Extreme Algal Bloom
April 1, 2013 03:35 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
An algal bloom is a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae (typically microscopic) in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water resulting from the high density of pigmented cells. Algal bloom concentrations may reach millions of cells per milliliter. Algal blooms are often green, but they can also be other colors such as yellow-brown or red, depending on the species of algae. A 2011 record-breaking algae bloom in Lake Erie was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures, scientists have discovered. The Carnegie researchers also predict that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms.
Pipeline Ruptured in Arkansas, Major Oil Spill
April 1, 2013 11:54 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
A leak from the Pegasus pipeline was discovered near Mayflower, Arkansas on Friday, leading to an estimated spill of over 10,000 barrels of Canadian Dilbit. Reports state that the pipeline was carrying Wabasca Heavy crude from western Canada when it ruptured. Wabasca Heavy is a type of diluted bitumen (a type of crude oil that is heavier than most conventional crude oil) from Alberta's tar sands region.
Pharmaceuticals in Streams
April 1, 2013 09:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Pharmaceuticals commonly found in the environment are found in streams, with unknown impacts on aquatic life and water quality. So reports a new Ecological Applications paper, which highlights the ecological cost of pharmaceutical waste and the need for more research into environmental impacts. Pharmaceuticals, or prescription and over-the-counter medications made for human use or veterinary or agribusiness purposes, are found often in the environment. Antibiotics,vitamins, supplements, and sexual enhancement drugs are contained in this group. These products typically enter the environment when passed through the body and then entering into the ground or sewer lines, or when disposed of in the trash, septic tank, or sewage system.
New Emissions/Gas Mileage Standards
March 30, 2013 07:51 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Once again, the EPA is tightening the fuel efficiency standards for autos and light trucks. It is also tightening the emissions limits that new vehicles will have to meet. This is, in general, a good thing since it will reduce gas consumption, and also reduce air pollutant emissions. Of course, not everyone is happy about this action. And the economic analysis of the cost/benefits seems to be overly optimistic. According to the EPA, the proposal supports efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot and eases their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing flexibilities for small businesses, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said "Today’s proposed standards — which will save thousands of lives and protect the most vulnerable -- are the next step in our work to protect public health and will provide the automotive industry with the certainty they need to offer the same car models in all 50 states."
A new report demonstrates that emissions markets can increase renewable energy, decrease greenhouse gases (GHGs) and grow the economy. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first U.S. market-based regulatory program designed to reduce GHGs. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce the power sector’s CO2 emissions. There are roughly 160 power plants covered by RGGI. Under the program, states sell emission allowances through auctions and invest the proceeds in consumer benefits including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. In addition to spurring clean tech innovation and reducing GHGs, RGGI is creating green jobs.
Lead-Based Paint Still Being Sold in Developing Nations
March 28, 2013 11:52 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Lead is added to paint mainly to speed up drying and increase durability, but due to its toxic effects has been banned in many countries. Nonetheless, lead-based paint still poses a problem as older housing stock may contain lead-based painted walls. When this paint chips, inhalation and ingestion (particularly by children) can damage the nervous system and cause a slew of health problems. Despite the uproar of concern for this type of paint in western countries, new reports show that lead paint is still being sold in poor nations. Perry Gottesfeld, lead author for an investigative study, has discovered high levels of the heavy metal in numerous house paints for sale throughout the African nation of Cameroon. Further investigation has led the research team to conclude that there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in other developing nations. Two years ago Gottesfeld was in Cameroon, where he and collaborators at a local NGO now report they had found nearly a dozen enamel household paints with so much lead in them they exceeded the U.S. standard by 300 times or more.
EPA Fracking Panel
March 26, 2013 03:52 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks. Induced hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) independent Science Advisory Board (SAB) today announced the formation of its Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory panel. This panel of independent experts will peer review EPA’s 2014 draft report of results for its national study on any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The SAB panel will provide scientific feedback on EPA’s research in an open and transparent manner on this controversial subject. The development of the draft report, which is directed by Congress, is in line with the Administration’s focus on continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production.
Majority of US Streams and Rivers are in 'Poor Condition,' says EPA Survey
March 26, 2013 12:32 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just released the results of a comprehensive survey that looks at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, and frankly the results are not very encouraging. The survey was conducted as part of an ongoing effort by the EPA to determine which rivers and streams are healthy, which are improving, and which require more protection and restoration efforts.
Urban Greening May Reduce Crime Rates in Cities
March 26, 2013 09:01 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Urban planning is not only important to the strategic design behind a city’s infrastructure, but now one study finds that the landscaping itself which emphasizes urban greening and the introduction of well-maintained vegetation, can lower the rates of certain types of crime such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities. According to a Temple University study, "Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA," researchers found that the presence of grass, trees and shrubs is associated with lower crime rates in Philadelphia.
Verizon Introduces 'MAGIC' Buses to Reduce Carbon Footprint
March 25, 2013 08:58 AM - Editor, Justmeans
To help reduce traffic congestion and carbon dioxide emissions in New York City, and better serve customers, Verizon has rolled out a fleet of 25 buses that will pick up company technicians at central locations throughout the city and then transport them to local job sites. The fleet - known as MAGIC, which stands for Mobile Area Garage Installation Center - removes approximately 250 Verizon trucks from the city's roads and frees up the same number of parking spots.