Pollution

EPA Takes a New Stance on Sulfur Dioxide in Final Rule
June 3, 2010 02:36 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) is a highly reactive gas that is produced from the combustion of fossil fuels. The largest sources of SO2 are power plants (73 percent) and other industrial facilities (20 percent). The gas is strongly linked to negative effects on the human respiratory system such as asthma. Children, the elderly, and those already with asthma are particularly vulnerable to its effects. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) says the new one-hour health standard will protect millions of citizens from short-term SO2 exposure.

D.C. Circuit Upholds EPA Revisions to Air Quality Criteria and Standards for Lead
June 3, 2010 09:46 AM - Dan Mach , Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

In Coalition of Battery Recyclers Association v. EPA, 2010 WL 1929879 (May 14, 2010), the D.C. Circuit recently upheld an EPA rule revising the primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for air-borne lead (Pb) pollution against challenges by industry representatives. The case arose from consolidated petitions for review under the Administrative Procedure Act filed by two industry representatives alleging that the revised standards were overprotective. The circuit panel, Judge Rogers writing, rejected the petitions, holding that the new standards were supported by substantial record evidence and were not arbitrary and capricious.

Electric ash found in Eyjafjallajokull's plume, say UK researchers
June 3, 2010 09:33 AM - Joe Winters, EurekAlert

In the first peer-reviewed scientific paper to be published about the Icelandic volcano since its eruption in April 2010, UK researchers write that the ash plume which hovered over Scotland carried a significant and self-renewing electric charge. The volcano-chasing researchers argue this adds a further dimension to understanding the detailed nature of volcanic plumes and their effects on air travel.

Oil begins hitting Alabama's Dauphin Island
June 3, 2010 05:57 AM - Verna Gates and Kelli Dugan, Reuters

Teams of workers in protective boots and gloves scoured Alabama's Dauphin Island on Wednesday for washed up tar balls and tar patties that have put the 14-mile-long resort in the front line of the state's fight against the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The invading oil debris, heralding the arrival on Alabama's coast of parts of the huge, fragmented oil slick spewing from BP's blown-out undersea well, started coming ashore late on Tuesday on the inhabited barrier beach island. Dauphin Island residents, who are used to hurricanes roaring out of the Gulf, were waking up to the reality that they would not escape the impact of the six-week-old spill which had so far mostly affected Louisiana to the southwest.

The New Airplane
June 2, 2010 12:58 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There has been much said about how large a carbon footprint a plane ride does. There is also the annoyance of waiting in an airport or on a security line. At least the carbon footprint may be reduced in the future. In what could set the stage for a fundamental shift in commercial aviation, an MIT led team has designed a green airplane that is estimated to use 70 percent less fuel than current planes while also reducing noise and emission of nitrogen oxides.

Dust storms not sole reason for Phoenix air quality
May 31, 2010 11:41 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Under the Clean Air Act, states must develop State Implementation Plans (SIP) to convince the US EPA that they can meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQAS). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected Arizona's claim that dust storms caused the high pollution readings in Phoenix in 2008, a decision which could have significant implications for the State. Arizona is currently not meeting the NAAQAS for fine particulate matter, PM- 10 (one-seventh the width of a human hair). Major concerns for human health from exposure to PM- 10 include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.

Gulf Coast warned oil may leak until August
May 31, 2010 07:05 AM - Ed Stoddard and Sarah Irwin, Reuters

U.S. government and BP officials are warning that the blown-out oil well causing an environmental disaster on the Gulf Coast may not be stopped until August as the company begins preparations on a new attempt to capture the leaking crude. The disaster, in its 42nd day on Monday, is already the largest oil spill in U.S. history and officials are calling it the country's biggest environmental catastrophe. In the wake of a devastating failure this weekend to plug the BP well with the tricky "top kill" operation, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward said the Gulf of Mexico leak may not be stopped for two months.

"Top Kill" Fails, what now?
May 30, 2010 07:09 AM - Ed Stoddard and Sarah Irwin

BP Plc's "top kill" oil well plug failed on Saturday, practically killing any optimism among Gulf coast residents that the mammoth spill fouling their coast and fishing industry will end any time soon. Even U.S. President Barack Obama, hit with a tide of criticism that he is not sufficiently in command of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, has tried to lower expectations of a short-term fix. U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Mary Landry, standing by as a BP executive told the world that the tricky top kill procedure had failed, said they needed to manage people's expectations better for a crisis soon entering its seventh week.

Gulf oil spill hits Day 40 with no end in sight
May 29, 2010 07:53 AM - Tom Bergin and Ed Stoddard, Reuters

The worst oil spill in U.S. history hits its 40th day on Saturday with Gulf residents clinging to one tenuous hope: that BP's complicated "top kill" operation will plug the gushing well. Beleaguered Louisiana residents heard from President Barack Obama and BP CEO Tony Hayward on separate visits to the Gulf coast on Friday as they tried to get a handle on a crisis damaging the credibility of both the government and BP. Obama, facing criticism that he responded too slowly to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, assured Louisianians during his five-hour visit that they "will not be left behind" and that the "buck stops" with him. Hayward, on a visit to the site of the April 20 rig explosion that killed 11 workers and unleashed the oil, said the energy giant needed up to two more days to determine if the top kill will stop the underwater gusher once and for all.

How to Kill a Well With Gravity
May 28, 2010 08:50 AM - Richard A. Kerr, Science AAAS

Oil giant BP plc has a very long straw stuck 3048 meters into the Gulf of Mexico sea floor with oil and gas spouting out the top at several thousand pascals. How do BP engineers stop the flow when none of the control valves at the top is working and there's no way to put a stopper in the straw's end? The only option is using gravity, notes petroleum engineer Paul Bommer of the University of Texas, Austin.

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