Environmental Policy

Flint's Water Crisis 'infuriating' given knowledge about lead poisoning
January 27, 2016 07:13 AM - Harvard School of Public Health

Flint, Michigan temporarily switched its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014 to cut costs. Should officials have known that lead contamination would result?

Hyperloop moving to full-scale testing
January 24, 2016 09:05 AM - Mary Mazzoni , Triple Pundit

Clean-tech visionary Elon Musk first unveiled his idea for a high-speed ground transport system called Hyperloop back in 2013. The concept — in which passengers are transported in magnet-propelled capsules at more than 750 miles per hour — was quickly dismissed by many as a pipe-dream.

But, while most of us weren’t paying attention, a handful of private companies have been quietly working to make Musk’s vision a reality. Now two of these firms (both unaffiliated with the Tesla and SpaceX CEO) say they are ready to begin testing the technology.

California, Feds Reject Volkswagen Recall "Fix"
January 14, 2016 07:16 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said “no deal” to Volkswagen’s proposal to buy back some of the vehicles that were outfitted with cheat devices. According to CARB, the plan, which would see the recall of only a fraction of the 600,000 U.S. cars affected in the latest VW scandal, does “not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety,” and would not fix the cars’ pollution problems quickly enough.

The Porter Ranch gas leak update
January 12, 2016 06:28 PM - NRDC

Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley announced a package of new legislation that builds on Gov. Brown’s state of emergency declaration to ensure protections for Californians impacted by the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch. 

The new legislation will require: 

  • a moratorium on new injections into the Aliso Canyon  storage facility until experts determine it is safe to resume and a study to see whether it makes sense to continue using the facility. (SB 875)
  • that response costs – such as greenhouse gas mitigation, relocation, and emergency response costs – will be funded by the Gas Company shareholders, not the ratepayers who are suffering from this disaster. (SB 876)
  • stronger laws regulating gas storage facilities, including increased inspections and health and safety measures. (SB 877)
  • setting state climate pollution reduction targets and holding polluters accountable for meeting those targets. (SB 878)

Recycling on the ropes, France has a plan to fix the industry
January 11, 2016 05:29 AM - EurActiv

Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years.

FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

Natural carbon sinks and their role in climate
January 10, 2016 11:32 AM - Mark Dwortzan | MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Protected areas such as rainforests occupy more than one-tenth of the Earth’s landscape, and provide invaluable ecosystem services, from erosion control to pollination to biodiversity preservation. They also draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in plants and soil through photosynthesis, yielding a net cooling effect on the planet.

Determining the role protected areas play as carbon sinks — now and in decades to come — is a topic of intense interest to the climate-policy community as it seeks science-based strategies to mitigate climate change. Toward that end, a study in the journal Ambioestimates for the first time the amount of CO2 sequestered by protected areas, both at present and throughout the 21st century as projected under various climate and land-use scenarios.

Changing climate and reforestation
January 10, 2016 08:24 AM - AsociaciĆ³n RUVID via ScienceDaily

For the past six years, researchers at the Universitat Politènica de València (Polytechnic Univeristy of Valencia, UPV) have been studying the performance of twelve Aleppo pine varieties native to different regions of Spain in reforestation campaigns across three national forest areas. Different varieties or genotypes have different levels of resistance to cold and drought, which influence how well they perform in a given geographical region, and researchers wanted to find out which varieties worked best and where.

To do so, the different national varieties or genotypes were used to repopulate forest areas in La Hunde, Valencia (as the control region), in the drier Granja d'Escarp, Lleida, to the north and further inland in Tramacastiel, Teruel, where the climate is much cooler.

"The varieties from Inland Levante and La Mancha performed the best overall, while those from further south seem to be perfect for reforestation efforts in regions already affected by climate change," observes Antonio del Campo, researcher at the UPV's Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering (IIAMA).

As gas prices fall, consumers going back to less fuel efficient vehicles
January 9, 2016 08:04 AM - Scott Horsley, NPR

There were high-fives this week from Detroit to Washington, D.C., as carmakers celebrated record auto sales.

Americans bought 17.5 million cars and trucks in 2015. That's a huge turnaround from 2009, and the Obama administration cheered the rebound as vindication of the president's decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy.

"Because of the policy decisions that were made by this administration to place a bet on those workers, America has won, and our economy has been better for it," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratory developing underground battery system to store energy and CO2
January 6, 2016 04:30 PM - Lawrence Liverpool Laboratory.

Meeting the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels will require increased use of renewable energy and reducing the CO2 intensity of fossil energy use.

The intermittency of when the wind blows and when the sun shines is one of the biggest challenges impeding the widespread integration of renewable energy into electric grids, while the cost of capturing CO2 and storing it permanently underground is a big challenge for decarbonizing fossil energy.

However, researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Ohio State University, University of Minnesota and TerraCOH, Inc. think they’ve found an answer to both of these problems with a large-scale system that incorporates CO2 sequestration and energy storage.

 

County of origin labeling on our meat no longer required
January 5, 2016 05:09 AM - Mary Clare Jalonick, Organic Consumers Association

It's now harder to find out where your beef or pork was born, raised and slaughtered.

After more than a decade of wrangling, Congress repealed a labeling law last month that required retailers to include the animal's country of origin on packages of red meat. It's a major victory for the meat industry, which had fought the law in Congress and the courts since the early 2000s.

Lawmakers said they had no choice but to get rid of the labels after the World Trade Organization repeatedly ruled against them. The WTO recently authorized Canada and Mexico, which had challenged the law, to begin more than $1 billion in economic retaliation against the United States.

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