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.

Read more: http://news.yahoo.com/hundreds-foods-u-contain-ada-plastics-chemical-report-050539685–finance.html

How Bad Is California's Drought? This Bad. Driest in 119 years


How Bad Is California's Drought? This Bad

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

By 2030, global demand for #water will outstrip supply by 40%

Our disappearing water, Saving Our Blue Future 

Other Words - Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the U.S. breadbasket will be gone "in our lifetime," the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.

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.
Please continue reading at: Other Words

Feb 25, 2014

Study: the prevalence of Roundup herbicide

Green Med Info - A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey, accepted for publication online ahead of print in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, reveals that Roundup herbicide (aka glyphosate) and its still-toxic degradation byproductAMPA were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.  

The researchers evaluated a wide range of pesticides currently being used through weekly composite air and rain sampling collected during the 1995 and 2007 growing seasons in the Mississippi Delta agricultural region.

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.
Please continue reading at Green Med Info

10% of China engulfed in toxic smog

LA Times - A huge swath of northeast China -- more than 10% of the country's landmass -- is again engulfed in toxic smog. Beijing's air quality index, as measured by the U.S. Embassy, hit "hazardous" territory for a sixth day running Tuesday. No relief is expected in the capital until at least Thursday.

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.

Please continue reading from LA Times

Phosphorus Legislation Passes Both Houses

Last week the Clean Waters, Healthy Economy Act (Act) was passed by both houses of the Wisconsin legislature. This legislation discussed briefly in an earlier client alert, establishes the basis for creating a multi-discharger variance for point sources struggling to meet Wisconsin’s stringent numeric phosphorus water quality criteria. Assuming this legislation is signed by Governor Scott Walker and enacted into law, several other conditions must be met before it is available to permit holders. This client alert provides a brief preliminary overview of this legislation and what would need to happen before it could become available to permittees.

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Feb 24, 2014

Lessons from State #Energy Efficiency Programs Presented to U.S. Senate Committee

Thanks to ASHRAE for the story:
States have often been thought of as the laboratories of democracy, and it is in this vein that the U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy recently held a hearing to examine lessons for federal policy from state efficiency and renewable energy programs.

During the hearing witnesses spoke about the impact of state programs, as well as federal programs, such as the State Energy Program, on building energy efficiency.

Additionally, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke about the importance of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, which they first introduced over three years ago, and has since become the most significant energy efficiency legislation in Congress, garnering wide support from both Democrats and Republicans, as well as stakeholder organizations, including ASHRAE. This bill has undergone significant changes since its initial introduction in the Senate, and will likely be reintroduced in the coming weeks.

The new version will include incorporate several amendments that have achieved widespread support.

To view witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing, please visit http://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings-and-business-meetings

STUDY: Half Of Water Taps Test Positive For Bacteria That Causes Legionnaires’

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.


California wants to slap a 'carbon tax' on gasoline, to 24 cents per gallon - The Daily Caller

The Daily CallerCalifornia 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

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.

Mysterious polio-like illness/virus affects kids in California, leaving them with paralyzed limbs and little hope of recovery.

A mysterious polio-like syndrome has affected as many as 25 California children, leaving them with paralyzed limbs and little hope of recovery.

"What's we're seeing now is bad. The best-case scenario is complete loss of one limb, the worst is all four limbs, with respiratory insufficiency, as well. It's like the old polio," said Keith Van Haren, a pediatric neurologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

The first known case appeared in 2012. Sofia Jarvis in Berkeley began to experience wheezing and difficulty breathing. The 2-year-old spent days in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital Oakland. Doctors thought she had asthma.

On a follow-up visit, her mother Jessica Tomei, 37, realized something else was wrong.

"As we were leaving the doctor's office, I noticed that she went to grab something with her left arm and she stopped, midway," Tomei said.

Feb 23, 2014

EPA Appeals Successful Challenge to a Pre-Enforcement Clean Water Act (CWA) Order; Federal District Court Upholds Agricultural Stormwater Exemption for West Virginia Poultry Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

The National Law Review ...In October 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia held that rainwater containing some particles of manure, litter, dander and feathers from the farmyard of a poultry operation was exempt from federal Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation as "agricultural stormwater."  Alt v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Civil Action No. 2:12-CV-42 (N.D. W. Va., Oct. 23, 2013).   In late December 2013, EPA and several environmental groups filed an appeal of the district court's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  The Fourth Circuit's review of Alt v. EPA will be closely watched by environmental and agricultural groups alike.  Because the district court's decision applied the agricultural stormwater runoff exemption to stormwater discharges from a farmyard, not just a land application area, the Fourth Circuit will play an important role in reviewing the scope of the CWA and EPA's permitting authority.

