, explaining how the reservoir was at 97 percent capacity two-and-a-half years ago and just 17 percent capacity in January! NASA will continue to monitor the situation by measuring how much water is in snowpack and how much light that snow absorbs. That should help them estimate how much water the state will get from snowmelt.
Feb 26, 2014
Our disappearing water, Saving Our Blue Future
By 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent, a surefire recipe for great suffering. Five hundred scientists recently told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that our collective abuse of water has caused the planet to enter "a new geologic age" and that the majority of the planet's population lives within 31 miles of an endangered water source.
Feb 25, 2014
The researchers discovered the following:
- Thirty-seven compounds were detected in the air or rain samples in 2007; 20 of these were present in both air and rain.
- Glyphosate was the predominant new herbicide detected in both air (86%) and rain (77%) in 2007, but were not measured in 1995.
The murky gray haze cut visibility on roads, reduced the sun to a faint, moon-like tangerine orb in the sky and prompted the city to issue an "orange alert" -- one step away from the most serious level, red.
About 150 industrial companies have either halted or curbed production to cut down on emissions, Beijing has dispatched tanker trucks to spray roads with water to reduce particulates and the state-run Xinhua news agency is reminding people to avoid outdoor activities and to wear masks.
Feb 24, 2014
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The data is scary: Nearly half of water faucets sampled across the United States tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.
The Daily Caller: California lawmakers want to put a carbon tax on gasoline and other vehicle fuels to curb carbon dioxide emissions and fight global warming. Golden State residents already face some of the highest energy and fuel costs in the country, but carbon tax proponents say the tax would go to help mitigate the effects of global warming on the poor.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Democratic state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg proposed legislation that would slap a 15 cents per gallon tax on fuels sold in the state which would rise to 24 cents per gallon in 2020. The fuel tax is expected to raise $3.6 billion in the first year and would fund public transit projects as well as a new tax credit for families earning less than $75,000 per year.
Steinberg justified his gas tax increase as aid for the poor, who are most impacted by global warming.
"Climate change is a global problem, affecting humanity without distinction," Steinberg said in a speech at the Sacramento Press Club. "But its health and economic costs fall hardest on the poor."
"Those who pollute are among the wealthiest and most heavily subsidized industries today," he added. "Those who disproportionately suffer from pollution are at the polar-opposite end of the economic scale."
But it's unclear how increasing the cost of transportation would benefit the poor. Steinberg's fuel tax would be added on top of the state's 71.9 cents per gallon gas tax, the nation's highest, and the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax. The state also operates a cap-and-trade system for industrial facilities and has a low carbon fuel standard to lower greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels.
Californians already suffer from some of the highest gasoline costs in the country. According to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge, the average price for regular gas was $3.755 per gallon, higher than the national average of $3.389 per gallon.
California has the highest poverty level in the country, at 23.8 percent,according to the LA Times. These families pay a disproportionate amount of their income on necessities like food, clothing — and energy and fuel especially. So it's unclear how increasing energy costs would help the poor.
Steinberg argues that the state's cap-and-trade system could send carbon prices spiking or falling wildly, which would be chaotic. So he proposed a carbon tax for fuels as a "stable" alternative to cap-and-trade.
"A carbon tax is stable," Steinberg. "A carbon tax is significantly less vulnerable to gaming. A carbon tax is transparent."
Environmentalists are skeptical of not listing fuels under the state's carbon tax, saying such a move could undermine the already delicate carbon market.
The Rise of Superweeds—and What to Do About It
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
It sounds like a sci-fi movie: American farmers fighting desperately to hold back an onslaught of herbicide-defying "superweeds."
But there's nothing imaginary—or entertaining—about this scenario. Superweeds are all too real, and they have now spread to over 60 million acres of our farmland, wreaking environmental and economic havoc wherever they go.
How did we get into this mess, and how do we fix it? A 2013 UCS briefing paper, The Rise of Superweeds—and What to Do About It, answers these questions.