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Environmental Policy

New study examines the air quality impacts of fracking wells
May 13, 2015 03:34 PM - Oregon State University

People living or working near active natural gas wells may be exposed to certain pollutants at higher levels than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for lifetime exposure, according to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati.

The researchers found that hydraulic fracturing – a technique for releasing natural gas from below-ground rock formations – emits pollutants known as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), including some that are linked with increased risk of cancer and respiratory ailments.

“Air pollution from fracking operations may pose an under-recognized health hazard to people living near them,” said the study’s coauthor Kim Anderson, an environmental chemist with OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Germany is key market for the Tesla Home Battery system
May 5, 2015 06:24 AM - EurActiv

Electric car pioneer Tesla unveiled a "home battery" last week which its founder Elon Musk said would help change the "entire energy infrastructure of the world". Environmentally-conscious German customers are targeted as potential buyers of the product.

The Tesla Powerwall, unveiled on Thursday (30 April), can store power from solar panels, from the electricity grid at night when it is typically cheaper, and provide a secure backup in the case of a power outage.

In theory the device, which typically would fit on the wall of a garage or inside a house, could make solar-powered homes completely independent of the traditional energy grid.

Solar power in Scotland is not a little enterprise
May 4, 2015 07:25 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

The call by WWF Scotland follows the publication of new figures revealing that there was enough sunshine in April to have met more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average home in Scotland or 99% or more of an average household’s hot water needs.

Wind turbines in Scotland also generated enough electricity on average to supply the electrical needs of 69% of Scottish households - 1.66 million homes.

Last month, it was announced that work on Scotland’s largest solar park will start later this year in Angus.

Fracking wastewater and the risk to our food
May 3, 2015 06:42 AM - Roy L Hales

Unconventional drilling creates a huge amount of waste, some of which is being sprayed onto farmer’s fields. A 2005 report from New Zealand stated cows grazing on “dump farms” have elevated levels of hydrocarbons. “Cows are allowed to graze on land with high levels of hydrocarbons without any punishment and their food products are allowed to go to market without government testing,” a Green Party MP said last year. It is happening in Canada too. The field above is northwest of Calgary. Former energy consultant Jessica Ernst said, “We are eating & drinking drilling and fracking waste.”

“When they are drilling deep horizontal wells, they go a great distance and this produces a lot of drilling waste. It is toxic. There are a lot of naturally occurring toxics that are brought up. It is often radioactive. I have documentation that the formations they want to frack are radioactive. This comes up with metals and BTEX (Benzene, Tolulene, Ethylbenzyne, Xylenes)  carcinogens plus the mystery additives which companies refuse to disclose,” said Ernst.

Rivers recover after dam removal
May 2, 2015 05:43 AM - USGS Newsroom

More than 1,000 dams have been removed across the United States because of safety concerns, sediment buildup, inefficiency or having otherwise outlived usefulness. A paper published today in Science finds that rivers are resilient and respond relatively quickly after a dam is removed. 

“The apparent success of dam removal as a means of river restoration is reflected in the increasing number of dams coming down, more than 1,000 in the last 40 years,” said lead author of the study Jim O’Connor, geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Rivers quickly erode sediment accumulated in former reservoirs and redistribute it downstream, commonly returning the river to conditions similar to those prior to impoundment.”

A Global perspective on hazardous chemicals in the workplace
April 28, 2015 07:28 AM - United NationsChristian Friis Bach via EurActiv

Hazardous chemicals are a vital part of many industries, but lax and inconsistent safety standards put workers' health and lives at risk all over the world, writes Christian Friis Bach. 

Christian Friis Bach is Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

Millions of workers are exposed every day to hazardous chemicals around the globe, in developing and developed countries. These chemicals are purchased and shipped from all over the world and differences in language and labelling could make them even more dangerous. However, thanks to a true success story of international cooperation, the danger is abating every day. This is worth celebrating on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Cleaner buses could result in fewer school absences
April 23, 2015 12:32 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The use of clean fuels and updated pollution control measures in the school buses 25 million children ride every day in the United States could result in 14 million fewer absences from school a year, based on a study by the University of Michigan and the University of Washington. In research believed to be the first to measure the individual impact on children of the federal mandate to reduce diesel emissions, researchers found improved health and less absenteeism, especially among asthmatic children.

What countries have the most endangered animals?
April 23, 2015 10:55 AM - Susan Bird, Care2

If you had to guess which countries are losing the greatest number of endangered mammals to extinction, which would you pick? Actually, you don’t have to guess. There’s a new map that will show you, in no uncertain terms, where in the world we’re losing animals the fastest. The top three “winners” of this unfortunate contest are Indonesia (184), Madagascar (114), Mexico (101), with India following close behind at 94.

Putting a value on our Oceans
April 23, 2015 06:56 AM - World Wildlife Fund, Justmeans

The ocean’s wealth rivals those of the world’s leading economies, but its resources are rapidly eroding, according to a new World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. The analysis, Reviving the Ocean Economy: The Case for Action, conservatively estimates the value of key ocean assets to be at least $24 trillion. If compared to the world’s top 10 economies, the ocean would rank as the seventh largest, with an annual value of goods and services of $2.5 trillion.

The report, produced in association with The Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), combines scientific evidence of environmental degradation with an economic case for urgent conservation action. Using an innovative economic analysis, the ocean’s value is quantified based on assessments of goods and services ranging from fisheries to coastal storm protection, resulting in an overall asset value and an annual dividend output (comparable to a GDP).

A brief history of Earth Day
April 22, 2015 09:59 PM - Earth Day Network

Each year, Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

 

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