Alt's Operation and EPA Enforcement

The plaintiff, Lois Alt, operates a poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in West Virginia that consists of eight poultry confinement houses equipped with ventilation fans, a litter storage shed, compost shed and feed storage bins.  All operations are under roof.  According to the administrative record, some particles of manure and litter from the operation had been tracked or spilled in Alt's farmyard and some dust composed of manure, litter and dander, as well as some feathers, had been blown by the ventilation fans from the confinement houses into Alt's farmyard where they settled on the ground.  Alt utilized certain management procedures to reduce the amount of manure and litter that could be exposed to precipitation in the farmyard. 

In November 2011, EPA issued an enforcement order alleging that Alt had violated the CWA by operating a CAFO without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.  EPA alleged that Alt's poultry operation had "discharged pollutants from man-made ditches via sheet flow to Mudlick Run [a stream on Alt's property that eventually connects with the south branch of the Potomac River] during rain events generating runoff without having a NPDES permit."  Id. at 5.  EPA concluded that Alt was in violation of the CWA as a matter of law. 

China sends government teams to investigate pollution | Reuters

(Reuters) - China has sent teams of investigators to parts of the country worst hit by air pollution as part of efforts to stop the heavy smog engulfing about 15 percent of the country, including Beijing.

Twelve teams of inspectors will head to the cities of Beijing, the nearby city of Tianjin and Hebei province to see how authorities are responding to the worst air pollution in months, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Sunday.

The inspectors will visit construction sites and factories producing steel, glass, cement and coal products, the ministry said. Those found to be violating production standards will be publicly identified.

Authorities have issued innumerable orders and policies to try and clean up the environment, investing in projects to fight pollution and empowering courts to mete out stiff penalties. But enforcement has been patchy at the local level, where authorities often rely on taxes paid by polluting industries.

In Beijing, which has been shrouded in smoky, white smog for a week, authorities raised the air pollution alert system to "orange" for the first time on Friday after drawing public fire for its initial ineffective response.

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Feb 22, 2014

EPA proposes new pesticide rules: annual training, no-entry areas, signs, protection for kids under 16

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new safety rules Thursday to protect people who work in farms, or live near them, and might be exposed to dangerous pesticides, Carey Gilliam reports forReuters. "EPA is proposing revisions to the agency's 22-year-old Worker Protection Standard that EPA officials say will help protect approximately 2 million U.S. farm workers and their families from exposure to pesticides used to protect crops from weeds, insects, and disease." 

Propose changes include "annual training in pesticide protection, instead of once every five years," Giliam writes. Other changes "would expand mandatory posting of signage warning people from entering fields newly treated with pesticides; prohibit children under 16 from handling pesticides unless they are part of a family farm; and set no-entry buffer areas of 25 feet to 100 feet around pesticide-treated fields to limit exposure from overspraying and fumes." The EPA will seek public comment before making a final decision. (Read more)

Feb 21, 2014

New U.S. Renewable Energy Capacity More Than Triples Coal, Oil And Nuclear Combined

"Renewable energy sources are leaving coal, oil and nuclear power in the dust as new sources of electrical generating capacity while challenging natural gas' current dominance," comments Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "The growth of renewables is likely to accelerate as the costs for new solar and wind, in particular, continue to drop, making them ever more competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear power."

Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, accounted for 37.16% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during calendar-year 2013 for a total of 5,279 MW, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Citing the FERC statistics, renewable energy advocacy group the SUN DAY Campaign notes that is more than three times that provided for the year by coal (1,543 MW - 10.86%), oil (38 MW - 0.27%) and nuclear power (0 MW - 0.00%) combined. However, natural gas dominated 2013, with 7,270 MW of new capacity (51.17%). Waste heat provided the balance of new generating capacity - 76 MW (0.53%).

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#Renewable #energy accounted for more than 99% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during January 2014 for a total of 324 MW.

