Enn Original News

US EPA voids significant Texas air permit program in effect for 16 years
July 1, 2010 04:15 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

For the past 16 years the state of Texas has been issuing air quality permits to refineries and other major sources that permitted emissions caps on facilities, and allowed facilities to comply with the caps in a manner that gave them some operating flexibility while not exceeding the overall facility cap specified in the permit. This approach, also used in other states, is generally applauded by companies, regulatory agencies, and also by environmental groups. It is a win-win for everyone. So why did EPA void the program? First, state programs operate under authority delegated by USEPA, so EPA does have the right to disapprove a state program it deems to be inadequate under the federal Clean Air Act. A major problem with the EPA action disapproving the Texas permitting program is that there are existing sources in Texas permitted under the program that are relying on the permit terms in their existing permits and have based their business decisions on an existing established permitting program that has been in place since 1995.

Dispersants in the Gulf
July 1, 2010 02:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

EPA continues to carefully monitor BP’s use of dispersant in the Gulf. Dispersants are generally less toxic than oil and can help prevent some oil from impacting sensitive areas along the Gulf Coast. EPA believes BP should use as little dispersant as necessary and, on May 23, EPA directed BP to reduce dispersant usage by 75 percent from peak usage. EPA and the Coast Guard formalized that order in a directive to BP on May 26. Over the next month BP reduced dispersant use 68 percent from that peak and EPA will continue to urge BP to reduce the volumes used. However, dispersants come in many varieties with different effectiveness and toxicity. EPA has just released a study of such available options.

Ensuring Seafood Safety in the Gulf of Mexico
July 1, 2010 10:24 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is having a devastating impact on marine wildlife. Fishery stocks are off limits in the affected areas. However, there are still large portions of the Gulf which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has kept open to fishing activities. To ensure the safety of the seafood caught in these areas, federal and state agencies have joined together to implement a comprehensive and coordinated safety program.

Alex in the Gulf
June 30, 2010 02:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Tropical Storm Alex, the first storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, continues to pick up steam as it crosses the western Gulf of Mexico. It has now reached hurricane proportions. It is fairly centered right now in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes are always a major weather related event especially for those who live in the affected area. In addition, this year we have the BP oil spill to contend with in the same area. What impact Alex and the oil spill will have on each other is far from clear yet.

California Green Chemistry
June 29, 2010 03:43 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The California Department of Toxic Substances has released a draft of new green chemistry regulations this week, which creates a new statewide process for evaluating the toxicity of chemicals used in consumer products and requires manufacturers to find safe alternatives to those chemicals used in their products. This is similar to other rules California has put out over the years to mandate toxicity evaluations and induce chemical substitution in California products.

Plato was good at keeping secrets too
June 28, 2010 11:32 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The Greek philosopher Plato has been revered as a great thinker for millennia. It turns out, his writings are even more valuable than we have thought. A science historian at The University of Manchester has cracked "The Plato Code" — the long disputed secret messages hidden in the great philosopher’s writings. Plato was the Einstein of Greece's Golden Age and his work founded Western culture and science. Dr Jay Kennedy's findings are set to revolutionize the history of the origins of Western thought. Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure. A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a "harmony of the spheres". Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

Green Products
June 28, 2010 10:41 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Life is confusing. When buying a product one has to consider whether it is green, inexpensive, actually works, and so forth and so on. There is also the life cycle of the product to consider. Is the product beneficial to the environment in the long run? For example, Marcal Manufacturing has just introduced new packaging to all of its Small Steps brand products this week, which places an environmental facts panel on the front of all product packaging. The panel resembles a nutrition label for food products and highlights the environmental performance of its 100% recycled paper products.

Mid Ocean Life
June 28, 2010 09:03 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

For those without a green thumb, it takes several things to make plants (or algae grow). These are sunlight, nutrients, and water. In the middle of the ocean there is plenty of water and on the surface plenty of sunlight, the problem is lack of nutrients. For almost three decades, oceanographers have been puzzled by the ability of microscopic algae to grow in mid-ocean areas where there is very little nitrate, an essential algal nutrient. In a recent issue of Nature, oceanographer Ken Johnson, along with coauthors Stephen Riser at the University of Washington and David Karl at the University of Hawaii, show that mid-ocean algae obtain nitrate from deep water, as much as 800 feet below the surface.

The Deformation of the Earth from Earthquakes
June 24, 2010 01:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Earthquakes are often imagined as opening up large gaps in the land, sinking islands and the such. It is much harder in real life to see this change. NASA has recently released the first ever airborne radar images of the deformation in Earth's surface caused by a major earthquake -- the magnitude 7.2 temblor that rocked Mexico's state of Baja California and parts of the American Southwest on April 4, 2010. The data reveal that in the area studied, the quake moved the Calexico, Calif., region in a downward and southerly direction up to 31 inches.

Hot Spring on Planet Earth
June 24, 2010 10:31 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

It is getting more and more difficult to deny that global warming is occurring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report recently about the state of the global climate, and the results were not pretty. It turns out the combined global land and ocean surface temperatures set a record in May. In fact, from March to May, it was the hottest spring on record. Furthermore, the whole first half of the year, from January to May was also the warmest on record.

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