• Diisocyanates

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds. Americans may be exposed to these chemicals when they are used in certain applications such as spray foam insulation, sealing concrete or finishing floors. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a highly-effective and widely used insulation and air sealant material. However, exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI, and other SPF chemicals in vapors, aerosols, and dust during and after installation can cause adverse health effects. >> Read the Full Article
  • Solution to nuclear waste storage dilemma?

    Community officials in southeast New Mexico want to expand a nuclear-waste storage facility deep inside an ancient salt bed to play a bigger role in handling spent fuel from U.S. reactors, a problem now under the spotlight due to the Japanese nuclear crisis. After years of delay, the government terminated a plan for a permanent nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Operators at 104 U.S. reactors are storing used fuel rods, which remain radioactive for years, in pools of water and dry cask storage facilities in 30 states. The largest risk in the United States from the Fukushima event is "overpacking of the spent-fuel pools," said John Heaton, a former state representative from Eddy County, New Mexico, who supports expanded use of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near the town of Carlsbad. >> Read the Full Article
  • Wolves Taken Off the US Endangered Species List

    For the first time ever, the US Congress has removed an animal from the Endangered Species List, a process typically done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency. The action by the US Congress sets a new precedent for altering the Endangered Species List based on political influence, enraging environmental groups. The removal would take effect in two western states that have known issues with wolves: Montana and Idaho. Wolves would now be managed by each state’s wildlife agency, inevitably leading to commercial hunting. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tigers could reappear in Kazakhstan under new plan

    WWF-Russia, together with the government and experts of the Republic of Kazakhstan announced today a new programme to return tigers to the region. The plan seeks to relocate Amur tigers from the Russian Far East to suitable habitat in Kazakhstan near the delta of the Ili River, south of Balkhash Lake. >> Read the Full Article
  • Will Colombia ban spur illegal gold pits?

    Colombia's ban on mining in highland ecosystems could be a double-edged sword -- it may attract illegal miners to the delicate areas where established mining companies cannot operate. The example of Canada's Greystar -- which last month withdrew permit requests for its gold and silver project over environmental concerns -- has crystallized Colombia's dilemma of trying to balance environmental concerns while boosting investment in its oil and mining sectors. "That gold will be extracted by someone. It won't be a company with good practices. It won't be a company that had eliminated the use of mercury," said Cesar Diaz, executive director of the Colombian Chamber of Mining. The fear is that small miners will come into already explored areas with rudimentary techniques that utilize mercury to separate gold and pollute rivers and soil -- Colombia has tens of thousands of both legal and illegal miners. >> Read the Full Article
  • Does shale gas pollute more than coal?

    An abundant source of U.S. natural gas widely seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal is in reality the fossil fuel that creates the most greenhouse gas emissions, a study concludes. The paper led by Cornell University ecology professor Robert Howarth raised howls of protest from the gas industry, which said the document was political. The study contends that so much methane escapes from the extraction of shale gas over the life of a well that it allows more heat-trapping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than coal. The report acknowledged that natural gas is cleaner to burn than other fuels but that greater pollution derives from leakage, whether accidental or purposely designed to relieve well pressure. Improved technology could solve the problem but Howarth in an interview doubted whether that was economical considering stubbornly low natural gas prices. A North American boom in the production of shale gas, billed as an alternative to foreign oil, has depressed gas prices even while oil has soared. >> Read the Full Article
  • Little action apparent on toxic tailings six months after Hungary red mud disaster

    Kolontár, Hungary: Six months after being deluged by a tide of toxic red sludge, towns downstream of the failed alumina tailings dam near Ajka, Hungary remain ruined and largely deserted, with residents and former residents still waiting for authorities to deliver on much of the promised assistance. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Former East/West Germany Barrier Now a Nature Reserve

    After the second world war, Germany was divided into east and west. Between the two, the communist masters of East Germany erected an imposing barrier along the 870 border to keep people both in and out. But rather being a single fence or wall, the barrier was also a wide strip outfitted with minefields, bunkers, watch towers, and sand pits. Now that Germany has been reunited, this strip of land running 870 miles along the old border is a long, continuous, undeveloped property. In the end, the Soviets had not built a barrier, but a nature preserve. >> Read the Full Article
  • 2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar

    What choice will consumers make? After attending the 2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar in La Jolla, California (April 4-7, 2011), this is what I walked away thinking. In all respects, Americans are already asking themselves questions like this about the life they live. With regard to the cars we drive it is time to think hard about the way we drive and what we drive. Presenters at the seminar addressed, and in many cases provided the current findings about fuel cells, hydrogen, electricity, the electric grid and electric cars. Economic forces, geopolitical forces and the DOE directed Future Transportation Fuels Study were explored in detail. The choices for a greener driving future are proliferating and each has its advantage and disadvantage. The economic costs to our society in moving toward a greener driving future were reviewed in exploring the many mobility choices we must make as a society and as consumers. Again this year I loved being behind the wheel of the almost to market (Spring 2012?) Plug-in Hybrid Prius and with the announcement during the Seminar of the sale of the one-millionth Prius in the U.S., it’s easy to see that Toyota understands what the hybrid consumer is looking for. Now a more focused approach to the spending of scarcer infrastructure/development dollars is warranted and the key to that approach will be all of us discussing what type of car we as consumers will pay a bit more for and how much it matters to us to be free to ‘put the pedal to the metal’. It’s like turning out the lights when you leave the room, we all know we should do it but don’t always stop to think. >> Read the Full Article
  • UPS, Verizon, PepsiCo Among Charter Members of Obama’s Clean Fleets Partnership

    April 4, 2011 - UPS, Verizon, PepsiCo, AT&T and FedEx, are the charter members of the National Clean Fleets Partnership announced by President Obama on Friday. The public-private partnership aims to assist large companies in reducing diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating electric vehicles, alternative fuels, and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations. >> Read the Full Article