Washington DC – According to the latest "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Energy Projects, non-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) accounted for more than 99% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during January 2014 for a total of 324 MW. 
Solar led the way last month with 13 new "units" totaling 287 MW followed by geothermal steam with three new units totaling 30 MW. Biomass added three new units totaling 3 MW while wind had one new unit with an installed capacity of 4 MW. In addition, there was 1 MW added that FERC defined as "other."
Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.03% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity:  water - 8.44%, wind - 5.20%, biomass - 1.36%, solar - 0.70%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%.  This is more than nuclear (9.26%) and oil (4.04%) combined. *
"The trends are unmistakable," concluded Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. "Renewables are the energy growth market of the future with solar - for the moment at least - the leader of the pack."
# # # # # # # #
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its most recent 4-page "Energy Infrastructure Update," with data through January 31, 2014, on February 20, 2014. See the tables titled "New Generation In-Service (New Build and Expansion)" and "Total Installed Operating Generating Capacity" at http://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/2014/jan-infrastructure.pdf.
* Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the United States now totals about 13% according to the most recent data (i.e., as of November 2013) provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Feb 20, 2014

World faces major water shortages

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Observer, UK -Already a billion people, or one in seven people on the planet, lack access to safe drinking water. ...Countries at northern latitudes and in the tropics are getting wetter. But those countries at mid-latitude are running increasingly low on water.

The Middle East, north Africa and south Asia are all projected to experience water shortages over the coming years because of decades of bad management and overuse.

Watering crops, slaking thirst in expanding cities, cooling power plants, fracking oil and gas wells – all take water from the same diminishing supply. Add to that climate change – which is projected to intensify dry spells in the coming years – and the world is going to be forced to think a lot more about water than it ever did before.

The losses of water reserves are staggering. In seven years, beginning in 2003, parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers lost 144 cubic kilometers of stored freshwater – or about the same amount of water in the Dead Sea, according to data compiled by the Grace mission and released last year.

A small portion of the water loss was due to soil drying up because of a 2007 drought and to a poor snow pack. Another share was lost to evaporation from lakes and reservoirs. But the majority of the water lost, about 60%, was due to reductions in groundwater.

In south Asia, the losses of groundwater over the last decade were even higher. About 600 million people live on the 2,000km swath that extends from eastern Pakistan, across the hot dry plains of northern India and into Bangladesh, and the land is the most intensely irrigated in the world. Up to 75% of farmers rely on pumped groundwater to water their crops, and water use is intensifying.

Over the last decade, groundwater was pumped out 70% faster than in the 1990s.

The Pacific Institute, which studies issues of water and global security, found a fourfold increase in violent confrontations over water over the last decade.

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Bumblebees infected with honeybee diseases

BBC News: The beleaguered bumblebee faces a new threat, scientists say.

Researchers have found that two diseases harboured by honeybees are spilling over into wild bumblebees.

Insects infected with deformed wing virus and a fungal parasite called Nosema ceranae were found across England, Scotland and Wales.

Writing in the journal Nature, the team says that beekeepers should keep their honeybees as free from disease as possible to stop the spread.

"These pathogens are capable of infecting adult bumblebees and they seem to have quite significant impacts," said Professor Mark Brown from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Around the world, bumblebees are doing badly.

In the last few decades, many species have suffered steep declines, and some, such Cullem's bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) in the UK, have gone extinct.

Scientists believe that the destruction of their habitats - particularly wildflower meadows - has driven much of this loss, but the latest research suggests that disease too could play a role.

The researchers looked at two pathogens commonly found in honeybees and found they can also infect adult bumblebees.

In honeybees, deformed wing virus (DWV) causes significant problems. Its severity seems to be exacerbated by the presence of another widespread parasite, the varroa mite, causing entire colonies to collapse.

Bumblebees do not carry the varroa mite, but the scientists found that those infected with DWV had a dramatically shortened lifespan. The fungal parasite has also been shown to have an impact on bumblebee longevity.

The most likely explanation is that the honeybees are acting as the source of the virus for the bumblebees” Prof Mark Brown Royal Holloway, University of London

Prof Brown said: "A significantly shorter lifespan in the field would impact on their ability to go out and collect food and look after other bees."

The researchers found the diseases were already prevalent among wild populations.

Looking at 26 sites across Great Britain and the Isle of Man, the researchers found that about 11% of bumblebees were infected with DWV and 7% were infected with the fungus. By comparison, about 35% of honeybees carried DWV and 9% had the fungus.

"A geographical patterning provides us with the information that transmission is occurring among these animals - they are sharing parasite strains," said Prof Brown.

"We cannot say it definitively, but because of the epidemiology, the most likely explanation is that the honeybees are acting as the source of the virus for the bumblebees."

One-in-five products not complying with energy saving claims

One in five energy-using products across do not match their energy efficiency claims, according to the Energy Saving Trust. This follows findings from European Commission-funded research which revealed that up to 20 per cent are non-compliant with energy efficiency standards, such as energy labeling. According to estimates, this is leading to around ten per cent of the potential energy savings stated being lost by millions of products across Europe, including ovens, fridges, washing machines, dishwashers, televisions and computers.

Please continue reading published on Environmental News Network // visit site

Feb 19, 2014

Wind power now Spain’s top source of electricity

Green Futures Magazine: Wind contributed the highest percentage of Spanish power supply last year in a "world first" for renewables.

Wind power became Spain's top source of electricity in 2013. A report from Spain's grid operator, Red Eléctrica de España (REE), claims a 12% rise on 2012 figures meant enough power was generated to supply 15.5 million Spanish homes – 90% of the country's total domestic use. 

An estimated 54,478 gigawatt hours of electricity, representing 20.9% of power demand, was produced last year, narrowly beating the 20.8% produced by the country's nuclear reactors. Annual generation was boosted by another record-breaking moment on 2 February, when 17,056 megawatts of instantaneous power was recorded. On the same day the all-time maximum for hourly energy was also exceeded, reaching 16,918MWh.

The figures represent a milestone for renewable energy, with Spain becoming "the first country in the world where wind energy was the technology that most contributed to the coverage of demand in a full year", according to the Spanish Wind Energy Association (AEE).

North Carolina officials say toxins are leaking from second Duke Energy pipe into Dan River

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North Carolina officials are already under fire for wrongly declaringthe arsenic levels in the Dan River safe after a Feb. 2 Duke Energycoal-ash spill. On Tuesday, those same officials announced that toxins from a second leaking pipe are still pouring water containing unsafe levels of arsenic into the river, Michael Biesecker reports for The Associated Press

"The state Department of Environment and Natural Resourcesordered Duke to stop the flow of contaminated water coming out a pipe that runs under a huge coal ash dump at its Eden power plant," Biesecker writes. "State regulators expressed concern five days ago that the second pipe could fail, triggering a new spill. The water coming out of that pipe contains poisonous arsenic at 14 times the level considered safe for human contact, according to test results released by the state on Tuesday."

Authorities have said that "public drinking water in Danville, Va., and other communities downstream of the Duke plant remain safe," Biesecker writes. " Heavy metals detected in the river at levels exceeding state and federal safety standards—including arsenic, lead and selenium—are being successfully filtered out of water drawn from the river at municipal treatment plants, they said."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said "a massive pile of coal ash about 75 feet long and as much as 5 feet deep has been detected in the river by the site of the Feb. 2 spill," Biesecker writes. "Deposits varying from five inches deep to less than one inch coated the river bottom across the state line into Virginia and to Kerr Lake, a major reservoir. Federal authorities expressed concern for what long-term effect the contaminants will have on fish, mussels and other aquatic life." (Read more)

EPA Launches New Tool to Estimate Emissions Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Policies

EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program has launched a new tool that estimates the emissions benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and programs. The AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) is a free tool with a simple user interface designed to meet the needs of state air quality planners and other interested users. Non-experts can easily use AVERT to evaluate county-level reductions of electric power plant emissions due to energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) policies and programs.

State air quality planners, energy office staff, public utility commission staff, and other organizations interested in knowing the emission benefits of EE/RE policies and programs can use AVERT to:

  • Quantify the nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (S02), and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions benefits of state and multi-state EE/RE policies and programs.
  • Examine the regional, state, and county level emission impacts of different EE/RE programs based on temporal energy savings and hourly generation profiles.
  • Include AVERT-calculated emission impacts of EE/RE policies and programs in air quality modeling and Clean Air Act plans used to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, with the concurrence of the appropriate EPA regional office.
  • Compare the emissions impacts of different types of EE/RE programs, such as the emissions impacts of wind installations versus solar installations.
  • Understand the emissions impacts of different EE/RE policies and programs during high electricity demand days.
  • Analyze the emissions benefits of EE/RE programs implemented in multiple states within an AVERT region.
  • Share information about location-specific emissions benefits in easy-to-interpret tables and maps.

Free Safer Chemistry Challenge Webinar: EPA's Safer Chemical Ingredients List, March 18th

Join us for the following webinar on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Title: EPA’s Safer Chemical Ingredients List
Presenter: Clive Davies, Environmental Protection Agency, Chief, Design for the Environment Branch
Register now! https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8302663346085465602

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

The Safer Chemical Ingredients List was created in September 2012 and now contains almost 650 safer chemicals and includes more than 150 fragrance chemicals. The Safer Chemical Ingredients List serves as a resource for manufacturers interested in making safer products, health and environmental advocates seeking to encourage the use of safer chemicals, and consumers seeking information on the ingredients in safer chemical products. It serves as a guide for manufacturers of Design for the Environment (DfE) labeled products, which must meet EPA’s rigorous, scientific standards for protecting human health and the environment. For additional information, please visit www.epa.gov/dfe/saferingredients.

Join the Safer Chemistry Challenge Program in 2014 at no cost! The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable invites companies to join the 2025 Safer Chemistry Challenge Program (SCCP). This voluntary initiative aims to motivate, challenge, and assist businesses in reducing their use of chemicals of concern to human health and the environment. The SCCP will also recognize and reward companies for finding safer alternatives to the hazardous chemicals they currently use. Questions can be directed to saferchemistry@gmail.com or Cindy McComas at mccom003@umn.edu. For information on how to become a member of the Safer Chemistry Challenge program visit: http://www.p2.org/challenge

Feb 18, 2014

VIA @AirResources: Air Resources Board teaming with U.S. EPA and NHTSA to develop next generation of heavy duty vehicle greenhouse gas standards

(Press Release) - The Air Resources Board today hailed NHTSA and U.S. EPA's announcement of the development of a next phase of greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for heavy duty vehicles. The federal agencies have announced they will begin their rulemaking process on regulations, known as the Phase 2 standards, which require further reductions in GHG emissions and corresponding higher efficiency standards from vehicles ranging from heavy pick-up trucks to tractor-trailers weighing more than 33,000 pounds.

“We look forward to teaming with the federal agencies and strongly support this effort. We are excited to share the California experience and technical expertise gained from our early actions to reduce emissions and save fuel from the heaviest trucks via our California tractor-trailer greenhouse gas program over the last six years,” said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “The Phase 1 standards that are already in place will reduce these emissions by about 10 percent, and we look forward to developing more ambitious Phase 2 regulations to provide even greater benefits.”

California assumed a leadership role in regulating GHG emissions with passage of The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) in 2006. In 2011, the federal Phase 1 greenhouse gas standards for heavy duty vehicles were approved nationally. As part of its climate and air quality improvement programs, California aligned its heavy duty vehicle requirements with those regulations in 2013.

And now, ARB is working with the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on national GHG standards and corresponding fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The collaborative work with U.S. EPA and NHTSA will build on the ARB's experience with reducing emissions from diesel trucks and buses which have already reduced black carbon, a powerful greenhouse contaminant, by 90 percent in the state.

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Low-cost solar power up, has fossil fuels on the way out

Barely three years ago, the Obama administration launched theSunShot Initiative, an ambitious effort to transform solar power from an exotic, expensive form of energy into a mainstream fuel that can compete on price with petroleum, coal, and natural gas. In the latest development for low-cost solar power, last week Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the program is already 60 percent of the way toward its goal of bringing theaverage price for a utility-scale solar power plant down to the target price of six cents per kilowatt-hour.

In raw numbers, that's a steep slide from an average of 21 cents in 2010 to only 11 cents by the end of 2013. That's now less than the average price of electricity in the U.S., which is about 12 cents per kWh, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The trend toward low-cost solar power is nowhere near at an end. The new announcement came with word of yet another SunShot initiative that will help bring the cost of solar power down even more in the coming years: A $25 million funding package for innovative technologies that focuses on manufacturing costs.

$25 million for solar power innovation

The SunShot initiative attacks the cost of solar power from all angles. One focus is on high-tech R&D that aims to make photovoltaic cells and other forms of solar energy harvesting more efficient. Another addresses the "soft costs" involved in installing solar equipment, including permits, administrative costs and labor.

A third area, which the new $25 million funding package is focused on, aims at bringing down the cost of manufacturing solar equipment, in addition to reducing the time and expense involved in installing that equipment.

That will mean, for example, the development of new modular systems that can be manufactured, shipped and set up with minimum expense, which translates into increased automation at both the production and installation ends.

The focus on manufacturing for low-cost solar power dovetails with several other Obama administration initiatives related to clean energy and energy efficiency, including a $7 million round of funding that will helplower the cost of LED lighting and a rather intriguing mashup between the Defense Department and the maker movement's TechShop.

Low-cost solar power up, fossil fuels on the way out

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#OSHA partners with fertilizer industry about safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is partnering with the Agricultural Retailers Association and The Fertilizer Institute to reach more than 7,000 agricultural retailers, distributers, producers and other facilities in the fertilizer industry to remind employers of the importance of safely storing and handling ammonium nitrate.
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New Maps Pinpointing Wind Turbines Will Help Track Effects on Wildlife

More than 47,000 wind turbines dot the U.S. landscape, predominantly clustered in the Midwest and Great Plains, as a new interactive tool developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows. The maps — the first

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U.S. wind turbine locations

Locations of wind turbines in the U.S.
publicly-available, nationwide data set for wind energy generation — show the locations of every turbine in the U.S., from large wind farms to single turbines, and are accurate to within 10 meters. The maps are part of the USGS's effort to assess how wind turbines impact wildlife, and they show detailed technical information such as the make, model, height, area of the turbine blades, and capacity of each turbine. Turbine-level data will improve scientists' ability to study wildlife collisions, the wakes causes by wind turbines, the interaction between wind turbines and ground-based radar, and how wind energy facilities overlap with migratory flyways, the USGS says.
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Feb 16, 2014

WHO study says when nations modernize, cancer follows. Yep, cheap smoking.

WHO study says when nations modernize, cancer follows.
The world is obsessed with creating an educated middle class with spendable income that further powers the emerging markets. Economists call this a perfect circle. But there's a dark side. We are now learning that this progress this comes with tremendous human costs.
"WHO estimates that worldwide cancer cases will rise from 14.2 million in 2012 to 22 million in less than two decades. Cancer currently is killing about 8.5 million people a year. That number will nearly double.
In contrast, cancer rates in developed nations are on the decline because of improved diagnostics and new treatments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Developing countries will fuel the 55 percent increase with more than 60 percent of the world's cases. About 70 percent of the world's cancer deaths will occur in Africa, Asia and Central and South America.
Lung cancer is the main problem, accounting for more deaths than the next three cancers combined (colon, breast and prostate), according to the American Lung Association.
WHO says that at least half of this "imminent human disaster" can be prevented by changing dangerous lifestyles.
The Peoples Republic of China is the test tube. Some 281 million Chinese smoke cigarettes, and the number is rising, despite government efforts to curtail it, according to The New York Times. The Epidemiological Studies Unit at the University of Oxford found about 3,000 Chinese die of smoking-related diseases per day."

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More than 140 Brazilian cities ration water

SAO PAULO (AP) — More than 140 cities are rationing water amid the worst drought to hit Brazil in decades, according to a survey conducted by the country's leading newspaper.

The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper wrote Saturday that water is being rationed to close to six million people living in 142 cities in 11 states.

The newspaper quoted water supply companies saying reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they've been in 20 years.

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Molten salt reactor can burn nuclear energies waste to power the world for 72 years.

Transatomic Power  is developing a molten salt reactor. They are using a zirconium hydride moderator instead of graphite. They also use a different salt.

They have a 27 page white paper with their design

This enables a higher energy density than the 1960s molten salt reactor and a smaller reactor which can be made more cheaply.

They believe with relatively traditional manufacturing methods they can make it at two thirds the cost of current nuclear power plants and make it even cheaper with modular designs. They believe electricity costs from their reactors will be cheaper than coal power.

They can burn low enriched uranium that is almost natural uranium and they can burn waste fuel from existing reactors. 270,000 tons of highly radioactive waste fuel that exists today can be used to power the world for 72 years.

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Feb 15, 2014

India Aims For The Biggest Solar #Energy Plant Of Them All

India is planning on building the world's biggest solar plant, which has the potential to triple the country's solar capacity.

The Government of India announced a Memorandum of Understanding for the project last month, which was signed by Indian ministries and six public-sector companies.

The planned site near Sambhar Salt Lake in Jaipur, Rajasthanmeasures 30 square miles, which is a larger space than Manhattan.

More than ten times bigger than any existing solar project in the world, the plant will help slash India's CO2 emissions by over 4 million tons a year according to The Energy and Resources Institute.

Once it is built the plant will boast a 4 gigawatts power capacity, an amount that would drastically increase India's renewables offering.

Currently India has a grid-connected solar capacity of 2.18 gigawatts, but is aiming to get as much 20 gigawatts from renewables by 2022 and over 200 gigawatts by 2050.

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Carbon Capture ‘Would Send Electricity Prices Soaring’ 70 percent to 80 percent

Wholesale electricity prices would soar from 70 percent and 80 percent with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) at coal-fired power plants, according to the Energy Department. According to Bloomberg News, Julio Friedmann, deputy assistant secretary for clean coal at the Energy Department, told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee the first generation […] 

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New York, California move to ban beauty products containing microbeads

Grist: Scrubbing dead skin cells off your face and tartar off your teeth trashes the environment if it`s not done right. The right way to do it is with facial scrubs, shampoo, and toothpaste that do not contain microbeads. The microscopic balls of hard plastic flow down drains and pass through wastewater treatment plants, ending up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, where they enter the food chain. Finding microbead-free products isn`t easy right now - you have to read ingredient lists and steer clear of...

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Feb 13, 2014

We're One Step Closer to Nuclear Fusion Energy

Scientists with the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced today that they have achieved a critical step in fusion research: For the first time, their hydrogen fuel has given off more energy than it took in. Though an important milestone, the result does not mean that your Delorean is soon going to sport a Mr. Fusion reactor. NIF would need to achieve temperatures and pressures much greater than they are currently capable of before they can harness fusion energy.
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Feb 12, 2014

Inertially confined fusion implosion, more energy out of the fuel than what was put into

For the first time anywhere, we've gotten more energy out of the fuel than what was put into the fuel" for a nuclear fusion experiment. This is reported by the Wall Street Journal and other sources from a paper published in the Journal Nature by researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Lab

"What's really exciting is that we are seeing a steadily increasing contribution to the yield coming from the boot-strapping process we call alpha-particle self-heating as we push the implosion a little harder each time," said lead author Omar Hurricane.

Boot-strapping results when alpha particles, helium nuclei produced in the deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion process, deposit their energy in the DT fuel, rather than escaping. The alpha particles further heat the fuel, increasing the rate of fusion reactions, thus producing more alpha particles. This feedback process is the mechanism that leads to ignition. As reported in Nature, the boot-strapping process has been demonstrated in a series of experiments in which the fusion yield has been systematically increased by more than a factor of 10 over previous approaches

Nature - Fuel gain exceeding unity in an inertially confined fusion implosion
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Dupe creates "biological concrete" from sand, bacteria and urine

Designer Peter Trimble has built a machine that creates biostone furniture
With energy production and raw material shortages becoming increasingly pertinent issues around the world, designer Peter Trimble has demonstrated a radical method of manufacture that addresses both issues. Dupe is a portable machine that uses a mixture of sand, bacteria and urine to create a material called biostone. The machine is a proof-of-concept design only and is currently set up to create a small stool, but the method can be adapted to create just about anything... Continue Reading Dupe creates "biological concrete" from sand, bacteria and urine

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Proton flow battery simplifies hydrogen power

Associate Professor John Andrews with an experimental preliminary proof of concept proton ...
Just as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles – big and small – start heading to the road, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have come up with the concept of a proton flow battery that could expand the reach of hydrogen-based electrical energy systems as well as provide a potential alternative to lithium ion batteries... Continue Reading Proton flow battery simplifies hydrogen power 

CNN: 100,000 gallons Coal slurry spill blackens West Virginia creek

CNN - Inspectors are looking into the cause of a coal slurry spill in West Virginia's eastern Kanawha County after it blackened six miles of a creek, officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.

More than 100,000 gallons of the coal slurry is believed to have flowed into Fields Creek, a tributary of the Kanawha River, officials said. Inspectors are testing the water to determine exactly how much leaked into the creek, the officials said.

The spill at Patriot Coal was caused when a valve inside a slurry line malfunctioned, the state environmental protection officials said.

H.R. 3862 -- Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014

Jan 14, 2014, H.R. 3862 — Introduced in House by Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH)
Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act) to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a comprehensive and integrated planning approach to the obligations concerning permits for pollutant discharges of a publicly owned permittee. Defines such a permittee as a treatment works that is publicly owned or a municipal separate storm sewer system. Requires the approach to such...

To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to assist municipalities and regional sewer authorities that would experience a significant hardship raising the revenue necessary to finance projects and activities for the construction of wastewater treatment works, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

This Act may be cited as the “Clean Water Affordability Act of 2014”.

(a) In General.—Section 402(a) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

“(A) DEFINITION OF PUBLICLY OWNED PERMITTEE.—In this paragraph, the term ‘publicly owned permittee’ means either—
“(i) a treatment works (as defined in section 212) that is publicly owned; or
“(ii) a municipal separate storm sewer system referred to in this section.

“(B) PLANNING APPROACH.—The Administrator shall establish a comprehensive and integrated planning approach to the obligations under this section of a publicly owned permittee—
“(i) under which permit obligations may be implemented according to a schedule that—
“(I) accounts for the financial capability of the publicly owned permittee;
“(II) prioritizes permit obligations according to the most cost-effective and environmentally beneficial outcomes;
“(III) accounts for the preexisting maintenance, operational, and regulatory obligations of the publicly owned permittee under this section; and
“(IV) enables the publicly owned permittee to implement innovative approaches to meet those obligations; and

“(ii) that accounts for changed circumstances in the obligations of the publicly owned permittee, such as—
“(I) new innovative treatment approaches;
“(II) new regulatory requirements; and
“(III) changes in financial capability.”.

(b) Duration Of Permits.—Section 402(b)(1)(B) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1342(b)(1)(B)) is amended by inserting before the semicolon at the end the following: “, except that a permit with a term of more than 5 years but not more than 25 years may be approved if the permittee has an approved integrated plan established under subsection (a)(6)”.

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Feb. 12th Ceremony by @CoolCalifornia to recognize California's most #sustainable small businesses

Ceremony to recognize California's most sustainable small businesses
State and local elected officials to honor California small businesses for taking effective, voluntary steps to reduce their carbon footprint

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board and its CoolCalifornia partners will recognize 13 small businesses for implementing climate-smart strategies. Three businesses will receive the Business of the Year award for demonstrating exceptional sustainable business practices and emission reductions. Ten businesses will be acknowledged as “Climate Leaders” for taking effective steps to be more climate-friendly. 

WHAT:  Award ceremony honoring 2013 CoolCalifornia.org Small Business Awards winners

WHEN:  4 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Please read full Release Release here:

Feb 11, 2014

HyperSolar Reaches Significant Milestone in Achieving Low Cost Solar Powered Hydrogen Production

Power EngineeringSANTA BARBARA, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 11, 2014) - HyperSolar, Inc. (OTCQBHYSR), the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, today announced that its artificial photosynthesis technology is now capable of producing 1.2 volt open circuit voltage for use in direct solar hydrogen production. This achievement represents another 10% increase over the previous 1.1 volt reached late last year, a significant step towards truly renewable low cost hydrogen.

"We now see a path to production of hydrogen through immersion of low cost semiconductor materials in water," stated Tim Young. "Our approach uses only one type of inexpensive semiconducting material and reduces manufacturing complexity. Use of low cost materials with an industrial scaleable process and may even make it a viable approach for fabricating low-cost photovoltaic modules for other applications beyond water splitting." 

Former Nazi bunker transformed into green energy power plant

The Energy Bunker was originally constructed in 1943 to serve as a Nazi anti-aircraft bunk...
Energy and utilities company Hamburg Energie has joined forces with IBA Hamburg to transform a former Nazi anti-aircraft flak bunker into a green energy power plant. The Hamburg-based "Energy Bunker" has already begun producing energy for the local community, but once running at full capacity will provide up to 3,000 homes with heating, and another 1,000 homes with electricity. .. Continue Reading Former Nazi bunker transformed into green energy power plant

Lockheed Martin inks Australian 62.5-megawatt wave energy deal

Baltimore Sun - Lockheed Martin Corp. announced Tuesday that it signed a contract to develop the world's largest wave energy project off Victoria, Australia, calling it a "significant step toward making ocean energy commercially available."

The New Ventures office of Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training Baltimore site signed the deal with Victorian Wave Partners Ltd. to develop a 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project.

The project will use a wave energy converter buoy pioneered by Ocean Power Technologies of Pennington, N.J. As the buoy moves up and down on waves, the mechanical energy drives an electrical generator, which is sent to shore through underwater cables.

The project is to be built up in three stages, with the initial phase producing about 2.5-megawatt peak power. Once completed, it is expected to produce enough energy to meet the needs of 10,000 homes.